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Used pickup truck buying advice


JIMMIEM's Avatar
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07-18-16, 05:13 AM   #1  
Used pickup truck buying advice

I would like to buy a used pickup truck. I don't need anything fancy......just want it to be able to haul wood from the lumber yard and take trash to the dump. I can pay to have this stuff done but it's a convenience thing and I can these things done on my schedule. I don't need a/c or 4wd. Preferably not a rust bucket that will get me shunned by the neighbors. I live in Massachusetts.....in the burbs south of Boston. How much should I expect to pay for such a truck? Also, any suggested sources....lease trucks, etc.?

 
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marksr's Avatar
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07-18-16, 05:32 AM   #2  
First you need to determine how much you have or are willing to borrow to spend on a truck. Then you can look at all the various used truck ads both in print and online. Locally used pick ups tend to be about 20% cheaper on my side of the mountain than they are in the next county on the other side - I have no idea why.

For the most part you'd inspect a used truck just like you would when buying a used car. The big benefit is a truck is easier to crawl under.


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07-18-16, 05:42 AM   #3  
#1, Make sure it has an 8' bed.
#2, Stay away from a diesel.
There's just no way without more info anyone's going be able to guess about pricing, such as what year truck are you looking for, 1/2 ton, 3/4 ?
You can check pricing on "Blue Book" or NADA on the net.
Far more likely to find a rust free, and better condition truck in the south then up there in NE.
Less pot holes, far less salt on the roads.
Check on Craig's List.

 
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07-18-16, 06:23 AM   #4  
If this is going to be a second vehicle, specifically for the types of things that you mentioned, and otherwise set, I suggest at least least considering a trailer. You will of course need a primary vehicle capable of pulling the load, but that can still leave you with a lot of options, and an occasionally used trailer is a whole lot less cost to maintain than an occasionally used pickup.

 
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07-18-16, 04:45 PM   #5  
Joe, why stay away from a diesel??? True they will cost more, but will retain value as well. My 2001 DOdge Ram with a Cummins diesel has 471,000 miles on it and cranks and runs just fine. It does what I tell it to do. Jimmiem a word of caution...once you have a pick up, you'll wonder how you lived as long as you have without one, and will probably not see your life without one in the future.

 
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07-18-16, 06:27 PM   #6  
Look up the ownership history. Try and find one that wasn't a work truck. Work trucks sometimes have 30k miles on the odometer and 300k miles worth of hours on the engine.

 
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07-18-16, 07:14 PM   #7  
Before you absolutely make up your mind to get a truck research what it is going to cost you to own. This means registration fees, yearly license and excise taxes and especially insurance premiums. Also, if I am not mistaken, Massachusetts requires annual safety inspections so you might have to add in a brake job or tires. Don't forget routine oil changes and any other maintenance costs.

You already mentioned not wanting to offend your neighbors and in that vein you need to check your LOCAL laws concerning where you can park a truck. There is a city just north of me where it is unlawful to park a truck (or RV) for more than 24 hours where it can be seen from a public street. Even worse, some communities are passing "nuisance" ordinances prohibiting parking "derelict" vehicles anywhere on your property even if they are not visible from the public street. An older truck with less than stellar paint that is only moved occasionally might qualify as "derelict" under these laws.

I had a small pick-up (Dodge/Mitsubishi) from 1980 to about 1990 and while it was nice to be able to go to the lumber yard whenever I wanted, in reality I didn't actually use it to haul things with that wouldn't fit a car all that much. As an only vehicle it left much to be desired in the way of comfort and as a second vehicle all the things I mentioned in the first paragraph ate up a lot of money.

I can honestly say that since I got rid of that truck I have done quite well, either having my building materials delivered or renting a truck for a few hours when necessary. Yes, there ARE times that I wish I had a truck I could just hop into and go, mostly to pick up junk from Craig's List someone else is getting rid of. I suspect that IF I had a truck I would have several times as much junk as I do now, with no place to store any of it and no real reason to have it. If there ever arises a REAL need for a truck I can always rent one for about $20 a day plus fuel and mileage charges and those charges will be a whole lot less than even the yearly license fees on a truck I would own.

