Truck Cost of Ownership: Is your brand loyalty costing you?

February 27, 2017

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According to automotive information resource Edmunds, consumer loyalty is dying in the highly saturated markets of 2016, but pickup truck drivers, the quintessential American motorists, remain loyal to their selected brands. Edmunds defines loyalty as “the trading in of a vehicle towards buying a similar vehicle.” It’s no wonder that truck drivers continue to purchase trucks, as many have jobs and hobbies which require the hauling capabilities or bed space you can only find in a pickup. Further analysis of the Edmunds report shows that among truck owners, Toyota reigns supreme with 70% of their customers choosing to buy another. Chevrolet and Ram follow closely in second and third place, respectively.

State of the art technology and luxury options now available in trucks have led to an increase in popularity compared to earlier bare-bones flatbeds. The Ford F-series was the number 1 best-selling vehicle in 2016, beating out some of the most popular road cars such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic. Falling gas prices have also made truck ownership a more practical option. However, we all know that there are many more costs of car ownership other than gas economy.

RepairPal’s extensive car repair index consists of repair data submitted by shops in our certified network. This index allows us to compare the average cost of ownership for one year amongst different truck makes. Take a look and see if loyalty to your brand is costing you.

How do the different truck brands stack up?

Not surprisingly, the top five least expensive truck models to maintain are, for the most part, midsize models. These cabs feature smaller engines, often associated with lower costs of repair. The relatively lightweight pickups require lighter brakes to bring their hurtling chassis to a stop. This leads to further savings in auto maintenance. Notably, the majority of the flatbeds on this end of the spectrum are foreign makes, boasting cheaper parts compared to their domestic counterparts. The Toyota Tacoma takes the cake for cheapest cost of ownership at just under $400 annually.

On the other end of our comparison, we have heavier duty, full-size trucks. An important distinction to make is the common classification of trucks by size. Most domestic trucks are placed in one of three weight categories: ½ ton, ¾ ton, or 1 ton. These weight classes correspond with the accepted naming scheme of 1500, 2500, and 3500 respectively. While most 1500 series pickups are classified as daily drivers, the larger two classes are often only used for extreme hauling situations. These larger trucks also have stronger brake and suspension systems, hence more costly annual repairs. Of the heavier duty pickups, Ford and GMC prove to be the most expensive in terms of ownership. The Dodge Ram series boasts cheap repair costs, however, our data only reflects pre-2010 repairs, before Ram became a make on its own. With this in mind, the GMC Sierra narrowly undercuts the Chevy Silverado in the ¾ ton class. Japanese truck makers do not compete in these heavier categories.

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If you’re a frugal freight hauler reading this, then maybe it’s time to step back and take a second to think if your brand loyalty is costing you. For those with only basic trucking needs in the market for midsize trucks, maybe buying foreign isn’t so bad after all. Regardless, we at RepairPal hope you feel more informed next time you think about purchasing a truck.

RepairPal is working to mend the lack of trust consumers have in the car repair industry by providing them with in-depth knowledge and resources that connect them with dependable and reliable car repair shops near them.

Our goal is to establish an auto repair process that is less stressful and much more trustworthy for everyone involved. Our website hosts a car repair Estimator that gets rid of that "ripped-off" feeling. We also provide matches to local Certified shops that are guaranteed to do repairs with quality parts, a fair price, and a trained, awesome staff.

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About the Author

John Stahel is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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