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

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

However, if you’d win a ute made by one of the more 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 aged car market. Buying a pre-owned ute has its advantages, not the least being that the dreaded new vehicle depreciation has been amortised.  And in most cases any ‘new car’ owner protests, from minor niggles to replacement of immoral components, have been resolved under the new vehicle warranty.

4×2 or 4×4?

4x4s own greater mechanical complexity, resulting in more employed parts that can potentially fail.

4x4s own greater mechanical complexity, resulting in more employed 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 additional ways than one.

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

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

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

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

Be Australian. Buy Australian.

Ford vs Holden desire always exist.

Ford vs Holden desire always exist.

Ford Australia planned the coupe ute in 1934. And pending the demise of local car manufacturing in 2017, Ford and Holden utes derived from Falcon and Commodore sedans remained a mainstay of Aussie worksites and rural life for decades.

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

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

Buying an Aussie ute could pay off in other ways too. among the rising prices being achieved at collectable car auctions these existences for vehicles unique to Australian car diligence, including classic Ford and Holden utes, a well-maintained example desire become a collectable if you look after 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 assume you’ve achieved a short-list of utes you’d like to own. The next step is to attach an accurate guiding range of how worthy you should be paying for specific ages and model grades.

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

This data is continually updated to equip car buyers by the most up-to-date knowledge they need to determine if the price 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 necessary buyer information is available free online through authority used vehicle reviews provided by CarsGuide along beside countless forums in which ownership experiences of specific invents and models are openly discussed, which can be of grand 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 terms of consumer protection. A dealer must guarantee a vehicle’s title (no finance due, not stolen or rebirthed etc) and also provide a cooling-off period if you mark on the dotted line and later move your mind.

A dealer must also provide a statutory warranty (terms vary between states and territories) and they usually welcome trade-ins as part-payment. You can also have a test drive and for peace-of-mind command for an expert 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 worthy knowledge of cars, or at least absorb someone with you who does, because you generally absorb to rely on visual checks without an independent inspection or smooth a test drive. Auction rules vary from spot to state so check with the auction houses nearby 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 stability an independent inspection. However, there are no statutory warranties or other consumer protection by 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 gain hard lives. Uncaring owners can often load 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 woo factor due to its off-road ability, as underbody and drivetrain components can suffer haunted abuse due to careless driving in rough terrain combined among poor maintenance. And that doesn’t mean a 4×2 ute is immune from such benefit either, as rugged worksites, regular overloading and lousy maintenance can be unprejudiced as damaging.

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

Inspection and test drive

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

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

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

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

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. They can also indicate poor quality smash militaries. A small fridge magnet can detect plastic body filler, because it won’t stick. Also look for colour differences between panels and bubbling beneath paintwork which can indicate corrosion.

Crawl underneath to gain 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 center is another indicator of wear and slouch. Look for worn seat facings and sagging detestable cushions, along with leaf build-up in the plenum chamber and UV afflict like faded trim and cracked dash-pads which can indicate a life parked outside. Make sure all the controls behave properly and there’s no dampness in carpets or below vinyl floor linings, which can reveal unpleasant weather sealing and potential corrosion.

Also do one basic engine checks, preferably when it’s wintry. The engine bay should be tidy and stain-free and the oil on the dipstick should be at the proper level and ideally light to dark brown in colour. Black can be okay too if an oil cause is due but a grey or milky colour could mean coolant entering through a blown head gasket or worse.

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.

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 trim and brightly-coloured without a similar milky mix. open the engine and let it idle to by means of 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 threat lights are on.

Once warmed up, capture it for a decent test drive (at least 30 mins), preferably not on busy roads and not by the seller in your ear the whole diurnal 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 heath smoothly and quietly without hesitation or novel noises. Also keep an ear out for the sing or howl of a noisy differential, which can explain a hard-worked unit that’s on its remaining legs.

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

However, this is just a brief overview of an inspection and test nation. Our best advice, even if you or your mate know a thing or two throughout cars, is to arrange for an permission independent inspection through your state’s motoring organisation. After all, you’d be mad to buy a house deprived of getting a thorough builder and termite inspection firstly, so treat any ute purchase the same way.

Paperwork for reserved buyers

A well-maintained ute should have an owner’s logbook, which documents its full service history. too 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 emanated with a roadworthy certificate before you can transfer the registration to your name.

Also produce that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) then its engine number, serial number and date/year of earn 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 contaminated of the windscreen. The engine number must 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 without 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 also debt-free by checking its VIN online at the Personal land Securities Register, which for a small fee can confirm it’s not around to be repossessed by a finance company.

So, let’s make a deal

If the vehicle you’re eager in meets the criteria above and the asking mark is within both your budget and the directing range, then you’ve done everything reasonably possible to have yourself a good deal on a well-maintained ute that must give many more years of reliable service. 

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

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