Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Used Truck Buyer's Guide - Part I

Truck Classification

Truck classification has changed a lot over the years.  When trucks first started being built, they were classified by their payload capacity, which means how much stuff they could carry.  The standard ratings were 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton.  Some people even consider compact pick ups like the Chevrolet S-10 and Ford Ranger to be 1/4 ton trucks.  So what do these tonnage ratings mean now?  Nothing really.  Even though the old ratings are still used to classify trucks, they aren't accurate.

The best way to keep truck classification straight is to think of the ton ratings as a basic guide.  A way to generally separate the different classes of truck.  A good rule is to follow these classification guidelines: 

2006 Dodge Ram 1500

1/2 Ton -  Light duty trucks like Ford F-150's, Chevy's 1500's, Dodge 1500's and so on.  These are your entry level trucks designed for personal use.  Dump runs, helping friends move, light towing and hauling are all fine to do with a 1/2 ton truck.  

2007 Chevrolet 2500

3/4 Ton - Medium duty trucks like the Ford F-250, Chevy 2500, Dodge 2500, etc..  Medium duty trucks are a bit beefier and capable of more difficult tasks than the 1/2 ton trucks.  Some light commercial work, more difficult towing and hauling are where the 3/4 ton shines.

2006 Ford F350 XLT

1 Ton - Heavy duty trucks like the Ford F-350, Chevy 3500, Dodge 3500, you get the idea.  This is where you can really put the truck to work.  1 ton trucks can handle much heavier loads, large fifth wheel trailers, and can handle much more abuse.

Hopefully this information helps clear up any confusion you may have about truck classification and tonnage ratings.  It is important to understand that not all trucks are created equal.  Make sure you have a clear idea of what you will be using your truck for so you can pick the right one.

The Used Truck Buyer's Guide - Intro

Let's face it, trucks are just plain useful.  Dump runs, moving, towing, hauling and having fun are all part of a truck's resume.  They are the Swiss Army Knives of the automotive world.  Yet new trucks can cost an arm and a leg these days.  Do you really want a truck that cost you so much you're scared to get it scratched or dirty?  I know I don't.  So that leaves buying a used truck as the only reasonable option for most of us.

Because of the way trucks are used and sometimes abused, they present their own set of challenges when shopping for one.  You probably aren't going to be concerned about towing capacity or lift kits when looking for a Toyota Camry for instance.

In this series of articles we will be discussing some of the Do's and Don'ts of shopping for and buying a used truck.  Whether you are looking for a smaller, fuel efficient pick up or a big bruising 1 ton diesel, you are sure to pick up (pun intended) a few tips that will save you time and money.

There are many used truck specific things to look out for when shopping for one.  We will explain more details of each area in the following articles.  These areas are:

Truck Classification - This statistic has become more and more confusing over time.  Most people and dealers refer to trucks as being 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton or 1 ton.  In a nutshell, this relates to how much weight the truck can tow or haul.

Body Configuration - Trucks come in all shapes and sizes.  Regular cab, shortbed, crew cab, long bed and lots more...

Drivetrain - From basic two wheel drive to four wheel drive to all wheel drive.  The basics: how many wheels are actually being powered when and why.

Engine Type - Being trucks, you have all sorts of options that can get more than a little confusing.  It all depends on what you will be using the truck for.

Brand Specific Details - Yes, there are definitely Chevy people, Ford people, Dodge people and so on.  However, each brands' trucks do have their own special quirks that you should know about before buying one.

So, stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about shopping for, and buying the right used truck for you...