Buying a pickup truck is quite similar to buying a car. Pickup trucks are versatile vehicles and their demand has only grown over the past few years. Earlier this year, the sales of pickup trucks surpassed those of passenger cars for the first time, according to data from Motor Intelligence.

There are several options that are available in the market and choosing one can be a tough job, especially if you don’t have much knowledge about this category of vehicles.

What is a pickup truck?

A pickup truck can be described as a utilitarian truck that has a separate body-on-frame/cab. These are smaller than regular trucks and are used mostly by small to midsize businesses. They are also a preferred option for families that are looking for features of a passenger car, while wanting a light-hauling function for ease. Pickup trucks, so to say, are not entirely commercial; they can be used in a variety of settings.

Characteristics of pickup trucks

There are several features in a pickup truck, which make it a beneficial vehicle. A few of them have been mentioned below:

  • Pickup trucks are versatile in nature, having multiple functions like carrying people and objects at the same time.
  • Modern pickup trucks are not just about the power required to haul various things; many of these newer models come with gadgets and tech equipment that were previously available only in SUVs.
  • Pickup trucks are characterized by strong bodies, irrespective of their sizes; these vehicles are highly durable. Since the bed and cab are different, pickup trucks also offer higher chassis flexibility, which means that you can expect less damage in the event of an accident.
  • Pickup trucks can be ridden on all kinds of terrains with ease as they have higher ground clearance. This category of vehicles also impresses in all kinds of weather conditions, making it one of the best types of vehicles for those who live in areas that experience extreme conditions during all four seasons.

Tips for buying pickup trucks

Here is a look at some tips that can make buying pickup trucks an easier process:

  • Prepare to spend more

Pickup trucks are more expensive than most passenger or utility vehicles. These vehicles come with an array of comfort features and offer amazing utility, which explains why they come with a higher price. Before you start looking at your options, it is better to first look at the range of prices to avoid surprises. This will also give you an idea of how much money you need to set aside. A good way to do this is to follow the 15 percent rule. If the purchase of the pickup truck is for personal use, then you can go for any model whose rates do not command more than 15 percent of the total amount. This is a safe figure to ensure that you have ample money left for your utilities and other expenses, as well as savings. If you are buying a truck for work purposes, then you can run and review your budget with the finance team of your company.

  • Know your needs

Keep your reason for buying the pickup truck in mind when browsing through a list of various models. The size of the truck you decide to buy will depend on what you plan to haul and the hauling distance. You can go for a two-wheel-drive truck if you plan to haul minor things for personal use once in a while. Small to midsize pickup trucks such as Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, and Toyota Tacoma are ideal for this purpose. If you intend to carry around large and heavy items regularly, then you may want to opt for a larger pickup truck.

Compact or midsize pickup trucks mostly come with engine options in the V6 and four-cylinder categories. These are manufactured on separate chassis frames, unlike the full-sized versions of the same range. Full-sized pickup trucks are much larger and ideal for rugged use. This category is popular among those who are looking for appropriate work trucks. Large pickup trucks also double as family trucks for many.

When considering the weight range of objects you intend to tow or haul, keep the trailer weight in mind. This will further help you narrow down your selection of pickup trucks, based on whether they are heavy-duty or light-duty. Getting the right size is important for saving costs as well. If you buy a truck that is larger than what you need, then you will end up spending more on the truck itself and also the fuel. Having said that, it is always wise to choose a truck whose capacity is ten percent more than what you need. Heavy-duty trucks are designed to carry significant loads. These are bulky and can be used for hauling fifth-wheel trailers.

  • Understand cabin and bed sizes

Cab sizes for pickup trucks can be divided into three categories—regular or single cab, extended cab, and crew cab. Pickup trucks with regular cab sizes can fit up to three passengers and have a two-door design. There is only a single row of seats in such a configuration. Extended cab sizes feature an additional back seat and have a small rear door. However, most models in this range have limited legroom for back seats. The largest size is the crew size. Pickup trucks with this configuration have four doors and a more spacious back seat area as compared to extended cab sizes. You may want to pay special attention to the cab size if you plan to regularly accommodate a group of people. A large cab size is ideal for families whose hauling needs are elaborate.

You need to consider the size of the cab and bed together, as both impact each other. A larger cab size would mean compromising on the bed length. These two sizes add up to the length of the wheelbase. Pickup trucks with long beds and large cab sizes have a longer wheelbase. Such large pickup trucks are difficult to use and require a lot of skill when it comes to parking and maneuvering. You can choose the bed length based on what you intend to haul. Cargos with open beds are ideal for carrying furniture, large appliances, motorcycles, and similarly sized objects. Take the weather and chances of theft into account when you are considering the bed length.

