Used Truck Checks
Used Truck Checks. Click image to enlarge

Article and Photos by Justin Pritchard

Pickup trucks, crossovers and SUVs are big business in Canada’s used vehicle marketplace – and shoppers gravitate heavily towards used utility vehicles when capability, flexibility and a sense of adventure are priorities in a new-to-them ride. Whether it’s a Silverado, Explorer, Pilot or Pathfinder, a 4×4 truck or sports ute is hard to beat when it comes to delivering all-season, all-surface confidence and room to spare.

Considering checking out a used model like one of the above? Be sure to check out our used vehicle listings for more details on the particular generation and model you’re after. Then, print the following list of used utility-vehicle shopping tips and take it along for the test-drive process.

Remember – vehicles are machines made of parts that will wear out, fail, and require replacement. The speed and rate at which this takes place is largely a function of driving and maintenance habits. Your favourite mechanic can help you make the checks below for maximum used-truck peace of mind.

Used Truck Checks
Used Truck Checks
Used Truck Checks
Used Truck Checks. Click image to enlarge

Do Your Homework: Buying a used truck or sports ute should take more than an hour. Do your homework, research the web for owner and professional reviews, look into common issues, and be sure to test-drive a few examples of the model that interests you the most. Shop when you’ve got time to do it properly. Be smart, and don’t rush. Research and careful test-driving are key to finding a well-cared for and reliable used ride.

Tires and Brakes: Trucks and SUVs are big heavy vehicles that use big, heavy-duty consumable parts like tires and brakes. These can be pricey to replace – so be sure the vehicle’s seller isn’t trying to pass along a pricey repair. Inspect the tires and brakes for remaining life, or ask a mechanic for help if you’re unsure how.

Worn tires are likely visible to the naked eye, and worn brakes often squeal loudly as a sign they’d like some attention.

Note that models with up-sized or upgraded wheels and tires will turn in higher replacement costs when the time comes. Larger wheels often come at the expense of ride quality and off-road ruggedness, too. Does that truck you’re considering have an aggressive set of mud tires installed? You’ll pay for the extra traction when it comes time to fill the fuel tank.

Check the Suspension: Not surprisingly, trucks and utes are heavy – which can mean added stress on suspension components. That stress is furthered in an off-road setting, and while towing. Many trucks and SUVs in the used market will need some degree of attention to their suspension system – and a mechanic can quickly ascertain its needs with the vehicle on his hoist.

If careless off-roading or endless trips down pothole-riddled roads have left bushings, sway-bar links or shocks in need of some loving, now’s the time to find out. Note that worn suspension components often generate ‘clunking’, ‘clicking’ or ‘popping’ noises audible from within the car on a test-drive, so be sure to kill the stereo and listen for them. Any concerns should be brought to your favourite mechanic.

Recalls: Visit your favourite online search engine to find out what recalls have affected the truck you’re considering. Then, take the truck’s VIN number to its local dealer and see what, if any, recall work is outstanding. Recalls address latent safety defects and are free of cost to the owner. Chances are the model you’re considering has been affected by a few of them.

Connect with Autos.ca