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Buying a survival truck: 7 things you must consider

Recently it became apparent that my car, which has just gotten off warranty, was designed to start dollaring me to death. Notice that I didn’t say “nickel and diming” me. That’s because the particular car I bought only has $200 + parts on it.

That’s ok though, it’s still a good car it’s just not something I’m going to be running around the countryside in. This car, which is extremely good in the snow, will instead sit in a driveway awaiting the coming of age of my 13 year old daughter who will then start driving it, (and will work countless hours at McD’s to pay for those $300 sensors).

And so then it is time for me to find a used truck with which to foray out on my adventures from. I have purchased many such trucks over the years and have developed seven rules I go by when doing so. Here are seven sure fire tips for buying a used truck.

  1. Get 4 wheel drive. You might be tempted to buy something that has rear differential and whatnot because it is cheaper, but there is a reason the 4 wheel drive trucks sell so much higher, and faster. That’s because if you need it you really need it.
  2. Check the 4 wheel drive out. Just because you found a truck that say 4X4 on the bed, doesn’t mean that the 4wd works. Check it before you buy it. I always stop and place the truck in neutral before I engage the 4wd in either high or low.  I know that many are designed to allow for shifting on the fly… but why would you?
  3. Buy from a private owner. I say this having bought used cars from the dealership before and having them be ok; however, I’ve always had my best luck when buying from a private owner.
  4. Take a long look at the current owner and his things. This is going to be a great indicator of how the truck has been maintained. Does the guy or gal keep his place clean and neat? Is the grass mown and trimmed? Get a look into his garage, are there tools scattered around?
  5. Look for rust! Rust is the biggest enemy to any vehicle. Look for bubbles in the paint too, because that is rust as well. I always look at the frame as well. I once bought a 13 year old used truck without checking anything else out when I saw that the original factory stickers were still stuck to the frame it was so clean.
  6. Check the Fluids. One big indicator that something is awry is the presence of certain kinds of fluids in places they should not be. Oil in the antifreeze for instance.
  7. Ask a lot of questions. Find out why the person is selling his  truck. Did he buy it for a child? Those are the best ones to get, the ones that were bought for a child which the child didn’t want. Another good buy is someone who has lost a loved one who owned it, or who has simply bought a new one because he or she had the money to and nothing better to do with it.
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