Native Yard Art

Dear Dr. Per Cap: 

I come from a family with a lot of women, but our dad made sure we learned some “guy skills”.  However one skill we’re lacking is how to price used vehicles.  My father walked on a few years ago and left a 1999 International Ryder truck that he bought for our family business. 

We’re thinking of selling it now. The rebuilt motor has only 3,000 miles. The truck also has a custom welded storage cabinet with locking doors. However, the truck hasn’t been driven in three years and has become Native yard art.  We have no idea how to price it.  Can you help us know how to make a small profit while being fair? 


Ryder Truck Family

Dear Ryder Truck Family:

My condolences – It sounds like your father was a very good man and a wonderful parent.

Commercial grade trucks, even older models like yours, are usually pretty valuable as long as they are in decent condition.  There are always small businesses needing solid trucks to haul equipment, freight, and supplies.  Often they don’t want to spend extra money buying brand new.

Ryder is a large corporate transit company that’s famous for its large fleet of commercial rental trucks.  They also have a sales division that sells many of its light and medium duty rental trucks once they reach a certain mileage.  I’m guessing that’s how your dad purchased the International.

I took a quick peak at Ryder’s website and their current inventory of Navistar International 4300’s which I’m thinking are pretty similar in size to your truck.  You can’t touch one newer than five years old for less than $80,000.  And almost all of them have odometers showing well over 200,000 miles.  But, remember higher mileage isn’t as big a deal for a commercial truck as it would be for a personal vehicle.  

Obviously, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison but it does help you gain some perspective.  Next try typing your truck’s exact model and year into a Google search and see what comes up.  That will give you a better idea of how much similar trucks are selling for.  The rebuilt engine and custom fabrication work should also fetch a premium, although exactly how much is tough to say.

If possible you also want to get the truck running if it isn’t already.  A buyer who needs to tow a truck has a lot room to negotiate because of the inconvenience.  Remember it doesn’t have to run super cherry either, just well enough to get the buyer down the road without any drama.  And don’t worry about washing or detailing the vehicle because that only matters to folks shopping at CarMax. 

Once you have a general idea of what the truck might be worth it’s time to advertise.  I recommend picking a reputable online classified marketplace or just go old school and stick a for-sale sign in the window while parked in a highly visible location.  But here’s the kicker, since pricing the vehicle is your biggest challenge don’t lock yourselves into a sale price.  Just list a high ball number along with “or best offer” and see what happens.  If the truck is solid buyers will show up and set the price.  Then just pick the best one.

As a final precaution take care when the time comes to actually sell the truck because fraud is not uncommon with private vehicle sales.  In fact some private sellers only accept cash to avoid check scams, but an envelope full of Benjamins is not always practical.  I recommend meeting the buyer at their bank and have them authorize a direct transfer into your bank account.  Then wait to sign over the vehicle title until you’ve confirmed the payment.

Hope your Native yard art makes a fair profit!