What to consider when looking at a new or new-to-you truck

Buying a new truck can be equal parts exhilarating and exhausting.

A new truck is a large expense, which can be stressful. Before getting caught up in the technology or trying to bargain, take some time to determine what your needs and expectations are, and do some research to make sure the truck is the right one for the job.

What Will the Truck Be Used For? An honest evaluation of what the truck’s job will be is important.

“You don’t want to buy too much truck, but you don’t want too little,” Mark Hanshaw of Wood Motor Company in Harrison, Ark., said. “You are always better off to buy something a little bigger than what you need than something that will just barely get the job done.”

Kelly Grant, general manager of Bill Grant Ford in Bolivar, Mo., said too much bigger isn’t always better.

“Just because you take a load of calves to the auction three times per year, do you really need the most powerful engine, latest technology, and finest interior we have to offer?” Grant said. “Why not purchase a truck in line with its intended use and pocket the savings?”

Gas vs. Diesel: The question of whether to go with a gasoline engine versus a diesel engine will always come up when purchasing a truck for the farm. There are pros and cons to consider with both.

“Do you need a diesel truck, or do you want a diesel truck?” Hanshaw said. “A diesel has more torque and they will have more power, but are you going to be pulling a trailer a lot? Or are you going to be pulling a trailer a little? That’s a major consideration in a diesel truck. A lot of people will buy a diesel just because they want it.”

While diesel trucks are known for added power, gasoline engines should not be overlooked.

“Newer gas engines mated to 10-speed transmissions deliver more power than some legacy diesels,” Grant said. “Compare torque and RPM figures – not horsepower – when analyzing heavy trucks.”

According to Hanshaw, upkeep and input costs go up considerably in a diesel.

“To go with a diesel and an Allison automatic (transmission) will cost you a minimum of $10,000 more,” he said. “Your oil changes go from about $50 to $150. You also have a fuel filter you have to replace every year, and fuel is about 30 cents more per gallon. You just have to pencil it out.”

New vs. Used: Even if you need a new rig for your operation, you may not need a “brand new” one. A “new-to-you” truck might work just fine.

“A carefully-selected used truck will almost always yield a greater return than the costs associated with purchasing new,” Grant said. “Of course, how you treat your truck and adherence to proper maintenance deal the cards in your favor.”

Hanshaw cautioned that a used farm truck might have low mileage, but high wear.

“Is it a truck what someone has been using to pull a 32-foot-by-7-foot livestock trailer with, or has is it from a guy whose been using it just to feed his cows?” he said. “You just have to be careful. I’ve had good luck selling used trucks for 40 years, but I won’t sell anything to anyone I wouldn’t take and use myself. If you can afford and can justify a new one, especially if you’re going to keep it over a five-year period, buy the new one because you’re going to have a warranty.”

Hanshaw added that dealers have the ability to print vehicle history reports, and should provide those reports upon request.

Make It Last: You’ll want to protect your new investment by properly maintaining it.

“Make sure you take care of maintenance things like oil changes, tire rotations, brake wear, air filters and coolant system flushes before problems arise. Many times, people come to our shop after deferring maintenance for thousands of miles. The cost of catching-up for neglected maintenance far exceeds the cost of doing it right,” Grant said.

When labor rates for mechanics reach $100 an hour, Hanshaw said proper maintenance for all equipment is very important.

“You need to stay on top of things,” he said.

Work on developing a trusting relationship with a reputable shop, dealer and/or mechanic.

“Don’t assume the dealer who tells you your air filter is dirty is just trying to get your money. Insist on looking at that filter, or walking back to the shop to look at those brakes rotors, dirty coolant, etc. Reputable shops don’t stay in business by pushing unnecessary maintenance,” Grant explained. “A good shop will let you plan ahead for maintenance.

Klaire HowertonFarm Helpbuying,new,truck,usedWhat to consider when looking at a new or new-to-you truck Buying a new truck can be equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. A new truck is a large expense, which can be stressful. Before getting caught up in the technology or trying to bargain, take some time to determine what...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma