What to Look for When Buying a Used GMC Sierra (Don’t forget this Crucial 8-Step Checklist!)

Every savvy buyer begins by reading up on their next purchase. Here’s what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra. Our article offers crucial pointers to identify the best pre-owned Sierra.

The reality is that when buying a used car, most people don’t know what they should be looking for. A lot of people choose to buy a GMC Sierra used to save money, but they don’t know what exactly to check for to make sure that it is working properly.

Image for "what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra" shows an older model GMC Sierra towing a boat

When buying a GMC Sierra, it is important to look for low mileage, high-quality tire conditions, engine oil, and transition fluid. Sometimes used car dealers will try to cover up something wrong with the vehicle, so make sure to take the GMC Sierra for a test drive and listen for any noises that may cause concern later.

A GMC Sierra is a good vehicle, and buying it used is a good option that many prefer. Here is everything you need to know about buying a used GMC Sierra.

What to Look for When Buying a Used GMC Sierra?

The GMC Sierra is an extremely popular truck, so there are plenty of them on the road. This means two things: it’s easy to find a used one and chances are it has seen better days.

Remember that these trucks are work vehicles. Mileage can be high, rust common, and the occasional nick.

So, it’s important to know what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra. Here are some of the pointers:

  • Mileage: the lower the mileage the better
  • Service history: a well-kept vehicle should have a good service record
  • Minimal rust: the best GMC Sierra is one with no rust, so keeping one at the bare minimum is crucial
  • Brakes: the GMC Sierra’s weak points include the brakes so checking for excessive wear, noises and feel is crucial
  • Transmission: depending on the year, the transmission is one of the first things on the list of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra. Make sure it shifts smoothly and runs well.

The list of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra is long, so we’ll dive into more detail in other sections. First, let’s discuss the GMC Sierra’s reliability.

Is the GMC Sierra a Good Truck?

A GMS Sierra is a model pickup truck that first came out in 1999. There are several different models of GMC Sierras.

The GMC Sierra has horsepower ranging from 195-445, depending on what model and year it is. The GMC Sierra is best known for its incredible towing capacity, with the weakest model able to tow up to 9,400 lbs. The strongest models can tow up to 35,000 lbs.

GMC Sierras are also praised for their safety. They have really high safety features and protect the driver and passengers really well in the case of a crash.

Many parents like to give their children this specific type of pickup truck because it is one of the safest vehicles. So, why Buy a Used GMC Sierra?

Buying a truck can be super expensive, so buying used vehicles are much more cost-effective than buying a brand new truck. If you save money on buying the actual truck, then you can purchase additional features with the truck. Furthermore, the depreciation of the truck will be less if you buy it used rather than if you buy it new.

What to Look for in a Used Truck

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You will find that most of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra also applies to other trucks and vehicles. So, before buying a used car, there are some things that you should be aware of.

It is HIGHLY recommended to buy the car in person after checking everything on this list:

  1. Check the tires– Sometimes older or used vehicles will have worn-out tires. You want to make sure that the tires still are high quality and have lots of tread on them.
  2. Check the transition fluid. Keep an eye out for nice red fluid. Smell to make sure it is not burnt.
  3. Check Engine Oil. Make sure it isn’t entirely low and that the fluid in it is clear, not muddled.
  4. Check brake fluid. If the brake fluid is full, that is an indicator that the brakes are in good shape.
  5. Check engine belts for rust, and check the rest of the vehicle for any sign of corrosion. You don’t want to buy a vehicle that ends up having rust that needs to be taken care of and will cost you more money later on.
  6. Check antifreeze. You want to make sure there is no oil in the antifreeze. The antifreeze should be a nice green or pink color.
  7. Listen for any noises. You want to be aware of any ticks, squeaks, or knocks in the vehicle when test-driving it. These noises can be indicators of problems within the truck. If there are noises, it is important to indicate them and question them to find out if they are a serious issue.
  8. Check the Mileage– Make sure that you pay special attention to the mileage that is on the car. You don’t want to pay a lot of money for a truck that has a ton of mileage and won’t last you very long. The good thing about GMC Sierras is that they work very well for up to 200,000 miles.

If you have checked off everything on this list and want to purchase your own used GMC Sierra, it is advised that you call a local car parts store and inquire about how often parts are purchased for it.

