Three 2017 Toyota Tacoma's, a blue, brown, and grey colored, are parked on a dirt trail in the desert.

Ideas for Upgrading Your Used Truck


When browsing used trucks for sale, it can be tough not to be overly influenced by first impressions. Outward appearances can have you making up your mind before you even get a chance to look under the hood. Don’t let a shiny paint job or high-tech interior cloud your judgment. What really matters is the truck’s capability, condition, and build. After all, the most expensive fixes usually originate from the engine, not the interior. Unfortunately, sometimes the smell, look, or superficial scratches can stop you from spotting a true gem at a bargain. Stop yourself from judging a book by its cover, and keep in mind these useful, affordable tips for upgrading a slightly-worn used truck with solid bones.

Upgrade Your Tires

If your used truck doesn’t have the same off-road capabilities as a new, top trim pickup, never underestimate the power of a good set of tires. Snow tires are one of the most effective ways to increase your truck’s traction in slippery conditions if you live in an area with winter weather. All-terrains are a great choice if you need to ride smoothly on the road but perform off it too. Beyond just function, custom rims and tires can give your truck a whole new look. If you wanted a bigger truck than you could afford, you can always build up vertically by putting some extra inches underneath your truck. Getting the extra clearance is also useful for getting your truck over tough terrain and obstacles. Tires as big as 32, 33, or even 35 inches are a good upgrade from the 29-30 inch tires that your truck probably came with, though you may need further modifications to fit the extra rubber. Opt for matte black, bronze, or graphite rims to create a handsome, customized look.

A 2018 Chevy Colorado is off-roading with upgraded wheels and off-road tires, which is a popular upgrade option among used trucks for sale.

Splurge on Professional Detailing

Are you capable of vacuuming and wiping down your truck’s interior yourself? Probably. However, nothing quite compares to the level of clean you can get from a professional detailing job. If the interior of your used truck is sporting a few stains from a lifetime of off-road adventures, you’re going to need some serious chemicals and equipment to make it seem like new again. Luckily, the price of paying for a professional detailing job usually pales in comparison to the cost of a new truck. Use interior flaws to negotiate a better deal on that used truck for sale. Then, put that extra cash towards some serious detailing work.

The only exception to this tip is if your truck seems musty inside. It’s not just an aesthetic issue, as this could be a sign of previous water damage. Water damage from flooding or storms may be an indicator that your truck has other underlying issues of rust or mildew. These could lead to costly repairs and poor mechanical functioning down the road. Get a detailed background check on any used vehicle that you’re considering purchasing and be on the lookout for gaps or missing information. If you have any suspicious, having an experienced mechanic give it a once over can ease your mind before you buy.

A professional auto detailer is shampooing a customer's car seats.

If the issues are truly just cosmetic, get an estimate on detailing services before you buy the truck. This gives you an opportunity to weigh the cost and benefit when determining a fair sticker price. While you’re at it, consider an exterior paint job. A fresh coat of paint or a little bit of body work if needed can make an old truck look brand new. By having it painted privately, you’ll have more choices of colors and finishes than you would from buying a new truck from the manufacturer. With a little imagination and creativity, the sky’s the limit for redesigning a used truck. Transform it into a dream vehicle that is uniquely yours.

Accessorize A La Carte

Just because your used truck didn’t come with a rearview back-up camera or navigation system, doesn’t mean you have to go without. It’s usually much cheaper to pick and choose the accessories you want on your vehicle by buying these separately instead of just adding expensive packages on higher trim levels. Get a base model and improve upon it with all-weather mats, cargo organizers, and high-tech interior features. Instead of feeling like you need to have everything upfront, take your time accessorizing your used truck when you have the extra money to do so. Buying accessories directly from the manufacturer is a guaranteed fit, but you can also buy generic or customized accessories from a variety of retailers for a fraction of the cost.

Didn’t get the luxury leather seats that you wanted the first time around? Leather seat covers are always an option to upgrade the look and feel of your truck. Opt for towel, sheepskin, or camo covered seats to suit your personal style. Steering wheel covers can also be purchased to match your seats in a variety of materials like leather, velour, or foam. If you routinely bring your pets along for the ride, pet seat covers in the back row or at least a quality pet carrier for the truck are must-haves.

Brown leather seats are shown in a 2017 Toyota Tundra.

Keep your truck organized with creative cargo solutions. Pocket pods and caddy organizers are perfect for placing your bags and tools. Cargo slides and tailgate shelves help you make the most of your space. Add overhead consoles, dash trays, cup holders, and seat hangers to make your truck both functional and convenient for day-to-day use. If your truck is used on the job, turn it into a mobile office with a car seat or wheel desk. Phone, tablet, and laptop mounts make it easy to type up estimates and get your paperwork out of the way before you head home for the night.

Exterior Upgrades You Can Do

Shop around and see what you can do to upgrade your truck on the outside as well. A new exhaust system, tonneau covers, and fender flares can be added to any used truck. New running boards and hitch steps can make your truck more functional and easy to access. Install bright LED headlights or projector headlights with focused beams for added visibility and style. For a truck that really stands out, adding halo rings to your headlights or taillights brings your truck to the next level. Find any color you want, or go for a multicolor option. Put in daytime running lights or new fog lights for an illuminated truck that truly glows.

Even the little things, like customizing your license plate and frame can make your used truck feel that much more special. Heavy-duty wiper blades can be purchased in a variety of colors and sizes for function and style. Wind deflectors and bug deflectors help shield your truck on the road. Make customizing your used truck a labor of love and get a finished product that will make you proud.

If your truck could use some extra strength, take your towing to the next level by installing a hitch balls and mounts, trailer couplers, and added tie-downs. Adding on a trailer breakaway kit or new trailer brakes can give you extra control and stability on a heavy tow. Don’t forget about towing mirrors and lights to help reduce your risk of an accident. For a smoother ride, consider an upgraded suspension system to keep your truck stable on bumpy rides. While there are some limits on how much added towing capacity can be fitted to any truck, reading the manual and consulting with a truck mechanic will ensure that you are making safe upgrades that your truck can withstand.