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Old 02-27-2013, 12:01 AM   #1
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Default School me on pickup trucks

My need for towing and hauling is getting to the point that my little SUV that's rated for 1500lb of towing isn't cutting it. So I'm thinking about selling our rock-solid Ponitac Vibe and buying a pickup. Replacing a vehicle that gets over 30mpg with another that gets half that is not pleasant but I think the time has come. The truck and miata will be my means of transport, so I can at least choose depending on the weather and/or gas prices that day.

The criteria are as follows:
  • Be able to tow the miata, my parent's 3000lb camper, a large load of firewood, or potentially random rented farm implements
  • Budget of $8-$10k
  • Clean and have less than 100k miles
  • Extended or crew cab
  • 4x4
  • Best MPG possible given all the above
From what I've found I'm thinking early to mid 2000s Silverado. Any other thoughts? I don't really care about brands too much, but I draw the line at Dodge...I don't want it to be on its third transmission.

Also if you have any real world experience about which engine, rear end, and transmission to look for that would be good. For example, 4.8 vs 5.3? I have looked around on Chevy forums but it's hard to tell how good the info is because they all go overboard with their trucks and I'm just looking for something stock that I won't have to spend time working on.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:09 AM   #2
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Sounds like you probably want something with a tow rating of 5000 lbs +

I just put down money for a truck today... actually! A toyota tacoma. Great all around truck, 6500 tow rating with the V6, decent mpg (21 highway rated). They are kinda pricey though, used too, since they hold value so well.

You looking for this to be a daily driver? or more of a car/part/misc hauler?
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:45 AM   #3
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Don't rule out Dodge. Mine is an 05 quad cab 4x4, has 168K, never been to a shop for a repair in its life ever, except for a u-joint and pinion seal at 60K as it was still under CPO warranty. Trans was flushed at 80K, two sets of front wheel hubs, rear axle bearings, one set of brakes, one ECU reflash for an update early on. That's it other than oil changes. I've had it since 8K miles.

It's a hemi so mileage is poor, generally 16 mpg.
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Old 02-27-2013, 12:49 AM   #4
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I think you are on the right track V8 Chevy should be easy to find and prob the way to go. Mpg is gonna suck but pretty much have to accept it. 94-02 dodge diesel might be a option but is gonna be hard to find manual 4x4 quad cab for under 10k but they are out there.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaronc7 View Post
Sounds like you probably want something with a tow rating of 5000 lbs +

I just put down money for a truck today... actually! A toyota tacoma. Great all around truck, 6500 tow rating with the V6, decent mpg (21 highway rated). They are kinda pricey though, used too, since they hold value so well.

You looking for this to be a daily driver? or more of a car/part/misc hauler?
I would agree with the 5000lb+ rating. That seems to be attainable with most pickups, including the Frontier and Tacoma. I like them both, but as far as value and usefulness goes it's kinda hard to say they beat the domestic full size trucks, I think. You hardly get any better fuel economy, the Tacoma especially holds its value way better, and the actual truck is smaller so I would imagine it would get pushed around by a trailer more easily. It's hard to say if that particular aspect will really matter for me I guess as I don't tow every weekend, but still if I'm getting crappy MPG I might as well make it worth it.

It will have to be my DD on days I don't drive the miata. Would like to keep the Vibe as a beater car but we really can't keep 4 cars sitting around.

edit: 21mpg? Isn't that for the 2.7l? Is that rated for 6500lb towing?
edit2: Just checked it - you're right. That's not too bad for a 4wd V6. Still pretty expensive though.

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Don't rule out Dodge. Mine is an 05 quad cab 4x4, has 168K, never been to a shop for a repair in its life ever, except for a u-joint and pinion seal at 60K as it was still under CPO warranty. Trans was flushed at 80K, two sets of front wheel hubs, rear axle bearings, one set of brakes, one ECU reflash for an update early on. That's it other than oil changes. I've had it since 8K miles.

It's a hemi so mileage is poor, generally 16 mpg.
Do you know if there was a year that the transmissions were improved? I've just heard really bad things about them.

