After being in the truck industry for over 15 years, this question still plagues me. What’s the best used truck? What’s the most reliable used truck? What the best off-road truck? What used truck gets the best gas mileage? These questions I get asked on a daily basis. It comes down to……..what’s the best used truck—FOR YOU?
I know you might be a Ford Truck person. Or maybe, all your life you’ve been a GMC or Chevy Truck kinda guy. Some people even lay claim to Ram trucks, while others only want to buy a Toyota Truck cuz “they last forever.” First a few things to consider, trucks, in general, are built for a purpose. Whether to tow, off-road, haul, or overall work in some capacity, they are built for a specific job. What’s your job? What’s your purpose? And, almost more importantly, what’s your budget? To find the best used truck for you, answer a few personal questions:
- What payment fits into your budget? (Figure this out first. Trucks can range from $700-$70,000, and for some reason, the $70k truck seems to be the nicest. A good round figure is $100 for every $5k spent. So if you buy a $10k truck, payment would be $200)
- What are you using the truck for? Is it a daily driver, or just something to use occasionally?
- What are you hauling or towing? This is critical. This will now determine if you need a half-ton, or a full size (3/4 or 1 ton) truck. Keep in mind, that most half-ton trucks can tow in excess of 8000 pounds! That’s a pretty big boat or trailer. The 3.5l F-150 can tow over 11,000 pounds! Do you really need a diesel? Possibly, but the reality is…most people never tow or haul what their truck is capable to do.
- How many seats do you need? This goes directly to cab style. Is it mostly just you in the rig, or do you have your family and friends to take along with you? Crew Cabs compared to regular cab trucks cost a significant amount more. However, it’s really easy to make your crew cab truck your daily driver hence it can be your main vehicle.
- Fuel economy and overall Cost of Ownership. Call your insurance company, get a quote BEFORE you purchase. Look on fueleconomy.gov for what your truck mpg is rated. This is a great tool to compare to other makes and models and it’s a completely non-biased source on the actual dollars your new truck will cost.
I just want to clarify, what truck I drive. Currently, I drive a 2017 Ford F-350 Powerstroke Platinum crew cab. I’m telling you this because I fully understand the level of bias that may or may not be perceived. I’ve personally owned just about every truck you can think of. Each time I drive a different one, I tell myself “that’s the best used truck.” After 6 months, I get a different make and again tell myself “no…this is the best used truck.”
I do this because I get the trucks at a discount, I put my business logo all over the truck, lift-it, wheel-it, tire-it, and then I get to test the new technology on a personal basis. The point is, from GMC, Ram, Toyota, and Ford, I’ve had it. Everyone of them has scream “BEST USED TRUCK” one time or another in my heart. I can honestly tell you, I’m not a Ford, Chev, or Toyota guy. Each “best used truck” make has its flaws and its bonuses. Just so you understand my background, I’m the owner of Investment Automotive Group, a dealership located in Brigham City, Utah, and Centerville, Utah. We sell primarily trucks (we have about 200 trucks in inventory), and so in a sense, I’ve owned thousands of used trucks over the years. I’ve experienced just about every common problem that each truck has. Believe me, they ALL have them…including Toyota.
Suspension is the main difference to the GM brand. With the independent front suspension, the used Chevrolet and GMC trucks do have a tendency to ride a little smoother. That goes for both the half-tons and ¾ or 1-ton trucks as well. The 5.3L V8 engine is one of the best engines ever built. However, the 6.0L engine is not in my opinion. While it’s still a good engine, be sure to take a special look at the oil for sludge on these rigs. They can tow relatively well, but if you’re looking for a work-horse gas engine, then the diamond in the rough is the 8.1L with the Allison transmission. For diesel, a used Duramax is still one of the best around. Just be careful on 03’-05’, they have had an issue with head-gaskets. At Investment Auto, we do a specific test on these particular trucks because of the history of bad head-gaskets that we’ve encountered.
The newer Ford F-150 is one of my favorite trucks (2011 and newer). Fantastic ride, fantastic engines (especially the 3.5l eco-boost, and the 2.7l eco-boost). Be careful of a used 6.0l diesel and the 6.4L diesel engine. At Investment Auto, we specifically test for head-gasket, injector, egr valve, and oil-cooler issues. The 7.3L Powerstroke diesel is hard-to-find, but an amazing engine. And the 6.7L Powerstroke engine…FANTASTIC! The only common issue I’ve found on these trucks is a DEF tank heater, which is outside the block of the engine. Overall, a REALLY good engine.
Bang for the buck is where my opinion lies on Ram. They are a workhorse of a rig. That being said..they come with their fair share of issues. But when a new Duramax or Powerstroke costs almost $8k more on average, I’d say that Ram is pretty dang good for what they offer. The early 5.9L Cummins diesel is a strong motor, gets great fuel economy, but did have some issues with the top end of the engine. Pop the oil cap on the top, see if smoke (blow-by) comes out. Also be sure the transmission is shifting well on these rigs. They have weak automatic transmissions. At Investment Auto, we take all of our used Ram trucks to a specific Ram mechanic because of some of their common issues. Overall, however, if you find a clean used Dodge truck, it’ll probably last a lifetime.
Used Toyota Trucks
I know many of you out there believe that Toyota is the “be-all” “end-all” when it comes to trucks. I personally remember a friend of mine in high school who had an old Toyota pickup, that had almost 380k miles. It ran like a champ. And yes, for the most part, the Tacoma and Tundra are good overall trucks but one major thing to look at; the FRAME! Before you purchase a used Tacoma, or a used Tundra, inspect the frame. At Investment Auto, we specifically inspect the frame of these trucks thoroughly. Toyota was actually forced to have a recall on their frames from 99-06 models on 4runner, T100, Tacoma, and Tundra. Something with how the steal was produced that caused the frames to lose its strength through rusting and corrosion. I personally have seen it many times. Good trucks—just know what to look for.
So, what’s the best used truck?
Again, look at the evidence, the need, and determine “what’s the best used truck—FOR ME?” They all have their flaws. But determine what YOUR needs are first. Feel free to call one of our offices and we’d be happy to help you find the best used truck, for you.