Industry Insights

Buying A Truck VS Buying A Car

The feeling of a new set of keys dropping into your hand is one of those sensations that never gets old. No matter how many times you’ve ventured onto a showroom floor, the thrill still grabs you. But if it’s your first time buying a truck, the experience is going to be a little bit different.

Ultimately, it’s a transaction and the basic principles remain the same, but there are several key differences worth understanding. This blog is an introductory guide to help first-time truck buyers familiarise themselves with the process, obtain a fit-for-purpose vehicle and get the best deal possible.

Know what you need

The most important variation between the car and truck buying process occurs at the very beginning.

When choosing a car, one of the most important practical considerations you’re likely to mull over is its safety credentials, with performance coming a close second.

Buying a truck by comparison, requires people to ask themselves a few more pertinent questions…

  • What tasks will the truck need to perform – what’s its key application?
  • What type of load will it need to carry and how often?
  • What sort of environment will it be operating in and for how long?

The answers to these questions will help get you closer to the most appropriate truck.

Are you licenced?

The next step is to consider licensing.

There are some trucks that can be driven on car licences, which makes them perfect for tradespeople looking to transition into the truck market from a ute or a van, but once you’re above a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 4,500 kg, specific truck licencing becomes a factor to contemplate.

Every Australian state and territory has different rules around heavy vehicle licencing, so you must make sure you – or the people who are going to be operating the vehicle – have the appropriate accreditation and insurance in place.


The days of having only two options – automatic or manual – when deciding on a transmission are behind us.

Technological advances have seen gearboxes evolve, presenting drivers with a range of new options, especially in the car space.

When you’re choosing a truck you’re going to have to weigh up the type of transmission that caters to your needs, where efficiencies meet ease of use.

Truck buyers in 2018 are going to be faced with a choice between three transmission types: full automatic, manual and the modern-day hybrid of the two, the automated manual transmission.

Considerations around fuel economy, service and repair costs and the skill set of your workforce should all be considered when weighing-up which transmission to ultimately specify.

Body builds

Depending on the truck you’re looking into and its application, in many cases, you’re going to have to consider a body build. That may be a tipper body, concrete agitator, tautliner or a flat tray to name just a few variations.

Many truck dealers now have in-house truck body design software, which provides a deeper understanding of the body build process, allowing for tweaks and customisation at the design stage.

Once satisfied with the design and layout of your virtual build, it’s over to the workshop for the works to commence. Depending on availability, this process generally takes anywhere up to a month to six weeks to complete.


Most manufacturers now offer pre-bodied model variants, like Isuzu’s Ready to Work range, usually at the lighter end of the GVM scale and aimed at trade and service use.

Geared towards common trades, these factory-assembled trucks come pre-bodied to perform multiple functions such as tipping, material handling, tray-based floating and loading, basic van pick-up and delivery or field service.

There’s no denying that buying a truck takes a fair bit of thought, although just like any piece of capital equipment, the more consideration you give to the purpose it’s going to serve, the better it’s overall efficiency and money-making capacity.

Also, if you’re a first-time truck buyer looking for some more information, these two guides to Aussie trucking terms are worth a look. As is the Australian Government’s Truck Buyers Guide website.