December 6, 2022

Things to look out for when buying a Used Truck

Buying pre-owned vehicles is much less of a game of “lemon roulette” than it used to be. But when you’re shopping for used trucks, there are still some things you should look out for.

More than Popping the Hood and Kicking the Tires

When you find a deal on a truck that has all the features you want and fits your budget, it’s natural to get excited about it. But before you hand over your money, you need to make sure you thoroughly check out the pickup (and don’t skip having your mechanic give it a look-see). On closer inspection, that awesome deal might not be so great after all.

1. Know How You’ll Use the Truck

Do you have a long list of projects that require a truck? Or do you just like driving a truck and only plan to use its hauling and towing capability sporadically. Being honest with yourself about how you’ll use your truck will help you determine how many miles are acceptable on a used truck. It will also help you decide among workhorse trucks like a Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, or Ram 1500, or whether you want a more comfortable truck like a Honda Ridgeline.

2. Get a History Report

This should be non-negotiable. If you’re buying a pre-owned pickup that’s less than 20 years old, there should be a fairly comprehensive vehicle history report available. Many dealerships provide complimentary copies that you can access and download online. But if you’re buying from a private seller, you should ask for a report or gather the necessary information to get a history report yourself.

If there appear to be gaps or inconsistencies in the report, you might want to consider other trucks.

3. Inspect the Truck in Daylight

This is another non-negotiable point. You’ll want to be able to check the body for corrosion, check fluid levels (make sure the truck is parked on a level surface) in the engine, and check for excessive grease and dirt. You’ll also need to carefully inspect the interior for any signs of rust and water damage (grab a flashlight and a mirror to check under the seats).

If a dealership or private seller won’t let you inspect it in the daytime, prepare to walk away from the deal.

4. Things to Look for When You’re Thinking About a Diesel

They’re a favorite among truck buyers for their power and fuel economy, But you should be especially careful if you’re thinking of buying a diesel pickup.

One popular way that diesel truck drivers get more power is by what’s known as a “DPF Delete.” Removing the diesel particulate filter or otherwise tampering with the system is a violation of federal smog regulations. Have a professional mechanic inspect the truck to make sure all exhaust components are present. If they’re missing and you’re stuck replacing them, it could cost you thousands of dollars.

Happy Truck Hunting!

Shopping for a new (or new-for-you) truck is a lot of fun. By paying attention to a few key areas early in the buying process, you can save yourself a lot of future frustration and thousands of dollars.

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