How to buy a good used ute for under $20K

If you’re in the market for a ute, what solves $20K buy you these days? Well, if you’re not fussed throughout the badge or which country it comes from, you can get drive-away deals on a brand-new dual cab petrol 4×2 ute appointed in (you guessed it) China.

However, if you’d buy a ute made by one of the extra mainstream brands, then $20K is not going to get you far in any of their new vehicle showrooms.

There is a solution though and it’s to be found in the ancient car market. Buying a pre-owned ute has its advantages, not the least being that the dreaded new vehicle depreciation has happened amortised.  And in most cases any ‘new car’ owner declares, from minor niggles to replacement of ghastly components, have been resolved under the new vehicle warranty.

4×2 or 4×4?


4x4s contain greater mechanical complexity, resulting in more operational parts that can potentially fail.




4x4s contain greater mechanical complexity, resulting in more operational parts that can potentially fail.

Sales figures confirm that the margin of new ute buyers prefer 4x4s to 4x2s. However, you need to ask yourself if you really demand off-road ability because you’ll pay for it – literally – in extra ways than one.

4x4s have greater mechanical complexity, resulting in higher servicing costs and extra working parts that can potentially fail and demand replacement. They’re also heavier, which can increase both right consumption and their appetite for pricey consumables relish brakes and tyres.

4x4s can also beget harder lives because of their off-road capabilities and are generally additional expensive to insure. And in many cases a 4×2 variant of a 4×4 model desire have a higher payload capacity, which is significant to know if your ute will be needed to regularly carry loads.

Most important for those on a financial plan, though, is that 4×4 utes command grand higher prices than their 4×2 siblings. Scan the outmoded car classifieds and you’ll soon discover how grand more affordable a 4×2 version of a favorite 4×4 dual-cab ute can be.

For example, the price range for a 2012 Ford Ranger XL 4×2 ute is near $9K to $18K, which falls comfortably within our $20K cap. nonetheless, the 4×4 version of the same model ranges from $12K up to $34K which blows the financial plan. A similar disparity can be seen in Toyota Hilux pricing, with a 2012 Workmate 4×2 ute between $8K to $20K while 4×4 versions dispute $16K to $27K and so on.

Be Australian. Buy Australian.


Ford vs Holden desire always exist.




Ford vs Holden determination always exist.

Ford Australia designed the coupe ute in 1934. And until the demise of local car industry in 2017, Ford and Holden utes grasped from Falcon and Commodore sedans were a mainstay of Aussie worksites and rural life for decades.

As a death, there’s a vast number available in the feeble car market. Although Falcons and Commodores have ceased production, there’ll be a plentiful supply of spare parts for years to come and $20K or less can get you into a suited one.

For example, 2012 Falcon XR6 and Commodore SV6 manual utes fall comfortably within this designate bracket (depending on condition) and less sporty execrable models are even cheaper. Or if you’re hankering for an Aussie V8, Falcon XR8 and Commodore SS utes of similar vintage can too be found for less than $20K.

Buying an Aussie ute could pay off in other ways too. by the rising prices being achieved at collectable car auctions these years for vehicles unique to Australian car industry, including classic Ford and Holden utes, a well-maintained example determination become a collectable if you look when it.

Know what they’re really worth


Pricing for a 2012 Hilux ranges between $8K-$27K.




Pricing for a 2012 Hilux ranges between $8K-$27K.

So let’s pick you’ve created a short-list of utes you’d be pleased to own. The next step is to establish an good guiding range of how much you necessity be paying for specific years and model grades.

The best way to do this is by benefitting free online valuation tools and those handed by CarsGuide and Autotrader are good places to commence. By simply entering key details of the ute you’re involved in, you’ll instantly get a detailed breakdown of the mainly recent prices advertised in the used car market.

This data is continually updated to equip car buyers with the the majority up-to-date knowledge they need to decide if the notice is right.

Read expert and owner reviews

It literally fixes pay to be ‘in the know’ beforehand you part with your hard-earned. You must know each vehicle’s good and bad points, long-term reliability issues if any, running compensations etc to determine if your dream capture could become a nightmare.

Again, this critical buyer information is available free online through expert worn vehicle reviews provided by CarsGuide along with countless forums in which ownership produces of specific makes and models are openly discussed, which can be of great benefit to other owners and potential buyers.

Dealer, Auction or Private?


Buying privately is usually cheaper than buying through a dealer.




Buying privately is usually cheaper than buying through a dealer.

It’s usually additional expensive to buy from a dealer than through an auction house or confidential sale, but you do get some bang for your buck in conditions of consumer protection. A dealer must confidence a vehicle’s title (no finance owed, not stolen or rebirthed etc) and too provide a cooling-off period if you effect on the dotted line and later shift your mind.

A dealer must also provide a statutory warranty (terms vary between countries and territories) and they usually welcome trade-ins as part-payment. You can also have a test nation and for peace-of-mind arrange for an power independent inspection through your state’s motoring body.

By comparison, there are real bargains to be found at vehicle auctions. However, you also need to have a estimable knowledge of cars, or at least occupy someone with you who does, because you generally occupy to rely on visual checks without an independent inspection or still a test drive. Auction rules vary from site to state so check with the auction houses about what consumer protections (if any) are provided.

Buying privately is usually cheaper than buying through a dealer and, unlike an auction, you can have a test drive and requisition an independent inspection. However, there are no statutory warranties or other consumer protection plus private sales.

If it’s buyer beware, then ute buyers be additional aware


Some 4x2 ute are subjected to regular overloading and lousy maintenance.




