I guess it’s about time to wrap up this series. I wanted to mention a few additional things we learned along our journey, though…
First, about those comfort features…As I mentioned in the previous posts, as a “general” rule, a work truck is a basic model pick-up that is manufactured for hard work. It is usually missing the common luxuries of modern day “status-symbol” trucks, though some features are found on both. Typically, a work truck is a regular cab, because it was originally intended for farmers and ranchers who usually work alone. Often times, there are no extra power features (like windows and seat adjustments) and no fancy navigation or stereo systems. It is typically comprised of just a simple fabric or vinyl bench seat, and usually it doesn’t even have carpet, due to the idea that you might be dirty when you climb into the front seat. Some manufacturers take it a step further and make all controls user-friendly to someone wearing work gloves.
On the other hand, if the basic, more primitive, work truck isn’t really your style, you can easily get a truck with the same power and capabilities, but more comfort features. You can upgrade to a sound system, navigation system, leather seats, seat warmers, you name it! If you’ve seen it in a car, it probably exists in a truck. Of course, you are going to pay for those features. You could easily pay up to $20,000 more for the luxury and comfort features, when in fact the truck’s capability does not increase at all. So, you really need to think. Do you really want comfort features, and if so, which ones? How much are you willing to pay for those?
In addition, it seems, at least in this area, the 4-door “Crew Cab” style truck is the most popular. It is worth noting, however, that comfy and cushy as they may be, that extra, full-size rear seating space not only increases the price by about $10,000, but also decreases the payload of the truck by up to 1500 lbs! That’s huge. An “extended cab” style truck where there is a small rear seat–usually bench style–and may or may not have “suicide doors” that swing to the rear, is priced more reasonably, but can still decrease payload by around 1,000 lbs.
Secondly, those airbags I mentioned earlier that go above the rear leaf springs are worth having if you have the option. They really do help protect the trucks suspension and keep the whole ride smoother when towing a heavy load. What they do NOT do, despite the common misconception we encountered, is increase the payload capacity. The payload has NOTHING to do with those airbags, despite what an “expert” dealer may tell you. Remember, when the engine blows, the dealer’s service department is the one hoping to fix the issue, and not for any cheap price either!
Thirdly, you do not have to use the dealerships mechanics to have issues repaired. By going to smaller, private, non-unionized mechanics, you may save hundreds of dollars over the dealer fees. In addition, many mechanics are even “authorized” by the manufacturer to complete warrantied repairs and fix recall issues. Just ask them. Do be cautious using a private mechanic that is not an “authorized” mechanic if your vehicle is still under warranty, or you may risk voiding your warranties. It all depends on the issue.
Fourth, one thing we discovered a bit too late in the game, was that the curb weight of the vehicle is most likely the weight of the vehicle, with a full tank of gas, and a standard gas engine. Once you upgrade to a diesel engine, you are likely adding about 800-1200 lbs, which will decrease your payload by that same number. A different transmission, 4×4 package, brush bars, and fifth-wheel hitches in the bed also decrease that payload because generally the GVWR will be the same (newer models increase the GVWR for diesels, which helps). So, if you are looking to haul a large gooseneck weight, be sure you know that curb weight and actual payload. We actually took ours to a scale and discovered the discrepancy. At least we now know.
Fifthly, some manufacturers actually have a manufacturer “stamp” on each panel of the vehicle, often found by pulling back a loose seal or tread. We looked at one truck that was supposedly in “perfect” condition, but when our personal auto expert looked at it, it turned out that only one of the front panels had the stamp. The other 2 panels were missing it, which meant the truck had been in an accident at some point, and those 2 panels had been replaced. If you can learn the location of those stamps, then you can check for yourself whether the vehicle has had a major issue like that. There are other ways to tell as well, but that gets into some pretty deep details, so I will let you research that on your own. Google is a great tool! Use it!
Sixth, KNOW YOUR TONGUE WEIGHT! I can’t tell you how many times dealers told me, “Don’t worry, bumper pull tongue weight is 10-15%, while fifth-wheel tongue weight is 15-25%.” While this is considered an average, it varies greatly. In fact, when I called the manufacturer of our trailer, it turns out our tongue weight was 26%. We looked at 2 other trailer manufacturers, and they were both 27%! In our trailer’s case, this changed our tongue weight by almost 1,000 lbs!
So, there you have it. I hope this series will make your truck-purchasing journey much easier than ours was, and save you from many confusing claims by giving you a better understanding of how this whole thing works. Remember, no matter what you are buying, you cannot be too educated. Only the ignorant get taken complete advantage of, so educate yourself and decrease your chance of being the victim or the recipient of a total lemon!