How To Buy A Used Farm Truck?

I always dread buying new vehicles and find the whole thing quite stressful. What if it’s a pile of junk? What if I spend way more than I should? Over the years, I’ve learned that the best way to avoid the pitfalls is to do your research.

Decide exactly what you’re looking for and know what the correct price range is for such a vehicle. When you find something that looks suitable, get it checked out by a professional. Let’s find out more about how to buy a used farm truck.

Should I Buy a Used or New Truck?

should I buy used or new truck

The choice between buying a new or used farm truck will depend largely on the budget you have available. But this isn’t the only factor that should influence you in your decision-making. Let’s take a look at some other good reasons to consider buying used over new.

Affordability

If you need the best bang for your buck, then going for a good quality used vehicle is a good choice. If you’re worried about a warranty, then buy from a dealership that offers some guarantees to cover your purchase. You may need to pay a little extra for these, but they could be worth having.

Typically adding optional extras when buying new can mount up real fast, and by adding just a few things you deem as essential, you can add tens of thousands onto the price. With a used truck, you can find one with the speck you want at a price that’s affordable to you.

Let’s be honest, buying new is wonderful; you have all of the manufacturer’s warranties, and hopefully, the vehicle will be reliable for a long time to come. However, you’ll lose a massive amount of money as soon as you drive that shiny new toy off the dealer’s forecourt.

Build Quality

One of the reasons trucks aren’t just popular on farms, but with many other people, even as personal vehicles, is that they are built to last. By design, they are more durable than standard cars and can take a lot more punishment. 

Another plus for the older truck models is that they tend to be built more solidly than the latest ones coming off the production line. 

A good example of this is a new Ford F-150 which has a body and truck bed made of aluminum. While this is great for rust prevention and low weight, it’s not so good for taking a beating or withstanding a crash.

The older F-150 is made of solid steel, making it a good deal stronger. Check out the construction specs of trucks carefully. 

Depreciation

We’ve already touched on the big wedge of cash you’re going to lose just by driving your shiny new truck off the dealer’s lot, around 20% of the purchase price, in fact. Depreciation is applicable to all vehicles over time, but it is less on used ones making them a smart investment.

Try looking for a clean, well-maintained vehicle that has only had one previous owner and low mileage. 

Warranty

One reason people like to buy new trucks is due to the warranties and extended warranties they get. It’s perfectly possible to get a warranty on a used truck from a dealer. They may be shorter than for new vehicles but are still worth having if you need the security of that added protection against things going wrong.

What is the Best Way to Buy a Used Truck?

what is the best way to buy a used truck

There are various ways of finding used trucks, looking in local advertising press, going to dealerships, or searching online. But if you want to minimize the legwork, you can try using websites such as AutoTrader or CarGurus to locate the perfect truck for you. 

These sites allow you to use filters to really narrow your search requirements and specify things like:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Location
  • Year
  • Condition
  • Drive Type
  • Minimum to Maximum Price range
  • Mileage
  • Body Style – Truck
  • Tuck Cab Size
  • Truck Bed Length
  • Fuel Type
  • Fuel Economy
  • Exterior Color
  • Interior Color
  • Transmission
  • Engine Displacement
  • Vehicle History
  • At-Home Services
  • Cylinders
  • Features
  • Trim Level
  • Price Rating
  • Doors
  • Seller Type

By using sites like these, you’ll be able to find what’s available near you in the least amount of time. 

Once you’ve found a truck that looks ideal, then it’s time to check it out. Before you go to view anything, ensure that the seller has a good rating in online reviews, that they are open to negotiation and that they have the vehicle history report, which includes any previous accident information and will let you see if the odometer has been tampered with to make the vehicle seem like it’s covered fewer miles.

Ensure that you’re not pressured into buying if you’re not 100% sure. Strongarm sales tactics may indicate that there are things you’re not being told. An honest salesperson will give you any information you request freely and won’t put undue pressure on you to close the deal. 