This gives an indicator of how reliable the car is and how often you would have to replace or fix parts on it. Overall, the GMC Sierra is a reliable truck, with the models between 2000 and 2010 having the fewest complaints.

Test Driving Your Used GMC Sierra

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You should only take your vehicle for a test drive if you are truly interested in the car. Test driving when you are not interested costs time, effort, and money for everyone involved.

When test driving, you should focus on these four specific elements to make sure you are getting the reliable truck that you want.

  • Engine: Make sure that the engine runs smoothly. Watch out for any issues with vibration, noises, lack of power, or any other noticeable driving issues. Test the vehicle for as long as you need to determine if the engine is of good quality.
  • Brakes: When checking the brakes keep an eye out for any ABS lights coming on. Try a high brakes test to see how it works out.
  • Transmission: You should practice accelerating during the test drive. The car should be able to smoothly transition between speeds and should have no trouble accelerating to a faster speed. If the car struggles to accelerate, there is likely an issue with the transmission.
  • Suspension: Do a lot of turn tests. Turn the wheel until it does not turn anymore. This will test the front bearings, CV joints, axils, ball joints, and the power steering. Make sure the steering wheel turns smoothly and that it is predictable. Groaning or whining noises is going to be the power steering pump. Squeaking is a bad ball joint. A click could be a CV joint.
What to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra? The image shows a dark blue GMC Sierra against a grass field

Before you drive, you should make sure to let the owner know what you are planning on doing for the test drive. It is recommended to drive with them in the truck.

Respect the car and the owner. This vehicle is not yours yet. Part of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra is sealing a good deal, and respecting the owner is key.

Do a road bump test. Listening for any bangs or knocks. That could mean the knocks or sway bar bushing are going bad or coming loose.

The GMC Sierra should be able to handle bumpy roads and rougher terrain without any difficulties. If there are difficulties driving on a bumpy road, that is an indicator that something may be wrong with the car.

Make sure to drive on the highway as well as on city roads. Test out cruise control, and other buttons on the dashboard. Ask the owners the right questions about the car. Get to know the owner as well as the car. If the car is sketchy it is very possible the owner could be too.

Repair Cost Of A Used GMC Sierra

An essential part of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra is the repair cost. After all, since it’s a used vehicle, your GMC Sierra might need the occasional repair.

Fortunately, there are many sources out there, such as RepairPal. Here’s a table of the approximate costs of common repairs:

GMC Sierra 1500 Repairs According To RepairPal
AC Compressor Replacement
$786 – $849
Knock Sensor Replacement
$164 – $205
Spark Plug Wire Replacement
$495 – $522
Thermostat Replacement
$671 – $698
Purge Valve Replacement
$185 – $195
Powertrain Control System Diagnosis & Testing
$44 – $56
Ignition Coil Replacement
$157 – $210
Fuel Pump Replacement
$1,011 – $1,199
Coolant Reservoir Replacement
$671 – $698
Trans Mount Replacement
$159 – $176

As you can see, part of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra is understanding the costs of repairs. While there are some expensive jobs to do, the GMC Sierra is not the most expensive to repair.

Another great aspect is that the frequency of repair is also low, with 0.2 times per year, compared the average 0.4.

Closing Thoughts On What To Look For When Buying A Used GMC Sierra

In conclusion, understanding what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra is crucial in ensuring you make a wise and informed purchase. Key factors like mileage, service history, rust condition, brake quality, and transmission performance play pivotal roles in assessing the vehicle’s condition.

Remember, a thorough check, including a detailed test drive, is vital to unearth any potential issues that might not be immediately apparent.

Safety and reliability are paramount, and the GMC Sierra generally stands up well in these areas. However, being aware of the model’s history, especially steering clear of certain years known for problems, enhances your chances of securing a dependable vehicle. When conducting a test drive, pay attention to the engine’s smoothness, brake responsiveness, transmission functionality, and suspension comfort, as these are critical indicators of the vehicle’s overall health.

Lastly, consider the repair costs and frequency of the specific GMC Sierra model you’re interested in. While the Sierra is known for its durability, no vehicle is immune to wear and tear.

Remember, a careful inspection and a clear understanding of what to look for when buying a used GMC Sierra are the keys to a successful and satisfying purchase.

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