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I think you are on the right track V8 Chevy should be easy to find and prob the way to go. Mpg is gonna suck but pretty much have to accept it. 94-02 dodge diesel might be a option but is gonna be hard to find manual 4x4 quad cab for under 10k but they are out there.
Love the cummins engine but the ones I've seen in my price range have been pretty well used. Plus with diesel costs it's hard to say if it would pay off. Same goes for the Powerstroke Fords I've seen on craigslist.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:19 AM   #6
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Earlier Dodge transmissions had issues. My 94 had a trans replaced at 80K and was going out when I sold it last week with 163K. I don't know when they changed but in your price range you should be past that. One good thing about used Dodges is they depreciate like crazy. You should be able to pick up a 2 year newer, 40K lower Dodge for the same Chevy money. I have nothing bad to say about Ford (had an 04 SCrew and 97 Explorer V8) and several Chevy PU's.
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Old 02-27-2013, 01:44 AM   #7
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My '97 Dakota never had trans issues and I beat that thing like a redheaded stepchild. Got shitty MPG's (13.7 city/hwy avg. IIRC, but I was 17-20 and had little mechanical empathy). Very reliable, rock solid, quick and comfortable. Would not daily at todays gas prices ($4.29 here in Cali) but thats what you have a miata for.
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Old 02-27-2013, 02:50 AM   #8
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I bought a v6 4x4 Frontier in November and it is my DD. Usually see 18-19MPG unless there's a bad accident that week or for some reason I end up with a lot of city driving. My commute is 90% highway. Took a fishing trip a few weeks ago and saw 19.5MPG with most of it on the highway at 80MPH. I like the truck, Tacoma's are nice too but holy **** are they expensive, but I do wonder how well it's going to tow 4k+ lbs and if I should have just bought a Silverado/F150. And then I park it and wonder how people can stand daily driving full size trucks. I've had it for over 3 months now and I'm still not used to the crappy turning radius.

In your price range and under 100k miles is full-size territory. You might be able to find a previous gen Frontier/Tacoma in that price range but neither one has the ***** for any serious towing. My dad has 200k+ on his 2wd GMC and it runs and tows his boat like a champ. Rides like **** but what do you expect from GM. He started shopping Frontiers after taking a ride in mine.

It's a shame stop/start hasn't caught on here, I think it would really help my fuel consumption around town.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:54 AM   #9
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I'm big on dodges as I grew up with them. I'll tell you about the last 3 my family had.

95 Dodge 1500 5.2 went 316000 miles only repairs were replacing the muffler and lifters. Had the stock waterpump when we sold it

2003 dodge ram 4.7 RWD. Still have it. Has about 240k miles only repairs have been to the cooling system. Rad, hoses, and WP. Still has factory trans fluid and all factory front end parts besides the shocks which were changed for maintenance reasons. Truck pulls a flatbed trailer or a 32 ft camper at least 3 times a month.

05 dodge 1500 5.7 4x4. Has 280k miles only repairs to engine have been a WP (only because when in really cold weather it would leak a little but wouldn't leak here in the more moderate TX) and egr solenoid and PS pump. last year i had to put all new ball joints and new bearings up front (~240k) but you will have to do this on any of the 4wd big three trucks with Ford having the least durable suspension pieces. this trucks pulls trailers, other cars, or campers at least once a week.

obviously all trucks had wear items replaced like plugs and brakes.

MOst of my extended family drives dodges with similar stories.
Gm stuff is also pretty reliable but please stay away from Ford. I see way more common problems on ford trucks than any of the others.
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Old 02-27-2013, 07:33 PM   #10
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Some interesting input about Dodge trucks I wasn't expecting. I haven't noticed them being a noticably cheaper than Chevys but then again I haven't been looking hard either.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:17 PM   #11
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I just turned 200k miles on the Tundra with no real issues. My last Toyota truck was at 330k when I sold it with never any drivetrain work. My customer bought it from me and now has 380k miles with no issues. The suspension and steering was as tight at new at 330k. My boss' Chevy is loose as hell at 150k.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:26 PM   #12
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I just bought a 5.4 v8 E-150 conversion van. 46k miles, less than $5k.

