Buying Used Pickup Trucks: What Should You Look For?
Buying a used pickup truck is a lot harder than buying a used car. Used pickup trucks have often lived a harder workhorse-style life, which means there’s more to consider when you’re buying a truck than when you’re buying a normal family sedan or minivan. So just what should you look for? We have some answers that can help you when you’re checking out a used truck.
Towing and Hauling
One thing you’ll have to consider when buying a used truck is just how much towing and hauling the previous owner has done. Obviously, this isn’t something you’ll need to think about if you’re buying a hatchback or a convertible, but trucks are different. If a truck has spent 50,000 miles hooked up to a trailer, it may have caused more than normal wear on the truck’s mechanical components.
Of course, one way to find out just how much towing and hauling a truck has done is to simply ask the owner. But since you can’t always count on the truth from someone selling a used car — and since you can’t always count on a dealer to know the whole story — we recommend taking the truck for a mechanical inspection before you buy it. We especially recommend this if you see evidence of a lot of towing, such as a well-worn tow hitch, a severely bent rear license plate or a cable for wiring a trailer’s brake lights.
Another thing you’ll need to consider when buying a truck is exactly how it’s been used. Many used pickup trucks lead pampered in-town lives, but some are used in fields, on farms or on ranches — exactly as they were intended to be. The problem with this sort of use, however, is that it can cause a lot of wear to a truck’s suspension, chassis and other components.
To check for off-road use, get under the truck and take a look around. If you see a lot of scratches, scrapes and bent parts on the truck’s underside, it may have had a rough life off-road. While this isn’t necessarily a reason to avoid a truck, it’s certainly a red flag that may warrant a mechanical inspection by a professional.
Many trucks are bought by businesses and used as workhorses in a wide variety of applications, including shuttling around the foreman and hauling serious debris and heavy goods. Because so many trucks are used by businesses, we wouldn’t tell you to avoid a truck that’s had commercial use, but we do suggest paying a mechanic to check it over before you buy it. Businesses aren’t always as careful with maintenance as private owners, and you’ll want to be sure that no important services were skipped.
Buying a used pickup truck is hard, since used trucks have often had a rough life. But if you follow our suggestions and thoroughly check out any truck before you buy it, you’ll probably end up with a used pickup that serves you well for years to come.
This article by Doug Demuro was originally published on AutoTrader.com
Based on final 2018 model-year sales, this guide contains the 10 most popular pickup trucks in America. Changes in the segment for 2019, however, could bring changes to this list in the future. Ram is challenging Chevrolet for second-place ranking among light-duty full-size models, while the midsize segment gets two new competitors in the form of the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator. Stay tuned.
10. Toyota Tundra (118,258)
A full-size light-duty truck, the Texas-built Toyota Tundra has been in production for almost 15 years without a complete redesign. The Tundra’s two V8 engine choices are inefficient, crash-test protection is unimpressive, and the mix of cab styles, bed lengths, and trim levels is limited. The maximum payload rating is 1,730 pounds, and the maximum tow rating is 10,200 lbs.
9. Chevrolet Colorado (134,842)
A midsize pickup truck available in extended and crew cab styles with a choice between a 4-cylinder, a V6, and a turbo-diesel summoning 369 lb.-ft. of torque, the Chevrolet Colorado offers variety. You can get anything from a basic work truck to an off-road-ready ZR2 Bison, and when properly equipped a Colorado can haul up to 1,574 lbs. of payload and tow as much as 7,700 lbs. of trailer.
8. Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD/3500HD (148,819)
Available in 2500HD and 3500HD model series, as well as multiple trim levels ranging from basic to luxurious, Chevy’s heavy-duty full-size truck hauls up to 6,112 lbs. of payload and tows as much as 23,100 lbs. of weight, depending on how its configured. Get the optional Duramax turbo-diesel V8 for maximum capability. A redesigned Silverado HD is coming for the 2020 model year.
7. Ram Heavy Duty (149,287)
Overhauled for the 2019 model year, the Ram Heavy Duty comes in 2500 and 3500 series and is available with a turbo-diesel engine making 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum towing capacity measures 35,100 lbs. and a Ram HD can handle a payload of up to 7,680 lbs. Multiple trim levels, from basic to luxurious, are available, and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon is especially talented when off-roading.
6. GMC Sierra 1500 (158,284)
Redesigned for 2019, the GMC Sierra 1500 light-duty full-size truck is improved in every way. Highlights include a range of engines including two V8s, a turbocharged 4-cylinder, and a turbo-diesel 6-cylinder. A new AT4 trim level preps the Sierra 1500 for off-road duty, and the popular Denali luxury model returns. Maximum towing capability is 10,200 lbs., and the Sierra can handle a payload of up to 2,240 lbs.
5. Toyota Tacoma (245,659)
The most popular midsize truck in America, the Toyota Tacoma comes in extended- and crew-cab styles and in six trim levels, including the off-road-ready TRD Pro. Power comes courtesy of a 4-cylinder or a V6 engine, and the Tacoma can tackle a payload of up to 1,440 lbs. or a trailer weighing as much as 6,800 lbs.
4. Ford F-Series Super Duty (264,388)
Redesigned just two years ago, the Ford F Series Super Duty lineup includes F-250, F-350, and F-450 model series with three different cab styles and six trim levels ranging from basic to luxurious. Gasoline and turbo-diesel V8 engines are available, and a Super Duty can haul up to 7,640 lbs. of payload and tow as much as 35,000 lbs. of trailer.
3. Ram 1500 (387,223)
Ram has redesigned its 1500 light-duty full-size pickup truck for 2019, though it still sells the old design as the Classic. The new truck takes big leaps in terms of technological sophistication, and comes with a standard mild-hybrid powertrain system called eTorque. Extended- and crew-cab styles are available in six trim levels ranging from basic to luxurious. The maximum payload rating is 2,300 lbs., and a Ram 1500 can tow up to 12,750 lbs.
2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (436,480)
Redesigned for 2019, the Silverado 1500 light-duty full-size pickup truck offers plenty of variety. Redesigned for 2019, the Silverado 1500 light-duty full-size pickup truck offers plenty of variety. Eight trim levels and six powertrains are available, including off-road-ready Trail Boss versions and both a turbocharged 4-cylinder gas and turbocharged 6-cylinder diesel engine. The Silverado’s maximum payload rating is 2,250 lbs. and the maximum tow rating is 12,200 lbs.
1. Ford F-150 (623,980)
For more than four decades, the Ford F-150 light-duty full-size truck has been the best-selling pickup in America. For 2019, three cab styles and seven trim levels are available, including the Baja-inspired Raptor. Turbocharged gas and diesel 6-cylinder engines are available, along with a traditional V8. The truck’s maximum payload rating is 3,270 lbs., and when properly equipped the F-150 can tow up to 13,200 pounds.