Market Slump Slams Used Pickup Prices

May 19, 2008
2009 Ford F-150

2009 Ford F-150

Looking for a bargain in a used vehicle? You just might check the online listing for pickup trucks. Prices have plunged a whopping 13 percent since April 2007, according to data from the tracking firm, Manheim Consulting, while full-size heavy-duty models have slumped a shocking 20 percent during the same period.

The reasons behind the decline shouldn’t be shocking. With fuel prices closing in on $4 a gallon, many potential buyers are walking away from gas-guzzling trucks, especially full-sized models. The sharpest decline appears to be among “personal use” buyers, those who might opt for a truck because they like the look or might have occasional need for such big haulers.

But even among work truck buyers, the carpenters and plumbers and skilled tradesmen who couldn’t live without a pickup, sales are down sharply, in part because of the housing crunch and other economic woes.

That’s particularly bad news for Ford Motor Co., which is just readying its new, 2009 F-Series pickups, and Chrysler llc, which is about to roll out a new version of its own Ram model. But the industry as a whole is hurting, even foreign nameplates Nissan and Toyota, which have both made expensive and aggressive forays into the full-size truck market in recent years.

The slump in used truck prices is a mixed blessing for consumers. For those who can afford to buy a pickup, there are plenty of bargains to be had. On the other hand, someone trading in another used truck will likely get less than they might have bargained for.

The situation is the same for those hoping to trade in on a new vehicle. Indeed, many owners could find they are now “upside down,” owing more to their loan company than they would get on a trade-in.

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