Are you planning to buy a Hummer? You need to read this!
The production of Hummers stopped in 2010, so you can only buy them pre-owned. Buying used Hummers is expensive compared to other vehicles, but you may end up with even more expenses if you purchase a poorly maintained one (check our article here on maintenance cost for hummers!).
In this article, we provide top tips to help you get the best Hummer deals.
Follow us as we show you pitfalls to avoid as you shop for this powerful truck.
The Case for Buying Used Hummers
Despite GM and AMG stopping the production of Hummers over nine years ago, the vehicle still has millions of admirers all over the world.
Because of continued demand, AMG now sells kit Hummers which VLF Automobile builds exclusively for enthusiasts in China and other export markets.
But for many people who want to experience the sheer power, beauty and everything the Hummer represents, you have to buy a used one.
There are several ways of buying a used Hummer. You can buy at dealerships or online via eBay, Craigslist and other platforms.
But buying a used item, including a Hummer which can cost up to $40,000 is a complicated and somewhat risky business.
Hummers are so expensive because of several reasons, but they retain their value better than contemporaries.
It’s vital to take precautions to prevent unscrupulous sellers from duping you while getting maximum value for money.
Before you commit thousands of dollars to a 15-year-old SUV, it helps to keep the following tips handy.
1. Know More About Hummers
Hummers are popular and for good and bad reasons. Before you get one of these large vehicles, get to know them a little more.
Hummers are not the most fuel efficient SUVs on the market and they are not so fast either.
They can also require extensive maintenance, especially if you are unlucky to end up with a problematic year model.
Be clear about the real cost of owning Hummers; not just the purchase price so you can prepare yourself for the extra expenses.
Also, Hummers are huge! It has a ground clearance of 16″ and some models are over 6’ wide.
If you are transiting from a small car to the big truck, you may find it a bit unwieldy in your hands. It may take time to get used to driving a Hummer.
Your neighbors will ask you questions like why did you get a Hummer? In other words, they want to know why you took such a stupid decision.
But it’s your money and you have a right to dispense of it as you please. And the Hummer is not as bad as people paint it; it’s a victim of toxic publicity from eco-activists.
Later models such as the H2, H3 and the 2006 H1 Alpha have decent fuel economy for their class.
But you still want to be sure you are making the right decision before splurging tens of thousands of dollars on a military-spec SUV.
You can test drive a friend’s Hummer for a long trip or rent one for a weekend to have a feel of the road warrior.
Bottom-line is to get ready to shoulder the responsibility of Hummer ownership. Don’t just buy because you want to own a Hummer so you don’t lose money.
2. Shop for Deals Aggressively
Hummers are expensive everywhere, but you can still get them for a good price if you look hard and long enough.
Hunt for deals for hundreds of miles from your home and even abroad. Visit Hummer forums online to hear the gist of the best opportunities.
You can get lucky and find people who want to sell their Hummers at great prices. And you can be sure to get a truck that is well taken care of on these forums.
Look for deals online. A lot of websites including Cars.com and others sell Hummers in good condition. You can also import Hummers from overseas although the cost of shipping can be high.
Some places in the United States have a high concentration of these trucks. If you don’t mind the extra cost, why not go on a road trip to check out several Hummers to get the best deal.
Don’t settle for the first deal you come across. Scrutinize the local and regional markets for the ideal price point.
However, it is dangerous to base your decisions on price alone.
You are better off buying an expensive, old but low mileage Hummer H1 with a good maintenance record than a cheaper and more recent H2 with myriad problems.
Having a problematic Hummer is no fun. Ask folks at HummerWorld and you may not even want to buy one anymore to avoid the gut-wrenching heartache that comes with a money-guzzling 2-ton truck.
3. Take Your Time
Buying an automobile is the next biggest transaction after a home purchase for most people.
When shopping for a Hummer, use the logic of home buyers. Take your time and don’t buy the first truck that tickles your fancy.
Like home and boat sellers, people who sell vehicles also do some staging to appeal to your emotional side. Don’t give in to them.
Compare as many Hummers as you can find. Do physical inspections, bargain aggressively, and let sellers know you are only testing the waters.
Even when you see a Hummer that ticks all the boxes, take your time.
Discuss with an experienced friend and sleep over it for some days. Things that weren’t apparent at first may become clearer upon further scrutiny.
Remember the price of a 15-year-old Hummer can cost more than a new 2019 Toyota RAV4 or 2019 Honda CRV.
It is understandable to be under a bit of pressure because of the limited supply of Hummers. But that makes it even more important to use some restraint to prevent being gotten.
