Native Yard Art

Dear Dr. Per Cap:

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. The rebuilt motor has only 3,000 miles. The truck also has a custom welded storage cabinet with locking doors. But it hasn’t been driven in three years and has become Native yard art. We have no idea how to price it. How do we make a small profit while being fair? 

 Signed,

Ryder Truck Family


Dear Ryder Truck Family,

First off, my sincere condolences on the passing of your father.

Commercial-grade trucks, even older models, are usually valuable if they are in decent condition. Small businesses always need solid trucks to haul equipment, freight, and supplies. Often, they don’t want to spend extra money buying brand-new.

Ryder has 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 peek at Ryder’s website and their current inventory of Navistar International 4300’s which I’m thinking are similar in size to your truck. You can’t touch one newer than 5 years old for less than $80,000. Almost all have odometers 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. It 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.

You also want to get the truck running if it isn’t already. A buyer who needs to tow a truck has a lot of room to negotiate because of the inconvenience. 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 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!


Ask Dr. Per Cap is a program funded by First Nations Development Institute with assistance from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org. To send a question to Dr. Per Cap, email askdrpercap@firstnations.org.