Pickup Trucks 101: What's Important to Know?

Chevy vs Ford 2 II

For the last several months, our Pickup Trucks 101 series has provided new in-market consumers interested in pickup trucks with basic information about pickup trucks. We covered topics we thought would help new pickup shoppers make informed decisions based on their needs.

Now that we've covered what we consider the basics, we need help from our readers. What have we missed? Let us know what you think are some of the overlooked issues regarding pickups. What information do you wish you'd had when you bought your first pickup? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

In order of appearance, from the first in the series to the most recent, here are the topics Pickup Trucks 101 has covered so far:

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

 

Comments

You have scratched the surface on this before but I think in depth towing info would be good.
Explain tongue weight to them and setting the height of your draw bar. For example when to use a straight bar or a drop bar and weight distributing or the difference between fifth wheel and goose neck .
I see a lot of trailers hitched incorrectly when I'm in for a fuel stop.

This has been a good series by the way.

@Old GM Guy: Thanks for making an informative post :)

I agree on the towing aspect. There is so much to that and people do not think about it. From hitches, to axle weight to hitch weight to gross and net weights with occupants and so on. More info is always good on this subject.

I agree on the towing aspect. There is so much to that and people do not think about it. From hitches, to axle weight to hitch weight to gross and net weights with occupants and so on. More info is always good on this subject. Posted by: crunchtime | Oct 26, 2017

@crunchtime

totally agree. I would respectfully add this: I am almost always dismayed by the sight of people hauling (or towing) loads that are not secure, and/or loads that can be easily perceived as unsafe just by looking at it. I grew up in the midwest and the police there would really nail you if you had an unsafe load.

I live in Florida today and it's depressing to see so many people on the roads and the Interstates even, who have failed the most basic safety considerations when preparing to hit the road.

It's really amazing there aren't more bad collisions because of crap falling off people's trucks. It's mostly the non-commercial traffic that offends the most in this regard just based on my own observations.

When I was a kid I got pulled over because my hay bails were falling off the back of the trailer. I had about 75 or 80 bails when I left the yard and by the time I got pulled over I'd probably lost 20. I got off with a warning.

I do believe the most important factor in buying a pickup is being realistic and honest in your requirements.

If you are out to buy a thumping V8 daily driving car, then go for it and buy the bestest, badass pickup you can.

I have witnessed many comments on these sites in relation to the use of a pickup and the reality is 75% just don't do any real towing or carry a load. They are a middle class status symbol.

Yes, they are useful and yes they can tow and some can do 0-60mph in 6 seconds. But that doesn't make them the best possible option to suit your requirements.

Buyint a pickup with masses of capability because of "just in case" is a waste of money.

Even buying a pickup for it's utility that you might use once or twice a year is silly as well, you might as well buy a SUV.

If you are realistic you will normally have one person in the vehicle 90% of the time, two people 7% of the time and possibly up to four people 3% of the time and out of the 4 people children will be the main people.

So, to me if you consider driving around empty and not tow with only the driver why not look at a midsizer? Even if you take the wife and kids on a rare night out for a pizza or visit Grandma?

To me most pickup sales are not about what's required, it's about compensating and perception.

Be real, if you buy a pickup for it's large engine and large size just state it. Don't spank yourself with these comments on it's capabilities, on and off road, load or tow when you never use the capability.

It would most likely be cheaper to pay Lowes or The Home Depot to deliver your stuff, or if you need a pickup for a day or so, just rent one and buy for the same money a really nice set of wheels in the form of a SUV, like a Land Rover Discovery or Toyota Landcruiser.

papajim,
I think we passed them BALES back in 1968 when I visited Fort Lauderdale as a kid. I remember asking my mother what they were and she stated they belonged to a guy called papajim who wanted to buy a Suburban on day.

You must of known there was a chance of the bales coming off the trailer, so why did you continue to move them?

Even when I was a teenager I had a pickup and I ensured my load was always secured. This is a basic function of owning and operating a commercial vehicle.

Old Man GM Guy,
I hope Mark Williams will bring out an article on how to determine what size pickup you really need with what capabilities.

I have noticed many comments on PUTC by people who only consider the mostest, biggest, largest as the best possible option, when in fact it might make the worst possible option for a pickup.

That's why I like the Ridgeline. I'd say it would suit many people.

I grow weary if anti truck liberals who say it is best to rent a truck from Home Depot and you should drive a car. This is so tiresome.

@BigAL, its a good point but also a mute one. People buy what they want, NOT what they need in most cases. Most of the people I know that have trucks, are similar to what you stated, they bought a huge truck with the big V8 to drive to work. But the fact still remains they will eventually need to haul or tow something, and when they do, to papajim's point, they have no idea what deems it safe, so they just throw whatever in their or behind it and drive.

