What Advice Do You Have for New Pickup Buyers?

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We know we have some of the smartest and most experienced readers around when it comes to pickup truck ownership. We hear all the time how the engineering teams at the big truckmakers read everything you write in our comments section.

Knowing that, and in the interest of providing your collective wisdom to our newer readers, we are asking for your help. Here's the question:

What issues or topics do wish you knew more about before purchasing your first pickup? What advice or suggestions would you give to a buyer thinking about making the leap from cars to a pickup? If you could have known then what you know now...  

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and we'll craft some stories from them.

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Comments

Don't get stuck on a brand, buy to fit your needs and budget.

Don't get stuck on a brand, buy to fit your needs and budget.

I agree don't get sucked into buying just one brand.

Also do your research on weight carrying capacity for the truck you want to purchase. Nothing is worse when people buy a brand new truck, not doing any research and just going off the commercials they see on TV. Now they have a truck that has steep gears (3.08) and the truck they bought has a towing rating of 7,200 pounds and a payload capacity of 900 trying to tow their 6,000 pound boat. Now they are overloaded with a cab full of passengers, gear, and the tongue weight because of the low payload rating. Also buy more truck than you will need, your toys always seem to get bigger.

And reliability>a few more MPGs. I'd rather have a truck that gets low fuel economy that will run for 200k+ miles than have a truck that gets 23 mpg highway that I'd want to trade away when the warranty expires.

Pop's advice? Your new pickup doesn't have to BE a new pickup. The big 3 all made some really cool trucks 30-40 years ago. Likewise International Harvester and Studebaker.

1.Keep it simple.
2.You can have more than one
3.You won't regret getting a V8
4.A little rust can be fixed
5.You can buy a whole truck for what it costs to properly refurbish an interior
6.You can buy a whole truck for what it costs to have a professional body/paint man restore the exterior
7.You can buy a nicely painted truck for what it costs to fix an automatic trans (get a stick instead).

If you want a good truck, buy a Ford. If you want junk, buy a Ram or GM.

I agree don't get sucked into buying just one brand.

Agree with Firefighter. Even though I am a Ford guy right now, selling your self short is not a good idea. Figure out what you want out of a pickup, and go and actually drive the different brands and then make a decision.

Reliability should be job 1 in anyone's decision. Also, there
are far too many biased comments on this site. Brand warfare
permeates too many posts. Ram sucks, Ford is junk, GMC
is trash.....it never stops.

Don't buy more truck then you REALLY need and don't expect
every truck to drag a mountain across a desert. If you really
are bent on a particular model, ask people WHO OWN THEM.
Buy want you can afford-not what you want.

Test drive as many as you can. Take pictures and note down all the pros and cons before making a decision. Trucks today are a lot of money compared to what they were years ago but they're built to last, at least compared to a car. I'm not going to get into brand wars but I sometimes take a mental note while driving of what I am seeing still on the road. If you notice a lot of [brand name] trucks in your area that are over 10-15-20 years old and still being driven daily then that's a good sign they're holding up.

Test drive as many as you can. Take pictures and note down all the pros and cons before making a decision. Trucks today are a lot of money compared to what they were years ago but they're built to last, at least compared to a car. I'm not going to get into brand wars but I sometimes take a mental note while driving of what I am seeing still on the road. If you notice a lot of [brand name] trucks in your area that are over 10-15-20 years old and still being driven daily then that's a good sign they're holding up.

I agree, don't get sucked into the one-brand mentality. Brand enthusiasts will do their best to sway you, but only you can decide what you truly want and need.

Speaking of wants and needs, many people confuse those two, especially when it comes to your first truck. Truly evaluate what you will be using the truck for and what you will need to get out of it. Some brands will market a lifestyle around their truck, and you may buy that truck thinking that you will automatically get that lifestyle along with it. That is not how it works. A lifestyle has to be earned the old-fashioned way...with time, effort and experience.

Test drive ALL brands before you buy. Yes, that includes Honda Ridgeline, although some enthusiasts don't consider them trucks.

Know your finanaces before you go in. Don't buy on the initial visit - dealers will do their best to get you to buy on the initial visit because your emotions are high and you will overpay. Again, test drive ALL brands. Double-check the payload sticker on the doorpost. Any accessories you add to the truck will take away from that payload capacity.

Do your research. There is likely a specif forum or two online about any brand you are interested in. Those forums are typically filled with two types of people: 1) enthusiasts looking to gain knowledge, share knowledge and improve their vehicle, and 2) people who complain about their vehicle, what went wrong, what could have been done better, etc. Look for threads like "what do you love about your truck" and "what do you hate about your truck"....those threads often give great insight into the vehicle that you won't get from reviews. Don't get distressed about problems posted in the forums....every truck/mfr has issues, and people who have issues like to voice them on the internet....people without issues relatively rarely voice their opinions.

I agree, don't get sucked into the one-brand mentality. Brand enthusiasts will do their best to sway you, but only you can decide what you truly want and need.

Speaking of wants and needs, many people confuse those two, especially when it comes to your first truck. Truly evaluate what you will be using the truck for and what you will need to get out of it. Some brands will market a lifestyle around their truck, and you may buy that truck thinking that you will automatically get that lifestyle along with it. That is not how it works. A lifestyle has to be earned the old-fashioned way...with time, effort and experience.

Test drive ALL brands before you buy. Yes, that includes Honda Ridgeline, although some enthusiasts don't consider them trucks.

Know your finanaces before you go in. Don't buy on the initial visit - dealers will do their best to get you to buy on the initial visit because your emotions are high and you will overpay. Again, test drive ALL brands. Double-check the payload sticker on the doorpost. Any accessories you add to the truck will take away from that payload capacity.

Do your research. There is likely a specif forum or two online about any brand you are interested in. Those forums are typically filled with two types of people: 1) enthusiasts looking to gain knowledge, share knowledge and improve their vehicle, and 2) people who complain about their vehicle, what went wrong, what could have been done better, etc. Look for threads like "what do you love about your truck" and "what do you hate about your truck"....those threads often give great insight into the vehicle that you won't get from reviews. Don't get distressed about problems posted in the forums....every truck/mfr has issues, and people who have issues like to voice them on the internet....people without issues relatively rarely voice their opinions.

Stay away from Japanese trucks

"Don't buy more truck then you REALLY need and don't expect
every truck to drag a mountain across a desert. If you really
are bent on a particular model, ask people WHO OWN THEM.
Buy want you can afford-not what you want."
---- Posted by: RichardNY66 | Jun 14, 2017 9:17:46 AM

This was exactly my first thought when I saw the headline.

"Don't buy more truck then you REALLY need and don't expect
every truck to drag a mountain across a desert. If you really
are bent on a particular model, ask people WHO OWN THEM.
Buy want you can afford-not what you want."
---- Posted by: RichardNY66 | Jun 14, 2017 9:17:46 AM

This was exactly my first thought when I saw the headline.

Firefighter nailed it. Brand is not important. Buy what you need and what you can afford. Do your research. Test drive.

PS: This was the most level headed and respectful group of comments I've seen in a long time. Let's try to keep it that way.

Trucks may look great from the outside but the drivers seat is where you will be 99% of the time. Make sure it's comfortable, fits you, and is what you really want.

You are going to lose your butt on depreciation no matter what vehicle you buy, don't worry about getting "the best" deal... get what makes you happy cause your going to lose either way.

Be aware that you can buy a beautiful 5-year old 3/4 ton with a gas engine for $25,000, so if your needs include pulling a horse trailer or hauling heavy stuff like firewood, concrete blocks, loads of dirt or manure, etc. you might want to go that direction.

Also if you want to pull a gooseneck or fifth wheel trailer, you'll be happier with an 8' box, even though they are hard to find.

I agree with the advice to buy what best fits your needs and lifestyle. Fortunately, GM covers all this under one roof with the most choices of trucks available in the light duty segment.

Only Ford and Toyota offer anything more than a RC with an 8' bed on a half ton so I will be sticking with the Ford SuperCab with 8' bed.

@ GMS, so sorry you have to bring up your own personal opinion on the number 2 truck maker for 2017. Keep in mind, this is for new truck owners who know nothing about trucks, so they should drive all of them, being close minded like you are is doing a disservice to ones self, but to your point with all the choices for GM, I agree it would be quite confusing to new truck buyer having to chose between two like trucks and not understanding why those 2 truck lines are virtually identical, thanks for bringing that up.

Don't buy a dually if you only need a half.

Don't buy a dually if you only need a half.

Don't buy a dually if you only need a half.

Don't buy a dually if you only need a half.

What I'd tell new truck owners who know nothing about trucks, is don't want your money on Ford garbage.

