Cheap trucks, when cheap means new?
July 11, 2010 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Need a "cheap" truck! But it seems like Tacoma's are my best bet! Check my work!


I have been searching for a good used truck. In Vermont it seems rust eats anything alive, and $5k trucks are old beatup rusted Dodge Rams. $7k gets me a high mile Chevy 1500. $12k gets you an older 2000 Tacoma.

I started looking at newer Tacoma's, and it seems like 2008's sell for almost what new ones sell for.

How realistic is it that I can buy a *new* Tacoma (25k, v6, extended cab, 4x4), run it for three years and 50k miles and sell it for $20k (I see them on eBay going for this).

$5k for a new truck, for 3 years, with no maintenance seems exceedingly "cheap".

Even the used ones seem to depreciate slow! Should I toss 20k at a 2006-7, and sell after the same time period for 15k-17k?
posted by SirStan to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you going to borrow money to buy the new Tacoma? Don't forget to include interest costs. My back of the napkin calculations show a 48 month car loan at 6.4% for $25,000 will cost about $3,100 in interest if you sell (and pay off in full) after 3 years. That brings your 3 year cost to $8k, assuming your $5k depreciation assumption is correct.

Could you buy an older truck for less from somewhere without as much road salt?
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:25 AM on July 11, 2010

Response by poster: Looks like Toyota offers 1.9% apr on new Tacomas.
posted by SirStan at 9:38 AM on July 11, 2010

I started looking at newer Tacoma's, and it seems like 2008's sell for almost what new ones sell for.

Based on my recent experience, I encourage you to ignore the asking prices when you're shopping at dealers' used car lots. When you look at Edmunds or similar resources, you'll see that there's a huge spread between trade-in values and dealer retail prices. So the dealer gives someone $9K in trade, has the vehicle detailed ($150 or so), then sells it for $12k. The price on the windshield is what they'd love to get for the car, not what they need to get to make a profit. It doesn't take much work to bring that price down pretty dramatically.
The slightly used (less than one year / 12k miles) Honda Fit I bought last month was priced at ~$15,750. I checked Edmunds, and saw that this was right in line with typical 'dealer retail' pricing, but that the trade-in value was only a little over $13k. Whatever car I bought, I only wanted to spend $13k.

I thanked the sales manager for his time, and told him that I didn't think I could afford the car.

"Even with the discount?" he asked. (He'd already offered to knock off $1000 the moment my wife and I had first expressed concern about the price).

I explained that money was tight so I'd done as much research as I could ahead of time. I told him that I figured he probably had "about, twelve / twelve and a half in it," (he pursed his lips, glanced upwards and nodded) and at the price I could afford, he'd hardly be making any money.

The sales manager asked, "so you're thinking like fourteen?"

I squinted, grimaced, tilted my head and said "mmm, more like thirteen."

He said, let me run some numbers and get back to you.

The next morning, having talked it over with the owner of the dealership, he called me to accept my offer. I also refused his offer of $2500 on my old car, which I sold via Craigslist to a private buyer for $4600 ten days later. Including the sales tax I didn't pay on the $2750 I didn't pay, I came out more than $5000 better off than I would've if I'd paid the asking price and taken his trade-in offer.
Obviously this strategy wouldn't work when buying from a private party seller. The discount I got was paid for by the guy who'd traded in my Honda on the purchase of a new BMW several weeks earlier. Just remember that the dealer doesn't think about these transactions the way you do. When you sell your car, it's gone and you have no opportunity to sell it again at a better price. When the dealer sells you a car, he takes the money you've given him and buys another. He's got access to a large-diameter pipeline of new and used vehicles. On any given customer, he's better off making a tiny profit than none at all.
posted by jon1270 at 9:38 AM on July 11, 2010

Take a truck-buying vacation to Atlanta or Orlando or Miami. Used trucks are cheaper and rust-free. You'll get an especially good deal if you focus on trucks with broken air conditioners, since that's a dealbreaker for almost everyone down there.
posted by gum at 10:01 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Having spent a good chunk of April and May researching used first generation Tacoma Double Cabs, I have to say that yes, used Tacomas hold their value absurdly well (especially the double cabs...but that's a different post, I suppose).

You don't say if you want a 2wd or 4wd (or an off-road 2wd like a Tacoma PreRunner), but from a resale standpoint, the features that will retain the most value down the road are 4wd and a manual transmission. At least in my area (Northern California), used Tacomas with those features command a premium.
posted by mosk at 10:22 AM on July 11, 2010

Stan our local places (White River, etc) have waiting lists for used Tacomas. Check Wiggett's on VT66 and tell him what you are looking for and he'll look at auctions etc.
posted by terrapin at 5:06 PM on July 11, 2010

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