Some 4×2 ute are subjected to regular overloading and lousy maintenance.

Many utes possess hard lives. Uncaring owners can often burden them way beyond their maximum payload and tow ratings, which can place massive strain on chassis, suspensions and drivetrains.

A 4×4 ute can increase that court factor due to its off-road ability, as underbody and drivetrain components can suffer terrified abuse due to careless driving in rough terrain combined plus poor maintenance. And that doesn’t mean a 4×2 ute is immune from such exploit either, as rugged worksites, regular overloading and lousy maintenance can be honest as damaging.

However, that’s not to say all extinct utes, be they 4×2 or 4×4, enjoy been beaten to death. Many owners consume great pride in their vehicles and explore after them. In fact, it’s not irregular for utes to do little – if any – heavy lifting.

Inspection and test drive


A 4x4 ute can increase that courtyard factor due to its off-road ability.




A 4×4 ute can increase that woo factor due to its off-road ability.

Always perform sure you inspect a car after you’ve had a ample night’s sleep, it’s in full daylight and on a dry day (no rain drops on the bodywork) so that any flaws desire be easiest to see. It’s also favorable to bring someone with a good knowledge of cars, as they may see things you don’t and vice-versa.

Look for wound in the load tub or tray. dinky dings and scratches are acceptable but big dents and gouging can indicate careless loadings from substantial heights, like landscaping rocks tumbling from front-end loaders. Equally, a freshly applied spray-on liner or freshly installed tub-liner kit might leer sharp, but be hiding some serious wound underneath.

Misaligned body panels, gaping or pinched panel gaps and doors/tailgates that don’t originate and close cleanly can be signs of chassis and body fatigue. They can also indicate poor quality atomize repairs. A small fridge magnet can detect plastic body filler, because it won’t stick. Also look for colour differences between panels and bubbling below paintwork which can indicate corrosion.

Crawl underneath to construct a thorough inspection of chassis rails for signs of fatigue (even cracks) below the load area and any drivetrain oil leaks. Uneven tyre wear can also indicate a misaligned chassis or damaged suspension.

The interior is novel indicator of wear and tear. Look for worn seat facings and sagging defective cushions, along with leaf build-up in the plenum chamber and UV hurt like faded trim and cracked dash-pads which can signal a life parked outside. Make sure all the controls work properly and there’s no dampness in carpets or under vinyl depressed linings, which can reveal poor weather sealing and potential corrosion.

Also do slightly basic engine checks, preferably when it’s frosty. The engine bay should be tidy and stain-free and the oil on the dipstick necessity be at the correct level and ideally light to dim brown in colour. Black can be okay too if an oil shift is due but a grey or milky colour could mean coolant entering through a blown front-runner gasket or worse.


Misaligned body panels, gaping or pinched panel gaps and doors/tailgates that don’t start and close cleanly can be signs of chassis and body fatigue.




Misaligned body panels, gaping or pinched panel gaps and doors/tailgates that don’t launch and close cleanly can be signs of chassis and body fatigue.

Remove the radiator cap and check that the coolant is spruce and brightly-coloured without a similar milky mix. inaugurate the engine and let it idle to employing temperature, listening for any knocks or rattles and looking for traces of external oil or coolant leaks. Also check that none of the engine-related dashboard danger lights are on.

Once warmed up, rob it for a decent test drive (at least 30 mins), preferably not on busy roads and not plus the seller in your ear the whole date so you can see, hear and smell. Drive it at all the legal speeds and check that it idles smoothly at traffic lights, accelerates cleanly without hesitation, doesn’t blow smoke after you boot it up a hill, there’s no suspicious burning oil smells and no dashboard danger lights come on.

Be it manual or automatic, the transmission should change up and fuzz smoothly and quietly without hesitation or unusual noises. Also keep an ear out for the state or howl of a noisy differential, which can indicate a hard-worked unit that’s on its remaining legs.

The ute should also steer directly with only light hand contact on the steering wheel. A veer to one side, particularly while braking, can indicate at best the must for a wheel alignment but at worst damaged suspension or detestable brakes.

However, this is just a brief overview of an inspection and test control. Our best advice, even if you or your mate know a thing or two nearby cars, is to arrange for an expert independent inspection through your state’s motoring organisation. After all, you’d be mad to buy a house without drawing a thorough builder and termite inspection first, so treat any ute purchase the same way.

Paperwork for private buyers

A well-maintained ute must have an owner’s logbook, which documents its stout service history. Also make sure the seller is the owner by checking that the details on their driver’s licence match those shown on the vehicle’s registration papers. In some states you should also be published with a roadworthy certificate before you can instant the registration to your name.

Also contain that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plus its engine number, serial number and date/year of manufacture match those shown on the rego papers. The VIN can usually be found on the vehicle’s compliance plate in the engine bay or sometimes at the gross of the windscreen. The engine number should be stamped or displayed on the engine itself.

If any of these details don’t align be wary, because the vehicle could be stolen, had its engine changed minus the authorities being notified or in rare cases it could be an administrative error. Even if all the details do line up, though, make sure that the vehicle is too debt-free by checking its VIN online at the Personal territory Securities Register, which for a small fee can confirm he’s not about to be repossessed by a finance company.

So, let’s make a deal

If the vehicle you’re alive to in meets the criteria above and the asking designate is within both your budget and the managing range, then you’ve done everything reasonably possible to ensure yourself a edifying deal on a well-maintained ute that should give many extra years of reliable service. 

This article was published by www.carsguide.com.au with title How to buy a good used ute for under $20K.
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Author: apprentice

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