What I'd tell new truck owners who know nothing about trucks, is don't want your money on Ford garbage.
Posted by: johnny doe | Jun 14, 2017 11:12:28 AM


English. Do you speak it?

Don't WASTE your money on Ford garbage.

Jeff's tips? Buy a Honda and be done with it.

1. Honda makes quality products and I have been satisfied with the Accord my wife had for 17 years and the CRV she now has.

2.I also have a Honda Harmony lawnmower with the xenoy deck and others lawn equipment with Honda engines.

3. Overall I have been very satisfied with Honda products.

Don't buy diesel or 4x4 just to be cool.

Know what you need and buy for the need.

Brand is a preference. They are all good.

Don't buy a truck when a car is all you need.

Don't buy diesel or 4x4 just to be cool.

Know what you need and buy for the need.

Brand is a preference. They are all good.

Don't buy a truck when a car is all you need.

@Nitro: So sorry you have to continually defend Ford's inability to offer the choice to consumers as GM has continually demonstrated with the best performing HD trucks, full and mid size trucks. My earlier comment wasn't a plug for GM but rather advice to newbie truck buyers to experience the choices and differences in full and midsize trucks. All of which can be experienced at your local GM dealer. If you get confused between GMC and Chevrolet then somehow I am not surprised given your simple minded views. Intelligent people shop around and enjoy having choices vs just being another cattle follower.

@Nitro: So sorry you have to continually defend Ford's inability to offer the choice to consumers as GM has continually demonstrated with the best performing HD trucks, full and mid size trucks. My earlier comment wasn't a plug for GM but rather advice to newbie truck buyers to experience the choices and differences in full and midsize trucks. All of which can be experienced at your local GM dealer. If you get confused between GMC and Chevrolet then somehow I am not surprised given your simple minded views. Intelligent people shop around and enjoy having choices vs just being another cattle follower.

Definitely check the payload ratings on the door post. If any of the manufacturers are reading this, put the F$#@^%$#@ Gross Combined Trailer Weight Rating and the Curb Weight of the truck on the God Damned sticker too! Make it easy for people to find the truck with the capacity to meet their needs instead of asking them to calculate the capacities themselves or taking the truck and trailer to the weigh scales. That way, when they go to their RV or Marine dealer, or when they want to buy that 2nd hand trailer or camper they will know what they can safely tow and carry without posing a danger to themselves or other members of the driving public and without incurring extra wear costs on their truck from being overloaded. And explicitly post in their owners manual that Air Bags are not a substitute or a fix for payload specification limits.

If your going to spend the money on a New truck heres a few things to consider......

1. Reliability: if its not reliable and you rely on it. down time in service costs you money. pick a brand that has the best reliability

2. Durability: this can be looked at so many ways..... in the case of frames, rigidity doesn't equal durability. A frame is designed to be the backbone and while being strong as a platform it NEEDS to be compliant as well for ride quality and if its overloaded it needs to be able to handle this without damage. a box frame is a TERRIBLE idea for a frame. a box structure can only cycle so many times to its maximum deflection before cracking. All Semis have a C Channel frame. don't get caught up in the box frame being a good idea. its not.

3. RESALE VALUE: Quite honestly the MOST looked over piece of the puzzle. the total amount of money your going to spend is paramount. If the truck you buy loses its value that's cost to you.... if you save 500 on a purchase and that truck loses 2k more over 5 years when you replace it you lost 1500 bucks.... plain and simple.

4. Pick whats tested and proven. it takes a sizable amount of fuel to push a truck down the road that's capable of doing work. that's a trade off. If a manufacturer is trying to push the EPA fuel economy numbers in order to meet CAFE requirements the air/fuel ratio theyre using may cause your engine in your truck to become compromised before it has 150k to 300k miles. an extra 1 or 2 mpg ISNT WORTH sacrificing the longevity of the powertrain.

At the end of the day you have to pay for it so buy what you like. the most durable, reliable, proven truck on the market with hands down the best resale value is Toyota. theres no arguing, its simply a fact. but buy what you like, its yours to pay for.

Only buy what you can pay cash for, if that means a 84 half ton so be it. Don't burden yourself with debt.

It's your money. Buy whatever you want. The Big 3 all make great trucks.

@bat, that actually isnt much help, as you need to weigh the truck to see what those numbers will shake out to be. There no way to know the weights of the sticker placed at the factory after the dealer added other options to it....

