Things to Consider When Buying a New Truck


Pickup trucks are big, powerful vehicles that make a practical and versatile choice for a wide range of uses. They’re also popular, and automakers are offering them with an ever-growing number of price points, styles and features available. To make a choice that’s right for your financial situation, and to avoid getting overwhelmed by all these options, it’s important to consider your budget, needs and wants before you start shopping for your new truck.

What is your budget?

Pickups are far from cheap. Per Kelley Blue Book®, as of December 2017, the average transaction price for a full-size pickup truck was $47,601. Mid-size trucks weighed in at $32,562.

When considering such a potentially expensive purchase, it’s a good idea to have a budget in mind before setting your heart on a specific model. Ronald Montoya, a writer for Edmunds, recommends aiming for monthly payments that are no more than 15 percent of your total pay. He also suggests getting preapproved for a loan from a bank or credit union before shopping, even if you plan to finance your purchase through a dealership. Doing this will give you an even better sense for what you can afford, and it will provide you with an interest rate offering that you can compare to what’s offered by a dealership.

What are your needs?

Pickups are available with a dizzying variety of cab sizes, cargo bed sizes, engine power ratings and more. Before you decide on a model, spend some time thinking about how you would use your truck.

Are you planning to frequently haul massive loads or tow large trailers? If so, you’ll probably need a full-size, heavy-duty truck. Will you be carrying lighter loads or using the truck for weekend recreation? A compact or mid-size model might fit the bill. Will you be driving for long distances? You’ll want to consider factors like ride, comfort and fuel efficiency. Are you planning to carry passengers? Cab size will come into play. Will you be using your truck off-road or in bad weather conditions? If so, you’ll want to consider four-wheel drive models.

Considering these questions will help you decide which configuration is right for you, and it will help you avoid buying too much truck for your needs — or not enough.

Which features are most important to you?

Pickup manufacturers generally offer a wide range of available options, packages and accessories. At PickupTrucks.com, Jim Travers writes that opting for these upgrades can dramatically increase — and even double — the price of a truck. So it’s worth thinking about which features you need and which ones you can live without.

These options and packages can serve practical purposes. For example, more powerful engine options, towing packages and advanced safety features might be important or necessary. However, many options are more cosmetic in nature. Leather seats, premium sound systems and chrome accents or special-edition paint jobs might not add much to the value or usefulness of your truck, but their costs will still add up fast.

Whether you’re purchasing a pickup for work or play, considering these questions before you start the shopping process will help you find the truck that’s best for your needs and your finances. Taking the time to make sure you’ve checked all the right boxes will ensure you make the true right choice for you.

© 1995-2018 Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. All rights reserved.

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