Everybody who has ever held a job knows well that your salary isn't what you actually earn. By the time Uncle Sam withholds his income tax and Social Security, your paycheck is a pale shadow of the robust sum you had imagined.

Auto insurance can have a similar effect on the true cost of a new vehicle. You've crunched the numbers and figured out how, by eating only ramen noodles for the next 60 months, you can swing the monthly payment on that hot new 4x4 you've been eyeing. Then along comes the insurance man to rain on your parade.

Insurance for many new trucks and SUVs can be quite costly. That's because, although you're probably careful with your pride and joy, other truck and SUV drivers as a group haven't established an enviable driving record. Worse yet, the bad guys covet your wheels as much as you do: As a class, trucks are stolen much more frequently than typical cars.

Cars also tend to cost less to buy than most trucks, and insurance rates directly reflect a vehicle's value, as the insurer will have to replace your ride if it's totaled or stolen. Further, large vehicles can cause more damage in a collision-to other vehicles, passengers, or structures. Bottom line: Trucks cost more to insure than cars.

That said, within the truck category (or any other, for that matter) insurance rates vary dramatically. Insurance company accountants are very good at counting their beans and therefore know exactly how much every make and model is likely to cost them in claims. So forget what you've always heard about insurance companies not liking red vehicles or two-seat cars; they set rates based on your exact vehicle and your particular driving history.