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Buying a Used Truck?

Discussion in 'Trucks and Trailers' started by Blades Lawn Maintenance, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. Blades Lawn Maintenance

    Blades Lawn Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Baton Rouge, La
    Posts: 1,233

    Looking at buying a used truck pretty soon so I was seeing how many miles would you say I should try to stay around and what year.
  2. Bautieri

    Bautieri LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    Way too general of a question.

    What size truck are you looking at? Gas or diesel? Intended use of the truck (what will you be hauling, pulling, plowing etc)? Without this information, we're pretty much throwing darts at the wall.
  3. lawncuttinfoo

    lawncuttinfoo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,010

    There are 3 year old trucks with 20k miles that should be scrapped. while there are also 10 year old trucks with 150k miles that are great.
    Know the history of the truck and ask lots of questions.
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,033

    I would try to find one that has been used primarily as a personal vehicle, preferably one with towing and plowing prep packages. You can usually tell by looking at the bed how hard it's been worked, but bed liners can mask that, and some trucks may have towed a lot (i.e. camp trailer haulers) and show little use of the bed. Some used car dealers will actually put a new plastic bed liner in their used trucks to make them look like they haven't been worked.

    For example: I bought my work truck new in 2003 and it only has 52K miles on it, but, almost all of those miles are towing, hauling and plowing locally, which causes a LOT more wear and tear than highway miles. I've got almost 4,000 hours on the hour meter, putting my average speed at around 13 mph. From the perspective of someone buying it used, that's not good. It would be better to find one that has 100k miles highway miles on it.
  5. Blades Lawn Maintenance

    Blades Lawn Maintenance LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Baton Rouge, La
    Posts: 1,233

    I understand that. Honestly I don't know wether to get a 1500 or 2500. The only work the truck will be used for is lawn care (pulling a 3000 lbs enclosed trailer). Plus it will be used as a personal vehicle. I never haul or plow anything. It will be a gas. I dont have 10k lbs to haul daily so no need for diesel. Is there anything else you can think of that I'm missing?
  6. Bautieri

    Bautieri LawnSite Member
    Posts: 28

    The last thing I can think to ask would be your budget? Sounds to me like a half ton is more than enough truck for what you're asking it to do. I'm a Ford guy, so I'd recommend a 2006.5 or newer F-150 with the 5.4. You should be able to snag s nice one well under 20k. Miles, figure 12,000 per year, try to stay close to that number. That said, miles really don't mean as much as they used to.

    Do you anticipate you're going to grow or expand the services you offer? If so, I'd look for a 3/4 ton, either Ford or Dodge for the solid front end. It's less to go wrong vs an IFS. With a 3/4 ton, you'll get a heavier frame, better tranny, stronger axles, bearings, etc. which will add up to a truck that will tow whatever you're pulling with much better road manners (tail won't wag the dog). You'll sacrifice ride comfort and MPGs, but anything towing is going to get crappy mileage. Often times, you can get a great deal on a used 3/4 ton vs a comparably equipped half ton because the larger trucks aren't used as frequently as family vehicles. Less demand for them. Again, try and find one that wasn't worked if you're buying used.

    On a side note, I've yet to hear anyone complain that they bought too much truck.
  7. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,362

    It’s a tough call - buying used is a gamble.

    I bought a 1995 T100 4x4 with 3.4 V6 and only 207,000 miles. I blew the money on a used vehicle inspection and compression leak down check. I strongly suggest a used vehicle before buying from a shop that knows that type of vehicle. This truck was far from perfect but I feel was worth the $4400 but time will tell.

    The owner of the shop that did my used vehicle inspection said I could of bought a half ton domestic with 100k miles for roughly the same price.
  8. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,346

    I can afford to be selective now and would avoid anything with over 25k miles. But from my personal experience of buying 4 used trucks in the past 10 years id try to target them in the 50-75k mile range and preferably the lower of the two. Towing loaded trailers beats on the trucks and reveals their weaknesses very quickly. You can go with very few repairs the first 75000 miles but going 75000 to 100000 the repairs start to add up quick. Your block is fine the pistons are fine its the components that fail. Air conditioning, alternator, power steering , air pump, water pump, radiator fan. All have bearings and all have a limited life and when you get to 75000 your getting close to finding it once the belt snaps your dead in the water. The brakes are showing their age suspension and all the springs and ball joints are getting close. Exhaust is often rotted even if you cant see it yet. Then we get to the fun ones rear end drive shaft and transmission and 4wd cost a fortune when it fails. And that still leaves body rust and frame rust and all the interior issues that arise on a work truck after you put the miles on it. And I am 4 for 4 iv yet to ever buy a used truck with decent tires.

    My experience is 120,000 miles and up its not even worth owning the truck any more. The resale value is near nothing and you feel like and ass every time you sink another grand or 2 into it which if your working hard can be every month or 2.
  9. BOSS LAWN 2343

    BOSS LAWN 2343 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 407

    That is based on your path through this business, all my vehicles are 10+ year old and all are over 140,000 miles. Hell, my 96 GMC has 215,000 miles on a rebuilt tranny and running. You have to maintain your vehicles, a truck in this line of work doesn't have to ALWAYS be the best looking but has to get you and your investments around safely. Good luck :usflag:
  10. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,346

    Just got 5 inches of snow my 500 foot drive way isn't plowed and climbs 50 feet to reach the road. And I wanted to grab something to eat do you think I took my 89 gmc 3500 with 148k on it nope. I didn't take the 99 ram 3500 with 133k on it either. No I took 2012 ram 4500 with less than 3k on it and drove in comfort and safety.

    Of course my advice it based on my path through this business what good would it be to listen to someone spout what he heard from a guy who knows a guy. Iv spent about 75k in truck and trailer repairs in the 10 years iv been in this trade so I do know a little something about what breaks and when.

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