Find the BEST Tips for Buying a Used Pickup

Buying a used pickup truck can be a thrill, as long as you get what you want and what you need. The biggest mistake you can make in a truck sale is ignoring your needs for the truck. The second biggest mistake is buying a truck you need and paying no heed to the truck you want.

Below are the six principal considerations you need to factor in when making a pickup truck purchase.

1. Gas or Diesel Engine

Every pickup truck owner has an opinion on fuel types. The practical rafter/kayaker with a single-cab truck and factory rims – and who pulls a trailer less than 1,000 pounds – might point out that a gasoline engine is both easier and less expensive to work on.

On the other hand, the barrel racer who rodeos every weekend – and lives in the mountains of Colorado – will tell you it’s too expensive to buy petroleum for a gasoline-powered engine big enough to haul a horse trailer over a pass.

They’re both right. It is more expensive to repair a diesel engine, yet the diesel, as long as both engines are the same size, will have more power; diesel fuel is 15 percent more efficient per volume unit of fuel.

A diesel engine is also more fuel efficient, 20 percent more, but it has a much louder lower top-end speed.

2. Transmission

The transmission is another decision that every pickup truck owner opines. An automatic transmission is less difficult and less bothersome to drive, but it is considerably more expensive than a clutch to repair. Also, engines equal, you will get more torque out of a standard transmission (important for hauling over hills) but slower acceleration with shifting.

If an automatic bangs when it shifts, or if it is easy to slip out of gear as you accelerate, that transmission probably has a limited shelf life.

In the same light, if you have trouble shifting a standard transmission without grinding the gears, the clutch is probably on its way out.

3. Truck Sizing

Consider the size of the truck. What do you need and what can you afford with respect to purchase price, fuel and maintenance? Do you need a 2-door, 4-door, extended cab, long bed, short bed, flat bed, etc?

4. Mileage / Warranty / Accident Report

There is a reason low mileage vehicles are more expensive. Generally, the lower the mileage, the longer it is going to last you.

More important than the mileage is whether the pickup was serviced regularly. It is not a wise decision to buy a vehicle if the owner cannot produce all of the service records, even if the truck is still under warranty.

And, always, check to see if there is an accident report for that vehicle.

5. Test Drive

When you test drive a pickup, make sure you drive it harder than you would normally. How does it sound when you wrap up the engine? How does it shift at that point, and how well does it downshift?

Hit some bumps relatively hard. Is there any rattling? Does the suspension bottom out?

How the truck looks is important, but how it sounds and feels is far more crucial.

6. Pricing

The first thing to do when pricing a pickup – regardless of whether you’re looking at small trucks or full-sized ones – is to look up the Blue Book suggestions. A blue book will give you a price range, based on make, model, year, mileage, engine and condition.

Then, based on the price range and your test drive, you can determine whether a vehicle is priced right for you.

If you’re looking for a great deal on a used pickup truck and aren’t satisfied with what you’ve found in the local penny papers, begin your search at

With, you can find auction-style truck sales, used car dealership sales and all types of sale-by-owner deals!