  • Learn about licensing requirements

Some states require individuals or companies to apply for special licenses if they intend to own or use specific categories of pickup trucks. Refer to local laws to know whether you need to get any special license for the pickup truck that you want to buy. Some may even need special fees to be paid. These may not cost much but are crucial enough not to be ignored. So, make sure you check with the motor authorities in your state before making the purchase.

Maintenance tips for pickup trucks

Routine maintenance is what keeps any vehicle alive, irrespective of how old or of what type it is. Pickup trucks are expensive, and the lack of proper maintenance can make you spend more than what you ideally should. Here are some easy maintenance steps that you can take to ensure that your truck keeps performing efficiently. Some of these steps can even create a noticeable difference in the fuel economy of the vehicle.

  • Changing the engine oil and filter in a timely manner

Most pickup truck manufacturers offer complete information in their user manuals about the intervals for changing engine oil. You must follow these instructions to ensure that the engine oil is clean at all times, especially if the pickup truck is used in dusty conditions or off-road terrains frequently. Apart from clean engine oil, a good amount of air is also important for engines to perform efficiently. Dirty filters can hamper this, calling for regular changing of the oil filter as well. This is one of the smallest but most important parts of taking care of a pickup truck. Some ways of checking whether the engine oil is fine are by checking the dipstick for dirty oil or the sticker with the next date for oil change, which is put on the windshield by most mechanics.

  • Focusing on tire maintenance

Remember to rotate the tires of the pickup trucks regularly to ensure an even amount of treadwear on each tire. Apart from prolonging the life of tires, this practice can also help in maintaining the pickup truck’s suspension. Your visit to the mechanic for tire rotation can lead the expert to have a look at the undercarriage and resolve other issues that the truck may be experiencing.

  • Maintaining other fluid levels and quality

Keep checking whether the levels of important fluids such as engine coolant, power-steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid are at adequate levels at all times. Right amounts of coolant fluids paired with regular oil changes will ensure that there is no overheating, especially if the pickup truck is used in extreme temperatures. Power-steering and braking fluids are both hydraulic fluids. Maintaining power-steering fluid levels and changing the fluid as and when needed is important in ensuring the prolonged life of various steering components like the power-steering pump and rack. Replacing these parts may be costly and can be avoided with proper maintenance. Braking fluid, if not changed, ends up absorbing moisture from the air, and may cause quality degradation. Maintenance of the windshield washer fluid will not only protect the windshield from damage but also help in keeping it clean. A dirty windshield can obstruct the driver’s line of vision, hence proving to be unsafe.

  • Cleaning regularly

Cleaning the exteriors and interiors of a pickup truck regularly is also as important as maintaining its moving parts. This is important for any vehicle but particularly necessary in the case of pickup trucks , if they are used regularly in rugged and off-road conditions, especially in areas where it snows. Not cleaning the dirt that is built due to these conditions can also damage the paint, as it may be abrasive in nature. Remember to pay special attention to the undercarriage, too, when cleaning your pickup truck.

  • Doing timely inspections

You may come across several issues in your pickup truck from time to time. There are certain problems that only an expert can tackle through careful inspection. Make time to get your pickup truck inspected regularly. This can help you save money from larger repair works and even ensure the safety of the people and/or objects that the truck will carry.

Top pickup trucks in the country

Listed below are some top-of-the-line pickup trucks from reputed manufacturers, which come with a vast range of utility, safety, and entertainment features.

  • Ford F-150
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • Toyota Tacoma
  • Toyota Tundra
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Nissan Titan
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Ford F-250 XLT
  • Ram 2500
  • Ram 1500
  • Ram 1500 Classic

While you can ensure that your truck lasts for years through proper maintenance, you can also ensure a good price for these beasts if you decide to sell them and then switch to a newer model. To potential buyers, a good-looking, well-functioning pickup truck gives the impression that you have maintained it well. Remember to keep the maintenance records and documents safe at all times. This makes it easier to follow a proper maintenance schedule.

This was a basic overview to help you understand a few things before buying a pickup truck. Make sure to do some research and look at reviews of multiple models before finalizing one. Additionally, if you know anyone who owns a pickup truck, it would be helpful talking to them to understand how well the model they own works.