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Badgerland Mini Trucks & Equipment is committed to providing the absolute best customer service while bringing these amazing little work-horses to market.  Call us today and see for yourself the amazing versatility that so many others have already discovered!

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Mini Truck Buyer's Guide
We are often asked "what to look for" when buying a Mini Truck, especially from customers that have no experience with the industry or trucks.  We've assembled this buying guide from an objective standpoint to help you become an educated and informed consumer before you spend a dime with us, or anyone else for that matter.  This guide has been compiled from our own experience, as well as the best advice offered from other top dealers.

The Dealer

First and foremost: find a dealer that you feel comfortable working with  Remember: how a dealer treats you initially should speak volumes about how they will take care of you down the road.  If they don't seem to have the time to answer all of your questions on the front end of a transaction, then you should consider moving-on to one that will take the time to help you make an informed decision.  The term "shop around" really has a different meaning when searching for the perfect mini truck.  While buying local may seem like the best option for some people because of the fear of working with a dealer a distance away, know that the "mileage factor" isn't always the source of a good or bad experience.  Not all dealers are created equal, either with their customer service abilities, or the caliber of the trucks that they sell.  It is VERY worthwhile for someone on the market for a mini truck to look at multiple dealers and what they have to offer.  With the recent changes in import guidelines and changes to the industry, many of the "shady" dealers that were selling what we would consider parts trucks at premium prices have fallen by the wayside (but there are some still out there!).  We share the same philosophy as the handful of other top quality dealers across the U.S. and Canada: QUALITY over QUANTITY.  This exact principle is what has helped us grow to where we are today.  We treat our customers that are hundreds or thousands of miles away just the same as we do the guy next door: with respect and appreciation just like we would expect to be treated.  We stand behind the product we bring to market and will always support our customers to the fullest extent possible.  We started out in the industry the same as you: as hobbyists and enthusiasts who really saw the potential in these little work-horses.  We simply grew tired of being asked, "Where can I get one of those?"  It's a common phrase shared amongst the respectable dealers in the industry who all seem to share the same roots.  Remember: ask lots of questions and feel comfortable that those questions have been answered before you make a decision.  If a dealer is not investing their time into helping you, then you probably don't want to invest your money with them!  Shop smart and know that you will take home the best utility vehicle money can buy!
Now, let's take a look at the trucks themselves and talk a little about what
you should look for as an informed consumer.

The Trucks
Mini Trucks are widely available from 6 major manufacturers in Japan: Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Daihatsu, Honda, and Subaru.   Suzuki, Mazda, and Autozam trucks all share the same parts and chassis and are commonly cross-referenced.  We deal with far more Suzuki, Mitsubishi, and Daihatsu trucks on a routine basis so we will cover these manufacturers in this guide.  We've listed the main manufacturer-specific advantages and disadvantages below to help you narrow down your search criteria.

Suzuki:
+ Most popular truck line in North America based upon sheer numbers and availability.
+ Wide range of 4WD options such as Differential locks
+ Widest range of aftermarket accessories

- Smallest of the Mini cab truck configurations
-
Radiator in the front of cab (mid 90's models) and can be susceptible to damage

Mitsubishi:
+ More leg room in cab than Suzuki for larger operators
+ Radiator under seats and well-protected
+ Wide range of aftermarket accessories

Daihatsu (Toyota):
+ More leg room in cab than Suzuki for larger operators
+
Radiator protected under drivers seat in front of engine.
+ Wide range of aftermarket accessories

What we look for when buying a Mini Truck...

Frame, Chassis and underbody:
Most Mini Trucks from Japan are built and delivered new with a white-painted frame and underbody.  This should be a point to look for the reasons we've listed below:
Re-painting:
Is something being covered-up?  Consider asking the seller why the frame has been re-painted new white or undercoated black if you're questionable. Look for welded metal patches or other signs of repair that might be cloaked from easy view because of new paint.  While a fresh paint job is never a bad thing by itself, it should always raise a question as to why.

Rusting:
Mini Trucks will show slight rusting over time along areas of unibody and frame component joints, etc.  While this is normal and to be expected, it can be an indicator of excess usage that does not match mileage of the truck.  Look under the front body panels for signs of rust or rust-through. This is where you will generally find the first signs of any serious rot on the body, which will also serve as a very good indicator of mileage and usage.


Wear Gives Usage and Age Indications:
The Drivers side wheel well and lower door panel will always show paint wear and rub marks from sliding in and out of the truck. The wheel well and lower door panel are often repainted for two purposes: One, to cover-up the usage indicator and two, to allow for a better, cleaner appearing truck interior overall. Again, this is not a negative indicator but rather a gauge of usage.
Underbody Steering and Axles:
We inspect the undercarriage of every truck checking the CV boots, steering linkage, and arms for signs of damage or replacement. Seldom is there a problem in this area other than torn CV boots.
Clutch and shifter cables:
Tip about the ever-popular Suzuki DD51T and DB51T:
It’s important to always make sure to check that the 4x4 shifter/cable is working and not stuck. It is a common problem in the Suzuki’s that have sat un-used for long periods of time. Also, by looking at the end of the clutch cable (at the transmission end) - if you see no thread left that means that the clutch is gone and needs to be replaced.
Determining the Mileage:
Again, use your wear indicators to help determine if the numbers on the clock actually represent the trucks true mileage.  Since the older, mid 90's  trucks only have 5 digits in their odometer, one way to tell if they are really under 100,000kms is to look at the accelerator rubber pad.  Being made from rubber, they clearly show their wear.  I've seen several "10,000 kms" trucks with wear indicators dictating otherwise.  That tells me the odometer has rolled at some point and the truck has been presented as something it is not.  Proceed cautiously if you're observing wear indicators not matching the mileage presented on the truck!
Interior of Cab:
It seems most Japanese operators are smokers as indicated by the number of dirty trucks we’ve seen.  A clean, well cared-for interior is a sign the truck was well cared for overall.  Torn seat upholstery is a common find among mid to high mileage trucks that have seen hard service.  This can sometimes be another indicator of wear and tear not represented by what the odometer is telling you.
Exterior of Truck:
Many of these trucks were sold through auction houses where the potential buyer was only supplied with several pictures and vague condition reports. Often times, slight body imperfections were given a quick “cheap” paint spray.  The idea here was to bring a better price. But as you are able to see your potential purchase firsthand you will be able to determine the degree of imperfections you are willing to accept. While the cleaner the truck, the higher the cost, it shouldn’t always be your primary concern.
Engine, Steering, Running:
We always start and run all of our trucks, letting them idle to operating temperature. This lets us see if the thermostat or radiator has any issues to be addressed. A rev test will let you know if there is anything loose or wrong within the engine. Finally, driving the truck will allow you to check the steering, acceleration and braking.  This should be offered by the dealer or seller to ensure that everything is operating as expected.

Price: (What’s that truck worth?)
This is the big issue. Are you looking for the most for your dollar or the BEST for your dollar?  These are always two different things.  Here are the main components used to dictate the pricing set on a truck:

- Condition of truck (interior and exterior)
- Options such as 4WD (Hi-Lo, Diff Locks
, etc), A/C, Dump Beds
- Model Year and Mileage
- Repair costs to the dealer (if any other than typical prep)
- Freight costs to acquire a specific truck (not always a direct import)
- Any aftermarket accessories installed


We hope that this guide will help you in your hunt for the perfect Mini Truck.  As always, feel free to call us or email us if you have further questions before you make a purchase!

 

Email: sales@badgerlandminitrucks.com

Call Toll-Free: 1-866-373-0829

 

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