Used Trucks 101
When you start looking at different used trucks, the options and models you find, with so many numbers and specs, can seem overwhelming. The most important thing when you are shopping for used trucks is to be sure you get a vehicle that meets all your needs, so you do not feel regret afterward. The best way to do this is to know what all the numbers and information you find means and to consider all of your options before you choose just the right pickup.
One of the most important things to consider first when looking at different used trucks is the size and power of the pickup you need. In general, you will see trucks referred to as either “mid-size” or “full-size” trucks. The thing you need to know is that full-size models are larger than mid-size, and you will only find heavy-duty models among full-size options.
You will also see different cab and box sizes or styles advertised among various used trucks for sale. A “regular” or “standard” cab is the older style with two doors and one row of seats, with a little extra space behind the seats for minimal storage. An “extended” cab typically has four doors and there will either be some cramped seating behind the front row or more room for storage. Finally, a “double” or “crew” cab is the largest type you will find, which offers much more room behind the front row and has a second row of seating for passengers.
Also, pay attention to the size or type of bed behind the cab on any used trucks you look at. Some companies refer to this as the “bed” while others say “box,” but they are both the same. You will typically find “short,” “standard,” and “long” beds on different models. Although specific lengths can change, expect a short box to be under 6-feet in length, a standard to be a little over 6-feet long, and a long box to be around 8-feet long.
Towing and Payload Capacity
While it is easy to get caught up on things like horsepower and torque, much more important for practical purposes are the towing and payload capacities of any used trucks you check out. The towing capacity indicates how much weight can be pulled behind the truck through the use of a hitch. You will usually see both “conventional” and “fifth-wheel” or “gooseneck” towing ratings. Conventional towing uses a hitch on the rear of the vehicle, while fifth-wheel and gooseneck towing involve a hitch in the bed of the truck and are usually higher.
Payload capacity should never be confused with towing ability. The payload is the total weight a truck can have loaded into it. This includes the driver and any passengers or equipment in the cab, as well as the total weight piled into the bed of the truck. The same truck with two different engines can have very different payload maximums, due to the weight of those engines, so make sure you know how much you need to load into your truck and choose one that meets that.
Trim Level and Options
As you look at different used trucks, pay special attention to the trim levels of each one you consider. The trim indicates what kinds of features and options that truck had when it was originally sold as new. Different trim levels can impact just about everything, from the engine that was standard, to the types of safety features it has, and the interior layout and tech options. Higher trim levels are more expensive, both originally and when sold as a pre-owned vehicle, but you get more in them.
Although the GMC Sierra is considered to be the cousin of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, the two are mechanically identical. Released back in 1999, the Sierra has been produced in four generations over the last 20 years. It’s the type of truck that only needed minor refreshments with each new generation. If you are looking to purchase a used truck, this one should make your list of considerations.
Since our dealership is located in the South, pickups are a big deal down here. Whether you are interested in buying new or used, we can help you pick the perfect match for your lifestyle. If the GMC Sierra pique's your interest, then consider taking a third or fourth generation Sierra for a test drive.
The Third Generation GMC Sierra
In December 2012, the first third-generation GMC Sierra model was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. Produced from 2014 (as a 2015 model) until 2018, the first noticeable change could be seen with the elimination of the 900 platform. From this point on, the Sierra was built on the K2XX platform.
Another noticeable difference was with the engine options. The first was a 4.3L V6 motor that generated 285 hp. The second was a 5.3L V8 engine mated with RWD that pushed out 355 hp. At the time, it’s estimated fuel efficiency of 23 mpg highway was the best in its class. Finally, the robust 6.2L V8 produced 420 hp and could manage to haul up to 12,000 pounds without breaking a sweat. This considerable powertrain can only be seen on Denali and SLT models. You should also note that these powertrains could all be equipped with either 2WD or 4WD.
This generation of pickups was built primarily out of aluminum, making it a lightweight model. The hood, suspension control arms, and engine block were all constructed out of this malleable material, which helped boost the over fuel economy and reduce weight without compromising on safety or structure.
Body Style and Build
As for body styles, buyers could choose from three cab designs and three bed lengths. The regular cab body style could seat only two people, and it came with either a standard or long bed. The double cab could seat five passengers, and it came with only the standard box. Finally, the largest crew cab could hold six people, and it was built with either a short box or a long bed. This gave consumers the freedom to choose the type of truck they needed. Folks with kids or construction teams would benefit from the larger cabin style, and people driving only themselves could make do with the smaller one.
Safety and Technology Features
With multiple trim levels to choose from, some of the features commonly seen on third-generation Sierra trucks include Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free calling, a USB port for charging mobile devices, audio streaming for listening to your personalized playlist, and a touchscreen interface for the infotainment system. Higher trims also featured On-Star communications and even a premium Bose stereo for enhanced music-listening.
Features on the Heavy-Duty Models
In 2015, the GMC Sierra 2500 became the first heavy-duty pickup truck to offer advanced safety features in the Driver Assist Package. This included forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. This handy suite of safety features came standard on the Sierra 2500HD Denali model and was optional on other models. This means that you might be able to find a used truck with these state-of-the-art systems. Other options for the HD Sierra included a customizable 8-inch LCD driver information center screen, six USB ports for charging multiple mobile devices, and a 110-Volt power source. A power-sliding rear window that came with an integrated defroster was also available.
