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06-19-24

A Used Truck Buying Guide: Our Tips & Advice

What's in a used truck? While dealerships often showcase amazing vehicles, trucks out there performing in the real world have the added benefit of being tested and given the thumbs up. Our used truck buying guide offers practical advice to help you make an informed purchase, so you can find the best ones.

Used Truck Buying Guidelines

  • Buying a used pickup truck is smart financially due to lower price tag, gentler depreciation rates, lower loan interest rates, and potentially lower insurance costs.
  • Key factors to consider when buying a used truck include budget planning, fuel economy, towing and payload capacity, cab and bed configurations, and engine options.
    • If you're going to get a lifted truck, it's better to give a used truck past its initial bumper-to-bumper warranty an aftermarket upgrade like a body lift or a suspension lift.
    • Lighter pickup trucks can tow up to 14,000 lb and heavy-duty trucks can tow between 30,000 lb and 40,000 lb. Gooseneck hitches are usually required above 30,000 lb.
    • Fuel efficiency can be 10-24 mpg combined in petroleum engines. But with fully electric trucks you can get 60-90 mpg; these trucks can be harder to find since they are newer to the used truck market.
  • When choosing a used truck, consider the type that fits your needs: compact, midsize, full-size, heavy-duty, or an exciting new EV market.

Why Choose a Used Pickup Truck?

Newer used Ford-F150 in black driving up snowy dirt road in Utah showcasing suspension truck lift. The Ford F-150 is wildly popular and a great buy. If you buy used, you've in-demand features with the brand power of Ford behind it. You've also got their most popular model and something you can customize later if you wish!

Why opt for a used pickup truck, you ask? Think financial savvy meets rugged adventure. A pre-owned pickup truck offers the following benefits:

  • Saves you from the steep depreciation of a new vehicle
  • Comes with lower loan interest rates and insurance costs
  • Features like leather seats and advanced tech become surprisingly affordable in the used market
  • Used trucks retain their value, thanks to their built-to-last durability

Imagine cruising in a crew cab with all these features and more. A used pickup truck is the perfect choice for those looking for both practicality and adventure.

Whether you’re eyeing a compact truck for city errands or a heavy-duty truck for dominating mountain trails or towing the maximum. Whatever you're aspiring to, a used truck is a wise investment that keeps on giving after its first owner tosses the keys.

Types of Used Pickup Trucks

As for used pickup trucks, there’s a world of choices to suit your every need. From the agile compact trucks to the mighty heavy-duty haul champions, each type brings its own brand of power and purpose.

Maybe you'd like to get into a sleek electric truck for eco-friendly escapades or a full-sized Silverado for your contracting business. No matter the dream, understanding the different truck types ensures you drive away with a pickup that perfectly aligns with your lifestyle.

Where does your current truck fit in the used truck market? It could be a great model from yesteryear, but not the right size, towing package, or fuel-type you need. In that case, you should consider selling or trading your truck in—for something that's more your speed.

Compact Trucks

Taking a closer look at compact trucks, we're into your stereotypical pickups. These trucks weave through city traffic with grace and fit snugly into that tight parking spot outside your favorite café. Don’t let their size fool you, though; they come with a cargo bed ready to haul your weekend DIY project supplies, albeit with a smaller capacity than their larger siblings.

Compact trucks, like the nimble Ford Ranger or the feature-packed GMC Canyon, offer the kind of fuel economy that people need with the capabilities pickups offer to their drivers exclusively; our new and repeat customers are truck owners, and many have heard the phrase, "can I borrow your truck?"

Midsize Trucks

Newer used 4x4 Toyota Tacoma on dirt road at sunset in spring. The Toyota Tacoma is something we often hope to buy off our customers on trade-in. Sitting between compact and midsize trucks, it's got the best of both worlds between agile, smaller trucks and industrious midsized. In a way it's the perfect midsize!

Midsize trucks are the jack-of-all-trades in the truck world. They strike a sweet balance between the compact’s nimbleness and the full-size’s muscle, making them versatile companions for both daily commutes and off-road adventures. The Toyota Tacoma is a fantastic midsize truck model, known for its reliability, off-road capability, and strong resale value.

With engine options that range from fuel-sipping to powerful, these trucks cater to a variety of needs and often come decked out with upscale amenities that rival luxury vehicles.

Full-Size Trucks

Enter the domain of full-sized trucks, where robust performance meets versatile configurations. These workhorses are designed for hard work and encumbered play, boasting towing capabilities that make them the go-to choice for hauling heavy trailers or boats.

Leaders of this category are usually considered the Ram 1500 or the Ford F-150.

