If you want to travel and hunt around BC then a pickup truck or a good SUV is often the ticket to hunt all around the province. A good pickup truck will haul you, your buddies, your trailers, your quads, your river boats, and side-by-sides all around the province chasing whatever is in season or just enjoying the outdoor lifestyle we’re fortunate enough to have within a few hours of every city center.
The article below contains some tips and reflection on my last used truck purchase. I traded my 2011 F-150 Ecoboost XLT (which I bought new) on a 2011 F-150 Ecoboost Lariat from Hallmark Ford Sales Ltd. in Surrey BC. The truck exhibited problems during our test drive which the dealer was aware of but then upon taking delivery the next morning the truck exhibited a more serious problem which was a loud rattle on a cold start.
This is my fourth F-150 purchased in a row and my first truck I’ve driven off the lot and into a shop. Hopefully this article will help some of you avoid some of these pitfalls when buying used.
Here’s Some Of My Tips When Buying A Used Ford Truck
#1. Choose Your Truck Model/Brand – Know What You Want
Don’t be one of those guys that rolls onto the dealers lot, clueless as to what you want or need in a truck. They’ll be all to happy to sell you what they have on hand rather than really dig into the used inventory on other lots or across the province to get the vehicle you’d be happiest with.
The best deal on a used truck is always going to be found with the dealer that actually has the truck you want on their lot.
If this is your first pickup truck choosing a brand is going to be difficult without any first-hand experience so maybe you’d like to test drive several vehicle brands before you decide. Before I bought my first Ford F-150 my Dad had driven Fords pretty much his entire adult life. Starting with the Ford Bronco’s then moving into the F-150’s and then the F-350’s which he runs now.
For me choosing Ford was really easy because I was already very familiar with the vehicles (especially the F-150) how they drove, how they rode and also my dads experience played a big role in my truck brand decision. I test drove a Chevy Silverado 1500 a few weeks ago at a dealer in Parksville and was absolutely overwhelmed with all of the choices in options and trim and how it affected the trucks price. That and the feel of the truck compared to my Fords was just not what I wanted… The experience ultimately solidified my brand choice and pushed me right back to what I knew and understood and that was another Ford F-150.
If you can stick to one make and model truck for many consecutive purchases then you’re going to learn a lot more about the common issues the truck could experience, maintenance concerns and other quirks that will undoubtedly be present with the specific model of vehicle. You’ll also have a better idea on what the vehicle is worth.
#2. Research What The Vehicle Is Actually Worth
There are three different prices for every used truck. The wholesale price, the sticker price and the actual price the dealer is willing to sell the vehicle to you for. As a consumer buying a used pickup truck it’s important you research the wholesale and retail prices of the vehicle you are interested in buying. Look at ALL of the listings you can find for similar vehicles of the same year, similar mileage and options. This will give you a really good feel for the market on your particular truck model.
Options Will Affect The Final Price
- Leather Seats
- Navigation Systems
- Premium Sound Systems
- Appearance Packages
- Towing Packages
There are so many options that can contribute or detract from the value of the vehicle. Fully loaded trucks will always hold their value better than a base model vehicle. Utilize a resource such as the Canadian Black Book Car Values website which will give you ballpark values on specific makes and models of vehicles. This can serve as a good benchmark to help you gauge vehicles that are obviously priced way too high and also get you more value for your trade, if you’re going that route.
#3. Do You Have A Trade? Research That Too…
One of the benefits to trading in your vehicle rather than selling it privately is it can help offset the tax on the new vehicle you are buying. The GST and PST is only added to the difference between the two vehicles. Go through the autotrader, look at dealer websites and classified sites to see what others are “asking” for their similar vehicle. Remember… I said “asking”. What someone is asking for a vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the true market value.
Research your vehicle on the Canadian Black Book website to get a wholesale and retail value so you can compare your vehicle to others on the market. These research exercises although time consuming will help you be in a much better position to negotiate. Be prepared to defend your asking price when the dealer offers you low-wholesale (usually the first offer they’ll make).
My last truck the dealer offered me $22,000 on my trade which after my research I knew was too low. After only a couple of email exchanges and a few minutes of my time, they’d moved that up from $22,000 to $26,000 for my trade.
That’s a $4000 difference and was more than what I owed on the old vehicle, so the equity I was able to carry over into the new truck not only paid the taxes in the deal but it also put another $1000 down into the new truck, reducing the final amount to finance. Had I not negotiated then I’d already be $4000 upside down on the vehicle and that’s not where you want to be. Now in 2 or 3 years when I want another truck I will have equity in my current vehicle I can once again carry over into another purchase.
Get The Vehicle Inspected By A Qualified Third Party (NOT BCAA)
The last truck I bought (From Hallmark Ford Sales in Surrey BC) was put through a BCAA used vehicle inspection. If you do any research you’ll quickly find that BCAA is only a visual inspection of the vehicle and even BCAA themselves say on the inspection report it’s not to be used to make purchasing decisions with a vehicle. They don’t check the condition of the oil, the air filter, the transmission fluid, the differentials or anything that should be checked on a used truck.
These inspections should pretty much be ignored and actually avoided if the dealer wants you to pay for it.
When you’ve found the vehicle you want to buy there should be no issue if you’d like to have the vehicle checked out by a competent 3rd party who will actually road test the vehicle and give it a thorough mechanical inspection rather than a simple visual checklist. You’ll gain valuable insight into the vehicle and if there are any mechanical issues.
