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Used Truck Buying - help/suggestions please.


New Member
Nov 4, 2021
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Greenville, IL
In the wise and holy words of Ace Ventura, "Alrighty then!"

Use: I am a traveling laboratory contractor for hospitals, I tend to take 13 or 26 week contracts (3 or 6 month) and I've been traveling light using a Subaru Crosstrek 2015. I put relatively low miles on my vehicle as I tend to find housing close to where I work everywhere I go, my subaru is 6 yo and has about 30,000 miles on it. I installed a hide-a-hitch to do a bit of towing but as almost everyone here can guess it's frame only allows around 1500lb of towing, that isn't much, barely a tiny uhauls worth. The little guy has been a true beast though and as much as i appreciate it's efficiency, it just isn't cutting it for what i need. I need to actually tow more, preferably a good 6x10 or 7x12 fully loaded trailer (3000-7000lb tow capacity) if i want to live comfortably from place to place, otherwise i find myself having to buy and throw away a good $1000+ every trip on just things.

Wants/Needs: Doing a fair bit of research for the past week i've determined there are many good trucks and a few just really great years/models. Currently I'm trying to decide between testing the limits of a 1/2 ton toyota tundra or getting a decent diesel duramax/cummins chevy/ram 2500 from mid 2000's with as few of miles as i can find. I'm back and forth on if i want to spend more but I definitely dont want to buy new, but I am willing to go up to $40,000 if there is enough reason. Also, I'd like to be able to sleep in the back if i can find a top for it or buy one with a top. I'm a fairly big tech nerd and vehicles functions are interesting to me but i have little interest in the truck being fancy.

What I gather is, Gas vs Diesel is always a debate and the more i read the more I feel conflicted; my needs seem to border on decent for both as I will probably be using the truck for some trips to stores and 'in to town' (lots of work in small towns). Ultimately the cost of upkeep and repairs for a diesel much less the fact i dont really need the working power of it more than a few weeks out of a year means it's a bit overkill and that gas is probably a better choice but I haven't ruled diesels out entirely as the majority of the work it will be doing is actually highway towing. Also I intend to get a little 150/250cc scooter (i know, shut up) for small trips for groceries and just basic commuting.

Some of the gas 1/2t trucks I have in mind are the reliable sort, while these maybe older I'm to understand newer models come with plenty of unholy complications:
  • '03-'06 chevy/gmc 1500 LS 4.8 or 5.3 (without active fuel management)
  • '02-'03 F-150 4.6 or 5.4 (non-3valve)
  • '02-'03 Ram 1500 5.2/5.9/5.7Hemi
  • any year toyota tundra
Some of the diesels:
  • '17-'18 Ram 2500 6.7 cummins
  • '06-'07 Chevy 2500 Durimax LBZ

I know the value in these are pretty different and i would be hard to find anything 2017 in 2500 with low mileage for less than 40,000. A lot of the stuff i research just points to these being some of the older more reliable vehicles that stood the test of time as well as research that shows cummins has always been a simple engine design with just impeccable quality, the ram just never bothered installing a worthwhile transmission until cummins forced them to in 2017, that being said I know the cummins rams are still some of the most reliable even with some of the troubles of transmissions and would be willing to buy early years on them if they proved tested and non-salvage. I also know that my history and simple weeks of research has probably left me ignorant to the fact that some of these are likely overkill, I just like to have my options open. This subaru doesn't have any options lol

What do you guys think, I'm open to suggestions and opinions.

65 sporty

Well-Known Member
Aug 8, 2015
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Kingston, Mi
I like the GM with the 5.3 and the Ram with the 5.7 Hemi. I have done a few 13-14 Hemi camshafts because of lifter failure. I can't remember what year Ram started their AFM engines, but these seem to be the ones with cam/lifter issues. A diesel may be overkill for what your doing. A good maintenance schedule will make any of these trucks last. Synthetic oil with changes at 5000, most have synthetic in the trans but if they don't, change to synthetic.
Most guy's are turned off by the 3V Fords, but I have done a few with cam phaser lock out kits and it turns a problem child into a good performer. I have a customer with one that has over 300,000 that is stock, but the oil is changed regularly.
Maintenance is the key to any of the trucks you listed lasting as I said above, but buying used you don't know what the previous owner did or didn't do unless they kept good records.
I do a lot of work on the big 3 trucks so any questions I will try to help with