How to Buy a Used Truck

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How to Buy a Used Truck

The consumer must consider numerous factors when deciding what kind of truck to purchase, and what features and options it should have. When deciding which truck fits his or her needs, the buyer can prioritise these items by identifying must-have items and nice-to-have items. The consumer should determine the truck's mission profile, including use as a part-time commuter vehicle, a weekend recreational vehicle, everyday work, and light or heavy towing; these uses may overlap.

Armed with these priorities, the buyer can continue to select the parameters that will yield a practical list of trucks to consider. Numerous used trucks are available on the market that meet every need for a potential buyer. After researching the various makes, models, engine and chassis variations, and options, a consumer can browse the continually updated listings on eBay for a used truck that meets his or her requirements.

Considerations When Choosing a Used Truck

Among the considerations when choosing a used truck are the fuel type, make and model of the truck, as well as the model year. Newer models include a wider variety of features and options, which is offset by a larger investment in the truck. Likewise, older models may not have the latest features and technology, although the buyer may not want a recent model truck for its intended use.

For many consumers who just want to good, basic working truck, an older model may be an ideal choice. Other considerations include engine and gearbox options, cab and truck bed size, towing capability, and whether the truck has two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Consumers should buy the truck with the capabilities they require without adding features they do not need. Additional weight and power for increased towing and hauling capability exact a fuel efficiency penalty on the vehicle, and any option adds to the overall cost of the vehicle.

Fuel Type

The first choice when selecting a used truck is the type of fuel the vehicle uses. The major decision point between selecting a diesel or petrol engine is whether horsepower or torque is the top priority. Fuel availability and cost is an important consideration when choosing which fuel the truck will utilise.

Diesel Truck

A diesel truck with lots of low-end torque is ideal for towing boats, other vehicles, or big loads. This pulling capability is apparent when towing a big load up a steep grade from a standing start. A diesel engine generates a higher compression ratio of 17:1 that ignites the fuel, which creates the maximum power in the lower range of engine RPMs and and torque. Diesel is more energy-dense than petrol is, meaning that a litre of diesel is more efficient as a power source. Diesel also consumes approximately one-third of the fuel when idling as a petrol engine does. However, the owner who merely drives a big diesel truck around town will see a fuel efficiency penalty and unnecessary maintenance costs.

Moreover, the high compression ratio of a diesel creates additional vibration and noise, and it does not provide as comfortable a ride as their petrol-powered counterparts. Diesel engines are more durable over the long term than petrol engines, providing about three times longer engine life.

Petrol Truck

Where diesel engines shine in the low-end torque and fuel efficiency department, the petrol engine provides more horsepower. Petrol trucks reach peak RPM more quickly, making them well suited for quick acceleration and frequent starts while driving around town without hauling a lot of cargo or towing a heavy load. A petrol engine does not require the reinforced parts that a vibration-heavy diesel engine does, resulting in lower weight and initial cost. The smoother, quieter engine provides a more comfortable ride, especially when accelerating to cruise speed. Both types of engines are relatively smooth when the truck reaches its motorway speed.

The presence of spark plugs in petrol engines are easier to start in cold weather, and diesel engines must be preheated in very cold temperatures. Petrol engines produce fewer particulates and emissions than even the cleaner-burning diesel fuels, and they are also less expensive to maintain on a short-term basis.

Make and Model

Despite the large number of combinations available in truck options, there are about half a dozen brands to choose from. Some of the major truck brands include Ford, Chevrolet/GMC, Ram, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Honda. The buyer may have a preference for a certain brand based on previous ownership experience, or the brand, make, and model may become apparent after sifting through the priorities list of features.

Each make and model of truck is available in a varying number of model years. It is recommended that the buyer research the makes, models, and years of the truck being considered and continue the search once the selection has been narrowed. Some of these considerations include safety, any manufacturer recalls, operational reliability, repair frequency and cost, performance, fuel efficiency, and comfort.

Truck Size

When the truck that is intended for light work and city driving, the buyer will be satisfied with a compact or mid-size body and a lighter gross weight. While a massive truck is impressive and useful for heavy-duty use, it is difficult to park in town, and it consumes more fuel than is needed for the job. However, when the truck is intended for towing and regular heavy-duty use, a full-sized truck that is designed to meet the challenge is a more appropriate choice than a compact truck that cannot stand the rigours of serious work.

Engine Size, Gearbox Type, and Fuel Efficiency

The consumer should match the engine size with the mission he or she has in mind. The engine size is matched to the size of the truck chassis, ensuring the vehicle is not over- or under-powered. A compact truck typically has a four-cylinder or six-cylinder petrol engine. A full-sized truck's engine ranges from V6 or V8 petrol engines, as well as powerful diesel engines with a lot of low-end torque to enhance its towing capability.

Trucks with a manual gearbox tend to offer slightly better fuel efficiency than those with an automatic gearbox, and manual trucks also have somewhat lower maintenance expenses and requirements than an automatic. Regardless of the engine size and gearbox type, pickup trucks are not the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. A compact truck normally gets 6.4-7.2 km/litre, while a full-sized truck gets 5.5-6.4 km/litre. The fuel efficiency is further reduced when towing a trailer or hauling cargo in the truck bed. The fuel consumption for a diesel engine differs from a petrol engine; each truck includes fuel efficiency data based on several operating factors.

Towing Capability

When choosing a truck that will be used for towing, consumers should confirm the manufacturer recommendations for the vehicle that identify the maximum towing capacity and cargo weight. Towing packages are available in a variety of capacities with the ability to tow utility trailers, boats, travel trailers, and other vehicles. When examining a used truck with a trailer hitch, inspect the hitch for signs of excessive wear or load, twisting, cracking, or warping.