Quick Used Truck Checklist
Aside from having a professional look through the vehicle for you that is “outside” the sales transaction there are a few items you can take a look at first. This will help you guide your mechanic or chosen inspection facility to look into specific areas of the vehicle you might feel need attention.
- Inspect the overall condition and appearance.
- Check all fluids including engine oil, transmission (if possible), brake fluid, coolant.
- Look for leaks in the engine bay, transmission and differentials.
- Inspect tires for abnormal wear.
- Inspect the under carriage for rust or damage from gravel roads.
- Road test the vehicle on the highway and the city.
- Listen for strange noises with the vehicle.
- Feel for any strange driveline vibration.
- Are there any service records for the vehicle?
One of the most important things, and a lesson I learned a little too late with my most recent truck is to make sure you get to start up the vehicle when it’s cold and hasn’t been fired up several times and moved around the lot prior to your arrival. Hearing the vehicle on cold start can reveal many different issues with the used vehicle.
For example, my current truck exhibited a very loud rattle after startup less than 24 hours after taking delivery.
Literally I started the truck the morning after delivery and it made the noise you hear in this video. It’s made the noise more than a dozen times since and they are all recorded on video.
#4. Finance Managers and Extended Warranty and Loan Insurance
The finance managers are often the best salespeople in the entire dealership. They’ve spent years honing their skills at separating you from your money. You need to be sharp going in here or you’ll come out spending thousands more on your vehicle that could have been avoided, or even shopped around for a better deal.
Here are a few ways they’ll separate you from your money:
#1. They may try to “bump” the interest rate a 1/4 percent or more after you’ve been given a firm rate already. If they do this walk away. Seriously… Their tone will change immediately when they know you’re not falling for it. If they don’t then call the bank and ask them for the specifics on the “bump”. If you have bad credit then you might be out of luck but if you’re credit score is good and you know it then don’t let them play this game. My current truck the finance manager tried this technique over the phone and I let him know my displeasure.
Miraculously upon my arrival to the dealership to take delivery of the truck they had found another lender who was willing to give me the rate I was originally promised.
I’ll let you determine what happened there.
#2. If you’re financing the truck they will try and sell you “loan insurance”. So if you die or you are seriously injured and disabled the loan will be insured and could potentially be paid out. This can add anywhere from a few dollars to $30 or more onto your bi-weekly or monthly payments on vehicle totalling up-to several thousand dollars into the final price of the vehicle. (my last truck these added more than $3000 to the final price! – I declined)
Use your own judgement, don’t let the finance manager pressure you. These insurances are very profitable for them.
#3. If the truck is a used truck (I’m speaking with my Ford hat now) then you can still buy extended warranty direct from any Canadian Ford dealer. No matter what the Ford dealer says, you can buy the extended warranty plan on both a new or used Ford truck from ANY Ford dealer. It does not have to be the Ford dealer you purchased the vehicle from. This means you can shop around for the warranty to see who will give you the best deal.
If you’d really like to save money then you buy the extended warranty from one of several Ford dealers in the USA who run factory direct warranty programs. These are genuine Ford Factory ESP warranties for much less than what we pay up here in Canada.
The only stipulation is that you’ll need a US mailing address to register your Ford warranty plan. This move will save you $1000 or more depending on which warranty you want to buy and so long as you buy the Ford Genuine ESP (extended service plan) it will be good at ANY Ford dealer in Canada and the USA.
Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Away From The Deal
The car dealer your interested in buying a vehicle from really, really wants to sell you a vehicle. These are trained professionals who go to school and take courses, and listen to seminars and take other continuing education to learn how to suck more money from you at every step of the car buying process. They understand human psychology and the decision making process, they will use this knowledge against you if you hang around the dealer and give them a chance.
If you’re not feeling “right” about the deal (probably because you’ve done your research) then say so and tell them you’re leaving…. Then just leave. The reality is that there are hundreds of the same pickup truck in BC and sometimes it’s just a matter of having a little patience for the right one to come along. I’ve walked out of several dealerships because the deal wasn’t right, often they won’t let you leave without trying “one last time”. The truck will be there tomorrow, that is almost a guarantee and if it’s not… There will be another truck along very soon.
Remember above all… You’re not buying a truck to make friends with a car dealer. You’re buying a truck because you need it for your lifestyle. That might be towing a riverboat up north to go on a sheep hunt, towing a trailer across the province with your family, or maybe towing a flat deck with your ATV’s on your way to the Kootenays for an Elk hunt.
Regardless of what you do with the truck you want that truck to get you there reliably, comfortably and for a price that doesn’t leave your bank account hurting for a few years more than it should have. Because, you need to pay for those hunting trips somehow too!
Important Resources For BC Used Truck Buyers
Here are a few resources that have been very helpful when researching and trying to find the right truck and determine pricing.
Canadian Black Book – Learn the low wholesale, high wholesale, low retail and high retail price ranges for your vehicle you are trading or thinking about purchasing.
Autotrader.Ca – Browse hundreds of vehicles, mostly from dealers. This site will help paint the pricing picture for your particular model.
F-150 Forum – Thousands of F-150 truck owners sharing their experiences and knowledge. An extremely valuable pool of information on Ford trucks.
The “Used” Network – View a lot of vehicles that are for sale privately. Again, it just gives you more information to draw from when determining the value of your vehicle for trade or purchase.