Nothing screams power, durability, dependability, and hard work more than a pickup truck. They are one of the most popular options on the road today, with 2020 projections suggesting that the market segment for pickups could reach almost $59 million. That’s a lot of trucks on the road!
We’ve talked before about some common myths about pickup trucks, but if you’re interested in buying one for yourself, there are still a few things you should know.
First of all, not all trucks are created equally. It’s important to choose the truck that fits your needs like you would with any other vehicle. But, if you’re a first-time truck buyer, that isn’t always easy to do without a little bit of background information.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at five things you should consider when buying a pickup truck. Let these tips be your guide as you begin the buying process, so you’ll end up with the truck of your dreams before you hit the road.
1. What Will You Use It For?
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when you think about a pickup truck? Chances are, that answer is different for almost everyone. If you’re considering a truck, you’ve probably already thought about how it can benefit you, not everyone else. So, while someone might use a pickup for hauling lumber, you might be a parent who needs it for lugging around your children’s sports equipment.
Or, maybe you’re a weekend boater, and you need something to haul your boat to the lake. Are you an avid outdoorsman? Maybe you want a pickup that has enough power to hook up your camper. Different trucks have different towing capacities. For example, the Ford F-150 is often a popular choice for campers because it can safely pull 5,000-8,000 pounds.
Deciding on how you will use your truck can help you to determine what size to get, how much horsepower, and which extra features will come in handy. It can also help you to figure out any truck accessories you might need to make your life easier. It’s a good idea to learn more about truck accessories and which ones can help you before you decide on the truck itself.
In addition to how you’ll be using the truck, consider where you’ll be going with it every day. If you work in a city and will have to park the truck downtown (or parallel park it), a large bed isn’t going to be easy to handle. You might not be able to find the space you need. It’s essential to consider every aspect of how the truck will be used on a daily basis in order to find one that will be the perfect fit for you and your needs.
2. Gas Mileage
Gas mileage may not be the most glamorous or exciting thing to think about when you’re considering a pickup, but it’s no less important. Again, this is why it’s important to consider how you’ll be using your truck, not just for hauling, but for travel purposes.
Are you typically a city driver? Do you have a long commute to work? Don’t be afraid to do your research when it comes to different gas mileages. Thanks to the increased interest in fuel economy, some models are becoming more fuel-efficient. So, while pickup trucks and good gas mileage might not always go hand-in-hand, things are changing. If expensive gas prices have prevented you from purchasing a pickup in the past, look into how some things have changed. You might be surprised at the fuel economy of certain models and how they compare to more compact cars.
3. Who Are Your Passengers?
While a pickup truck can be great for work or if you’re driving solo, they aren’t always great family vehicles. So, before you go out and buy a truck, consider how many passengers you’ll typically have.
For example, if you have a family of five, some models won’t allow everyone to fit. If you choose a truck with an extended cab, that’s a different story, and that should be something you look into right away when choosing the right truck. If a pickup is going to be your family vehicle, you need to make sure it has enough room for your whole family.
If you’re just considering a truck for yourself, you can opt for a smaller cab, which might save you money and offer a wider variety of makes and models to choose from.
4. What Are You Loading?
While pickup trucks are often used for hauling other vehicles, trailers, and boats, their other main use is for loading and hauling different materials. A smaller truck might be better for your budget, but don’t assume you’ll just be able to haul things with the tailgate down. In some states, that’s illegal.
So, think about what you’ll be loading and hauling the most. If that means purchasing a bigger truck, it will be worth the investment if it helps you to get your job done the right way, and more efficiently.
5. Driving Features
While you don’t necessarily need to choose a pickup with all of the bells and whistles, there are a couple of basic driving features that are important when it comes to choosing the right one.
First, decide if you’re more comfortable with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. While a 4×4 might cost more, consider your environment. If you live in an area that frequently experiences bad weather (especially snow and ice), it’s a worthwhile investment to make sure you and your passengers are safe.
Additionally, you’ll need to decide whether you’re more comfortable driving an automatic or manual truck. Again, cost could be a factor here, but considering how you drive can make the decision easier for you. For example, manual trucks are typically less expensive. But, if most of your driving is done in a city setting where you have to stop and go frequently due to traffic, you’ll likely save more on gas with an automatic transmission.
Bonus Tip – Learn the Lingo!
If you’ve never gone shopping for a pickup truck before, there are a few common terms you should know before you go to a car lot. We’ve already talked about a few of them throughout this article, but the more you know about the “pickup lingo,” the more confident you can feel when a salesman is talking about the right truck for you.
Some of the most common words used in the pickup enthusiast dictionary include:
- Towing capacity – How much the truck can pull.
- Payload capacity – How much the truck can carry in the bed and cab.
- Short, standard, extended bed – Different bed sizes you can use when determining how much you’ll need to load and carry.
- Heavy-duty – More than just a marketing term, a heavy-duty truck is specifically designed to carry heavier equipment. Additionally, a light-duty truck is typically on the smaller side and won’t be able to tow or carry as much.
Getting a pickup truck for the first time is an exciting experience. You don’t need to feel intimidated if you’ve never driven one before. By keeping some of these tips in mind, you can feel confident when you step onto a lot and decide on the right truck for you.
Be sure to do your research ahead of time (especially when it comes to different models and features), determine your personal needs, and you could easily drive away with the perfect pickup that you’ll enjoy driving for years to come.
Photo Credit: Toyota