Check the Engine First
Before you spend a lot of time on the rest of the truck, pop the hood and crank the engine. You want to see what it sounds like, what sort of vibration may be present, and how smoothly the engine runs. This is also a good time to inspect the hoses and make sure they are in good shape. If the engine seems to be fine, it’s worth your time to take a closer look at the rest of the truck.
Look Closely at the Body
Since it’s a used truck, you don’t expect the body to be in showroom condition. What you hope to find is that the body has few if any dings and the paint job appears to be even and uniform. Be on the lookout for areas where the paint does not quite match the rest. That’s a sign that the truck may have been in an accident and part of the body was repainted. Overpainting does not mean the truck is not reliable, but it is a sign that you need to ask more questions.
The Underside Needs Attention Too
Not everyone thinks to check the underside of a vehicle before they buy it. Your goal is to ensure there are no signs of skidding or bottoming out. Looking underneath also tells you if the metal is corroded or damaged. Be aware that the recent application of undercoating could be a sign the truck is maintained properly, or that something is being hidden. Find out which scenario is the case before you make an offer.
The Exhaust Pipe Tells a Lot
Checking the tail pipe will tell you if the engine is burning oil. It will also give you an idea of how well the exhaust system is performing. Make sure the engine is off and the pipe is cool before you inspect it too closely. Use a paper towel to wipe a little of the residue from the inside of the pipe. A little means the used Ford is in good shape. A lot means there will be some expensive repairs in your future if you buy that truck.
How’s the Tread?
Check all the tires and make a note of how evenly the tread is wearing. Uneven wear indicates the tires have not been rotated in some time at the very least. The worse-case scenario is that the truck was in an accident that negatively impacted the alignment. Take the truck for a quick spin and see how difficult it is to steer the vehicle. If it’s difficult, keep looking.
Remember that your inspection must always be followed by a test drive. Use that time to try everything from the heated seats to the sound system. If everything is in working order and you like the way the truck handles, that vehicle is worth the price.