Your Guide to Buying A Used Truck
Buying a used truck shouldn't be intimidating or costly. Don't let anyone rush you or try to steer you towards something you don't want or need. Once you're armed with the right knowledge, choosing a used truck that you absolutely love will be easier than you think.
First, it's important to choose a used truck dealer that is truly on your side. A good used truck dealership will have knowledgeable staff that listen to your needs. No matter your financial situation, a good used truck dealer will focus on guiding you through your purchase, from selecting the truck that is the perfect fit, to understanding how used truck financing works. They'll most likely walk you through a used truck lot and show you all the cars they have available. The dealer should also be able to help you and be transparent about advantages and disadvantages of each vehicle. Get a second opinion and have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic.
A reputable used truck dealer will also know everything there is to know about your financing options. They can guide you to find the right terms for your specific situation. Don't worry if you have bad credit. There are many used truck dealers that specialize in helping people in all credit situations. They will treat you with respect, no matter what financial situation you are in.
Before visiting dealerships, it's a good idea to look up used truck dealer reviews. There are many online review sites you can check out, or ask friends and family about their experiences if they've purchased a truck in the past. When reading reviews, you should read up on how easy it was to work with them and whether the customer purchased a truck that was of great value. No matter what, if you don't feel comfortable with a dealership and what they have to offer, simply walk away. The perfect used truck for you is right around the corner.
Gas or Diesel, Which Is The Better Used Truck For You?
When many consumers show up at a used truck dealer looking for a new-to-them used truck, they often find themselves split between diesel and gasoline powered trucks. Here is a comparison of both diesel and gasoline engine powered used trucks across several key categories so you can make an informed decision when you're at the used truck lot.
Gas and diesel engines deliver power in very different ways. Gas engines tend to make more power at higher revolutions per minute, and rev through each gear faster, translating to higher horsepower than diesel engines. If you are driving your truck around town, and want to get places quickly, a gasoline engine would likely be a better choice for your next used truck.
Diesel trucks tend to provide more torque than their gasoline-powered counterparts due to their much higher compression ratios. This torque is delivered early in the power-band, so it's much more readily available. This makes a diesel powered used truck perfect for pulling trailers or heavy loads.
Diesel trucks are initially more expensive than comparable gasoline trucks because a diesel engine must be built to withstand the high compression ratios that diesel fuel requires. This engine durability also means that diesel used trucks hold their value very well, as a diesel engine is expected to last much longer than a gasoline engine.
If your primary concern for your next used truck is efficiency, a diesel is the way to go. Diesel engines get 25-30% better mileage than gasoline engines. Diesel fuel may be generally more expensive than gasoline, but the increased mileage offered by diesel engines will save money in the long run.
Regular maintenance is more expensive on diesel trucks. Diesel engines require much more oil that gasoline engines, and parts such as fuel filters and water separators need to be replaced more often, so expect more costly bills at the dealership. That being said, a diesel engine is designed to last a lot longer than a gasoline engine, and so the long term reliability is better with a diesel.
A diesel used truck is much harder to live with on a day to day basis than a gasoline used truck. Diesel engines are noisier and run rougher than a gas engine, so using one as a daily driver isn't always as pleasant of an experience. Diesel engines also emit irritating exhaust odors, and emit much more toxic nitrogen oxide than a gasoline engine truck. These factors make living with a gasoline truck a more pleasant experience over all.
When you're at the used truck dealership, take these factors into account. Find what engine suits your needs best, and your used-truck buying experience will be much more rewarding.
Top 5 Compact Trucks
Looking for a used truck can be difficult with the ever increasing amount of compact trucks available on the market. We've compiled a top 5 list of our favorite used compact truck models to look out for at the used truck lot below:
The 5 Models to Look out for at Your Local Used Truck Dealer
- GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is one of the most popular compact truck models and you will most likely be able to find at least one of these at your local used truck dealership. It is one of the most technologically advanced compact trucks on the market. The 2016 model features a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, lane departure warning system and an 8" touch screen navigation system as options. This combined with its comfortable interiors and its ability to go 31MPG when driving on the highway makes it our pick for the #1 vehicle to ask for at your nearest used truck dealership.
- Chevrolet Colorado
The Chevrolet Colorado is part of the same family of vehicles as the GMC Canyon. Depending on the mileage, a used 2012 Chevrolet Colorado can be found from around $16,000, making the Colorado an excellent choice for your next vehicle purchase. The GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado feature nearly identical styling and options, but prices can vary between the two on the used truck lot.
- Nissan Frontier
American automakers have a reputation for producing the ultimate compact trucks. However, with the Frontier, Nissan has proved that the Japanese manufacturers can be just as good at producing powerful compact trucks at excellent value for money. The Frontier has been designed to provide powerful performance both on- and off-road. In addition, it has been designed to allow you to lock down your cargo load easily and securely. Depending on the mileage, a used Nissan Frontier can be purchased from around $10,000 - $8,300 less than the retail price for the entry level 2016 model. When splitting the cost via used truck financing, you will find that this makes a substantial difference in your monthly payments.
- Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is another great value Japanese compact truck. The latest model offers 19/24 MPG and comes in a range of exciting colors. The interiors have been designed to provide the maximum level of comfort and noise reducing features, so that you can relax while on the go - even with a heavy load in the back. Newer models also come with dual zone climate control and a stylish moon roof. Older models with a higher mileage can be found from as little as $4,000 at some used truck dealerships.
- Ford Ranger
The Ford Ranger is Ford's signature 4X4 pick-up truck and comes in three different cab styles. You are likely to find several Ford Rangers at your nearest used truck dealer and they are most definitely worth a test drive. The Ranger is the winner of the 2013 International Pick-Up Award. The powerful diesel Duratorq engine allows you to carry heavy loads in all types of terrain without issue. It is also the first pick-up truck to be awarded a 5-star safety rating by Euro NCAP. The ranger was phased out of production in the US after the 2011 model, meaning that you will likely find a good deal on this model when visiting your local used truck lot.
Best Used Full-Size Trucks
If you’ve been in the market for a full-size truck anytime over the last decade, you probably notice that they have come a long way. Many years ago, when trucks were used primarily to haul and tow from point A to point B, the exterior looks and interior features took a backseat to practicality.
These days, trucks with technology packages and capabilities that rival flagship luxury sedans are often manufacturers’ top-selling vehicles. Unfortunately with the inclusion of additional bells and whistles, naturally comes an increase in price.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still find quality used trucks with many of the same features -- at substantially lower prices. Here’s a round-up of our favorite used full-size trucks that have the muscle you need, without breaking the bank.
2003-2006 Chevrolet Silverado
If you can find a used truck dealer with a 2003 - 2006 Silverado on the lot, you are in for a treat. The 2003 model hit showroom floors with an updated look that gave this pickup a more modern look. Under the hood you have a choice between a V6 or three different V8s, 2 or 4-wheel drive and a wide selection of body styles to meet your unique needs.
To put it simply, you won’t have much difficulty finding some version of this used truck in a lot near you. And with a price tag below $15,000, you’re unlikely to have any trouble qualifying for special used truck financing deals.
2004 – 2008 Ford F-150
For many years, the Ford F-150 has been one of the most popular vehicles in the US -- and it’s not unwarranted. One of the reasons that the 2004 - 2008 F-150 is found on so many used truck lots is because it’s a very capable truck with a variety of engine and body style options.
With a forward thinking design and attention to detail, it’s easy to see why the F-150 has led the market in sales for both new and used truck sales. With the purchase of a 2004 - 2008 F-150, you can rest assured that you have a solid truck that can handle any task you can throw its way.
2007 Toyota Tundra
It’s easy to dismiss the 2007 Tundra as a viable option for a full-size used truck since it doesn’t have the same pedigree as its counterparts from the Big 3. However, given further consideration, the Tundra is a truck that can truly go toe-to-toe in nearly all categories with any truck on a used car dealer’s lot.
With an aggressive stance and an optional 5.7 liter V8 engine to match, the Tundra stands out in the crowd. While this truck might cost slightly more that its domestic rivals, remember -- you’re paying for Toyota quality -- and more often than not, it’s worth the premium.
2002-2008 Dodge Ram
If you're looking for a capable full-size pickup on a budget, the 2002 - 2008 Dodge Ram might be just what you’re looking for. The 2002 Dodge Ram pickup was the first full re-design since 1994, and the updated bulky look was an instant hit.
With a Hemi 5.7 liter V8 that makes 345 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, this is one used truck that packs a lot of power and performance. As an added bonus, an engine modification for this model shuts down to four cylinders in normal driving conditions to conserve fuel. The result: a fuel mileage increase of 20% over the previous model.
If that doesn’t get you excited, maybe the price will. You should be able to find a used truck dealership that has this truck for around $15,000 or less.
How to Get a Used Truck with a Low Down Payment
A high down payment is one of the most common roadblocks that can keep prospective buyer from driving off the used truck lot in the used truck of their dreams. However, there are few tricks that can help to lower your down payment and increase your bargaining power with a used truck dealer. Here are a few used truck financing tips to help put you back in the driver's seat in no time:
Check Your Credit
Your credit status can have a huge effect on the amount of your down payment. The bank is likely to require a smaller down payment if they consider you a low-risk borrower. If you have a history of bad credit they may loan you less than the value of your used truck to cover the risk of non-payment. Each financial institution will have its own set of credit standards, and a used truck dealer may not always offer the best financing option. No matter where your credit fall, always take the time to shop around for the best rate.
Leverage Your Trade-In
A common misconception with first-time used truck buyers is that a down payment has to be made in cash, but your trade in can actually count toward your down payment. Whether you have positive or negative equity in your current vehicle, its value can help to alleviate, or even eradicate the down payment on a used truck. Since used trucks hold their value so well, you can also feel secure that you are getting a good return for your trade-in.
Year and Mileage Matter
Typically, an older used truck or one with higher miles will have a larger down payment, but many lenders are willing to finance the full value of a used truck if it has a clean title and a relatively uneventful history of repairs. Age and condition don’t matter nearly as much as your credit score, but it’s worth knowing that a more expensive used truck with less miles could actually have a lower down payment.