We are not finished with 2015 just yet. Mid-year, GMC decided to release a few more upgrades, including a 4G LTE Wifi hotspot, an extra hidden USB port located inside the glovebox, and a slew of exterior styling elements. New wheel designs, paint options, and tow mirror styles were all added to the lineup. Also, a slew of off-roading enhancements such as dual 150 and 220 amp alternators, a heavy-duty locking rear axle, and the All-Terrain package was made available on 4WD models. HD Radio was removed at this point as well.
By mid-2016, another revision took place, adding a new front fascia, redesigned headlights, and a refreshed grille design. Also, HD Radio was reintroduced on Sierra HD models along with an updated MyLink infotainment system. Displayed on an 8-inch touchscreen, this feature came on the LT and LTZ trims. Compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also became an option as well as a wireless charging pad. Drivers would no longer have to worry about cables cluttering the cabin space. A special edition model was also released in 2016. Known as the All Terrain X, this beast was powered by a 5.3L V8 engine that could generate up to 365 hp. Featuring a black-out aesthetic, LED lights, and a sport bar mounted to the bed, this model was perfectly designed for outdoor adventures.
For third-generation models produced for 2017, HID headlights were added for optimized visibility. New metallic paint colors were released, and Sierra models equipped with the Turbo-Diesel 6.6L V8 engine received new air intake vents and a restyled hood. The aforementioned Sierra All-Terrain X special edition model stayed around for this production year as well. It got heated leather seats, a rearview camera, remote start, and the Teen Driver technology upgrade.
The Fourth Generation GMC Sierra
From 2019 until the present, the fourth generation of GMC Sierra trucks is better than ever before. Several improvements have been made to the bed, including the addition of the two-piece tailgate. The bed is now constructed out of carbon fiber, making it even more lightweight as well. Inside the cabin is a sophisticated open-pore wood grain trim that brings a sense of elegance to the interior. An 8-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system is also standard.
New Performance Features
New to the latest generation is a Turbo 2.7L 4-cylinder engine that produces 310 hp. Equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this powertrain is ideal for folks who live in urban environments. If you don’t need to do a lot of heavy towing or driving over rocky terrain, this vehicle will be perfect for you. It will save you a lot of money on gas as opposed to the larger V6 and V8 engine options.
If you want an off-roading model, you can look for an AT4 version. This one comes with skid plates to protect the underbelly from damage, a raised suspension, and added tow hooks. Perfect for taking your truck off the paved road and into the unknown.
13th Generation Ford F-150s
For more than 40 years, the Ford F-Series trucks have been the best selling pickups in America, which means you are going to find a lot of used models out there. The Ford F-150, in particular, has been incredibly popular as it offers a fantastic full-size solution for anyone that needs a large option but does not require the power of a Super Duty model. It can be overwhelming to try to consider many decades of different trucks, so let us take a moment to focus on one particular generation: the 13th Generation of the Ford F-150.
The Ford F-150’s 13th Generation kicked off with the model year 2015 and is still going strong today. Since these trucks represent the most recent models, these are the ones you are going to find coming off a lease and available as used trucks in amazing condition. Even if you go back a bit further to a non-lease model, the 13th Generation of the Ford F-150 has been excellent.
One of the most significant changes to the 13th Generation was due to a serious effort by Ford’s engineers to reduce the overall weight of the F-150. This was done by keeping the frame of the truck made from high-strength steel, but much of the rest of the body was shifted to aluminum. By making this change, the 2015 Ford F-150 kept the same overall size and footprint from the previous generation but came in more than 700 lbs lighter than before. Reducing the weight of the truck itself means better payload capacity and a superior overall driving experience.
There were also some major engine changes for the 13th Generation of the Ford F-150. Starting with the 2015 model, a 3.5L V6 engine became standard, with options for a 2.7L turbocharged EcoBoost V6, a 3.5L EcoBoost V6, and a 5.0L V8 engine. Thanks to its lighter weight, these engines really give the 13th Generation Ford F-150s a boost, allowing them to accelerate quickly, be remarkably fun to drive, and push their fuel economy beyond previous years.
Three cab sizes were available on the 2015 model: a regular cab, a larger Supercab, and a Supercrew that is great if you often have more than one passenger with you. Three bed lengths were also available on the 2015 Ford F-150: a 5.5-foot bed, a 6.5-foot bed, and an 8-foot bed for optimal cargo storage. Five trims were offered in 2015, starting with the XL, then the XLT, the Lariat, the King Ranch, and finally, the Platinum. There were a lot of different options inside and out that were available or standard on these different trims, so if you want the best overall features, then look for the King Ranch and Platinum trims.
While there have not been many significant changes in subsequent models in the 13th Generation, here are a few things to look for when shopping for used trucks:
- 2016 – The biggest change for 2016 was the Sync 3 infotainment system, which many people feel was a massive improvement over the previous year’s system. A more luxurious Limited trim was added in 2016, and the Pro Trailer Backup Assist system is something to look for if you do a lot of towing.
