The prospect of purchasing a used truck to further your business can be fun and at the same time apprehensive. This is because if you are not careful, there is every likelihood of you blowing your budget and plunging yourself into more debt than you originally bargained for.

It’s not for no reason that experts refer to the truck buying process as one of the unbalanced negotiations you will find in the world of retail. They say this because sales people are professionals who perform hundreds of car transactions per year, while most car buyers only purchase a vehicle every four or five years.

But the equation is now reasonably balanced for consumers who now have better access to vehicle data than ever before and equally have an easier ways to work with multiple dealerships. But even with this information at the disposal of truck buyers, this has not leveled the playing field, so truck buyers need to have as much information as they can so as not to have regrets at the end of the transaction. So, in this article will show you not only how to buy a used truck, but also how to negotiate the best deal for your vehicle.

How to Buy a Used Truck from a Dealer and Negotiate the Best Deal

Find out why the truck is in the market

The very first thing you should consider before you get too heavily invested in a particular used truck is the reason the owner has decided to put the truck up for sale. People don’t sell their vehicles for no reason, so it is your responsibility to find out why. This is where you can determine if there are any existing or potential mechanical issues you’ll be responsible for. If the owner is selling simply because they’re upgrading, then this might not necessarily raise any red flags. However, if there is something wrong with the truck, then it’s better to be aware of it so you don’t inherit a load of problems. Being aware of it would help you decide if that is something you can handle easily.

How was the truck treated in its previous home?

If you’ve determined there are no glaring problems with why the truck has come onto the market in the first place, then you need to look deep into the history of the truck. Check out the truck’s maintenance records. Has the truck received regular tune-ups or had any parts been replaced? Having a better idea of the overall history of the truck can help prepare you for what’s to come should you purchase it.

Part of painting a clear picture regarding the truck’s overall history and status is knowing the accident history:

  • What kinds of accidents and collisions has the truck been involved in?
  • How extensive was the damage?
  • Which parts were replaced as a result of the damage?

Being aware of the accident history in advance can prepare you for potential problems down the road. Another important factor in buying used commercial trucks is the engine model in question. Certain engine models have a known history of chronic problems. Some engines are also known to wear out after a certain period of time or mileage reached. Do your research online about the best engine models before committing to your next used truck.

Mileage is a must

The truck’s mileage can also be a good indicator of the overall quality of the vehicle when considered with other factors. Knowing the engine model can help indicate at which mileage point an engine rebuild may be required. When looking at the mileage you’ll want to consider your own use for the truck. If you’re planning on driving frequently over long distances, it may make more sense to look for a truck with lower mileage. However, a vehicle with high mileage doesn’t necessarily mean that it cannot serve you. If the truck has been consistently well cared for, it may still have a lot of life left in it.

Determine what it will cost you to put it back on the road

If you are buying a used truck, you should know what it would cost you to get the vehicle in perfect working order. You should have a better understanding of what has already been replaced. If any parts are wearing out it could be time to have them replaced. This could mean a major investment for you once you acquire the truck. On the other hand, it could make it worthwhile purchasing the used truck if major parts have been recently replaced. This is provided everything else checks out as well. Pay particularly close attention to the transmission and engine.

Be sure to check for safety concerns as well. For example, check if the truck’s brakes and lights are all working. If not, these will need replacing as well in order to adhere to safety standards.

Check for mold and rust

Rust is another thing that raises a red flag when buying a used truck. Continue inspecting the vehicle’s quality by looking for rust on the exterior surfaces as well as within the structure of the vehicle. Check the doorframes and other parts for signs of structural rust. This could indicate the vehicle hasn’t been well-maintained and may not have much life left. When examining the surface for rust, look for raised spots on the paint. If you find these patches, especially on the roof, they may indicate rust underneath.

Examine the horsepower and towing capacity

Another important consideration for your specific needs is the amount of engine horsepower and towing capacity the truck has. If you’re towing construction equipment such as excavators, then you won’t require the same power as you would need for long-distance commercial trailer towing. Be sure to inquire specifically about the truck’s capacity and if it will meet your own towing requirements.

Consider if an extended warranty is on offer

Ask about the particular dealership’s warranty. Many times dealerships offer extended warranties on trucks. If available, extended warranty coverage can alleviate some of the financial burden associated with purchasing a used truck. But be aware that depending on the plan, the cost of extended warranties may not be worth it.

Know the Deals available

Car manufacturers frequently advertise new and used car deals to keep up the sales pace of vehicles that aren’t selling quickly enough or are due for replacement. You would do yourself a great deal of favour if you check out deals on used trucks. Online car dealerships are a great place to see all the deals at once.

Truck deals take several forms. Cash back offers really aren’t stacks of money that the salesperson hands back to you as you walk out the door. They are discounts on the price that you pay for the car. Financing deals lower the interest rate you pay on your financing to a number below market rates. The best are zero-percent offers, which reduce your interest payments to nothing. In some cases, you’ll find a combination of both low-interest and cash back offered. Lease deals lower the monthly payment, the amount due at signing, or both. Used car deals are typically only offered on certified pre-owned cars, and reduce the interest rate below market rates. Note that most car deals are only offered to consumers with top-notch credit scores. Some deals are also only available to specific groups, such as veterans, AAA members, or AARP members.

