Buying a Used Truck? Read This First

April 28th, 2023 by

If you’re here, then you probably have some questions about buying your next truck. We know there’s a lot to think about before you drive home with a new-to-you pickup, which is why we put this guide together to make finding the right one as easy as possible.

Table of Contents

Is a Used Truck the Right Choice?

buying a used truck

Assuming that you’ve considered your options and your heart is set on bringing home a truck (versus other types of cars like a sedan or SUV), this is the next big question you’ll need to answer.

However, before you determine whether a new or new-to-you truck is a better fit, it’s important to think about why you want a truck in the first place. Will it be a personal vehicle, or are you planning on using it for commercial purposes? If the latter is what you’re intending, you may want to consider a cargo van instead for its ample storage space and fuel economy.

But if a truck makes more sense for your business or you want one for personal use, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of buying a used truck.

Pros of a Used Truck

Let’s start with the benefits of buying a used truck:

  • Their value depreciates slowly, which means higher resale values down the road.
  • Newer used trucks may still be under warranty, so it’s always worth checking to see if the truck you’ve got your eye on is still protected.
  • Many makes and models hold their value well — particularly the Toyota Tacoma (light duty), Toyota Tundra, Dodge RAM 1500, Ford F-150, and Chevy Silverado.
  • They’re typically better for your budget. To be sure about this, it’s always a good idea to factor in the make, model, year, mileage, and trim level of the used truck you’re considering.
  • The cost of insurance and registration is usually lower than new trucks.

Cons of a Used Truck

Now, let’s move onto why buying a used truck might not be for you. Some of these reasons may include:

  • They lack the features you’re looking for, especially if you’re thinking about driving an older model off the lot.
  • They aren’t always reliable due to extra years of wear and tear.
  • A history of previous accidents is always possible with a pre-owned truck. Luckily, you can check the CARFAX report for this information.
  • The fuel economy isn’t as good as what you can find in a new truck. However, it’s worth mentioning that trucks in general (both new and used) aren’t the most fuel-efficient choice.
  • Most are outside of warranty. Even though you may be able to find a used truck that’s still protected, this is the exception rather than the norm.
  • Customization can be difficult on older trucks.

What Type of Used Truck Is Right for You

buying a used truck

Like other vehicle types, trucks are grouped into different categories based on size. But while other cars are typically classified by their interior volume, the measurement that matters with trucks is weight. Below is a breakdown of the different classifications.

  • Midsize or Compact
    These trucks have the lowest gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and offer the benefits of an open bed while maintaining a smaller size.Some examples include the Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Ford Maverick, Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and GMC Canyon.
  • Light Duty or Full-Size
    Trucks in this class weigh between 6,000 and 8,500 pounds and offer the largest variety of configurations of any truck class. They also pack a punch in towing capacity, and some models can haul loads up to 37,000 pounds.Some examples include the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and RAM 1500.
  • Heavy-duty
    These vehicles (semi-trucks and dump trucks) have the highest GVWR and are typically for commercial use only. You’ll also need a special license to operate them.
  • Electric and Hybrid
    These trucks exist in the space where environmental considerations and truck ownership meet. And with both mid- and full-size offerings, there’s an electric or hybrid model available that fits your preference. Some examples include the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Sierra EV, and Toyota Tacoma EV.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Truck

Buying a used truck can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know what you should be looking for or what to consider. Here are some things to think about as you shop:

Safety Ratings
Safety should always be a top consideration when choosing your next truck. Apart from comparing safety features, reading customer reviews of the vehicle (or vehicles) you’re thinking about purchasing can give you a good idea of its reliability and how the truck performs in the real world.

buying a used truck

Diesel vs. Gas
While diesel-powered vehicles are generally more of an investment up front than their gas counterparts, the long-term savings and other benefits associated with them may make a diesel truck worth some serious consideration.

One of the main differences between shopping for a new versus a pre-owned truck is availability. It’s much harder to be successful in your search for a used vehicle if you have a particular make, model, year, and trim in mind. Try limiting your parameters to make and model if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for.

Environmental Impact
If reducing the size of your carbon footprint is something you’re passionate about, the good news is that owning a truck and going green are not mutually exclusive. Keep an eye out for hybrid and electric models from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Toyota.

Before you start looking for your next truck, write down all the features you want to see in your new vehicle. Then, divide your list of features into need-to-have and nice-to-have groups. This exercise will not only help you figure out what’s important to you but it will narrow down the field of options as well.

buying a used truck

Deciding whether or not to buy a used truck based solely on its mileage isn’t taking the full picture into consideration. It’s also important to look at the model year. A 2013 truck with 100,000 miles can still be a good purchase, while a truck that’s two or three years old with the same mileage is more risky.

Towing Capacity
When it comes to towing capacity, not all pickup trucks are created equal. This means that you’ll need to consider the weight of any items you’re planning on hauling as you narrow down your options.

buying a used truck

Truck Bed Size
How much space you’ll need in your truck bed depends on the types of items you’re planning on transporting. If you mostly carry sports equipment, you might not need as much room in your truck bed as you would if you tend to move larger construction or landscaping materials.

Cabin Type
A pickup truck will have one of four different cab types: regular, extended, crew, and extended crew. The one you’ll need depends on how much space you want for your passengers, with regular being the most compact fit and extended crew offering the roomiest ride.

Find Your Next Used Truck With Merchants Auto

Now that you have a better idea about how to buy a used truck and what to look for during your search, you’re one step closer to having your new-to-you pickup parked in your driveway. Our 26-acre lot has hundreds of used trucks to choose from, so if you’re looking for somewhere to start your search, our showroom in Hooksett, NH is a great place to go.

Ready to find your next truck? Contact us today!

Posted in Used Cars, Used Trucks