- 2017 – Perhaps the biggest thing to watch for in a 2017 model is the added Raptor trim. This is an off-road-focused trim with a turbocharged 3.5L engine, special 4WD system, and skid plates. So if you like to go off-road, this is something to consider.
- 2018 – A mid-cycle redesign occurred in 2018, with some new engine options available. In particular, look for a PowerStroke diesel engine, which became available, or the V6 or V8 engines that were paired with a 10-speed automatic starting in 2018.
- 2019 – Improvements for 2019 included a new 3.0L V6 diesel engine, a 3.5L V6 engine became standard on the Limited and Raptor, and some advanced safety features.
3rd Generation Dodge Ram 1500s
During its 3rd Generation, the Ram 1500 was still called the “Dodge Ram 1500,” so that is what we are going to call it today (some of us still miss saying “Dodge Ram”). This generation ran from 2002 to 2008 and included some of the finest full-size trucks ever to hit the road. More than a simple update, the 3rd Generation of the Dodge Ram 1500 included a new frame, new suspension and powertrain, new interior design and options, and much more. This was also an incredibly popular generation for the Ram 1500, so you will find quite a lot of them when looking at used trucks.
There were two cab styles available on 2002 models: a regular cab or a quad cab; and two different bed lengths available: a 6-foot bed or an 8-foot bed. These were offered in various configurations, and three different trims were available on 2002 models of the Dodge Ram 1500: the ST, SLT, and SLT Plus. Three engines were available on the 2002 Dodge Ram 1500, including two that were new for that year. These were a 3.7L V6 engine, a 4.7L V8, and a powerful 5.9L V8 – this last one was a carryover from the previous generation.
As you might expect, some of the interior features and safety options that were available on these early 3rd Generation Dodge Ram 1500s may seem a bit dated today. For example, the standard ST model came with air conditioning, an AM/FM radio with a cassette player, and 40/20/40 split front seats. The SLT added cruise control, cloth seating, and power windows and locks. If you find a model with the SLT Plus trim, then it will likely have heated, leather driver and front-passenger seats, an 11-speaker audio system with a CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls, and keyless entry. These are all fine features, but compared to what you will find in a Ram 1500 from the last year or so, they may feel a bit old fashioned.
The 3rd Generation ran for quite a few years, so let us take a quick look at what you might find in different models:
- 2003 – In 2003, the SLT Plus trim was replaced by the “Laramie,” while “Off-Road” and “Work Special” packages were added. A 5-speed automatic transmission also became available on the 3.7L V6 and 4.7L V8 engines.
- 2004 – Upgrades in 2004 were pretty minor for the Dodge Ram 1500, including a new grille and details inside and out for the high-end Laramie trim. Bluetooth functionality for mobile phones and a Navigation system became available starting in 2004.
- 2005 – There were a few minor changes in 2005, including an available power sunroof. The big reason to pick a 2005 model is that the 3.7L V6 and 4.7L V8 engines were paired with a 6-speed manual transmission starting this year.
- 2006 – A major facelift occurred in 2006, so these are great models to look for. Updates included the “Mega Cab” with a cargo box and more room inside, a new dash on all models, and a new independent front suspension on some models.
- 2007 – Updates for 2007 were pretty minimal after the 2006 facelift, including E85 compatibility for the 4.7L V8 engine, available stability control, and optional keyless remote start.
- 2008 – By 2008, the 3rd Generation of the Dodge Ram 1500 was coming to an end. Still, you can find a revised 4.7L V8 engine in these models that is more powerful than previous years, while trailer sway control was added as an option.
How to Buy a Used Truck
You might be tempted to look for used trucks only from private sellers, who want to get rid of the truck they have been driving for the last decade. While you can typically get the best price possible from a private seller, you also lose out on peace of mind and your options are limited. Dealerships that sell used trucks typically have a better selection, can work with you on financing, and sometimes have certified pre-owned trucks that come with peace of mind from the manufacturer. Of course, we believe a dealer is the right choice when buying a used truck, but at the very least you should look at all your options and make sure you find what is right for you.
Choosing the Right Dealership
Not all dealerships are equal when it comes to used trucks; however, so be careful as you make your choice. Look for dealerships with a good record in the community, ones that have positive reviews from customers, and that make an effort to establish long-term relationships with their customers. Use the dealer’s website as a guide to see if they have a large inventory of used trucks, good financing options, and make it easy for you to communicate with them.
If, at any time, you feel like you are being pressured into something you do not want, then get out of there. A good dealership should rely on the quality of their used trucks to sell themselves. Salespeople are there to help you by answering your questions, showing you your options, and making sure you find the right vehicle for your needs – not to push something on you that you do not want.
Your Financing Options
One of the biggest advantages of choosing a dealership with used trucks for sale rather than a private seller is the type of financing options available to you there. With a private seller, you basically have one option: cash up front for the whole purchase. At a dealership, you have more options available to you, including third-party financing, Buy Here Pay Here loans, and leasing. No single type of financing is right for everyone, so the more options you have to choose from, the better chance you will find what is best for your situation.