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Buying Guide and Tips for finding Used Truck Accessories

Updated on September 20, 2012

Saving money buying used accessories

So judging from the popularity of the last hub I posted, people are obviously looking to save money buying things used, which is a good idea. When it comes to truck accessories, used can be A LOT cheaper, if you know what you’re looking for. From my other hub, you already know that buying a used camper shell can save you money, but it’s not always easy to know if the used top you’re buying will fit your truck bed. Buying other stuff is similar, but not quite as specific. I can tell you that when I use to sell truck accessories, there was always a big interest in used stuff, and since I always knew more specifics than the average person, I would typically search for used items for customers that were on a tight budget to help them out, but that doesn’t mean YOU can’t do the same by following some of these tips.

Used racks and tool boxes

From an ad on CL, this person was selling both the rack and Weatherguard box for $500. New, the box alone would be about $900.
From an ad on CL, this person was selling both the rack and Weatherguard box for $500. New, the box alone would be about $900.

Lumber Racks

A rack is sometimes not something you want, but you have to have, maybe you just got a job and your new employer requires it, whatever the case may be, buying one new is expensive. A rack is a great thing to buy used if you can find one because you don’t care if it has a little rust or if it’s all scratched up, after all, we are talking about a rack. The reason you can find these cheap is because most of the time, someone is getting rid of it because it came on a used truck they bought, but they have no interest in keeping the rack, so they may have no idea what it cost new and don’t care. So, they’ll post an ad on Craig’s List to sell it.

Like camper shells, racks fit in a similar way, but there’s a bit more wiggle room. Fullsize Chevy/GMC trucks for example, anything from 1988 to current year will fit, so that’s 24 years of availability. The Rack-It brand (part number 1012) is their most popular rack because it fits so many trucks on the road (shortbed extended cab) Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra. Find one on an old 1990 Silverado, and it will fit your new 2012; the part number is the same. A rack off a 1980 to 1996 longbed F150-a very popular work truck, also fits pre 1994 longbed Dodge Rams, and pre 1988 fullsize longbed GM trucks-part number 1001. Craig’s List is not the only place to find these. If you can’t find one there, check your local auto dismantler, they will typically have truck accessory stuff, specifically racks, shells and tool boxes. I would say about $300 or less should get you a nice used rack. How do you know it will fit? Measure, always measure, or if it’s a known brand, find the part number and check with the manufacturer. Rack-It racks have part numbers on the inside of the angle iron toward the rear of the bed-driver’s side I think, they’re basically in an area you can’t see when it’s sitting on the bed. The people that work there are really nice and would be happy to tell you what that part number fits. Avoid racks that are all bolted together if you can, they’re not very strong typically. It’s common that the removable rear bar is missing, that’s ok, they’re easy to replace(on a Rack-It), and for Rack-It racks, all 1000 series racks use the SAME bar, meaning a rear bar off a Ford rack will fit on the Dodge, or Chevy rack. People tend to lose these bars after they do a dump run, so there are probably stacks of them at various landfills.

Parts at auto dismantlers

This is a local truck and SUV dismantler where I live. Notice the tailgate, camper shell, lumber rack and tool box. These are typical items you can find at places like this.
This is a local truck and SUV dismantler where I live. Notice the tailgate, camper shell, lumber rack and tool box. These are typical items you can find at places like this.


Ok, I know this isn’t an accessory, but as a favor to anyone that has had their tailgate stolen-and they DO get stolen-don’t buy one new, if you can help it. The dealer will charge you an arm and a leg, so please try to avoid it and I’ll explain how. Most truck and car dismantlers will have tailgates for sale, Craig’s List will sell them, but the inside secret is to check with any company that outfits trucks with utility beds (service body beds, these are NOT made by the vehicle manufacturer), because they completely remove the original bed that came with the truck and replace it with their own, but they do save them and sell them. They may have a stack of complete beds on hand, or just tailgates from outfitting a bed with a utility-type shell. Remember that buying a tailgate used is not only cheaper than a new one, but it also comes with the necessary hardware as well; the dealer will charge for every nut, bolt and washer. Yes, unless your truck is white, you’ll have to get it painted, but you would with a brand new one as well. I had a customer one time that came in for a tailgate lock who said a new tailgate from the dealer, and getting it painted, cost several thousand dollars. Used, you should be able to get one for about $300 or less. Remember too that like camper shells, some of these parts are cross compatible, for example, any tailgate that came off a 1994 or newer Mazda is identical to a 1994 or newer Ford Ranger. Good news is that most new trucks have tailgate locks on them, but many people don’t use them. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep your tailgate locked. A tailgate comes off in a matter of only a few seconds, and I’m not exaggerating.

