DETONATION

Used-truck frenzy

Diesel Power - - Contents - By John Le­hen­bauer

I HAVE NEVER been a fan of car, truck, mo­tor­cy­cle, or any­thin­gelse shop­ping, es­pe­cially for used ve­hi­cles. The word “shop­ping” brings up ideas of hav­ing to drive all over to look at dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles and talk to own­ers and sales­peo­ple. When I start the shop­ping process, I tend to be crit­i­cal of the peo­ple sell­ing and think about what their true in­ten­tions are. Are they hon­estly sell­ing the truck, or are they try­ing to take ad­van­tage of me by hid­ing in­for­ma­tion about some­thing that may be wrong with it?

There are a lot of good, hon­est peo­ple out there who are sim­ply try­ing to sell their ve­hi­cle, and they will tell you ev­ery­thing they know about it. Un­for­tu­nately, there are also peo­ple who will­ingly try to dupe you out of your money, the ones who will tell you ev­ery­thing is “per­fectly fine and nor­mal” even though the trans­mis­sion is puk­ing its guts out. They are the same type of scoundrels who will try to sell you a box of yel­low rocks and tell you they’re just heavy lemons. Un­for­tu­nately, I have run into those types more than once.

Even though I’m not re­ally into shop­ping for ve­hi­cles, I do like to buy. It is much more in­vig­o­rat­ing to have the cash in hand to take some­thing home. Buy­ing is to the point. You al­ready know ex­actly what you want and how much you’re will­ing to pay, and you know ex­actly what you’re pur­chas­ing. You ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for any is­sues the ve­hi­cle has, and you are ready to take it home. This is the point at which any headaches as­so­ci­ated with shop­ping have long been al­le­vi­ated.

The rea­son I bring up the topic of shop­ping is that I have been ar­bi­trar­ily look­ing for a used diesel truck. Buy­ing a new one is not in my bud­get, un­less the Power­ball ticket I bought comes through for me (I can al­ways hope). So, my free time is spent brows­ing the used-truck ad­ver­tise­ments look­ing for a good deal, which here in Cal­i­for­nia can be few and far be­tween for a diesel pickup. When I’m out and about, I al­ways keep my eyes peeled for an oil-burner some­one is try­ing to get rid of. Some­times you get lucky and a deal just about falls in your lap.

While look­ing for a rig, I try to be open­minded about the type of truck to look at and not let any pre­con­ceived ideas about cer­tain brands (and years) sway my in­ter­ests. Any diesel pickup built by one of the big three (GM, Ford, and Dodge/Ram), re­gard­less of year, can be built into a nice truck. Even some of the less-sought-af­ter ve­hi­cles have some per­for­mance po­ten­tial and some­times are a bit cheaper, which in it­self makes them some­what ap­peal­ing. Though im­prov­ing power for some trucks might be eas­ier done with an engine swap (and if you’re go­ing that far are you re­ally sav­ing money?), a lot of the cost rides on the de­sired end re­sult. Is it meant to have big horse­power or be a re­li­able tow rig?

I’m try­ing to be as brand neu­tral as pos­si­ble, but I find my­self be­ing drawn to cer­tain makes, body styles (ex­tended and crew cabs), and model years more than others. It’s a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence— noth­ing more. Even though I know it’s best to keep my op­tions open, es­pe­cially since I am on a bud­get, it is still hard not to be drawn to­ward trucks that meet my pre­ferred cri­te­ria. On the flip side, I could pos­si­bly be swayed into get­ting some­thing that isn’t ex­actly what I want if the price is right. I have an imag­i­na­tion that al­lows me to see po­ten­tial in al­most any ve­hi­cle; it just comes down to how much time and money I want to spend.

In ad­di­tion to a par­tic­u­lar model of truck, there is also the engine un­der the hood to con­sider. I fully un­der­stand ev­ery engine has dif­fer­ent at­tributes that may make it more or less de­sir­able. There is no per­fect engine— some­thing me­chan­i­cal or elec­tri­cal will in­evitably go wrong. I’m just try­ing to avoid pur­chas­ing a com­plete lemon.

This is also true for the truck the engine pow­ers. I know from past ex­pe­ri­ence that a driv­e­train may work very well with few is­sues, while the truck it­self falls apart around it. This can be an even big­ger headache than hav­ing engine, trans­mis­sion, or rear-end prob­lems. Re­pair­ing and main­tain­ing the in­te­rior and ex­te­rior can run up a sig­nif­i­cant bill.

Well, I guess I’ll keep look­ing. There is bound to be the right deal out there wait­ing for me to jump on. You never know when or where some­thing might pop up.

Trucks can look a lit­tle worn on the out­side and still be me­chan­i­cally sound, but you never re­ally know. You can only go by in­for­ma­tion you are given by a seller, and what­ever is re­vealed upon your ex­am­i­na­tion of the truck.

JOHN LE­HEN­BAUER jle­hen­bauer@en­thu­si­ast­net­work.com

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