Trucks are hugely popular due to their versatility. These workhorse vehicles are capable of towing heavy loads, can store tons of cargo, carry a full complement of passengers, and take on all kinds of terrain. The truck market offers a great variety of vehicles to choose from – from small to large and from basic to high end. When starting your initial research, it might seem simple enough at first to make a choice. But certain trucks serve certain purposes, and some may be better for your needs than others. Whether you are thinking of a truck for just driving around town or for heavy duty use, there are some factors to consider when researching trucks for sale.
Interior Space and Livability
Many smaller trucks are just two-seaters. This is perfect if it’s just you, or you and your significant other (pets count here too). Trucks with smaller cabs limit the room up front, but the tradeoff is that they usually have longer beds, which will allow you to carry more cargo. These models will also come at a lower cost than trucks with larger cabs.
If transporting passengers over cargo is more of a priority, then definitely look into trucks with a multi-passenger cab. These trucks offer an additional row of seating so you can bring along the whole family. Or all of the dogs if you have more than one.
Choosing the Right Engine
Engine size is probably one of the most important factors when considering a truck purchase, but one size definitely does not fit all. If you’re looking to just drive locally and don’t plan on hauling heavy loads, going with a four-cylinder option is probably the best bet. You’ll save money on gas, and these engines provide enough power to carry light everyday loads.
If you need to carry anything larger than a small trailer, then moving up to a V6 or V8 engine is a good idea. These will offer additional power to tow a boat or larger container, and today’s larger engines are more fuel-efficient than ever before but less so than the standard four-cylinder. You’ll pay more for a larger engine, but they will be more versatile and will offer the power you need to get the job done. And speaking of towing, you’ll want to be sure to research the towing capacities of the trucks you have in mind. The end number will come down to what kind of payload you need to move. When in doubt, always go with a higher capacity to ensure it will be enough.
Two vs Four
Chances are if you’re looking for a truck, you’re either going to carry cargo, use it off-road or you live in an area where weather is unpredictable. For those living in regions where winter storms are common, you’ll likely want to go with four-wheel drive. Depending on the truck, four-wheel drive may be a standard feature or an available option. While four-wheel drive makes for more sure-footed driving, be aware that gas mileage will be reduced as a result.
For drivers living in more temperate climates like the desert southwest or for those just planning on using their trucks for simple commuting or light cargo carrying, sticking with two-wheel drive is a better and more economical option.
Manual or Automatic?
Your driving style and normal driving conditions are going to be the most significant factors in whether to go with an automatic transmission vs. a manual. The automatic will be perfect for drivers who spend a bit more time in traffic, as it will save on a lot of unnecessary shifting. If you are more of an open road driver, then going with a manual will give you more control. Plus, they are just more fun to drive for a lot of people. That said, manual transmissions have become less common on trucks but can still be found on select base models. Manuals will also be less effective if you’re going to be using your truck for towing.
If your main purpose for getting a truck is to haul cargo in the back, you might want to keep it safe and away from prying eyes. Campers tops are the perfect solution against theft, and they will also keep your gear protected from the weather. If you are helping a friend move, for example, the last thing you want is for furniture or other items to get wet should it start raining. Camper tops vary in price depending on the vehicle they are fitted for, so be sure to research them carefully to make sure they will be compatible with your needs.
Amenities and Extras
Today’s trucks offer lots of available option packages ranging from safety to convenience, interior to exterior. How much you want to trick out your truck ultimately depends on how much you’re willing to spend. Today’s trucks have changed a lot over the years. While some are still workhorses, many are geared more toward families, so entertainment packages have become more popular. These options naturally add to the cost of the vehicle, so they should be considered carefully. Items like special suspension and tow packages can certainly add utility to your truck, but they might not add much value when it comes time to trade it in. Other extras like appearance packages are mainly cosmetic, so you may want to skip them in the interest of saving money.
Also related to saving money is the option of going with a used truck instead of a new one. This involves a bit more research on the buyer’s part, but finding the right used truck can provide more value than new models which depreciate much quicker. Part of the aforementioned research should involve getting a vehicle history report for the truck you’ve got your eye on. This report will provide insight into the service history and if it’s ever had any mechanical issues or accidents. In addition to getting a history report, it’s also a good idea to have a trusted mechanic give the truck a full inspection as another check for any issues that may have been missed in the report.
If going the used route, try to keep the age range to just the last few years to limit any potential issues and to retain more of their value. Trucks in this range can sometimes still have part of their original warranty remaining. And just like with a new truck, you will want to give your used truck a thorough test drive. Besides giving you a first feel for it, this is another way to shake out any potential problems.
Most important when looking at used trucks is to stay within your budget. Be honest with yourself and figure out the features and options that you need to have, not what you’d like to have. You might have to make some harder decisions here. Keeping this in mind will ensure that you can find the truck you want at a price that you can afford.
Hopefully, this provides an overview of a few factors to consider when buying a truck. No matter how you will be using your truck, keeping these items in mind will arm you with the knowledge you need to get a smart buy when you walk into the dealership.