Truck owners know that owning a truck is like being in a relationship. The best relationships last a long time without many issues. But even the best relationships end sometimes. Circumstances change, maybe you have outgrown each other, or something unexpected happens. When you’ve got a good truck, you begin to dread the day you have to replace it with a new one. But before you go out looking for a shiny new model, consider that a truck with a few miles on it might just be what you need. You can’t get your old trusted truck back, but you can replace it with a reliable and affordable one like the ones the guys down at your local used Ram dealer have. And before you start making offers, here are six tips to help you make the right choice when purchasing a used truck.
1 – Find Out if it Has an Accident Record
Perhaps the first thing you should inquire about is the previous accident record. Regular maintenance is one thing, but a truck that has had multiple accidents can be an indicator of a few things. First, consider what type of accidents. Fender benders might just mean superficial damage to bumpers and fenders that don’t affect the overall operation of the truck in the long term. But if the vehicle has had substantial damage to critical systems, these are worth taking a closer look at to find out how they were repaired and what parts were used. It’s possible you could be looking at a Ram truck with significant aftermarket parts. Even if manufacturer parts were used, certain types of damage will affect the overall longevity of a truck and should be taken into account. These are issues that should be brought up with the dealer.
2 – Check Out the Previous Ownership and Maintenance Records
After accidents, you really want to know what kind of maintenance the previous owner performed on it. If it hasn’t had regular oil changes, for example, this can mean engine problems for you down the road. Check other fluids as well, like brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluids, and coolants. Air filters for your engine also need to be replaced fairly regularly, and if not done, it can cause dirt and grime to build up. Also, check out the type of tires on the vehicle. Budget brand, mismatched, or worn-out tires are all signs that the previous owner likely did not spend much time or money maintaining his Ram.
3 – Find Out What Warranties the Dealership Offers
Warranties aren’t something you think too hard about if you are buying new, but you should definitely consider with a used truck. Warranties are usually based on mileage, which means you might be able to get one on a used truck that falls under that number. But even if you aren’t eligible for the standard warranty, ask the dealership about extended warranties. It just might be worth it to add one on. Especially if you are buying a truck with more than a few miles on it that has had some factory recalls or major repairs in the past. This could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. The best warranties are available on factory Certified Pre-Owned models, which can only be purchased from authorized dealers and come with virtually the same benefits as a new model.
4 – Research the Model and the Lifespan of Its Parts
In my opinion, the sweet spot with getting your money’s worth buying a used truck is in the mileage. But this is largely dependent on the model history. Research the models you are interested in to find out how many years you likely have left and compare that to the price. A good Ram could last you another decade and make it to 200,000 miles with proper maintenance. So you can really get some value out of a used Ram even with substantial mileage. But no matter what model or brand of truck, it’ll require some maintenance, so take a look at the lifespan of parts to see what might need to be replaced in the coming years. This will inform you of what type of warranties you might want to add on and of the general lifespan of your truck.
5 – Do Your Own Body Inspection
Perhaps one of the most critical things you can do is your own inspection. Take note of any damage to the body, rust, dents, any other damage. Rust damage is like mold in your house. It can grow and spread even under a coat of paint. So it’s worth it to take a close look if you suspect rust. Dents and other damage might just be superficial, but make sure that these aren’t signs of greater damage to any other parts. A substantial dent on a vehicle with a clean history could also be a sign of an unreported accident and may indicate the need for major repairs.
6 – Determine Whether You Intend to Finance or Pay Cash
Once you think you’ve found the right used truck, take some time to consider how you plan to purchase it. If you are considering financing, consider the interest rate and how that might add extra money to your payment over time. Comparing the lifetime of your loan against the estimated lifetime of a used truck will give you an idea of when you will pay it off and how many years or miles you might have on your truck once it is paid off. And paying off should be the goal.
Bonus Tip: If It Looks Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
Your Mom or Dad probably told you this when you were growing up, but when it comes to commerce, there are very few times that you are going to get something for free. Everyone is trying to make a living, so remember that while you want a good deal, the other party is looking to make a profit. This is not a bad thing if you are getting a quality product. In fact, this could be to your advantage if the seller underestimates the quality of the product. This is the sweet spot you want to be in. But there are some sellers out there, personal and commercial, that may try to take advantage of you, so if it looks like you are getting something for free, you should definitely look a little closer at what you are buying and make sure there are no underlying issues.
Buying a used truck can be one of the best investments you ever make if you do your homework. Make sure you follow these six tips if you want to get the best deal, and you’ll be purchasing a vehicle that could last you for years or even decades to come. Just watch out for hidden or potential costs down the road. You can’t always depend on a seller to give you all the information, so you need to do the research yourself. But if you buy from a reputable used Ram dealer, you’ll know you are dealing with experts that know their product and will give you the best deal possible on a reliable used truck.