Buying used truck Qs--some general, some specific

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by hisenthlay, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    I've been searching for a good deal on a used truck for awhile now, and I just wanted to run this one by you guys for an opinion.

    Would you pay $5,900 for a 1997 Chevy Silverado 1500, 4x4, 5.7L V8 with 106,000 miles, auto., standard cab, long bed, dual airbags, good shape inside and out (no significant mechanical issues--my mechanic checked it, no rust, few chips and scratches)?

    I've been surfing the net and visiting dealers for months, and this seems like a pretty good deal to me. The guys are auto wreckers, they bought this wholesale, and were initially asking $6,200 for it--private party Bluebook is about $6,250 on it in "good" condition. And do you know how much a truck like this might generally cost wholesale? I'd like to know what margin they're actually trying to get.

    And in general, does anyone have any good truck bargain hunting or haggling tips for me? I've never bought a used vehicle before, so I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing. :help:

    Thanks!

    p.s. I'm looking for the truck right now for general hauling (manure, lumber, furniture, etc.), but I want something that'll tow 2 big horses, because that's in my plans down the road. I was hoping to spend about $5000 or less, but I have to have dual airbags and 4x4, and all of that seems impossible to find for that price.... :Bawling:
     
  2. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

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    The miles on that truck are getting up there, depending on how it was used. I know your mechanic checked it, but since it is a 4X4 anything wrong with some of those components can run up money quick. Here's a few things I'd personally check before laying down any cash.

    1) Pull the transmission dipstick and observed the fluid. It should be a clean, red color....not dark brown. It also shouldn't have a burnt smell. Dark fluid or a burnt smell is an indicator (not proof) of potential past or future transmission overheater or other problems.

    2) Make SURE the 4X4 part of the truck is sound. First, put the truck in four wheel drive and make sure it engaged, especially if it's a push button 4X4. Once engaged, make a couple tight turns, almost fully over and driving real listen for any clunking or weird noises. Do this in both directions. If you feel the steering wheel pulling a little in your hand while doing this it's normal. What your listening for in u-joint or axle problems. Don't overdo this test though because it stresses the front axle drive components.

    3) Next, find something like one of those concete bumpers they put in parking spaces. With the truck in 4X4 pull up to the concrete bumper, or something similar, until the front wheels come up against it and let the truck stop. Then while in 4X4, see if the truck's front wheels will climb up over the bumper. What you're doing here is checking the transfer case. This is the portion of the vehicle that makes it 4 wheel drive. It is chain driven. If the chain or gears are weak or worn, you'll hear them slip when you try to climb or put a strain on the 4X4 system. It sounds like a loud knocking noise, you can't miss it.

    A used vehicle is a crap shoot. But then again, so are brand new ones sometimes. Good luck
     

  3. ericjeeper

    ericjeeper Well-Known Member

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    If you are truly looking to pull and haul. Why not buy a heavier built truck?
    I would remove the oil fill cap and look for signs of white gooey moisture issues. That suggest a bad head or blown head gasket,. I have an 04 one ton dually 4x4 diesel.. It does everything I need including haul lots of groceries.
     
  4. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    Boonieman is offering some very good advice.Also,ask your mechanic if he did a compression test,and if not,ask for one.The truck you are looking at is well-built,but some folks could tear up an anvil.Also,when you go look at the truck again,tell the seller you want to see the truck dead cold,as in not fired up for a while.Then,check for oil drops under the truck.This might be a great truck,but be wary of buying vehicles from a wrecker service.
    Nick
     
  5. dieselfreak

    dieselfreak Alfalfa Jake

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    I think that sounds like a good price for the truck you say. I have the same truck, but mine has a lot more miles on it, but I also paid a lot less for it. If the miles on the odometer are valid, then that truck has a lot of life left in it. The other farm truck we have, which is the same as that truck but a year older, has 20,000 more miles on it and we havent had any problems whatsoever with it. Last year, we had a person buy 15,000 pounds of hay from us and we hauled it all in one trip with our truck. It handled really good and nothing broke. I think you should buy the truck because it sounds like it's a good one and it'll last you quite a while.
     
  6. kuriakos

    kuriakos Well-Known Member

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    That's a very fair price if it's in good shape, but try to get it for cheaper if you can. That 5.7 liter engine is one of the best ever made...my father has a Suburban with one with 230,000 miles on it and it's still running great. I've always loved that 350. That said, it's a little weak for pulling lots of weight...it can definitely do it, but if you'll be towing long distances on expressways, you might want to consider looking for a 454.

