There is no feeling quite like buying a new truck. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned trucker, finding that perfect pickup to cruise down the highway above all the other vehicles is exciting. More importantly, a new truck may make your life easier. From the daily commute to specific work tasks, trucks are perfect for anything that requires a lot of hauling, whether it’s people or cargo.
Unfortunately, new trucks can get fairly pricey. Even baseline trims of popular models are usually thousands of dollars more expensive than sedans and station wagons. If you want something with a few bells and whistles, an upgraded suspension system, or a larger cabin/bed, you will quickly see the costs skyrocket to the point where you can afford two cars for the price of one truck.
If you need a truck but can’t afford a new one, there’s good news. Used vehicles, including trucks, are always an option to consider when you are facing a tight budget. Most truck manufacturers, especially the big ones like Chevy and Ford, build their vehicles to last. Even if you find a used truck with hundreds of thousands of miles on it, you can rest assured that it will run well if it has been properly maintained. This means you can get a truck with all the features and specifications you need at a better price.
Still, there are a few things to look out for when searching for used trucks for sale. By doing your research ahead of time and asking the right questions, you can avoid the clunkers and lemons before you put down any real money. Here’s a look at the most basic questions you should be asking when in the market for a used truck.
What Is Its History?
This is the most basic question for any used vehicle. Since it is used, you can rest assured that it has seen some things in its life. Perhaps things have been uneventful up until this point. Maybe, however, it has had an accident or two that isn’t obvious just by looking at the chassis.
Whatever its history may be, you need to do what you can to get the background story of any potential truck. The best way to do this is to use online resources like Carfax to see what has been published under the vehicle’s VIN number.
Look out for anything out of the ordinary. A boring car history report will feature nothing more than a few maintenance records and possibly the occasional sale here and there if the truck has had a few owners. Obviously, big things like reported accidents and mechanical issues should raise a flag in your mind.
Other indicators to be wary of are things like auction events, meaning the truck was sold at auction to a private owner or dealership. Most of the time, auctions are just another way to sell a used vehicle. Sometimes, however, this is the only way a salvaged or damaged vehicle can be sold. Dealerships will often buy such vehicles at an extremely low price only to upsell them to their customers later on.
What Do The Insides Look Like?
This question isn’t really concerned with the interior of the truck, although that may be an important consideration for you. Instead, this is getting to the condition of the mechanics of the truck. From the engine, drivetrain, and suspension system, you will want to have a clear idea of the truck’s current condition before seriously considering it as a possibility.
If you have automotive experience, you can do most of this assessment by yourself. Ask the dealership or current owner to open the hood so you can see the condition of the engine. Look for any blemishes or other abnormal indicators. If possible, get down under the chassis to check out the drivetrain and suspension for similar issues.
If you lack the necessary experience, offer to take the truck to an automotive specialist on your own dime. Any dealership or private owner truly wanting to sell the truck will have no issue with this kind of proposal. If they do hesitate, it may be a sign they know something is wrong and don’t want to say. Regardless, it’s best to move on to other possibilities if you can’t get a proper inspection.
At the very least, always take a potential truck out for a test drive. Beyond getting a sense of the feel and handling of the truck, you can pay attention to any abnormal sounds, vibrations, or other physical indicators of an issue. If you find, see, or hear something that doesn’t seem right, it may be time to move on as well.
What Is Your Bottom Price?
This is a common question when we are asking the dealership or private owner how much a truck costs. Usually, we ask this question when we’re interested in negotiating a better deal than the list price. However, before you reach this step, you need to ask yourself this question.
During the negotiation process, it is very easy to forget the budget you have to keep. Arguably, this is one of the prime reasons you are considering a used truck, to begin with. If money was no issue, you’d probably prefer to go with a new vehicle instead. If the budget is a main concern, know what your bottom prices ahead of time before negotiating.
Treat this bottom price as a line in the sand you won’t cross under any circumstances. Certainly start lower as you begin to haggle, but keep yourself committed to this line. If the owner isn’t willing to entertain any price at or below the line, there is no point in moving forward.
Never forget the best-used truck is one that comfortably fits within your budget.
Do You Have Any Financing Options?
You might think this question is only meant for used dealerships. Given the number of financing sources today, however, you have the potential to find options for any used trucks for sale. For private owners, your most likely source of financial help is an auto loan provided by a bank or credit union.
This question comes with a lot of smaller questions. What is your credit history? Do you typically pay bills on time? What is your current debt amount? Do you have other loans or a mortgage that you are consistently paying?
These questions are the very same ones any bank or credit union is going to ask when considering your loan application. The better financial history you have, the more likely you are to get the loan you need for a used truck. Having bad credit, however, isn’t the end of the road.
Bad credit auto loans are another option for you to explore since some banks and credit unions specialize in helping those with less than ideal financial histories. Be aware that these loans typically come with higher interest rates and stricter payment schedules.
Do You Need A Used Truck?
No one likes to hear this question. Given the excitement finding used trucks for sale can produce, you may forget to ask yourself whether a truck is the right choice or not. Trucks have their advantages, but they aren’t the only option out there. For traveling around town, a small sedan might be better. Large families may appreciate an SUV.
The point is to ask yourself whether a used truck is the best move. If you can honestly say “yes” to this question, then there is no reason to delay the process of finding one. Once you locate that perfect option, you will know you are making the right choice and have asked the questions necessary to keep yourself and your money safe during the process.