4. Go for Low Mileage
Whether you are buying a Hummer or any used automobile product, it is always best to buy low mileage options.
With the Hummer, you can’t get new trucks but there are people who bought the vehicle and didn’t use them for a variety of reasons. These are the people you should look for.
If well taken care of, Hummers with low mileage are as good as new.
People have bought H1s with less than 20k miles on the odometer and almost pristine engine condition.
A lot of the parts will have a good number of useful life left in them, reducing your expenses.
However, not all low-mileage Hummers represent a good buy.
People who really use their Hummers take exceptional care of the truck because there is no other way to enjoy it without regular maintenance.
So even if the mileage is northward of 100k, you have nothing to fear if the maintenance is solid.
In fact, you may be better off buying such vehicles because the owner would have discovered and remedied weaknesses in the engine, HVAC, and other parts.
That way, you don’t drive your “new” used Hummer for 10k miles and start regretting the purchase.
But if you can find a sparingly used Hummer with a good maintenance record at a great price, go for it.
5. Dealership Comparison
Do you know that you can force dealerships to give you juicy discounts by showing them the price of other dealerships in their area?
Few people do this, but some hard-negotiating guys use it to gain the upper hand when buying used and new automobiles.
This might not be possible with Hummers since many dealerships have now stopped selling them. But you can use this strategy even if you are buying from an individual.
All you need do is to find two or three Hummers with the same or almost similar specs. Negotiate with every one of them and show each seller the potential price the other will sell.
Show them you are going with the person with the best price, i.e. the lowest offer without compromising on quality and performance.
The fear of missing out will force genuine sellers to make concessions and shorten the time spent haggling over the price.
Many times, sellers quote prices arbitrarily to justify their expenses on the item they are selling. But even though the Hummer has a high resale value, your job is to get the best truck at the most appealing price point.
The more dollars you can save the better because you will need the money to bring the vehicle up to speed regardless of the seller’s claims.
6. Ask for Hidden Costs
If a Hummer is selling for a ridiculously low price, the seller is not doing you a favor.
Before pouncing on that deal of a lifetime, ask questions about the real state of the vehicle.
We will cover inspections later but you want to be sure of the added expenses apart from the purchase cost.
Do you need to change the suspension? Are the stock tires aging and need replacement?
Does the deal come with true snow tires if you live in a cold region?
It’s not advisable to base your buying decision on the selling price without having a clear picture of other costs.
If you need to spend a fourth of the purchase price to get the Hummer on the road or trail, take your money elsewhere or keep it.
If a Hummer has issues when you bought it, there is a high chance of it being unreliable and in need of constant repairs.
It’s no fun driving a 5700-pound truck with your heart in your mouth for fear of suffering a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
7. Buy the H3
If cost-cutting is a top priority, go for the smaller but more affordable Hummer H3.
A lot of Hummer-heads consider the H3 inferior to the H1s and H2s, but you can’t compare this glorified SUV to other trucks in its class.
Even the base trim H3 delivers exceptional performance on the road, improved off-roading capabilities and can ford 20″ water.
So don’t compare them to regular mass production SUVs.
Hummer H3s are perfect for on-road use; they cost far less than their bigger cousins and have better fuel economy.
They are an excellent and affordable choice if you are not a heavy off-roader and can still deliver decent mileage. But avoid problematic model years.
8. Avoid Problematic Model Years
If you don’t want constant headaches with your Hummer H1, buy the 2006 Alpha. Most reviewers consider it the best of the first Hummers originally produced by AM General.
Many people consider H2s great in every aspect but some model years of the H3 are notorious for their unreliability.
Almost all model years sans the Alpha have one issue or the other. The 92 and 93 H1s were underpowered and suffered serious overheating problems because of faulty HVAC systems.
If you are buying any of these years, make sure the heating and AC unit has been replaced.
All H1s produced from 1996 to 2000 have a tendency to suffer an engine block crack. A flaw at GM’s plant during the production process caused the cylinder no 8 of the turbo diesel engines to be weaker.
AMG replaced many of these engines under warranty but there are still hundreds out there that haven’t been replaced.
Watch out for these model years of the H1 and have an experienced technician check that you are not buying one with the compromised engine.
Several H3 model years are also troublesome but the most unreliable is the 2006 version.
The 2006 H3 has been a constant source of anguish for many once-proud Hummer owners. Sadly, most of the faults are factory defects which should have warranty a recall of the vehicles.
This truck is prone to a blowing head gasket, cracked cylinder, leaking valves, and myriad other issues.
Many of the problems were repaired free but you may not get support now that Hummer dealerships have all folded up.