And when it comes to comfort, these trucks don’t skimp – with spacious interiors that can give luxury SUVs a run for their money, especially in crew cab variants like the SuperCrew.

Electric Trucks

The electric truck is the new kid on the block, quietly revving up to revolutionize the pickup world. The Chevy Silverado EV and the Ford Lightning are two popular options.

Already boasting powerful towing capabilities, these plug-in models are expected to surge in availability in the used market, offering a cleaner, more efficient way to tackle the jobs traditionally reserved for their gas-guzzling counterparts.

Heavy-Duty Trucks

Side profile of Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD 4x4 on Utahn side street near Salt Lake City. The Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD is a favorite among heavy duty truck owners. Like the Ford Super Duty series, it's part of a line that can tow over 25,000 lb with the right equipment. If you buy used, you've got a ton of life left in it to tow all you need.

For those who demand maximum power and capability, heavy-duty trucks are the undisputed champions. Engineered to conquer the toughest tasks, these trucks are the heroes of heavy towing and payload capacities, ideal for hauling fifth-wheel trailers or bearing heavy loads.

Models like the Ford Super Duty, with features like dual-wheel rear axles, stand tall with reinforced frames and suspension systems designed to withstand the heaviest demands. The Chevy Silverado 3500HD and the GMC Sierra 3500HD are also great examples of this category.

Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Truck

When the hunt for a used truck begins, several factors come into play to ensure you find a vehicle that’s as dependable as it is suited to your needs.

From setting a realistic budget to scrutinizing the engine’s output, considering these key elements will guide you to a truck that’s ready to hit the road and get the job done—without any costly surprises down the line.

Budget Planning

Budget planning is the compass that guides your truck buying journey. It’s about more than just the sticker price; it encompasses the total cost of truck ownership, including insurance, maintenance, and those trips to the gas station.

It all depends what you want in a used truck. Take the Tacoma; with used Toyota Tacomas at our used auto center fetching anywhere from $27,000 to just under $40,000, setting a clear budget helps you navigate the financial waters.

Financing a Used Truck

Our used inventory sports a diverse range of used trucks priced from roughly $30K to around $90K. For those eyeing the higher end of the spectrum, financing options are available to make your dream truck a reality. You can always get pre-qualified for financing to start budgeting more accurately for the type of ride you want.

Towing and Payload Capacity

Closeup of trailer hitch with safety lock engaged. Before you even get into gooseneck hitches, there's a lot you can tow in your used truck, depending on its size. Some compact light duty trucks tow just a little, maybe a small boat weighing 4,000 lb. But with a hitch and a full-sized you're getting up to 14,000 lb!

Towing and payload capacity are the muscles of your pickup truck, defining how much weight it can flex without breaking a sweat.

Whether it’s a compact truck with a 4,000-pound towing limit or a full-size powerhouse capable of pulling 14,000 lb, these figures are essential to match your truck to the tasks at hand, from towing trailers to hauling heavy loads without straining the frame.

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is the heartbeat of your truck’s long-term financial use. The gallons-per-mile equation plays a vital role in the ongoing expenses of truck ownership, especially when considering the typical MPG figures that can range quite a bit

With the potential to cover hundreds of miles on a single tank, a truck’s performance on fuel is a key factor to ponder. In newer used trucks, there's the GMC Canyon 4WD and the Chevrolet Colorado 4WD, each getting 22 mpg on the highway, while the Ford F150 Pickup 4WD wins out with 24 mpg. But the Toyota Tacoma will get you around in the city better with 20 urban mpg!

Cab and Bed Configurations

Cab and bed configurations are like choosing the perfect outfit for your truck – they determine how it will function in your daily life. From the cozy two-seater standard cabs to the family-friendly crew cabs and the versatile extended cab, each configuration offers a balance of seating and cargo space tailored to your needs.

The right choice here ensures your truck serves you well, whether you’re carpooling to work or loading up for a weekend adventure. If you're after those maximum payloads and towing capacities, you might need a specialized truck bed or a goose-neck hitch, respectively.

Engine Options

Newer used GMC Sierra sitting on icy patch of a dirt road in Utah. The GMC Sierra comes in several engine types, and one of our customers' favorites is the 3.0L turbodiesel by Duramax. Pound-for-pound it's a fighter, producing 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.

The heart of your used truck lies in its engine options, and it’s crucial to choose one that suits your performance needs and appetite for adventure. Diesel engine choices are also something to consider as some used trucks have smaller displacements like a 3.0L Duramax turbodiesel, which can keep up with 5.3L or 6.2L V8s burning petroleum.

With options ranging from fuel-efficient inline four-cylinders to the roar of a 425 horsepower V-8, there’s an engine for every job and journey. But bear in mind that diesel engines, while powerful, may come with higher maintenance costs, adding another layer to your decision-making process.

