When and how to get the best deal

Buying a Used Truck

TDS Reader Solutions

Buying a Used Truck

My husband and I want to purchase a new (used) truck. When is the best time of the year or the month to find the best deals? We have about $2000 to put down and we need a payment of less than $400 per month. It doesn't have to be a new truck, but it has to have a good/decent record for durability.

Can you help me figure out the best time of the month, how to make an offer, and any other pointers you may have? Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Finding the Best Deal On a Used Truck

The best time of the month to shop from dealerships is the last week, or ideally, the last two days of the month. Dealers are trying to meet quotas and may offer lower prices or extras just to make a sale.

A great way to find the best deal in your area is to start online. You can research the different makes and models and compare features like gas mileage and towing capacity. When you click on local dealerships, they will reach out to you and might even start a bidding war with you being the lucky winner of the lowest price or best terms!

Related: Buying a Reliable Used Car

Also, it is advisable to seek financing first from your bank or other lending institution, because dealers may "pad" their contracts or slip in prepayment penalties that can cost you in the long run. Look for a simple interest loan, no prepayment penalty, that you can afford. By getting "pre-approval" on a loan from your bank, the dealer may come up with better financing.
Shaunna P. in Fargo, ND

Know What You Really Need In a Truck

So you are in the market for a truck. Here are some pointers for your quest:

  1. Develop your needs (shopping) list before going shopping. You need to identify how much truck you really need. There is a huge difference in cost, maintenance, gas, etc. between a compact truck and a super duty one. Do you need a back seat for the kids or just the front seat? What loads will you haul? Will you need to tow a trailer? If so, how heavy will it be when fully loaded? You get the idea.
  2. Read the reviews by Consumer Reports and car sites to narrow your search by eliminating trucks with high frequency of repairs.
  3. Know your credit score and shop your financing. I have had dealerships try to talk me into vehicle loans that would have been 2 or 3 percent higher than the best rate I qualified for. The dealer, of course, gets a handsome rake off if they can sell me a loan rate higher than I deserve. This process may also get you focused on trucks that you can afford.
  4. Talk with your insurance agent to see if any of the trucks you are considering have a disproportionate insurance cost. No sense in buying a truck that has a huge insurance cost.
  5. Use the Internet to find the approximate price of the truck(s) you are most interested in. This will be a great help in negotiating the final sale price.
  6. Get free quotes on local used cars.

  7. Shop at or near the end of the month. If possible, the last couple of business days seems to be best, especially if the weather that month has been frightful. Salespeople have monthly quotas and bonuses. At the end of the month, salespeople seem more anxious about meeting their quota or boosting their bonus.


Related: Things Auto Salesmen Discuss in the Manager's Office

Best Used Truck Bargains at The End of the Month

The best time to buy a "new to you" truck is at the end of the month. Salespeople have quotas to meet and can be very lenient toward the last of a month and the last of a quarter. The very best time to buy is at the end of the year. The staff needs to meet their goals for the year. So there is extra pressure on them with end of the month, end of the quarter and end of the year facing them. I bought a two-year-old Jeep at the end of December and got a very good deal. I had the staff fill up the gas tank and put a new inspection sticker on the vehicle too. They did all this before I signed on the dotted line. Don't appear too eager. Take your time and research you intended purchase. Most of all, make it fun.

Compare auto loans before you car shop.

Consider Buying a Used Truck on eBay

I purchased a ten year old Ford Ranger extended cab 5 speed 4 cylinder from Atlanta on eBay, sight unseen. I realized that it needed an engine, so I got a price from my mechanic and figured it into my bid. Since the "new" engine only had 50,000 miles on it, it was like buying a much newer vehicle. I have about $2,800 in it and have driven it for a little over a year. Included are tires that I purchased from a junk dealer for $100. They were "take offs," tires that were taken off a new vehicle because the owner wanted better tires.

Put Safety First

Before you buy a car/truck, take a safe first step. Go online at Carfax.com. They will let you know if the car/truck has had an accident or if the odometer is correct.
Kathy D. in Sonora, CA

Reviewed January 2018

Take the Next Step

  • Get free quotes on local used cars.
  • Make sure you are not overpaying for auto insurance. See how much you could save with just a few clicks. Fast, free quotes and online comparisons.
  • Your credit score matters. Do you know yours? Get your free score now at Credit Sesame.
  • Stop struggling to get ahead financially. Subscribe to our free weekly Surviving Tough Times newsletter aimed at helping you 'live better...for less'. Each issue features great ways to help you stretch your dollars and make the most of your resources. Subscribers get a copy of Are You Heading for Debt Trouble? A Simple Checklist And What You Can Do About It for FREE!

Stay Connected with TDS

Little Luxuries

to the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and get a copy
of our ebook
Little Luxuries:
130 Ways to Live Better...For Less
for FREE!

Your Email:

View the TDS Privacy Policy.

Get Out of Debt