You can look up our article on the common problems of Hummers for more heads up.
9. Buy the Gas H1
If you are buying the H1, consider the gas variant. Gas H1s are powered with a Chevy 350 engine, one of the most ubiquitous motors in the world.
The engine is easy to maintain, parts are rock bottom cheap and readily available even in the most backwater counties and its reliable.
The only limitation is that gas H1s have a fuel capacity of just 23 gallons. Considering the abysmal fuel economy of the H1, this makes the gas variants somewhat short-legged.
But it is still a good choice if you want to avoid diesel issues, start easier in cold weather and avoid a cloud of fumes at high altitudes.
Gas H1s are extremely rare because AMG stopped their production after two years.
10. Check the Paperwork
We can’t stress this enough. Like boats, poorly protected Hummers are thief magnets.
It’s important to make sure the paperwork is correct to avoid buying a stolen vehicle.
Check that the vehicle has a bill of sales, a clean title and no liens. If you have any reason to doubt the authenticity of the papers, check Carfax or AutoCheck for the provenance.
Carfax can show you if the truck has a salvage, branded, flood or junk title or used for rentals among others.
It can also reveal odometer readings, lemons and buybacks, and transfers of ownership.
If the vehicle’s provenance shows it has changed hands multiple times, maybe it won’t take long for you to look for a buyer.
Any information about repairs, inspections and severe accidents is also accessible via Carfax.
However, the information on Carfax and AutoCheck is as good as what dealerships and auto shops and other affiliates supply them. So don’t take their word as fact.
Do your findings and use a Carfax report to cross-check your discoveries about the vehicle.
If you find out the odometer reading is doctored, or the truck was damaged in a storm surge years back but the seller didn’t mention it, run!
11. Check Maintenance History
Traceable maintenance history is a vital source of information when buying a Hummer. It shows the level of care the owner gives to the vehicle, the replaced parts and the frequency of maintenance.
A maintenance log can also reveal the habits of the owner.
If the records show regular oil and tire changes, the owner is probably an on-road user. Frequent replacement of the shafts, suspension, pitman arms and other components in the undercarriage hints at rigorous off-roading.
Would you rather buy a road queen with an intact undercarriage or a trail warrior with a battered underbelly?
The maintenance history provides a tentative figure of the additional cost of owning a Hummer. If the owner spent an average of $2,000 on maintenance per year, you know what to prepare for if he/she is honest with you.
12. Check the Wheels and Tires
A Hummer with oversized or aftermarket wheel is sign of trouble.
This is especially important if you are buying the H1 because very few wheels can support its weight offset.
A Hummer riding on the wrong wheels can place excessive stress on the suspension because of poor alignment and steering geometry.
13. Do a Thorough Check
Check all fluid levels including the engine oil, brake, power steering, automatic transmission, and antifreeze fluids.
If the tranny oil is brown instead of red and smells burned, it is bad. You can also check the tranfercase oil to see if it runs very hot which is a sign of excessive speeds.
If the battery uses a fluid, check the water level and look for oil stains under the truck.
When the engine is cold, open the radiator cap to check that the cooling system has no pressure.
Start the truck, allow it idle for two minutes and stop the engine. Check the tailpipe to see if it smokes and the color. You have a problem if the engine cranks hard before it starts.
Remove the radiator cap again to see if it has pressure.
If the engine gives off a light pop or whoosh sound that could be a sign of a blown head gasket or cracked cylinder block.
A foaming coolant and clunky sound when you shut the engine are also signs of serious problems with the truck.
Take the truck on a test drive and keep your eyes and ears open for any strange sound. If the engines won’t rev, runs rough, smokes or cranks, there is big trouble.
Also, check the body for rust, damage, scars and bent edges. Look for signs of body work such as a paint over spray.
Check for broken and cracked plastic and glass parts and inspect the tonneau cover and bed liner if you are buying a pickup.
Do the locks work? What of the power mirrors and windows? Are the gauges in good condition?
Check the entertainment system and the HVAC unit. Look at the spare tire, the jack and other necessary equipment that should come with the vehicle.
You may not be able to check all the mechanical and electrical systems yourself. Get a certified Hummer technician to have a thorough check and write a detailed report with a recommendation to buy or not.
The rates for hiring a pair of professional eyes is minimal compared to the potential heartbreak and cost of buying a crappy Hummer.
Buying a Hummer is a huge investment. It’s important to take every step you can to reduce the purchase cost while getting the very best truck.
We hope this guide will help you save cost and avoid potential Hummer problems as you go hunting for this famous truck.