Where to Buy a Used Truck in Utah

In the Beehive State, the quest for the perfect used truck leads to a crossroads: online listings, reputable dealerships like Summit Trucks, or the more adventurous route of private sellers. Each path offers a unique buying experience, and in Utah’s flourishing used truck market, finding your ideal ride is all about knowing where to look and who to trust.

Dealerships an Used Auto Centers

Dealerships like Summit Trucks are oases in the desert of used truck buying, offering a mirage of options from compact trucks to the mightiest of heavy-duty pickups. Here, well-maintained preowned vehicles sometimes come with warranties providing security and peace of mind—ensuring your used truck doesn’t come with hidden surprises.

Professional service and support mean you can rest assured that the truck has been thoroughly vetted, ready to earn its keep from day one. With Summit Trucks' reputation, you can rest assured that your used truck will be one you can be proud of.

Custom Used Truck Services

Lifted Ford Super Duty showcasing boosted off road capability kicking up dirt. The Ford Super Duty shows how comfortable even heavy duty truck owners can have it. There's a lot of great tech inside a truck, and the used market is full of newer used vehicles with features owners still rave about years later.

When a truck owner wants to pass a well-cared for truck in great working order (inside and out) to the next person, we're here. Summit Trucks sells used trucks as is but also provides a range of custom truck services, including:

  • Modifications
  • Customized Truck Alignments
  • Aftermarket Tires
  • Professional Trimming

Visit us today to explore our custom truck services and see how we can transform your used truck into the perfect ride for your lifestyle. If you're going to modify a truck, it makes a lot more sense to modify a used truck from a used auto center like ours; you'll be putting exciting new components in and increasing its value, performance in certain areas, and visual appeal!

Private Sellers

Private sellers can be the wild cards of truck buying, offering deals that may seem too good to be true – and sometimes they are. When venturing into private sales, a keen eye and thorough investigation are your best allies.

Always verify the vehicle’s history and ensure a comprehensive inspection to avoid any unwelcome surprises lurking under the hood or within the paperwork. At the end of the day, private sellers are a buyer-beware source for used trucks so please exercise caution here.

Online Listings

Online listings are the treasure maps of the used truck world, offering a panoramic view of the market from the comfort of your home. With these platforms, you can filter through hundreds of options to find the truck that checks all your boxes, comparing prices and conditions with ease.

Just remember, the digital world is vast, so doing your homework on the seller’s reputation is as important as inspecting the truck itself. Plus, if you're going to modify your truck, you'll have to find a place to do it afterwards, like Summit Trucks.

Inspecting a Used Truck Before Purchase

Like a miner sifting for gold, inspecting a used truck before purchase is all about separating the gems from the grit. A meticulous examination from tire treads to engine bay can unearth potential issues, ensuring your investment is solid as the steel of the truck’s frame.

Never shy away from getting into the nitty-gritty details; after all, it’s the little things that can make or break your driving experience.

Mechanical Inspection

A mechanical inspection is the spotlight that illuminates the inner workings of your potential truck. Enlisting the expertise of a third-party mechanic can reveal hidden issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, saving you from future headaches and unexpected repair bills.

It’s a step that should be built into your budget, It’s a step that should be built into your budget, a small price to pay for the peace of mind that your truck’s engine runs smoothly and its brakes function properly. As our customers know, when we buy a used truck, we do a thorough inspection so we can sell it to its next appreciative owner.

Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report tells the story of a used truck, providing a detailed record of its past. It’s a must in your used truck buying process, revealing past accidents, ownership details, and maintenance records.

Armed with this knowledge, you can gauge the truck’s past and its readiness for your future, ensuring the story ahead is one of smooth roads and reliable service.

Test Drive

Used Dodge Ram 1500 in white kicking up dirt in reverse. The Dodge Ram 1500 is another great find in used truck centers like ours. If you buy used, you've got a a chance to take a truck out and see how it might perform. A test drive doesn't have to churn dirt to tell you a lot about acceleration, braking, torque, suspension and handling. You can feel all that on the pavement!

A test drive is your chance to dance with the truck, feeling its rhythm on the road and ensuring it moves to the beat of your drum. When our customers come for that all-important test drive, most pay attention to how it handles different speeds and terrains, and keep their ears tuned for smooth mechanics.

For any used truck buyer, it’s a practical way to check the truck’s performance, handling, and comfort, ensuring it aligns with your expectations and driving habits.