You can also do the same with the entire truck bed, dismantlers have stacks of these as well, and the companies that outfit service body beds, so it can be much cheaper than body work and to save money when it gets painted, have the inside of the bed spray-lined, or suggest it to the body shop, it saves them the trouble of having to sand, prep and paint the inside of the bed, you’ll probably want to protect the bed anyway. Body shops bolt on used beds instead of doing body work all the time.

Used tailgate

I saw this tailgate for sale online, fits a Ford Ranger, less than $300. New, this would be quite a bit more.
I saw this tailgate for sale online, fits a Ford Ranger, less than $300. New, this would be quite a bit more.

Truck beds at auto dismantlers

This truck dismantler has loads of full beds, plus many other truck parts including accessories.
This truck dismantler has loads of full beds, plus many other truck parts including accessories.

Tool boxes

Much like lumber racks, tool boxes can be an expensive, necessary evil, but again, buying them used can save you a lot of money. Try to avoid buying a cheap, new box at places like Pep Boys and Home Depot, trust me, they are inexpensive for a reason. A better alternative is to get a used Weatherguard box, and yes, these boxes are really expensive new, but they are arguably the best box you can buy-most commercial contractors won’t buy anything else-and the great part is, they’re tough, VERY secure and last a long time, and replacement parts are fairly easy to get, unlike most other brands. Off-brand boxes with missing keys and failing gas props to hold up the lid can be difficult to get parts for. You can find these boxes on sites like Craig’s List or at your local dismantler like Pick and Pull, in my neighborhood, there are a number of just truck dismantlers, and I have even heard that some job sites will sell their old stuff when they upgrade, including tool boxes. Figure around $300 to $400 for a nice used Weatherguard box, and trust me, they cost more than double that price new. Always go to look at a box with the truck you plan to mount it in so you can set it in the bed to see if it will fit. Yes, you can always measure, but sometimes the position of the wheel wells gets overlooked, and that can be a problem, especially with beds that are less than 6 feet long (think crew cabs that have the 5.8 foot beds).

Running boards and step bars

Buying running boards and step bars used can be a crap shoot if you don’t know what they came off of. If you can get some in the original packaging, and you can clearly make out the manufacturer and a part number, you stand a much better chance of being able to find out if you’re getting the right parts. The best way to buy these used are by picking up a set of barely used factory boards from shops that take them off to install aftermarket step bars or boards. Customers tend to not want the old set because, hey, what are they going to do with them-maybe sell them, but not many people want to even deal with that. This happens a lot, and not just with running boards or step bars. If you can get a set cheap, and it has all the hardware, go for it, but if parts are missing, and you’re not sure if they will work on your vehicle, don’t buy them. Along with auto dismantlers, body shops are also good places to find used parts like these. Don’t always go with the word from the seller, more than likely they do not understand that just because their running boards fit their 1998 Suburban just fine, it doesn’t mean it will fit your 2001, those vehicles could be different. If you can, check with the manufacture of the boards to see what years are compatible before you buy them.

Used factory boards

This guy was selling his factory boards for $100. That's pretty cheap considering a similar aftermarket brand new would cost at least $500.
This guy was selling his factory boards for $100. That's pretty cheap considering a similar aftermarket brand new would cost at least $500.