 
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07-18-16, 08:49 PM   #8  
Allow me to tell a story, to illustrate what NOT to do. (Scroll down for the TLDR summary).

When I was younger and less versed on automotive and mechanical things, I bought a truck. I wanted basically the same thing as you -- a beater truck, to run to the dump, the lumber yard, and have 4WD and better ground clearance for getting around in the winter.

I found one, listed by a dealer "as is." I checked it out, and it fit the bill. About 15 years old, 6.5' bed, 4WD, and actually kinda sorta nice. $3500. But, since it was listed as is, it needed an inspection to be registered in the state. The dealer said he could arrange that, and I agreed. Well, it needed some work. Actually, a fair amount of work. Brake lines, steering stabilizer, rusty bumper replacement... Between parts and labor, I think I tossed another nearly $3000 at it. But in my mind, it would be sweet then. Lots of new, freshly replaced parts that should last a while. The only thing they didn't fix was what was supposed to be a faulty oil pressure sender. A cheap part, easily replaced later. So I paid for the truck and the repairs, and rode off, happy as a clam.

Then I got around to getting that fluctuating oil pressure gauge looked at. Well, turns out, no, it wasn't a faulty sender. The oil pump was shot, as was a bearing... and there was more glitter in the oil than in a My Little Pony collection. So, another, nearly $5000 into a new engine... and my $3500 beater truck has turned into a $11000+ money pit.

I now drive that money pit a couple times a month. It has an extended cab that can't fit the baby's car seat, but it also has a short bed that can't hold 8 foot goods with the tailgate up. It's just not practical. But I'm so under water on it that I don't want to sell it.

So, here's my advice:
- Listen to Furd. The convenience is great, but I paid dearly for it, have an extra vehicle on insurance, have a bigger registration fee to pay, etc... Learn to make friends with someone who has a truck. Or consider a trailer. I've done the math, and it's not cost effective. Most years, I pay more a year on registration and insurance than I would on a rental for the times that I really truly NEED a truck. And most times, I don't NEED it even when I think I need it.
If you MUST buy a truck:
- 8 foot bed. Especially for dump runs and lumber yard trips, you don't need an extended cab, but you'll wish for that extra foot and a half in the bed.
- Avoid "as is," there's a reason they're not inspecting it, certifying it, or disclosing anything. They very well could have known the motor was bad, but since it was as is, no warranty, I have no proof and no recourse.
- "Too good to be true," really is too good to be true.
- If you don't know what you're looking at, take it to YOUR trusted mechanic for inspection, not the guy who's in bed with the dealer/seller. And don't let any lights, diagnostic codes, or other problems go unexplained.
- Check for recalls, and check a website like carcomplaints.com for known issues. The truck I bought looked fine, but quickly developed issues like door rust and a cracked dash that the model is notorious for. I would have easily found that out and expected it, had I done my research.

 
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07-19-16, 03:24 AM   #9  
While truck ownership doesn't work well for some folks, there are many like Larry and me that couldn't imagine trying to get along without one. I have an old beater 4x4 truck with a 7' bed. My wife doesn't care much for riding in it but it does what I need. When it breaks down I fix it just like I do with my wife's car [or the kids] ..... except if my truck breaks down that usually means any projects I have going get put on hold.


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07-19-16, 03:27 AM   #10  
Thank You folks for your advice. Based on perspective it all makes sense. A lot of good food for thought.

 
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07-19-16, 03:40 PM   #11  
I was looking for trucks on ebay. My wife was watching Craigslist. A lot of ppl are sick of getting the shaft at a dealer when they go to trade in their truck at a dealer, so they opt to sell it themselves.

She ended up finding me a great truck on Craigslist, exactly what I wanted, for a fair price. 2013 F150 supercab with high miles. Super nice truck. Personally I would not get an 8' bed, I would never fit in today's parking lots. But those kind of decisions are up to you.

 
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07-19-16, 05:31 PM   #12  
Yeah, long beds (mine is 9' flatbed dually) don't park at Wal Mart very easily. I have to walk from the bottom of the lot and take two spaces

 
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