Another huge problem in the industry, is the RV'ers. These dealers post on big campers, "Can be towed with a F150." Yet the picture means nothing without knowing the weight of the truck on a scale. Sure maybe a certain F150 single cab non 4x4 may be able to do it, but the general population does not know that, so they take it to heart and do it anyway. :(

@Big AL
That's exactly right! Saw a 3500 Ram at a Love's travel plaza in Tn with a load of...........BICYCLES!
I understand buying what you want but that's a lot of excess for 4 bicycles.

Old GM Guy,
Exactly. Large pickup trucks should be banned for personal use. If you get caught in a large pickup truck without a large load you should be fined.

I think the towing info is the most important. It's funny when I hear people discussing which half ton truck is better pulling a 10k trailer, but their truck only has 1,600 pounds of payload.

People always say, my trucks rated for 12k! But forget that payload is their limiting factor on half ton trucks. In the example above, the person has 100 pounds left of payload (given 15% tongue weight), so majority of half ton trucks towing larger trailers are overloaded and the owners don't know any better...

Also love the argument that people say the 3.5 Ecoboost F150 is a better tow rig than the 6.2 F250, because the 3.5 ecoboost has more power and can pull the load "like it's not even there". Yet they disregard payload, frame strength, axle ratings, and etc.

Yet they disregard payload, frame strength, axle ratings, and etc.
Posted by: Tyler | Oct 26, 2017

@tyler

don't forget brakes (esp. if Ford is the topic)

Papjim, I was going to say the same for Chevy. I have a 2006 Silverado that ate through brakes until I went aftermarket. My previous 1998 was the same way. I'm not sure why, but the truck is great otherwise.

I have a 2006 Silverado that ate through brakes...

@crunchtime

My 2009 Silverado is still on the same brakes back and front. Almost 100k miles on the clock.

Did yours have drums rear. The drums suck.

It may be hard to cover, but actual purchase prices for pickups could use some explanation. Prices for pickups have risen, but for the mainstream (crew cab, 4x4, mid level lt, xlt, Big Horn trim) models where I live, $13,000-$14,000 discounts are an everyday occurance. Other specialty models sometimes have little or no discount. This discrepancy renders MSRP comparisons between vehicles useless without being able to account for these differences. This also makes the volume models of these pickups the best value vehicles available in my opinion.

This discrepancy renders MSRP comparisons between vehicles useless without being able to account for these differences.
Posted by: Chillpill | Oct 26, 2017

@chillpill

you don't think that's an accident I hope...

Buy what you like and be happy regardless of what others think. It's your money.

Who cares what you all think about buying a truck based on how often you haul. None yo business. Your 2 cents will mean something when you make my payments!

Papjim, I was going to say the same for Chevy. I have a 2006 Silverado that ate through brakes until I went aftermarket. My previous 1998 was the same way. I'm not sure why, but the truck is great otherwise.
Posted by: crunchtime | Oct 26
/QUOTE

Maybe you stand on the brake and gas pedal at the same time while driving,,,or race like an idiot..and overheating the brakes..

my 08 Silverado brakes lasted 8 years,,and I even caried Truck Camper on it for many years..go figure

Big trucks should be banned for personal use. What kinda commy crap is that. I use my truck for hauling goose necks around the farm and use it to go to store or work. You saying i should be required to have seperate vehicles for each type of use I need. Smart thing is get truck big enough to handle the biggest load you need and use it for anything you want cause this is America.

I have a 2006 Silverado that ate through brakes until I went aftermarket. My previous 1998 was the same way. I'm not sure why, but the truck is great otherwise.

Posted by: crunchtime | Oct 26

Fast forward to the past five years and all of GM's trucks have some of the best performing and longest lasting brakes of any truck on the market. From the Colorado/Canyon to the Silverado/Sierra, they all have premium brake rotors. The rotors are have a ferritic-nitro carburized coating that keeps them from rusting and doubles the lift of the rotor ( http://articles.sae.org/10472/ ). Not to mention GM switched to high end Akebono brake calipers. http://akebonobrakes.com/news/akebono-congratulates-general-motors-north-american-truck-year-award-chevrolet-silverado

Meanwhile, Ford still hasn't done anything about the ongoing sudden brake failure issue that is affecting 2015+ F-150's. They finally recalled the 2013-14 F-150's after federal investigators started digging around FoMoCo Headquarters, but they still refuse to do anything about junk brakes on the 2015 and newer stuff.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/ford/2016/10/04/ford-brake-probe/91542602/

My take on towing is...if it can pull it, tow it...heh, heh.

As Big Al and the others, especially LongBoat, have repeatedly implied and/or stated that there should be fines, or a means test, for truck ownership. This is an incredibly arrogant and condescending position.
First off, who needs a V8 or even V6 car? What about a fullsized?
Maybe single people can only get a scooter, motorcycle, or subcompact?
All this is just a bunch of liberal nonsense and class warefare. You want to spend $75k on a F250 crewcab 4x4 KingRanch diesel, go do it.
As to towing: the only places you can rent pickup trucks to tow are U-haul and commercial rental places. The Uhauls are reg cab, 1/2 tons. The commercial ones are crew cab, long bed 3/4 or 1 tons. Both charge about $0.50 per mile locally. The big dog commercial ones are $75/day. Forget towing an RV, utility trailers only.
But back to arrogance. These guys and many like them will say “they commute with one person in that giant truck.” Yeah, and? Unless you work from home or are retired, so do you. What, a guy needs a commuter car AND his truck? Oh, yeah, what does he NEED his truck for? You probably don’t pay attention, but maybe he tows or hauls. A few rentals a year will offset the additional costs of a truck over a similar sized SUV.
What about a midsize? I’ve towed with midsize trucks and it isn’t the power, it is the size and weight of the tow vehicle. You can’t load enough onto a midsize to compensate for the disparity in weights and length. You can tow a 2,800# car on a 20’ open trailer with a midsize, I will take the full-size truck. At about 5,400 # it is right near the top of the midsize capacity, and I can move the car to not overload the truck, but it gets freaking scary at 60mph +. Throw it behind a full-size, zero issues.
Up the weight, I put my late 60s land yacht on there and it is 7K in trailer. That turbo-charged full-size is great for acceleration, but it doesn’t have anything on a 3/4 ton.
So look, heck yes I drive a 3/4 ton crewcab diesel 4x4. I paid cash for a used one, I take it hunting, fishing, camping, it fits my three car seats (yes, 3 kids in diapers), it can tow the two cars, plus I can handle the backhoe tractor as well. It doesn’t matter that I have a 108 acre ranch, or anything else, from a lifestyle choice it fits all my needs.
And yes, I commute in it, and get almost 20 mpg.
All this means testing $h!t, lets compare electric bills, or maybe food consumption. You got a little extra around the belly? Leave the lights on all night? Still using CFLs that contribute to mercury poisoning of ground water?
More empty platitudes from the nanny state. Go regulate a puddle in Oregon.

All this is just a bunch of liberal nonsense and class warfare.

@James

I was beginning to think I was alone in the wilderness here. Well said.

I hope Pickuptrucks.com goes in-depth to the meat and potatoes of each truck. What truck does this better then that is really what I am saying. I like the Ridgeline old and new for it's ride and comfort. It has it's towing limitations and hard core off-road capability drawbacks. However the other pickup trucks have there drawbacks & strengths as well.
I still say a lot of over buying in full size segment if not using as a work truck or primary tow-haul vehicle. But people can buy what they want. That's why we got the Ridgeline in the family.
I am also planning on getting the 2nd Generation Ridgeline to replace aging Acura sedan. This is the best alternative to getting a 7 passenger Crossover/SUV. A traditional pickup truck doesn't do it for me. The Ridgeline is unconventional with carlike ride and the open bed of a pickup truck and some trunk space of a car.

@James -- "As Big Al and the others, especially LongBoat, have repeatedly implied and/or stated that there should be fines, or a means test, for truck ownership. "

I have never said or implied anything close to the above. Please get your facts straight. If you are upset over some facts that I have previously pointed out, so be it, but please remember that libel and slander are very unprofessional methods of retort, and highly litigious in the real world where you don't have the anonymity of the web to hide behind.

libel and slander...

@longboat

Get an appointment. Take deep breaths.
There are non medical options available.

Yoga, perhaps?

@longboat,

Sure you have. Way back when everyone was railing about the new Ridgeline you indicated as much, bringing out the tired and false narrative that most people don’t use a truck as a truck and therefore don’t need it.

You going to sue me? At least I use my real name. To prove either of the above mentioned charges, you have to a) demonstrate intent to unfairly target YOU and b) inflict harm upon your reputation. You have long presented your position on this subject, and conversely I have as well, there is no harm done to you or your reputation. But if you want to sue, bring it. My attorney graduated magma cum laude from Harvard Law, was first in his undergrad class at Yale, has successfully argued before the SCOTUS, and had held many high profile positions in legal circles. He’s also a close relative, so he’ll probably do it for free. Especially since I put him on a sweet trophy bull a couple years back up in 6a and dressed it out for him.
Yeah, sue me. Go ahead.

@James -- Your lawyers are the last thing I am worried about. You've already shown your character, which is all that most decent people need to see.

Btw, I am a pretty staunch conservative. I bet you didn't figure that one out.

You've already shown your character... Posted by: Longboat | Nov 1, 2017 5:55:46 AM

@Longboat

Review the volley of comments---it was you who started making noise about "slander" and "libel".

Maybe you owe James an apology, unless that is, you have plans to attack.

@PapaJames -- I don't think so. Please read more carefully, and think more carefully.

@longboat.

Please take me off your list. Goodbye.



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