Reader Question: New vs. Used Tacoma?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Seth asks: I just got a new job that requires lots of driving servicing several oil rigs daily out in West Texas. I get reimbursed 54 cents per mile. I was shopping used trucks and I don’t understand why a used Tacoma with180k miles still sells for 12k when a new one is 25k-ish. Is it worth it to go used on a pickup? I just want a small bed with 2 seats that holds my gear what’s the best value for this task?

My reply: Trucks (and 4WD SUVs) are a class of vehicle that holds value really well; Japanese models especially – because they have a well-deserved rep for being long-lived and low-maintenance.

There are pros – and cons – to buying either the used Tacoma or the new one.

Among the used pros: Lower cost up front and lower cost to insure (you can buy a liability-only policy) as well as lower property taxes (where applicable). You will also probably be able to buy a better-equipped used Tacoma for a lot less than a base trim new model.

Among the used cons: Whatever you buy, it will be used – and have wear and tear on the bits and pieces, including things like brakes and tires (assuming they’re not recently replaced with new) and you’ll probably need to do maintenance sooner. Also, you’ll have fewer choices and will have to worry as much about the condition of the vehicle as its price (see my book, Don’t Get Taken for a Ride for more on this).

With new, you only have to worry about the price. You can also pick and choose exactly the truck you want; options, colors – everything. And it will come with a full warranty on everything (three years/36,000 miles for Toyotas).

So, which to pick?

I’d shop for both. At your leisure – this is important – start looking at Craigs list and local classifieds for Tacomas; at the same time, “build” the new Tacoma you’d like and price it out. Then email multiple Toyota stores in your area – or as far as you’re willing to drive to pick it up – and ask them for their best out the door price on that specific vehicle.

Then go for the one – new or used – that is the best combination of price/features and so on.

Let us know what you end up doing!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Rusted frames. Tacomas like Toyota Trucks before them rust a lot but in this case it’s not the body, it’s the frame. Toyota replaced them under a settlement but the deal is done so make sure the frame was replaced or it is not from a road salt state. If you live in a road salt state beware what can happen to one with its original frame it once exposed.

    • Yeah, I just don’t get the Toyota (and Subaru!) reputation for “reliability” ???

      Doesn’t seem very reliable when the pickup breaks in half from a rusted frame…..

      (or when the engine needs rebuilt at 70K because of a bad head gasket design)

  2. HI –

    I might think about this a different way….

    If the *cost* of missing a day of work because your truck done broke down (as used cars are wont to do) is greater than the cost difference of buying used over new.

    If the difference is large, then one idea might be to get a super reliable “spare” car that can at least get you where you need to go. For example, I got my daughter a 5 year old one owner Hyundai with 78K miles for $8K. Park that in your driveway for when the used truck is in the shop. Also when you want to drive with a much higher mileage vehicle – she beats that car and gets 32mpg combined.

    If the truck is only used for work then there may be some tax deductions for depreciation still in the tax code. I am not an accountant though. :_) thank god



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