Getting 200,000 miles out of any brand of engine is not hard. To prove to my students how indestructible some are, I haven't changed the oil in my daily driver Caravan in over eight years, and I regularly pull a tandem axle enclosed trailer that's bigger than the van. That engine has over 380,000 miles and the only repair has been one water pump and timing belt. The transmission fluid and filter have been changed once. I add about one quart of new oil every 1,000 miles. Obviously I'm not suggesting everyone abuse their engines like that, and I don't treat my newer vehicles that way, but this has been my daily driver since it was new in '88. It's the only vehicle I have, out of seven, that I regularly trust to take on cross-country trips.
On the other end of the spectrum, some engines are known piles with known common failures. Chrysler builds a lot of really tough and reliable engines. The 2.7L isn't one of them. Some Ford engines, (sorry, I can't remember which ones), are known for spitting out spark plugs and the threads in the cylinder head. Others are known to develop hydro-lock from a leaking head gasket. The engine will run fine until you stop for lunch, then the cylinder fills with coolant while it's off. Those are two things I've heard of on multiple occasions. Keep in mind I only deal with problems. People don't post messages here about how FEW problems they've been having, so for every issue I tell you about, there could be a hundred people with the same year and model who haven't had any problems.
With the '05 model, you'd be gaining the four-wheel-drive. If that's the only goal, I'd look for the oldest truck in good shape you can find. My cousin is currently looking for the much smaller '97 or older Ranger but he only wants a two-wheel-drive. The asking price for almost everything he's found so far is close to double what they're offering you for your trade-in. Your truck is newer and bigger and I think it should be worth a lot more. You might try selling it outright first.
Also consider that "no-haggle pricing" is a gimmick. Every vehicle at every dealership has a cushion built into the asking price so they can let you feel like you've negotiated a better price. Basically, at those no-haggle dealerships, they've taken that option away. You can go to any dealership and offer to pay the full asking price on the window sticker but be ready for a lot of surprised looks from the sales staff. I don't understand why anyone would not want to get the best price possible.
I don't know if this applies to other states, but here in Wisconsin, we have the right to ask for the name of the previous owner. They will most likely be willing to tell you why they traded in the truck. That's probably the best information you can get in determining if it's a good deal. It could have been used in a business and the owner retired and closed up shop. It could be a thriving business with lots of customer exposure, and they always want the newest models to make a good impression. It could also be they had too many GEM module, (generic electronic module) failures from water leaking into them from a leaking windshield so they switched to something else. It could be the horn stopped working and they found out the typical repair bill is $800.00 because two computers, the instrument cluster and the FEM, (front electronic module) are involved in making the horn work.
In a Carfax report, you only get what was reported to the DMV in that state. That includes crashes that were reported and recalls announced by the manufacturer. The previous owner could have performed modifications that compromised safety or reliability and no one would know. You might consider having a safety inspection done at an independent shop, or you might ask if you can rent the truck for a week, then see if you still like it. As far as replacing a lot of stuff, they're going to tell you they're selling the truck at the lowest possible price so they would have to charge you for those extras. When I worked for a very nice family-owned dealership, I filled in my slow time with safety inspections on trade-ins. Every vehicle automatically got an oil change and brake and steering / suspension problems got documented and repaired. Additional things that were needed like hoses, windshields, wiper blades, coolant flushes, and things like that were listed on the repair order. Those things were often handled later by the newer mechanics.
Service bulletins are sent to the dealers about common problems that aren't always easy to diagnose quickly. They're different than recall notices that go out to owners, and they're not included in a Carfax report. Entire books are printed every year for each model that include all of these bulletins. They can be hard to find, but if you did, you could see the types of things people are complaining about. Many of those complaints are minor, a few are not.
Finally, if the previous owner bought a new Chevy, they got skunked; they just don't know it yet. I've written five-page articles on why GM is by far the least customer-friendly car company. They have so many ways figured out on how to separate owners from their money after the sale.
It's also possible the truck came from an auto auction open only to dealers. If so, it often means the vehicle had some problem the previous dealer couldn't solve or didn't want to bother with. That's where contacting the previous owner has its advantages.
I hope that gives you some ideas. Sorry I can't help you with dollar amounts. Only you can decide if the asking price is a good deal. My cousin practically lives on the Car Trader-type web sites so he knows what some models are selling for. I never pay attention to them because I haven't found a new or used car I wanted to own so I have no interest in their values. My best suggestion is you should make enough pushing a lawn mower to pay the monthly payments, insurance, and income tax. If you have to add money from other sources to make the payments, you're better off sitting at home watching tv.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 AT 6:19 PM