Each truck manufacturer offers OEM (original equipment manufacturer) towing packages, or the consumer may choose to purchase aftermarket towing packages that are produced by companies not associated with the truck manufacturer. OEM packages have the advantage of being matched to the particular brand of truck, and they may be covered by a warranty. Towing packages also require wiring for the brake lights, tail lights, and attachment points; the consumer should compare OEM vs. aftermarket choices to ensure these items are properly addressed.

Two-Wheel, Four-Wheel, or All-Wheel Drive

A four-wheel-drive truck is the best option if the buyer intends to use the truck off-road, in snow, or in mud. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are sit higher off the tarmac to accommodate the driving conditions. If the vehicle is to be used on the tarmac, with no off-road excursions, a two-wheel-drive truck is a good choice. Four-wheel and all-wheel drive trucks have superior traction to two-wheel drive trucks.

Cab Size and Doors

The choice of cab size and number of doors is determined by the number of passengers the owner intends to carry and whether extra room in the cab is required to carry equipment or other items. The addition of extended or crew cabs adds to the length of the truck, which affects the vehicle's weight, fuel efficiency, ease of parking, and maneuverability.

Regular Cab

Compact pickup trucks with a regular cab feature two doors, and access to the area behind the seats is typically obtained by tilting the seat back forward. These compact trucks have limited cargo space inside the cab and are a bit cozier than trucks equipped with extended or crew cabs.

Extended or Crew Cab

If the buyer intends to carry more than one passenger or if the truck will be used to carry a significant amount of items inside the cab, an extended or crew cab is a good option. Additionally, larger cabs allow the driver to lock items inside the truck cab without the need for a camper shell or a locked equipment box in the truck bed. Trucks with extended and crew cabs tend to be more comfortable, as there is room to recline the seats in the cabin. More spacious cabs put more distance between the driver and the truck bed, reducing low-frequency road noise that can be fatiguing to the occupants especially during long road trips.

Truck Bed

The primary function of a pickup truck is to haul things around that would not otherwise fit in a passenger vehicle. The choice of a cab size and style should match the type of work for which the truck will be used.

Long Bed or Short Bed

When deciding whether to buy a truck with a long bed or a short bed, the truck's mission should be considered. If the consumer intends to haul large items such as furniture, equipment such as snow blowers or lawnmowers, a long bed accommodates more cargo. Light-duty trucks with a short bed are a good choice for the owner who occasionally hauls boxes to a storage area, plants and flowers from the nursery, or a few pieces of used furniture to the charity shop. When choosing the bed size, the consumer should keep in mind that longer trucks are more challenging to maneuver and park than trucks with regular beds.

Open Bed or Camper Shell

Many pickup trucks include a removable camper shell that fits over the open truck bed. Camper shells can be awkward to install and remove; however, they protect the cargo from theft and damage from weather. The advantage of using an open truck bed is that the owner is able to carry large or oversized, items that do not fit within the confines of a camper shell. An open bed is also the appropriate configuration for hauling cargo such as rubbish, fertilizer, and the like. When choosing a truck camper shell, the buyer should select one that he or she can install and remove with ease.

Bed Lining

The basic option for the bed lining is the same painted sheet metal used in the manufacturing the truck. The bed often features a textured surface to keep the cargo from sliding around during normal driving operations. Common bed lining upgrades include heavy-duty diamond plate, textured or smooth rubber or polypropylene, or skid-resistant bed rugs that prevent load shifting while in transit. Owners may opt to apply their own brush-on or spray-on bed liners to provide additional durability and ease of use; professional services also apply these permanent liners.


Pickup trucks are fertile ground for upgrades. A wide variety of options are available for owners who want to enhance the safety, performance, comfort, and entertainment of their truck. Safety options include side and curtain airbags, light racks, and a navigation system. A truck's utility and security is improved by locked equipment boxes, light racks, and power locks. Soundproofing, running boards, and steps enhance the comfort and accessibility of a truck. Entertainment options include a AM/FM stereo with CD player, satellite radio, DVD player, Bluetooth, and MP3 player input.

How to Buy a Used Truck on eBay

While used trucks can be purchased from auto dealerships and private sellers, eBay offers continually changing listings that allow you to find the right truck for your needs. Begin your search on any eBay page, where you may enter "used pickup truck" in the search box. You may browse the listings, or you may further refine your search by entering additional information such as make, model, fuel type, and number of doors in the search box. If you prefer looking for a truck near your location, you may search for sellers within a certain distance from your postcode. Seeking local sellers allows you to examine the truck before committing to a purchase.

eBay provides comprehensive information on each seller, including sales history, buyer feedback and comments, and sales policies. You may choose to filter your search by selecting eBay Top-rated sellers or from existing dealerships that manage an eBay Shop.


A used truck is a versatile vehicle that is designed to meet a variety of needs. The consumer may wish to purchase a sturdy, reliable truck for driving around town and carrying everyday loads, or the truck may be used for hauling heavy loads or towing a trailer or boat. A potential buyer should identify the most important features that meet the mission, including fuel type, engine size, gearbox type, cab size, and bed length. Consumers should choose a truck that meets their needs, without adding costly capabilities they will never use or underestimating their requirements. After researching the type of truck that best meets their needs, buyers should examine the seller's feedback ratings, customer comments, selling policies, and dispatch reliability. Shopping on eBay is a cost-effective way to find and purchase a used truck with confidence and ease.

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