For the past five years, I’ve been looking for a truck. Ever since owning a home and doing what seems like endless amount of home improvement projects, I’ve been finding myself in need of one. During this time, I’ve been using my 4Runner for these tasks, which is not entirely impossible but definitely makes it a lot more difficult.
I looked for all kinds of trucks and was searching for a used one as I normally would. In fact, my belief is that a truck should be used like a truck. So I’m afraid of getting a new one if I were to be using it for all the hauling and landscaping work that I’ve been doing. I was interested in all makes and models of trucks in the 1/2 ton segment, as I had driven a handful of different ones for work.
The one truck that I think looks best is the Ford F-150, although the older ones look outdated both on the exterior as well as the interior. I started liking the look of the F-150 starting in 2009 (12th generation), but the interior was still a bit dated. It wasn’t until 2015 (13th generation) that I felt the interior had finally caught up with the times.
The F-150 has a ridiculous amount of different configurations available, so I determined which things I was willing to give up and which things I knew was a must-have. After that, I kept my eye on the pricing incentives offered by Ford and did a lot of online research/shopping at various Ford dealerships around my area. Until the purchase was finally made, it was a mad-dash to find the right F-150 as the one I was scheduled to go buy was sold the night before. Luckily, things worked out and I still drove home in a brand new 2020 Ford F-150.
Searching for the Right Incentives
In August, I began tracking pricing incentives offered from Ford. Incentives are offered every month depending on previous sales figures amongst other factors. The 2021 Ford F-150 was announced in June of 2020, but it is unknown exactly when the 2021’s would start arriving at dealerships. I knew that incentives would likely look good around this time as Ford would want to start pushing 2020 (and any remaining 2019) F-150’s off the lots… I just didn’t know exactly when.
It takes asking yourself if you want to wait for higher pricing incentives and risk having the exact car you want possibly being sold, or purchasing a vehicle and possibly regretting it if the pricing incentives increase in the following months. If you’re looking for a particular configuration and/or more desirable vehicle, then it may not be worth waiting as these vehicles maybe sold by the time better incentives become available. If you don’t care too much about the exact configuration you want, especially when you don’t mind getting the less desirable trims, then it might be worth waiting.
I knew that I wanted an F-150 in an XLT trim. Ford offers their pricing incentives monthly and they are announced to everyone at the same time; even dealerships don’t know what the incentives are until they are announced for the month. The XLT trim had a pricing incentive of $3,250 for August with other various incentives that didn’t apply to me. I also did not plan to finance and therefore I knew that I would want to maximize the incentives. Labor Day rolled around and there was a “Summer Sale” that happened, but nothing really of interest. Finally, right after Labor Day, the September pricing incentive offered $6,250 for the XLT’s, which sounded quite good. At that point, I realized that it might be the time to make the purchase before the truck I was looking at would be gone. Luckily, I was right as the screenshot below is of the retail incentive in the following month.
Shopping at Different Ford Dealerships
In August (when pricing incentives offered were at $3,250), I visited several Ford dealerships around the San Francisco Bay Area. The first dealership I went to went normally; I met with the salesman who actually let me test drive some trucks by myself (as this was their COVID-19 protocol at this time). I was really just getting my bearings straight and figuring out what engine I wanted. I test drove the 5.0L Coyote V8 and 3.5L EcoBoost V6; I just loved the feel and sound of the V8, so I understood why so many people commend the growl of that sweet, sweet V8.
When I got back to the salesperson, I was met with the kind of sales aggressiveness that I absolutely dread. He kept prodding me about what it would take for me to purchase the vehicle then and there, even giving me the reason that it makes sense to try to buy it right then and there because the vehicle was already taken out for me. Yeah, right. I already told him that I was just starting to shop, and he still kept pushing. This immediately turned me off and I made my way to the second dealership.
At the second Ford dealership, I met one the Sales Managers who was this friendly older gentleman who sounded like he just wanted to hang out. He didn’t sound like he cared whether or not I bought the truck; he sounded like he just wanted to chat. He told me a story about how he was finishing up a sale late one night when the infamous Dodge Dealership of San Leandro got looted. Things started getting intense with looters beginning to enter their lot. They had to rush the customer out of the dealership, while placing vehicles towards the entrance to block any potential looters from stealing vehicles out of the lot.
Anyway, the dealership didn’t have the vehicle that was shown to me online. So, I figured I’d just test drive a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 to see how that felt. Dang, that truck is still really quick. But I got spoiled after trying out that 3.5L EcoBoost. Still, I liked the feel of the 5.0L V8 that I drove even more than these twin turbo beasts. I always have enjoyed riving naturally aspirated vehicles so much more than their forced induction counterparts.
I finally ended up at the third Ford dealership in Colma, and I got to try out once again the 3.5L and 5.0L F-150’s. This time was different, as I started liking the 3.5 more and the 5.0 a little less. The dealership had an 3.5L EcoBoost XLT Supercrew Sport Edition in Magnetic Gray and 4WD. This was pretty much the exact truck that I wanted… still, the incentives were just not good enough. Also, the out-the-door price after taxes and fees really made me not want to buy a truck after all. It was awfully expensive. I did enjoy my interaction with the salesperson here; he was very low-key and not aggressive. He just did what he could to answer all the questions I had.
Last Minute Scramble and Final Purchase
September rolls around and Labor Day passes; suddenly Ford shows a retail incentive of $6,250. Oh it’s game on. I decide to reach out to the third dealership that I went to the month before to make an appointment to basically purchase the truck that I was looking at. This was on Thursday and my wife and I made an appointment to see the truck on Saturday. I then made arrangements for my sister to watch our two kids during that time. Arrangements were set and I did as much last minute research and preparation for the appointment on Saturday.
On Friday night, I get a text from the salesperson I’ve been talking to and he told me that someone had purchased the truck I was interested in that day. Suddenly not knowing what to do, I desperately tried looking at other dealerships to see if they have the same configuration that was at the Colma Dealership. Since my wife and I knew we already had made arrangements for our kids to be watched, we had to see if we could maybe find another truck to possibly purchase Saturday. After some frantic searching, I found the same exact truck minus the factory bed liner and plus the FX4 package. I made the call and told them that I wanted to see if they’d match the vehicle’s price at the other dealership. After some time, they said they could guarantee they would beat the price.
Next day, my wife and I make our way over and do the obligatory test drive. Truck is awesome, as expected. We go through the negotiations and yes they did beat the price (by $3, seriously), but at least the MSRP of the truck was slightly more than the other one I looked at because of the added FX4 package. After some negotiation and paperwork, we were out the door with a brand new 2020 Ford F-150!
With only 15 miles on the clock, I was stoked to be driving my first brand new car and my first truck ever. Ford had me download the FordPass app; one of the things I was able to see on the app was that I was rewarded 42,000 points for purchasing the vehicle. This amounts to equivalently $210. The points can be used towards service or parts/accessories. I honestly don’t trust anyone to do work on my car that I can do myself, so I’m looking forward to using them on some accessories!