Buying a used truck can be a great way to get a lot of value without paying the premium for a new vehicle. However, it also comes with more risks than buying new. Following these key steps will help ensure you find a used truck that meets your needs and is a sound investment.

image via

Research Truck Models, Years, And Options

Before starting your search, spend time researching different truck models, model years, and feature options. This will help you zero in on the best choices for your needs and budget. Consider factors like:

Size - Do you need a small, midsize, large, or heavy-duty pickup?
Cab style - Regular, extended, or crew cab? What cabin size do you need?
Bed length - Short, standard, or long bed?
Power and capabilities - Look at factors like towing capacity, payload capacity, torque, horsepower, and 4X4/AWD/2WD.
Features - Modern safety features, technology, comfort, and convenience options.
Reliability and ownership costs - Research maintenance costs, fuel economy, insurance rates, and durability.

Once you have an idea of your must-have features, you can start researching prices and narrow down the ideal truck models and years for your budget. Focus on the last 5-7 model years for the best value.

Shop Around For The Right Dealer

Not all dealers are equal when it comes to used vehicles. Look for dealers with a large certified pre-owned (CPO) inventory. CPO trucks have been thoroughly inspected and may come with an extended warranty. Big-name brand dealers may offer the best CPO selections. Independent used car lots can also have great picks if the dealer has a good reputation.

Check out online reviews and complaints to weed out any shady dealers. Visit different dealerships of used trucks in Farmington, NM in person to evaluate customer service, inventory, and facilities. A reputable dealer will provide CARFAX vehicle history reports and service records.

Set Your Used Truck Budget

Setting a firm budget is essential before shopping. Get pre-approved for financing so you know what monthly payments you can afford. Consider not just the sale price but also insurance, estimated fuel costs, maintenance, and repairs. Leaving extra room in your budget is wise so you can afford any minor repairs a used vehicle may need.

Shop At The Right Time

Timing your purchase strategically can save significant money. At the end of each quarter, dealers push to meet sales quotas which can mean great discounts. Holiday weekends like Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day are also good times to bargain hunt. Avoid shopping at the end of the year when dealers will be less likely to negotiate.

Test Drive Top Contenders

Take any potential used truck purchase on a lengthy test drive. Bring it on the freeway, over bumpy roads, up and down hills, and make some tight turns. Listen for any odd noises or sensations. Pay attention to transmission shifting, braking, steering, acceleration, and handling. Examine the interior features closely. Bring along someone knowledgeable about trucks to gain a second opinion.

Inspect Thoroughly

A test drive can’t uncover all issues. Have a certified mechanic thoroughly inspect the truck, checking under the hood and chassis and raising it on a lift if possible. They’ll spot any leaks, damage, worn or broken parts, corrosion, and more. Ask for a written inspection report detailing any necessary repairs.

Review Vehicle History

Don’t even think about buying a used truck without getting a vehicle history report. Paid services like CARFAX provide detailed records of any collisions, flood damage, major repairs, number of owners, and whether it was a rental vehicle or has an existing lien. Make sure the VIN number on the report matches that of the actual truck.

Confirm Warranty Coverage

If buying from a dealer, make sure you understand any remaining factory warranty coverage or extended warranty they are offering. Factory powertrain warranties on trucks typically last 5 years/60,000 miles. Coverage should transfer to you as the new owner. Get warranty terms in writing - it should cover parts and labor for defects.

Negotiate The Best Price

Now it’s time to negotiate a deal armed with information from your research, inspections, and test drive. Have printouts of similar trucks for sale in the area to reference. Point out any flaws uncovered during the inspection to ask for a lower price. Come up with a reasonable target price based on your budget and let the negotiations begin.

Seal The Deal

If you've agreed on pricing and are ready to buy, get everything in writing before closing the sale. Review the sales contract thoroughly and make sure any verbal promises about repairs or warranty coverage are included. Decline all extras like extended warranties they try to push on you. Don't forget to get all keys, remotes, and owner's manuals. Congrats, the used truck search is over!