A new Ford Taurus and a new Ford F-150 both start at $27,700. But did you know that if you buy a used 2015 F-150 in excellent condition you'll pay about $4000 more than a Taurus from the same year and in the same condition? This isn't an isolated case--and the difference can be confusing for buyers. Compare different classes and models and one trend becomes clear: Used pickup trucks fetch a higher price than other vehicle classes with the same age and miles on them.
You might cry foul, but these aren't scams. Just take a look on websites like Kelley Blue Book that estimate the value of used cars and trucks. You'll find that all over the nation used trucks retain their value better than cars and SUVs. But don't despair. With these tips, you can find a great deal and soon park your very own truck in your driveway.
Find the Sweet Spot
Try to find a truck between three and five years old. That's the sweet spot. Why? Trucks depreciate the most in the first few years before their asking price starts leveling off, so you'll get both the best age and the best price for your used truck. But don't go more than five years old unless you're willing to inherit other people's problems.
Know What You Want
Before you head for the used truck inventory, know what you want. There are plenty of options out there, especially among newer models, so you'll find everything from bare bones workhorses to luxury liners. Figuring out what your non-negotiables are will make you a more savvy shopper and guide you to look at the right things. If power and reliability are your most important criteria, pop open the hood and look for signs of maintenance, such as a clean engine and battery. Don't be distracted by extra options or attractive exterior if there are warning signs with key systems.
Pay careful attention to size. If this is your first truck or you're looking for a weekend workhorse, go for a half-ton or compact pickup, not the bigger behemoths out there. Not only will a lighter truck probably be less expensive at purchase, your wallet will thank you every time you fill up too.
Bide Your Time
If you can't find what you want and you're not in a rush, wait for the right truck to come along. The used truck market is three times bigger than the new truck market which means that used trucks are coming onto the market all the time.Keep your eye on the market, and know your price point.