When you’re in the market for a used or older pickup truck, you know you can’t compromise on reliability. People in the market for a pickup truck need a vehicle that they can depend on, whether it’s for making sure they can tackle bad road conditions like ice, snow, and mud, hauling the tools and materials they need to do for their jobs, or the ability to tow trailers, boats, and snowmobiles (because life isn’t about work all the time).
Whether you plan on buying from a dealership or privately, there are a few things you need to know about buying a used pickup to get the best deal – and the best truck.
The Best Pickup Truck Brands to Buy Used
Make and model mean a lot when it comes to used pickup trucks. Brands tend to garner a reputation for quality and durability for a good reason, and when you’re in the used market, drivers have years of first-hand experience to go on.
While the right make, model, and year will depend on your budget, your preferences, and availability in markets near you, these are some of the top pickup truck models for reliability:
The Nissan Frontier has a stretch of 15 years from 2005 to 2020, from which you can find powerful trailer towing capacity, great performance, and superior reliability at a budget price. The truck draws comparisons to the Toyota Tacoma but at a much more affordable price.
While it may not be as iconic as the Wrangler, the Jeep Gladiator is, like most Jeep trucks which you can take a look at that here, best known for its off-roading capabilities. The Gladiator is also a great model for light work capabilities, and it has robust aftermarket support if you want to make upgrades to the vehicle you buy. The Gladiator is also budget-friendly, with a base trim stripped down to the essentials, but more exciting tech features are available with other trims.
Dodge Ram 1500
The Dodge Ram 1500 has attracted its own fan base thanks to its secure and responsive handling for a pickup truck, its tranquil cabin, and a clear and intuitive touchscreen interface in its 2013 to 2018 models. The Dodge Ram 1500 doesn’t have quite the same towing capacity as some of its chief competitors, but it brings comfort and great tech to the table.
There’s a reason the F-150 is the king of pickup trucks in so many markets. The F-150 has been the bestselling pickup truck for years, and that means the used market has a ton of options. If you’re looking for a pickup with fewer miles, check out the latest generation. However, even older models are going to offer the right combination of utility, comfort, and performance. The Ford F-150 can tow up to 11,300 pounds and haul 3,060 pounds, making it one of the toughest trucks you can buy.
When you’re buying used, you need to know you can trust your next truck. Check out driver reviews of the older models to find the best deals on reliable vehicles.
Your Used Pickup Truck Checklist
1. Check Your Budget
Anytime you buy a new vehicle, so much depends on your budget. The cost of both new and used vehicles has climbed steeply in recent years, and it can be hard to decide how much you should spend on a vehicle compared to today’s actual prices.
As a rule of thumb for keeping finances healthy, you should spend no more than 10% of your pre-tax income on transportation. That includes car payments, insurance, and fuel. That can limit your options, but buying used is a great way to get more for your budget.
Don’t forget the taxes when you buy a used vehicle, especially if you buy privately. You may have to pay those taxes at a service centre yourself to register the vehicle.
2. Research Truck-Specific Problems
One of the advantages of buying a used pickup is that drivers have had time to experience their vehicles. With tens of thousands of models out on the roads, there is a lot of expertise out there that can spare you some headaches with your own vehicle.
Do your research into truck-specific problems. Things like feeling vibrations when you test drive, engine oil leaks, frozen locks, and transmission problems can all be issues based on the specific truck you want to buy. Find out which problems can be the biggest hassles based on the models you had your eyes on.
3. Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspection
Getting a car inspection before you buy is one of the smartest things you can do when you’re buying used. Although a pre-purchase vehicle inspection can cost a couple of hundred dollars, it can also spare you from having to spend thousands on car repairs further down the road.
If you’re buying used with a dealership, you can usually have them do a pre-purchase inspection on-site. However, many buyers prefer to have an independent mechanic perform the inspection just so that they have more confidence in the results.
This should also apply to private sellers. See if you can take the vehicle to a mechanic that you trust before you pay the full amount for the vehicle.
4. Double Check Recalls
When there’s a vehicle recall, it’s usually in the news. Before you buy a used pickup truck, just do an online search for recalls for that make, model, and year. Recall work is usually done for free at the dealership, but if the previous owner ignored it, you may find that your vehicle has some deeper issues.
5. Avoid Modifications
Some truck enthusiasts love to modify their vehicles to improve performance, but be careful about lift kits. Engine modifications can have the adverse effect of speeding up wear and tear, and trucks can be at a greater risk of axle wear and leaks when modified. If parts of the vehicle are still supposed to be under warranty, modifications can easily disqualify it, so many drivers prefer unmodified trucks when they’re looking for something that’s going to be reliable and durable, and that won’t send them straight to the mechanic after purchasing.
Buying a used pickup is a smart way to save on your next vehicle, but make sure you go with a reputable make and model and do your due diligence before you make a final purchase.