The Best Used Trucks to Buy This Year

As we gather from our Utah customers, certain used trucks stand out for their blend of durability, utility, and performance among most trucks. Whether you’re searching for a truck that can endure the rigors of work or one that offers a comfortable ride for family outings, the following models have proven their worth on the road and in the hearts of their owners:

  • Ford F-150
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Ram 1500
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • GMC Sierra

These trucks offer a range of features and capabilities to suit different needs and preferences. Consider these options when shopping for a used truck—or better yet, a newer used truck. Let’s explore the best picks that combine quality and value for a purchase you won’t regret.

Toyota Tacoma

Used Toyota Tacoma sitting majestically on patch of dirt near Utahn construction site. The Toyota Tacoma is award-winning and sought after by both new and used truck owners. Sitting between compact and midsize trucks, it's got a great balance between performance, reliability, and price.

The Toyota Tacoma is a testament to reliability, commanding a high resale value and offering a versatility that’s tough to beat. With models from 2016 to 2023 fetching prices that reflect their enduring quality, the Tacoma stands as a wise choice for those who seek a used truck that promises to be a faithful companion on both city streets and rugged trails.

It’s no wonder this pickup has a loyal following; its reputation for toughness and dependability is well-earned and well-regarded in the used truck market.

Ford F-150

The Ford F-150, a symbol of American half ton trucks, offers an impressive array of features, including:

  • A diverse range of powertrain options
  • Advanced towing technologies
  • A towing capacity that peaks at over 13,500 lb
  • A payload of 2,445 lb

It’s clear the F-150 is built for heavy lifting. The availability of a PowerBoost Hybrid V6 engine and cutting-edge features like BlueCruise technology further positions the F-150 as a forward-thinking choice that doesn’t compromise on power or performance.

Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado is another stalwart in the used truck arena, renowned for its robust build and versatile performance across a variety of configurations. From the work-ready standard-cab models to the luxurious crew cabs, the Silverado offers a truck for every job and every driver.

Known for their durability, Silverado trucks, especially those coming from fleet service, are plentiful and provide a reliable option that keeps you on the road and out of the shop.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Truck

Navigating the used truck market can be as challenging as off-roading in the Rockies, so it’s crucial to be aware of common pitfalls.

Do some research on the best used trucks to buy by year. Some makes and models do better some years; many private sales have resulted in buyers' remorse, as some of our more wary customers know from experience.

Always ensure the title is clear and in hand before signing on the dotted line; it’s the most important document in your truck buying journey. And don’t underestimate the value of a dealership with an on-site shop – their expertise can be invaluable in ensuring your truck is road-ready.

Visit Summit Trucks to Make Buying Used Trucks Easy

Used Jeep off-roading beside tall grasses in Utah in autumn. Our used vehicle center used to be called Truck World, hinting at our devotion to selling and modifying great trucks. But now we can extend that beyond our favorite used trucks to vehicles of many shapes and sizes—like Jeeps. Come check us out at our location in Salt Lake City!

From the rugged highlands of the Wasatch Range to the bustling streets of Salt Lake City, a used truck is your ticket to freedom and versatile capability. Remember, the key to a successful used truck purchase is a blend of savvy shopping and meticulous inspection.

With the right approach, you’ll find a pickup that not only meets your demands but also delivers continuous satisfaction. This guide is your compass, pointing you towards the best deals in Utah, and ensuring your used truck adventure is nothing short of legendary.

Ready to find your perfect used truck? Contact us for a visit to test drive today! Used trucks are worth their weight in gold when you get the right combination of price, extended warranty, and build quality.

Used trucks also a canvas for your favorite truck modifications! Our sales advisors can get your questions in and advise accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of buying a used pickup truck?

The benefits of buying a used pickup truck include saving money on upfront costs, loan interest rates, and insurance, as well as better value retention compared to new trucks. Moreover, it wouldn't make sense to gut the insides of a truck that's just rolled off a name-brand dealer's lot.

Used trucks are ready for the new lease on life that a lifted truck gets. It's a smart choice if you're looking for a reliable, optionally customized vehicle that won't break the bank.

How do I choose the right type of used pickup truck?

Choose the right type of used pickup truck based on your needs for maneuverability, towing/payload capacity, and desired features. Compact trucks are best for easy parking and better fuel economy, while heavy-duty trucks are ideal for more demanding tasks.

Off-roading can be a different beast, even for thoroughly reliable trucks. If you know your going to be touring tough mountain or foothills trails, you should choose the best off-road truck for your budget and your purposes.

Where is the best place to buy a used truck in Utah?

Summit Trucks is the best place to buy a used truck in Utah, offering a wide selection of quality vehicles and heavy hitters that you can modify to your hearts content. Or services complement each other perfectly, so you've got the one-stop shop for the custom truck of your dreams.

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