What is the Best Month to Buy a Used Truck?

Statistics suggest that most people buy vehicles in fall and winter, but there is no real best month to buy a used truck. You can find bargains at any time of year, it is simply a matter of putting in the leg work and searching out the best deals.

Some dealerships may hold annual sales to increase stock turnover. Keep a lookout for these or for special offers on particular vehicles at your local truck sales outlet.

What Makes a Truck a Farm Truck?

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, farm trucks must be ordinary vehicles that are:

  • Issued with a license plate from the State clearly identifying it as a farm vehicle to law enforcement officials.
  • Only used by the owner of the vehicle, their immediate family members, and farm employees for activities required by the farm.
  • Used for agricultural purposes as necessary, including the movement of livestock, machinery, agricultural commodities, and supplies.
  • Not used as a vehicle for hire with the exception of a tenant transporting their landlord’s crop share as part of a crop share agreement.
  • In the gross weight or combined gross weight rating as specified by the Federal Regulations.

Additional rules may apply in individual States.

A farm vehicle could be a pickup truck, tractor, van, trailer, or another large piece of specialist farm equipment. 

Insurance for a farm truck differs from that of a commercial truck, and this influences the cost of the insurance and the cover given by it.

Depending on the details of the insurance, it may be that the farm truck can only be used on the farm property. If a farm truck is to be driven on public roads, the coverage level of the insurance must reflect this. The same applies if the vehicle is going to be used for private, personal use.

What is the Best Truck for a Farm?

What is the Best Truck for a Farm

The first pickup truck rolled off the production lines at the assembly plant of Henry Ford in 1917. Currently, Ford’s F-150 has been the best-selling truck in America for more than 30 years. 

The best selling trucks by units sold in America in 2020 are as follows:

  1. Ford F Series (with the F-150 taking the most sales) = 787,422 sales
  2. Cheverolet Silverado = 586,675 sales
  3. Ram Pickup = 563,676 sales
  4. GMC Sierra = 253,016 sales
  5. Toyota Tacoma = 238,806 sales

Depending on what jobs your farm truck is going to have to perform and the kind of terrain it is going to cover, then you may be better off choosing a “Heavy Duty” model. These are built to withstand more punishment than the standard or light versions.

You’ll also need to consider a few other points such as:

  1. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This is the maximum weight a truck can take, including all cargo and passengers. There is a little calculation needed here, as you’ll need to take into account the curb weight of the truck before you can calculate its GVWR. 

For example, if the GVWR is 14,000 lbs, the curb weight may be 6,000 lbs, then the maximum additional weight you can put on the truck will be 8,000 lbs.

Note that to be registered as a “Farm Use” vehicle, your truck will probably have to be above a certain weight, and some light trucks may not be heavy enough to reach this. Ensure you know the regulations in your State.

  1. Towing capacity varies from truck to truck and will depend on how the vehicle has been equipped and its curb weight. 
  1. The Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating or GCVWR. Is the GVWR combined with the towing capacity.
  1. It’s not all about horsepower when it comes to trucks. Torque is more important. Torque means how well a vehicle can pull or push its weight. The more torque, the more weight it can carry or pull.

There are different categories of trucks as we touched on above, these include:

  • Short Bed – this refers to the length of the truck, and a short bed is usually around 5 feet long on midsize vehicles and 6.5 feet on full-size trucks.
  • Long Bed – if you need to have the maximum amount of cargo room, then you’ll want to go for a long bed which is around 6 feet in midsize vehicles and 8 feet in full-size ones. 
  • Light Duty – These refer more to trucks that double up to be used as cars. They aren’t suitable for carrying heavy loads or dealing with difficult terrain. Examples include some models of the Ford F-150, the Chevy Colorado, the Toyota Tacoma, or the Ram 1500.
  • Heavy-Duty – A Heavy-duty truck can deal with a greater payload, has a larger towing capacity, and is more suitable for hauling large loads. Examples include the Ford F-250, Chevy Silverado HD range, Ram 2500.
  • Midsize – Midsize trucks remain popular, as they are easier to park and maneuver than full-size ones. They also enjoy a better fuel economy than their big brothers. Examples include the Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon.
  • Full-Size – For those wanting to have the greatest amount of space and ability to carry large payloads or tow heavy trailers and have a good amount of interior space, then a full-size truck may be the better option. Examples include specific models of the Chevy Silverado, Ram 1500, Ford F-Series,  Nissan Titan, or Toyota Tundra. 

