Trucks: Planning for Resale

Trucks: Planning for Resale
Which options and extra features will be a must at resale time? (Photo: Ford)

When adding a new truck to your fleet, keep in mind tomorrow’s resale value and what buyers will want to pay for in a handful of years.

Part of keeping fleet expenses in check is getting as much as possible out of your vehicles when they’re resold. These trucks have to meet your needs, but ordering and equipping them with the secondary market in mind can help bring you the best price and, ultimately, reduce the cost of ownership.

You may think you’re keeping costs down by purchasing a lower-grade trim level, or leaving off some extra-charge items, but that could come back to bite you when few secondary buyers are interested in a bare-bones truck, and you have to take considerably less for it.

What type of fuel?

The first question is usually gas or diesel. In a heavy-duty pickup, diesel generally rules, both for your own use and for diesel’s traditionally higher resale value. Even when diesel prices rise, as they often tend to do in winter, the engine’s better fuel efficiency and lifespan can make it more of a value proposition over gasoline. As a general rule, heavy-duty diesels can command a 5 to 10 percent premium at resale over comparable gasoline-powered trucks.

Light-duty trucks may be another matter, as almost all of the half-ton truck manufacturers are offering light-duty diesel engine choices, or will soon. They’re a pricey add-on up front, and because of the engine’s weight, trucks so equipped may not have the highest towing or payload capacity in the lineup. When you sell, you may be sending them out among non-commercial buyers who aren’t willing to pay their extra purchase price, plus their costlier maintenance. Look into all aspects of this engine’s pros and cons before you make your initial purchase.

Don’t go over or under

When you’re outfitting, also consider the truck’s weight and capacity. You need a truck to meet your needs, but calculate carefully. If you go overboard “just in case” you might need to haul something heavy, it could end up requiring a commercial driver’s license. Your drivers probably have them, but it’s not as likely that a shopper on the secondary market does, which limits the truck’s potential audience. At the same time, don’t under equip the vehicle. The smallest engine or lower capacity will likely bring the lowest price when you sell.

Adding the features

Think about options when you’re outfitting your fleet. Basic features such as air conditioning, power locks, and power mirrors may be missing on some very base trucks, and should be considered a necessity for marketing the truck when you’re done with it. Not only will your drivers appreciate heated seats and perhaps a heated steering wheel, but secondary buyers will too, as well as connectivity options such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and other smartphone integration packages. If you’re adding a towing package, also check off towing mirrors, which often aren’t included.

If you’ve upfitted, determine if it’s better to sell the truck as equipped and buy new equipment for the next one. You will likely get more for it, especially popular add-ons like tool boxes or racks, versus less if there are holes or marks where the equipment was removed.

When you’re getting ready to order a new truck, it’s in your interest to check the used market. See what’s selling quickly and what’s on it, to give you an idea of what you should be ordering. You’re not buying it just for your fleet, but for the next owner too.

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