A red 2017 Chevy Colorado is shown parked at an angle.

Why You Should Turn in Your Used Truck for Another Used Truck

Trucks are a popular American vehicle, especially for work-related buyers who need the towing or hauling power only trucks can provide. Some buyers can’t get by with a van or SUV, so if your truck has finally bit the dust and you need a new one, you may find this is a tough time to buy. Finding a new truck may be especially tricky due to shortages, and a used truck dealer near you is likely to have high pricing for used models. Don’t lose hope. If you have a used truck to trade-in, even if it’s old and beat up, dealerships are searching far and wide for used models to sell. Your used truck is likely to get you more than you think as a trade-in, and then you can use it toward a newer model.

A silver 2018 Ford F-150 is shown from the side parked in a grassy field.

Chip Shortages for New Trucks

It goes without saying that every buyer would prefer to have a new vehicle every time you need a replacement for your old one. Sadly, this is not the best time to buy new. Due to the pandemic, production of new vehicles has been halted around the globe yet again because of a shortage of semiconductor chips that control various electrical and technological capabilities of vehicles today. Powered accessories, infotainment systems, brakes, and potentially dozens or even hundreds of systems in a truck are controlled by semiconductor chips.

When the pandemic shut down global manufacturing during 2020, vehicles were not being built, and chips were not being purchased by car manufacturers. The companies who supply chips to the car manufacturers then sold their products to manufacturers of laptops, cell phones, and other personal devices because the demand for them rose when so many people worked from home, leaving car manufacturers without a supply when they restarted production again. Even a year later, the repercussions are still being felt in ripples and waves throughout the automotive industry due to the long lag time in chip production, as it takes weeks – or even months – to produce these all important parts.

As of September 2021, both GM and Ford had to stop production of trucks for part of the month, along with shutting down production of other vehicles while they waited for the supply chain to deliver chips. In the meantime, Toyota also announced it would also have to halt production because the manufacturer finally succumbed to the chip shortage after its own stockpile was depleted. For the time being, some manufacturers are choosing to build the portions they can complete without the chips, setting the unfinished vehicles aside and waiting for the chips to be delivered. As a result, the supply of new vehicles can once again expect to be unable to meet demand, which is why buying used is likely to be a better plan.

Pricing for Used Trucks

With the shortage of new vehicles being built, used car prices soared during the pandemic. Anyone who had to shop for a used vehicle after the summer of 2020 was faced with price hikes when used car lots were pillaged in place of the new cars that weren’t available. Even with people choosing to hold off on buying a new vehicle while the shortages are affecting the market, the inevitable need for replacement vehicles is still happening. Fortunately, pricing trends are beginning to shift slightly for used truck sales.

Overall, prices for vehicle sales are still rising following the spring and summer of 2021, with demand for used vehicles remaining high. Used truck sales, however, have started to flatten out or even drop as the year progresses toward autumn in the US market. If you compare pricing to last year, used full-sized trucks are 37 percent more expensive, according to Cars.com and David Paris of JD Power. Despite that comparison, prices are now beginning to trend down, particularly for used Ram 1500 models. Following Ram trucks, used Chevy Silverado 1500 and Ford F-150 prices are decreasing or slowing down, respectively.

The expectation is that buyers should not wait for prices to go back to rates seen before the pandemic. Instead, with trends of prices for used trucks showing signs of letting up slightly, we may see prices decline further as new vehicles begin to trickle back out to dealerships but are unlikely to return to their former lower rates. One bright spot in all of the market ups and downs is that loan interest rates are low in most places across the US. If you shop for a used truck right now, especially if you can offset the cost with a trade-in that is likely to have a much higher value than in a typical market, you can secure a great interest rate. Shop around for good deals to see who can give you the best price for your trade-in, and then start looking for a used model to buy.

A red 2019 Ram 1500 Warlock is shown parked near a used truck dealer.

Best Times to Shop

Certain times of the year, and even of the week, are better than others to go shopping for a vehicle, new or used. Dealerships see less foot traffic on Mondays and Tuesdays, but during weekdays in general, there are fewer shoppers. Shop during the day early in the week to get better attention from sales teams at dealerships, and you are also likely to get a better deal with less competition from other buyers. If you can shop around holidays, dealerships often promote incentives for buyers to purchase at lower prices so they can move inventory. Black Friday is a popular day for good deals, but New Year’s Eve is often even better.

When you find deals on these holidays, it’s because dealerships may be trying to reach sales targets for the end of the year. You can bank on the need for dealerships to reach their targeted goals, and subsequently, you can get a lower price for a used truck. Such holidays also coincide with the end of a month, which means salespeople are trying to fulfill a quota. When salespeople reach a quota, they are often rewarded with a cash payment that can offset a loss of commission for a single sale. This can translate into a willingness to bargain for a lower price if you have the gumption to haggle. Either way, you’re likely to find the best deals during December, especially at the end of the month.

Final Takeaway

Trucks today are built better than ever, which means you can expect to get a lot of miles out of a truck built in the last decade. If your old truck needs replacing and it really can’t wait, remember a used model in good condition can last for many years if you continue to maintain it according to manufacturer instructions. Keep up on oil changes, alignments, filter replacements, and brake repairs to get the most out of your truck. Even if a used truck has a lot of miles on the odometer, engines today often clock over 200,000 miles, especially diesel engines.

Don’t wait to buy a model you find on a lot – someone else may snap it up while you dither about little things you might not like. If you happen upon a truck that checks off the most important items on your list of features, make a deal on the spot. Know the price range you can afford, have your list of essential features ready, and make sure you have a loan pre-approval in place before you start looking so you can jump on a deal when you find one.