Will a "Fixer Upper" Truck Save You Money in Tough Economic Times?
In tough economic times, itís tempting to go with a previously owned truck, even a "fixer upper," in the belief that youíll save money in the long run. The numbers in the auto loan payment calculator arenít running your way, and whatís there to replacing some parts and getting that old engine purring? Potentially more than you think. Before you decide to go with a previously owned truck in less than perfect condition, ask yourself realistic questions about:
- your own technical know how,
- your budget,
- and exactly what youíre trying to achieve.
The key to any previously owned vehicle purchase is accurate assessment. The more documentation the owner can provide on the life (and repairs) of the truck, the more you are likely to buy a known quantity, not a mystery-mobile that will start breaking down on you before you get around the corner. Also, have the truck assessed by a qualified mechanic you trust. If the current owner is reluctant to do that, move on. Other things to consider:
- If you are getting into a situation where you know you will be replacing parts of the engine or chassis, what are those repairs going to cost? Donít forget to figure in labor. Before you buy the truck, run the entire total: the cost of the truck, plus the cost of needed components, plus labor.
- Can you really "do it yourself?" You change your own oil, but are you prepared to pull the transmission? If you have a buddy whoís a gear head, when can you realistically expect the DIY work to be done? Do you really want to get into a situation of having a truck on blocks in the front yard while your friend puts you off about doing the work?
This is a delicate equation of perceived savings over goals met. If you need a truck right now, today, then go to a used car lot and get something in working condition with a limited warranty. If you want a truck and actually look forward to fixing it up and fooling around under the hood, then a fixer upper may be exactly what you need. (If you fall in between those two ends of the spectrum, try to figure out toward which end you lean the most and go in that direction.)
During tough economic times, people need to learn to think in terms of economy of scale. Cheap up front can get expensive down the road. Thereís no reason not to consider a previously owned truck, but only you can decide how far you want to go down the condition ladder. Regardless, run all the numbers before you buy to avoid getting into the hole youíre trying so hard to avoid.