We'll be doing a lot of home improvement projects around our new house over the summer and we'll be needing a truck to haul stuff around. My parents have both bought new cars in the past year or so, so it'll be my duty to get a truck. Since they'll be using it a lot they'll help me out a little bit. I'm hoping they'll be able to put a decent downpayment on it. After I start driving it I can sell my current car for probably $1,500-$2,000 to help buffer the first payments while I pick up more hours at my new job. I'd like to keep the price around or under $5000 with a max of $6,000. I like the standard 1997 Ford F150s. I don't need extended cab/bed or anything. A Ford Ranger should also suit my needs just fine, although it's a little small for my tastes. Plus since they're slightly cheaper I could probably get a newer/nicer one. Along with the Ranger, a Chevy S-10 would probably be fine, but I'm not sure how reliable they are. And although they're pricier, a Silverado 1500 would be really nice. A few other Japanese options would be the Toyota Tacoma (pricey from what I've seen), and the Mazda B-series (fairly cheap.) Since this is my first truck purchase, what are some things I should look for? Should I buy a used one from a dealer, or should I stick to private sellers? Can anyone vouch for reliability of the Japanese trucks? Any other suggestions that I haven't mentioned? Any reason why I should or shouldn't go with a certain make/model? Anything in particular I should stay away from? Thanks for any help.