7 specs to look for when buying pickup trucks

Updated Aug 6, 2018

Pikcup Salesman Bws6477

Whether buying or leasing, when it comes time to making those hard decisions on which new pickup rolls into the fleet, the choices have to make good business sense.

Bed length, cab configuration, engine and drivetrain configuration all have to be spec’d out so the new truck will handle all the tasks that come its way.

Those are easy enough decisions to make. Where things might get a little more complicated is in the engine spec’ing and other not-so-obvious options.

Is it worth the price to go with an optional engine package or stay with the base offering? Should you get a diesel or a bi-fuel (CNG/Propane) version, or save money and go with gas?

Msrp Window Sticker Bs27330A spreadsheet mapping out the cost of the engine packages as well as the fuel and maintenance costs over the expected service life of the truck will show the monetary value of each choice.

Don’t forget to add in the trade-in/resale value of those engine choices when tallying the figures; diesels and alternative-fuel engines retain a much higher value than the gas engines, which helps offset some of the option’s initial costs. There may be rebates and incentives for CNG/Propane-fueled trucks that help the ROI as well.

Here’re other options that are great for work pickups:

  • PTO: This is one of the most overlooked options in diesel pickups. It places an automatic in the truck that already has the special gears needed to drive a PTO. Even if a PTO isn’t of use right away, get the PTO option: A PTO-ready heavy-duty pickup will sell faster than one without.
  • Electric-Locking Differential: Spending an extra $250-$450 to have a true “locker” in your work trucks will pay for itself the first time the rear wheels start to spin. Electric-locking rear diffs double traction compared to a “limited-slip” or stock (open) differential, improving driver safety and saving time spent getting unstuck.
  • Dual Alternators: Spending a few hundred dollars to get dual alternators on a diesel is added insurance on keeping batteries from being run down during long idle periods with flashers going or running auxiliary lights. They also help extend electric winch time and power.
  • Snow Plow Prep: This option isn’t just for snow country pickups. Heavier-duty front springs, larger – or dual alternators on diesels, front wiring harness for plow and lights, cab lights, and skid plates that come with most snow plow prep packages are also an excellent upgrade for those adding heavy-duty bumpers and winches.
  • Snow Chief Package: Some truck options include heavy-duty front springs, underbody protection, high-output alternator, skid plate, clearance lights, off-road tires, auxiliary I/P switches and a limited-slip differential to the truck.
  • Off-Road: This option isn’t just for “off-roaders”- it’s a good option for anyone towing trailers, large or small. Most off-road option packages come with high-pressure gas shocks, larger sway bars and skid plates. The upgraded shocks and sway bars significantly improve vehicle control when loaded or towing.
  • Trailer Tow Option: A must-have for any truck being used in fleet or commercial applications. Heavier-duty cooling for engine and transmission, trailer wiring, brake controller and hitch are included in most of these packages. Again, a great value for the dollar that is recouped at trade-in or re-sale time.

Editor’s Note: Bruce Smith is a Senior Editor at Randall-Reilly

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