What is the Best Truck for the Money?

Keeping in mind that a new truck can easily cost upwards of $60,000, then buying a used one for $10,000 or less can be a massive saving. But what can you get for that kind of money?

You’ll need to do your research and ensure that you only choose the most important criteria in your searches. For example, if you want a midsize truck with a diesel engine for $10,000 or less, then make those your three main stipulations and see what comes up in your area. 

Remember that diesel engines on older trucks are far more hard-wearing and can go for many hundreds of thousands of miles if well maintained. A gas engine won’t generally last so long. 

However, the other parts of the truck will all wear at the same rate, no matter if the truck is a diesel or a gas model. In those circumstances, it’s the heavy-duty vehicles that come out on top.

With a quick look on AutoTrader, this is what I was able to find in the $10,000 and under price range:

  1. 2012 Chevrolet Colorado: 146,142 miles, 2-wheel drive, 4 cylinders $7,744.
  2. 2011 Ford Ranger XL: 135,689 miles, 2-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $9,944.
  3. 2011 GMC Sierra 1500: 158,203 miles, 2-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $10,000.
  4. 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LS: 203,989 miles, 4-wheel drive, 8 cylinders, $9,995.
  5. 2010 Dodge Dakota Big Horn: 236,346 miles, 4-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $9,975.
  6. 2006 Nissan Titan SE: 102,000 miles, 4-wheel drive, 8 cylinders, $8,900.
  7. 2006 Subaru Baja Sport: 215,243 miles, all-wheel drive, 4 cylinders, $5,950.

If $10,000 is still a little over your budget, how about these for $5,000 and under?

  1. 2007 Chevrolet Colorado LS: 122,399 miles, 2-wheel drive, 4 cylinders, $4,400.
  2. 2007 Dodge Dakota: 196,393 miles, 2-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $4,000.
  3. 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 Truck Laramie: 236,267 miles, 2-wheel drive, 8 cylinders, $4,000.
  4. 2003 Ford F250 XLT: 237,387 miles, 4-wheel drive, 8 cylinders Turbo, $4,995.
  5. 2004 Ford Ranger XLT: 264,322 miles, 2-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $4,300.
  6. 2000 Ford F150 XL: 89,528 miles, 2-wheel drive, 6 cylinders, $3,495.
  7. 2000 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE: 166,316 miles, 4-wheel drive, 8 cylinders, $4,400.

Think about it this way, for every 100,000 miles a truck has traveled, the value decreases by around half. 

In an average year, you can expect most trucks to do around 15,000 miles. So if a truck is 5 years old, it will have done approximately 75,000 miles. For a 10-year-old truck, 150,000 miles, and for a 15-year-old truck, 225,000.

The way the truck has covered its miles is almost as important as how many it has done. If used pretty exclusively for highway driving, then a 15-year-old diesel truck could have over 300,000 on the odometer and still be better than one of the same age with only 75,000 miles covered on short trips or going over rough terrain.

At the end of the day, how much you pay depends entirely on the bargains you strike, and great deals can be had. 

In this video, see the first stages of restoration to an F-250 truck:

How Many Miles is too Many for a Used Truck?

If you only have a small budget, what’s better to do? Buy an older truck with fewer miles or a newer one with more? As I explained above, the way the vehicle has covered the miles is all-important. 

