The 7 options you need to consider when buying your next pickup truck

Pickup truck salesman and customer spec'ing

Whether buying or leasing, when it comes time to make those hard decisions on which new pickup rolls into your 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?

Creating a 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 illustrate the monetary value of each choice and make that decision a bit easier.

And 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 are some other options that are important to consider when buying a work pickup:

PTO

Power take-off is one of the most overlooked options in diesel pickups. It places a device that when coupled with the truck’s transmission redirects the engine’s power to driving any number of attachments. The typical cost for the “PTO” package from Ford is around $250. Even if a PTO isn’t of use right away, get the 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 in a particularly slippery situation. Electric-locking rear differentials offer 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. The heavier-duty front springs, larger or dual alternators on diesels, a 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

Ram Truck’s newest option ($780 on Ram 2500 / $490 on Ram 3500) includes 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. Great upgrade for off-roaders, too.

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.