Plastic bedliners

I use to work at a Line-X shop, and we pulled out factory and aftermarket plastic bedliners all the time. I don’t recommend a plastic liner, but if you want one cheap, a spray liner shop is a good place to call to find one. Pendaliner, the major brand and supplier of most factory liners including Duraliner, is no more than $200 new, trust me on this, I know what they cost wholsesale. Never pay more than that for a plastic liner ever, and if it’s used, I personally wouldn’t pay more than $75, and if I did, it would have to be in like-new condition-they just aren’t worth any more than that. Most are a piece of cake to install (you have to take out the inside cleats on fullsize Fords, and the Superduty’s can be a bit of a pain) but make sure the seller has the tailgate piece and the hardware. Of course Craig’s List and your local dismantler may have these as well. For liners that were well used, my shop would sell them for between $30 to $50, and remember, they take up a lot of space, so if the shop wants to get rid of them, you can talk the price down because if they don’t get rid of it soon enough, they will just cut that liner up and toss it in the trash.

Used factory wheels and tires

I saw these used factory wheels on a CL ad from a newer Toyota Rav4, guy was asking $700. They look brand new, and my guess is tires alone would be close to that much.
I saw these used factory wheels on a CL ad from a newer Toyota Rav4, guy was asking $700. They look brand new, and my guess is tires alone would be close to that much.

Wheels and tires

Like running boards, a lot of people tend to trade up to custom wheels and tires once they buy their new trucks or SUVs. So, checking in with your local tire shop to see if they have any of what are called ‘take off’ wheels is always a good idea if you’re in the market for something new, or if you want some newer factory wheels. Customers don’t always want their old wheels and tires, even if they are technically like new, but shops don’t just toss them, not when there’s money to be made. Sometimes you buy a vehicle used and can’t stand the aftermarket wheels that are on it, so finding some nice used factory wheels are a great option, and oftentimes the tires on them are really good since the owner upgraded before they were really used. Other places to check are shops that lift and lower vehicles since that is often where they buy the new wheels. All of your other typical places apply as well, but remember to get the proper lug nuts because some factory wheels have special nuts.

Bike/Ski roof racks

The two biggest brands in sport racks are Yakima and Thule. These are great items to find used because not only are they really expensive new, but they last a long time, and old parts tend to remain available for a while. I had a set of Yakima roof towers that despite no longer being made, the parts were still available. I think I went through several cars with the same set, and the only problem with that is, people tend to keep them, so you don’t always find the stuff for sale. It never hurts to look though to see if someone is selling these items. Most Thule and Yakima racks are fairly universal for fit, usually they just require specific hardware kits or ‘clips’ meant for your particular vehicle’s roofline. Always check with the manufacturer to know exactly what you need, for a base rack system, there is typically a set of towers, bars, then a specific kit or clip number that is designed for your vehicle; this is the part you may have to buy and change with a used set you find. So if the rack came off a Toyota Camry, and you have a Honda Accord, the towers and bar width are more than likely the same, but the fit kit or clips will be different. Thule is mostly American made, as I have mentioned before, I know the name says Sweden, but most of the stuff sold in the US comes out of a factory in Michigan, so they’re well made and they last. Yakima use to be made in the US, so the older stuff is fairly tough. I have found that these things used can be like finding gold at flea markets and garage sales because for whatever reason, they go cheap (not so all the time on eBay though), maybe they were buried in someone’s garage and they just wanted to get rid of it, but like I said, when you know that a basic Thule roof set up costs in upwards of $600 new-sometimes more, finding one for less than half that is a huge savings.

Auto dismantler

Here is another auto dismantler. They had camper shells, tool boxes and lumber racks.
Here is another auto dismantler. They had camper shells, tool boxes and lumber racks.

Trailer hitches, bumpers and other random parts

Body shops will sell things like trailer hitches and bumpers because when a customer gets work done, they oftentimes want all new stuff, even when there is hardly anything wrong with the old stuff. I remember getting a body shop a brand new Warn bumper on a Jeep ($1,100) when the old one just had a few nicks and scratches on it. I never did find out what they did with the old one, but I doubt they just threw it away. As with most of the others, dismantlers are good places to find this stuff too.

Hope some of this info helps, feel free to ask me questions, and happy hunting!


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