You seem to want too much out of this. A decent truck with less than 100k miles, extended cab and say a 6k+ tow capacity will run you a good bit over 10k. I don't know if its because I am in the south, but I had a really hard time staying under 10k for a truck like that. I looked before settling on the van.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:33 PM   #13
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You might be able to get a 2004-2005 Tundra for the upper end of your price range. I have 120k on mine and have only had to replace the gas cap. Great trucks.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
I just turned 200k miles on the Tundra with no real issues. My last Toyota truck was at 330k when I sold it with never any drivetrain work. My customer bought it from me and now has 380k miles with no issues. The suspension and steering was as tight at new at 330k. My boss' Chevy is loose as hell at 150k.
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You might be able to get a 2004-2005 Tundra for the upper end of your price range. I have 120k on mine and have only had to replace the gas cap. Great trucks.
I actually really do like the Tundra, especially the first generation. It does sound like rusty frames can be a real consideration but I haven't ruled them out either.
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Old 02-27-2013, 11:50 PM   #15
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I just bought a 5.4 v8 E-150 conversion van. 46k miles, less than $5k.

You seem to want too much out of this. A decent truck with less than 100k miles, extended cab and say a 6k+ tow capacity will run you a good bit over 10k. I don't know if its because I am in the south, but I had a really hard time staying under 10k for a truck like that. I looked before settling on the van.
I get what you're saying...and by the way if I was only looking to tow I would absolutely get a van as those can be real bargains. I would hate regularly driving one though.

Pickups within my criteria are out there. Sure, they're a little harder to find but I've found some good examples in the last 24hr that would at least be worth taking a look at.

Now that I'm looking at Dodges (a little) it's interesting that crew cab dakotas with V8s seem to be going for pretty cheap. They sure are thirsty *****, though.
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Old 02-28-2013, 04:15 PM   #16
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I <3 my 4X4 Ranger. Although I'm not sure it would have the towing capacity that you're looking for. You can get them under 100K for the price range you have specified pretty easily.
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Old 02-28-2013, 05:09 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by RedCarmel View Post
I actually really do like the Tundra, especially the first generation. It does sound like rusty frames can be a real consideration but I haven't ruled them out either.
No rusty frames in the south. And I belive they had a recall/warranty on that anyway.

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Now that I'm looking at Dodges (a little) it's interesting that crew cab dakotas with V8s seem to be going for pretty cheap. They sure are thirsty *****, though.
Run away! The electrical reliability, air cond, power window regulators, and interior plastics are suck. Google "Dodge disintegrating dashboard" for fun. Here, I'll do it for you.
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:42 PM   #18
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Here's a vote for an early 2000's chev (or, if you can find it, a '98 classic body style), and this is coming from a Ford salesman. They're just great trucks, no way around it. Get the 5.3. Live happily ever after, for what seems like forever.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedCarmel View Post
I get what you're saying...and by the way if I was only looking to tow I would absolutely get a van as those can be real bargains. I would hate regularly driving one though.

Pickups within my criteria are out there. Sure, they're a little harder to find but I've found some good examples in the last 24hr that would at least be worth taking a look at.

Now that I'm looking at Dodges (a little) it's interesting that crew cab dakotas with V8s seem to be going for pretty cheap. They sure are thirsty *****, though.
Honestly its not that bad. My coworkers love it. Its fully carpeted, has a TV, sega genesis, and will fit longer **** than a truck. I measured the inside, from the rear to the front console is about 120+ inches.

I fit lumber, plywood, and just about anything you would ever need for a car (tool carts, drill press, etc.) in the back. Anyways, good luck on your search, towing is probably the best decision to make for a track car.
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:54 AM   #20
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Any Tundra experts out there (Sixshooter sounds like you are one)?

I'm still on the lookout for a truck, and am getting very serious. I test drove two first gen Tundras this weekend. One was beat up pretty good and he was asking way too much for what it was, so I'm not going to bother wasting any more time with him.

The second one I looked at is a 2003 with 98,300 miles on it. SR5, access cab, towing package, power windows/locks, plastic bedliner. It's in decent shape. It has some scratches, dents, and a dashboard rattle but it's a 10 year old truck. The frame was inspected and sprayed (not replaced) by a local Toyota dealership. The axles and other components are pretty rusty but the frame looks great with the exception of one spot shown in the 2nd photo.

They have no records of a timing belt change so it's probably overdue and this is an interference engine. It has a brake controller mounted on the dash so I assume it was used for some serious towing.

I think by 2003 most of the issues other than the frame had been worked out (brakes, exhaust manifold and transmission) but it's hard to say how hard the trans has been worked in the past. It didn't shift smooth as butter but it wasn't rough either. I think it's probably typical based on the other Tundra I drove.

What's its real value?
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