one thing that’s an almost indispensable part of the job is having a solid, reliable pickup truck. Hauling tools and materials around just isn’t something you can do with a compact car or a sports coupe. If you have an older pickup truck that’s due to be replaced, or if you’re looking into buying your first pickup, you may not be looking forward to the truck buying process. Shopping at car dealerships and figuring out how to get a good deal on the kind of pickup you need can be a hassle, but it’s quite manageable if you take some time beforehand to do your homework and come up with a plan. If you’re ready to take home a new pickup truck, here are a few things to keep in mind where the buying process is concerned.

1. Be realistic about your budget

A good truck is a high performance utility vehicle, and it’s going to cost quite a bit more than a regular car. Research prices beforehand so you aren’t blown away by sticker shock, and make sure you have the budget to cover both the down payment and the monthly payments.

2. Think about what you’re using it for

You might want a light, medium, or heavy-duty truck, depending on what you expect to be hauling with it. If you’re going to be towing heavy loads, you might need to get a four-wheel drive. If the truck is going to be your primary vehicle, consider whether the cabin size will be able to accommodate your family, and be mindful that you may not be able to correctly install a car seat in some pickup truck cabins.

3. Get financing ahead of time

Instead of letting the dealership offer you their financing terms, go to a bank or lender that you trust and get pre-approved for a loan beforehand. This ensures you’ll get an interest rate you’re satisfied with, and gives you leverage and negotiating power when you’re finalizing the sale.

4. Be an informed consumer

There are lots of good car and truck buying guides online that can hook you up with reviews, videos, price and performance comparisons, and other metrics you can use to help you choose the right make and model truck for you. Figuring out what kind of engine size, axel ratio, bed and cab size, options, and other details can be confusing even if you’ve owned a truck before, so don’t be afraid to do some research and gather up all the information you need to come to an informed decision.

Buying a truck in an informed and cost-effective way can take some work, but if you want to get to the fun part where you drive it off the lot for the first time free of any doubts or regrets, you’re going to want to take the time to shop smart and fully prepare yourself. You will find that it’s definitely worth the effort.