Think About Financing 

Smart buyers never get near a truck dealership without having a pre-approved financing offer from a bank, credit union, or other lender in their back pocket. Without a pre-approved offer, the dealership’s finance officer will have no incentive to try to find you a better deal on financing. Before you agree to any financing deal, make sure you know all of its terms – not only the interest rate, but also the length of the loan, if it has prepayment penalties, and any fees that are charged by the lender.

Starting your search for financing early can also help you find out if you have any dings on your credit that will get in the way of your car purchase. Customers without nearly perfect credit will probably not qualify for the best truck financing deals.

Research Different Truck models

Next, for each of the types of trucks you’re considering, you’ll want to check the price of the truck, reliability and the cost to insure the vehicle. You can start your research from Consumer Reports yearly auto lists or their vehicle reliability studies.

For 2021, Lexus, Mazda and Toyota all have three entries in the Top 10. Finally, when it comes to determining the cost to insure a new vehicle, most big insurance companies make auto insurance coverage calculators available on their websites. That way you can start to get an idea of what you’ll pay to protect your potential new wheels.

You’ll need to factor in the cost of insurance when you are looking at what you’ll be paying monthly for your truck.

Compare Prices Both Online and Offline

The next step to take when you are buying a truck would be to start comparing prices. Once you’ve narrowed your search to one or two vehicles and have the approximate cost of ownership for each, you should start shopping around for price quotes.

When shopping online for vehicles, try entering different zip codes in addition to your own. If the savings are large enough elsewhere, get ready for a road trip. Today you can buy cheap one-way flights very easily. The savings are yours to keep and they can be huge.

If you prefer not to buy online, use the online price quotes you’ve gotten as a guideline. Then call around to local dealers to see if they’ll match the price. You can also avoid dealing with salespeople in person by emailing the internet department at a dealership and negotiating with them over the computer.

Evaluate truck payment methods

Next, you have to think of how you want to pay for your used truck. Gather information on dealer financing programs, financing through your bank or credit union and third-party financing plans. If you would prefer to pay cash, ask the dealer if he can offer a discount for reduced paperwork and processing time. Finally, consider a leasing program, if that would suit your purposes.

Get Some One-on-One Time With Your New Truck Before Buying It

Remember that it’s important for you to feel comfortable with what is bound to be a very large purchase. One way to do this is to look at trucks when a dealership is closed, so there’s no salesperson to pressure you. Another way is to set up your own zero-pressure test drive.

The best way to test-drive a car is to rent it for a day or two, if you can afford to. Whatever you do, don’t skip this critical step. It’s an important part of learning the best way to buy a used truck — especially if you are doing almost all of the buying process online.

Choose the Best Quote

After you compare quotes and ultimately find one that is at or near your target price, it is time to finalize the transaction. Make sure that the terms of the deal match what you were offered via the Internet, on the phone or in person. If anything does not match, it could be an honest mistake, or the dealership could be using bait-and-switch tactics. If the dealership will fix the mistake, all is well, but if they do not honor their offered price, you should find another dealer.

Be Persistent

Negotiating is a fine art and sometimes, the salesperson simply may not want to hear what you have to say. One ploy is to adopt hardball tactics to try and you wear you down. This is where the true test of your negotiating skills comes in. If your offer is refused point-blank, don’t wear out your welcome. Thank the salesperson for their time and say you’ll be looking elsewhere for a vehicle. Hand over your phone number and say that if they change their mind about making a sale, to give you a call. Then wait and see what happens.

It’s possible that in a day or two, the dealer may call you to tell you they’ve reconsidered your offer. If not, that’s a sign to move on to the next used car lot and begin the negotiations process again. It can be time-consuming and tedious but at the end of the day, you’ll thank yourself if your negotiation efforts allow you to purchase the right truck at the right price.

Turn down dealer add-ons

If you’re buying a used truck from a dealer, they’re going to try to sell you a bunch of add-ons like rustproofing or detailing. Just say no. If you live in a place that requires a rustproofing, you can probably do it cheaper somewhere else, or even handle it yourself if you have the skills.

Be ready to walk away

In any negotiation, be ready to walk away. Be flexible in your choice and don’t get too attached to one truck. Remember, there are plenty more automotive fish in the sea. One of the worst things a buyer can do is to only shop at one car dealership. By shopping at multiple dealerships, including those some distance from your home, you’re more likely to get a good deal – especially if the salesperson knows you’re shopping at more than one dealer.

By chatting with a dealership’s online sales department, you don’t even have to travel to individual locations. Be sure to look at dealers where the car you are considering might not be too popular. For example, if you’re shopping for a hybrid or electric car, check out a rural dealer. On the flip side, if you want a full-size truck, check with urban dealerships.

Even if you have emotionally locked onto a model that you’ve only found at one location, it’s a good idea to seek the same model from other dealers. They frequently trade vehicles with one another, so you may get offers from multiple dealerships on the same exact truck.

Ajaero Tony Martins