Pickup trucks are some of the most practical and powerful vehicles on the road. They’re useful when you need to move furniture, haul a load or tow a trailer. They generally hold their value better than passenger cars and SUVs, which makes them a good investment.
But buying a truck can also be very expensive! You can easily pay $60,000 or more, depending on the model and options. So before you go and break the bank on a fully loaded workhorse, read this guide to help you find the truck that’s right for you.
What Do You REALLY Need?
A base model F-150 starts at around $30,000, while the top of the line F-150 Limited sells for more than twice as much — and that’s without four wheel drive! So obviously, you can save a lot of money just by making an honest assessment of what options and features you really need.
Here are some things to consider:
- Hauling — do you plan to use the truck for construction work or other projects that require hauling heavy payloads? Or just moving the odd piece of furniture now and then? Be sure to check the truck’s max payload rating.
- Towing — will you be using your truck for towing? If so, you’ll want a truck that comes equipped with a tow package. If you plan to frequently tow heavy loads — an RV, for instance — consider a heavy duty model with a tougher transmission, suspension, and higher gear ratio meant for pulling serious weight.
- Fuel Economy — if you don’t need to regularly haul or tow heavy loads, you might consider sacrificing size and power for better fuel economy. A midsize truck with a V6 engine is more than enough for most people, and will save you a lot of money — both up front, and down the road.
- Seating — how many passengers will you be carrying? If your truck is doing double duty as a family vehicle, you’ll probably want a crew cab model, with four doors and a roomy back seat.
- Off Road — do you live in a cold climate, with lots of snowfall? Or perhaps you plan to take your truck off road? Then you’ll definitely want to spring for 4WD.
New or Used?
Now that you’ve determined which type of truck you need, it’s time to start shopping around. Before you go and pay full price for a brand new truck, you might consider buying used instead. The value of a vehicle depreciates a lot in the first few years. So you might be able to find a late model truck with low miles and little wear, and save yourself thousands.
Check out online marketplaces, like Cars.com or Craigslist. Of course, you should always be wary of private sellers. Be sure to carefully inspect any vehicle before buying, and research its accident history and maintenance record.
And be sure to check your local dealerships for deals on pre-owned vehicles, which may even come with a warranty and service plan.