1. If you really need a pickup truck for just occasional use, save your money from buying, and rent one from Home Depot for $19 a pop. You'll spend less than a hundred bucks for the 4 times a year you actually use the truck to haul your girlfriend's couch, dump your yard trash, deliver your buddy's 100 inch flat screen, or pick up your new Green Egg.

2. If you feel like you have to buy, then get a gently used truck 2 or 3 years old instead of buying new. The markup on new pickups is astronomical, and the depreciation can be disastrous to your finances. Technology and features are not so leading edge on a 2 year old truck that you'll be missing out on the latest gizmos or gadget. It's a truck, not a Ferrari.

New trucks will instantly lose up to 15% MSRP value when you drive it off the lot. It's like making a bon fire with a pile of Benjamins to celebrate your new purchase.

Hey, they make those little car freshener trees that smell like "New Car Scent". I just saved you from making a $20,000 mistake.

You're welcome.


Stay away from Japanese trucks

You can't buy Japanese trucks in the U.S. unless they are at least 25 years old. That being said, there are some very reliable 25-year-old Japanese trucks out there. They just won't have airbags and other safety features of modern vehicles.

Agree with others to test drive various models. Make sure you purchase a truck with correct gears, trailer brake controller and tow mirrors if you are going to be doing a fair amount of towing. Buy the best equipped truck you can afford as it will be easier to trade or sell when the time comes.

Buy what you want and do not worry about what others think. It is a good idea to do your research and check how reliable a certain model is. Make sure if you buy new or slightly used that you get a vehicle that you like enough to keep for a number of years and keep it maintained. Any vehicle that is not properly maintained will not give you satisfaction. A pickup is much different than a traditional sedan in that it is less likely to go out of style and more likely to retain more of its value as it ages. Also a pickup has more functionality than a traditional sedan.

for a new truck driver.
No front wheel drive and it does not drive like your FWD either
2. If roads are slick, expect to spin the rear tires leaving from a stop.
3. find truck with AWD
4.do not wait to get stuck before putting it in four wheel drive
5. Park out in the boonies in the parking lot, so uou will not have to back up

for a new truck driver.
No front wheel drive and it does not drive like your FWD either
2. If roads are slick, expect to spin the rear tires leaving from a stop.
3. find truck with AWD
4.do not wait to get stuck before putting it in four wheel drive
5. Park out in the boonies in the parking lot, so uou will not have to back up

Test drive them all or better still; try renting one first for at least a few days to allow you a chance to thrash it, take it off-road & some burn outs :-) - the dealership test drives are usually wimpy drives around the block with a short blast on nearest freeway....

Good idea, rent first and test drive without the pressure of a sales person. Buying a vehicle is a huge investment and for many it is the largest investment they will ever make after buying a home. If you have any second thoughts about buying a certain vehicle it is better not to buy--there will always be another one. Also don't take a lot of stock in what fan boys say on this site--all trucks are good and each have their strengths and weaknesses. Buy what you like and what best fits your needs not what someone else's opinion as to what you should buy--its your money and you have to live with whatever truck you choose. Opinions are opinions and they are worth exactly what they cost--zero.

@papajim--All trucks are good but some are inherently better like the Honda Ridgeline.

@papajim--

1.Honda does put a lot of thought into their products and those that own the prior generation of Ridgelines are very satisfied with them.
2.The few Honda products I have had whether its lawn equipment or cars have been very reliable.
3.You don't see the fit and finish problems with Hondas that you still see on some Fords, GMs, and FCAs.
4.Hondas are not cheap but overall they are very good and over the long run you get your money's worth.

As a former auto tech, I would rate the auto manufactures 1/2 ton brands in the following order and reasons why:
1: Toyota if trouble free operation for at least 100,000 miles is what you want. But be prepared to pay high maintenance costs for servicing at your local Toyota Dealer.
2. If you want a truck that will easily go for 200,000 miles with nothing more than brakes replacement, a couple leaky hoses and few annoying check engine lights but never getting stranded or needing a tow truck, one of the GM twins will be your best choice.
3. If you don't mind continually bringing your truck back to the dealer for warranty on engine, electrical and transmission issues. If you don't care about having to shell out for timing chain replacements, turbo replacement and continual programming updates after the warranty has expired. If having to live with poor body, fender and door panel alignment isn't an issue, then an F-150 ecoboost would be fine for you.
4. If the downtime associate with owning a Ford isn't a problem but you want a better looking truck, then the Ram would be your best choice.
So there you have it. Choose wisely.



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