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

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

While 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.

“What are you really using your truck for? 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?” Kelly Grant, general manager of Bill Grant Ford in Bolivar, Mo., 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.

“If power is what you’re looking for, there is no substitute for diesel power,” Grant said. “The question then becomes ‘Am I using the power enough to justify the added acquisition cost, higher maintenance costs, higher fuel costs and uncertain long-term depreciation?’ If power is your number one consideration, buy the diesel and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance program. If cash flow is more important than power, you can make do with gas. Newer gas engines mated to 10-speed transmissions deliver more power than some legacy diesels. Compare torque and RPM figures – not horsepower – when analyzing heavy trucks.”

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. Variables such as sales tax, options you can’t do without and availability when you are searching may swing you one way or the other.”

If in the market for all the most recent tech and gadgets, a used truck may not have all of the features desired, whereas a brand-new truck can have those features added. Sales tax on a new or used truck must be carefully considered as well.

“Sales tax on a new $50,000-plus vehicle is no small expense. You can do quite a bit of maintenance on a $20,000 used truck for the savings in taxes,” Grant said. “Another way to save on taxes is to do what is known as a commodity exchange. In Missouri, the Department of Revenue will allow farmers to sell a commodity (i.e.: cattle raised, crops grown, fescue seed harvested on your farm) to the dealer in exchange for sales tax credit. Careful planning with a cooperating dealer is required to do this properly, but it can be an option.”

What Kind of Extras? If you do choose to go brand new, there are many additional features on the market you can add to your purchase.

“Only buy options you need to do the job – and that list constantly evolves, winches, flatbeds or hydraulic bale beds, grill guards, extra toolboxes and running boards all make your truck more useful. But only buy it if you are going to use it,” Grant said. “The resale value of most truck accessories is less than 50 percent  of original cost.”

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, 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.

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.


  1. This makes me wonder why Kelly sells new trucks, I’ll decide what I need…. If I want a King Ranch that is what I will buy! This is still America right??


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