    As for the 4x4, that's a little bit of a gamble. Test it out like the others suggested to make sure there isn't something majorly wrong with it. At that mileage, it could have problems soon or it could easily last another 100,000 miles or more with no problems...just depends on your luck and how the truck has been treated. That truck has a great transfer case, though...almost as good as the engine. So if the tests check out, I'd go for it.

    When negotiating, just look them right in the eye and lowball them, say $4,600 or so. When they make a counter offer, think about it for 30 seconds or so...silence sometimes gets you a better price. $5,900 is already a pretty good price for that truck in good condition, though. So I doubt they'll let it go for any less than about $5,500 but it's worth a try to offer less. It really depends on the market in your area and how quickly they want to sell it. Mention the high mileage, how it guzzles gas, anything else that might make them eager to unload the truck. If necessary, walk away. Good luck.
     
  7. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    Thanks, guys--I really appreciate the advice. I'll do the 4x4 and other tests you mentioned, and I'll call my mechanic and ask whether he did the other tests. He's a little expensive, but very good, and very honest. So, I have faith in what he says, but it'll be good to have some questions to ask him. He did say he tested the 4x4, but I didn't ask how. The parking lot and turning tests sound easy enough to do myself. And I did drive it cold before. We got there before the lot opened, so we saw the guys arrive, and I know it wasn't turned on before I drove it. I also drove it on the highway and in stop and go traffic, and everything felt/sounded fine.

    I walked away from these guys a couple of weeks ago when they wouldn't go lower than $5,900 (like I said, they started at $6,200). I am almost positive that they still have the truck, and I've been having non-buyer's remorse about not getting it, since it seems more and more worth it to me to eat a couple hundred bucks just to get my truck search over with. Like my fiance pointed out, we'll eventually spend that much on gas driving around to look at other trucks if I don't settle on something soon--not to mention having other trucks tested by the mechanic. kuriakos, thanks for the negotiating tips. I'll try it again after the two week cooling-off period, and see how much farther I get.

    ericjeeper, I'd been looking at 2500s and 250s, but I haven't managed to find one in my price range yet. I'm willing to settle for the 1500 with the biggest engine because I don't plan on doing major towing or hauling--I'd just like the capability to do my own necessary hauling when I get horses--and I can't imagine having more than 2 horses in the near future. Even if I got two big horses/light drafts (like 1800+ lbs each) and a light trailer, I've heard that this truck will manage it ok. And as for hauling--right now we're doing all our hauling in the car (like filling the entire trunk with rotted manure, which caused us to bottom out a few times, but was great for the garden)--so I think a 1/2 ton truck will keep me busy and satisfied for awhile.

    Also, I'm really glad to hear your good reports about this model of truck. That makes me feel better about it, too. This one was owned by an HVAC company before these guys bought it--they had to remove the company lettering from the side and give it a buff job--supposedly this was manager's truck, and it wasn't used for much but driving between jobsites to check on things. That seems true from the wear on the truck--the only wear I can really see is that the bedliner is worn down right by the tailgate, like somebody was sliding things in and out of there a lot.

    Anyway, wish me luck. I may just bite the bullet today. I hate to lay down that much cash for any reason, but I've always wanted a truck, and today just might be the day. :eek:
     
  8. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    I have a 1999 K-1500 pick-up with a 350 (5.7L) V-8. The truck is still going very strong with 176,000 miles on it. Never had a problem other than having to replace the fuel pump and alternator. If the suggested tests work out, I'd say go for it. The truck is barely broke in. You might have to add a weight equalizing hitch or a fifth wheel hitch when you start hauling horses.
     
  9. justmyluk

    justmyluk Well-Known Member

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    My B I L has a 1997 GMC 4x4 (same body and motor as silverado) It had a little over 100,000 miles on it when he bought it a few years ago. Here is a list of things I've helped him fix over the years.

    It has 256,000 miles on it today.

    Alternator
    Battery
    Fuel Pump
    Water Pump
    Head Gasket
    Brakes

    No real major problems, but as a truck gets miles on it, be prepared to start replacing things. All in All it's been a good truck. I say go for it. (but set aside a few $$ for repaires)