If you want to avoid paying expensive repair bills, avoid getting an old truck that’s been used for short trips or over rough terrain. It produces the most wear and tear not only on the engine but on every other part of the vehicle too.

As a guide, for a truck that has been used mostly on the highway and has a gas engine, then try to look for one with 150,000 miles or less. For a diesel truck, up to 250,000 miles is OK, providing the vehicle as a whole has been well maintained.

Trucks built after 2010 often have more sensors that tell the driver when there’s a problem. The result of this is that any issues are generally dealt with sooner, so the vehicles stay in better condition.

Gas Vs. Diesel Engines

Diesel engines are tougher than gasoline ones, and this can be seen on large commercial rigs that travel immense distances and clock up incredibly high mileages.

While older diesel engines are undoubtedly better than old gasoline ones the more modern gasoline engines have become a lot more robust. When well maintained, they can also clock up larger mileages of 200,000 or 300,000 without much issue.

As mentioned before, it is really down to how they are used and maintained that makes the most significant difference.

Diesel engines don’t do so well when they are used for short trips at low speeds. Here’s why, imagine two identical trucks, each time the truck is started, some wear is put onto the engine.

While the truck’s engine is cold during the first few miles of each journey, the most wear is done. Let’s look at this example:

Truck A is used on the highway. It travels 80 miles a day, 40 miles each way to work and home again, 5 days a week. 

On the highway, it cruises at an average of 65 miles an hour. The owner can do their grocery shopping without needing to drive the vehicle and uses the gym a short walk from work.

Each week vehicle A:

  • Is started around 10 to 15 times 
  • Covers 400 to 420 miles on average per week.
  • Has an annual mileage is 20,800 to 21,840.
  • Distance (mean average) covered after 5 years = 106,600, 10 years = 213,200, 15 years =319,800.
  • Number of times started (mean average) after 5 years = 3,250, 10 years = 6,500, 15 years = 9,750.

Truck B is used in the city. It takes the kids to school 4 miles away, then takes the owner into work 5 miles from the school. Later it collects the kids from school and takes everyone home again. 

The owner also takes the vehicle grocery shopping twice a week, 2 miles from home, and visits the gym 3 times a week, 3 miles from home. They also take their kids to clubs and activities 4 times a week, an average of 3 miles from home. 

This means that vehicle B:

  • Is started around 38 to 40 times 
  • Covers 130 to 150 miles on average.
  • Has an annual mileage of between 6,760 to 7,800.
  • Distance (mean average) covered after 5 years = 36,400, 10 years = 72,800, 15 years = 109,200.
  • Number of times started (mean average) after 5 years = 10,140, 10 years = 20,280, 15 years = 30,420.

So as you can see, although vehicle A travels many more miles each week than vehicle B, the engine of vehicle B will actually suffer a great deal more wear and tear than vehicle A due to being started so many more times and not giving the engine enough time to really warm up.

The engines of diesel vehicles also produce the most emissions when they are cold. This not only clogs up the engine but also damages the environment. In truth, the owner of vehicle B would be a lot better off using an electric car.

When buying a used vehicle, try to find out how it has covered its miles. A low mileage truck may seem like the better deal, but, as you have seen, this isn’t always the case.

Conclusion

When deciding if you should buy a new or used truck, it basically comes down to money. Although financing a new vehicle is always an option, in these uncertain times, it isn’t always the safest bet.

It is better to buy a “nearly new” truck rather than a completely new one, as you lose so much money as soon as you drive out of the dealership.

If you can’t stretch to getting a nearly new vehicle, then do your research and buy the best one you can for the money you have.

Get any potential vehicle checked over by an expert before you buy, so you know of any problems that may need fixing.

Please note that this article is meant only as an overview and is in no way meant to reflect the full facts, regulations, or legislation regarding any legal aspects mentioned at any level. Complete information must be sought from the appropriate official bodies.  

To read more articles about farm trucks and many other farming-related topics, visit our website. 

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