Trade Skills

My husband’s trade skills are more attractive than the pickups we trade-in. When we decide it’s time to upgrade a ranch pickup, he uses clever strategies to “trade off” our trade-ins.

We try to get every penny’s worth and more out of a pickup by using them long after they’ve been depreciated out. As a result, our pickups are far from eye-appealing to an average used-pickup buyer. A pickup’s appearance doesn’t do anything for us. We’re more interested in its ability to do as many different jobs as possible; so long as it still runs and the vitals work like the radio, we’re happy.

The only drawback to keeping our pickups for so long is that we use up nearly all the remaining trade-in value. My husband is capable of doing most repair work which doesn’t cost us a dime (and is especially beneficial in today’s economy), but not everyone shares the same appreciation for custom repairs and parts the way we do. Our pickups might have a unique dashboard knob (i.e.: crimped on brass bullet casing), a little baling wire holding something together, or some welding done on it (heavy duty bolt for inside door handle, for example), but driving something that stands out has never bothered us.

When we’re ready to upgrade though, we prefer working with dealerships so we can take advantage of pawning off our old stuff. Trade-ins lessen the out-of-pocket expense and our junk yard doesn’t fill up with old vehicles this way. When my husband finds a dealership that meets our newer pickup criteria, he’ll deal over the phone versus going there so we can work our trade-in pickup into the purchase before they see it.

He gives the standard make, model, year, and pertinent under-the-hood information on our trade-in, and then asks what they’d give us for it. If they want to know what kind of condition the pickup is in first, my husband chooses his adjectives wisely, which is his key trade secret. Our trade-ins always run. They just might not be able to run as fast or as far and usually aren’t as nice as other trade-ins, so he’ll say “ranchy,” but doesn’t bother to clarify what his interpretation is.

When he wants to be persuasive, picking words that encompass many different interpretations to different people is one of his many talents. Some dealers think of ranchy as a ranch pickup that has more gravel miles than highway miles, or is considered more of a work pickup that has shoddy-looking seats, has never been polished with Armor-All or cleaned out, instead of a go-to-town pickup. Others might envision a very dusty cab and a pickup floor covered with hay, grain, gravel, and dirt among other ranch-related stuff. Still others might take ranchy to mean that the pickup takes on a feedlot scent when the floorboards get wet. In our case, ranchy just means rough, ranch-customized, and all the above. Whatever a dealer had envisioned, the trade-in value changes once we pull into the dealership.

When it’s time to make the sale, the out-of-pocket cost generally ends up being a tad more and our trade-in value a bit less. We usually drive away as satisfied customers anyway. Watching the dealer and shop mechanics’ reactions when they see all the custom work on our “ranchy” pickup is always priced right.

This column was originally published March 22-28, 2009

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About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
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