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eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 11:52 a.m.

After going without a pickup for the last seven years, I've decided its time to look for a pickup or van, to make racing trips, parts runs, and home improvement trips easier. Don't plan on towing more than a utility trailer at the most.

I'm somewhat torn between a van and a compact pickup. Seems like either are in the same price range, but the pickups, being lighter, should probably be a bit cheaper to maintain.

We're on the cusp of tax return season, and I think prices on cheap cars are already starting to rise. If I buy in the next couple of weeks, my max price is around $2000. If I wait a few months, that can probably go up to around $3500-4000, but since I want this thing by early April, I'm worried I'll be paying a premium.

So, a couple of questions - If you had my budget, and were looking for a small pickup that could be depended on for overnight trips, whats your choice? Seems like Tacomas and Nissans are are rusted out hulks around here in that price range (or have half a million miles, or both), so it leaves Dakotas, S10s, and Rangers.

Anecdotally, it seems like the are more problems with Dakotas and S10s than Rangers, but I'm not sure if thats completely accurate. Anyone got any more thoughts on this?

I've narrowed down the "ideal" option to be a 3.0V6 Extended Cab Ranger with an automatic, but in my price range they are junk. If I buy now, I think I'd have to settle for a standard cab 4 cylinder, to get one in better condition. However, jumping to Chevys, it doesn't seem like there is much price difference between the V6 and 4 cylinder. Any I should look at more closely or avoid?

Also, while my price range is pretty low, I'm not opposed to a road trip to pick up a better deal. Did a little bit of searching on Florida craigslist sites, since I have family down there, but prices seemed higher than SW Ohio. Is there anywhere within a day drive of OH that seems to have lower demand for the little pickups?

Thinking of calling someone this week about a 2000 Ranger with less than 170K miles, std cab, 4 cylinder, automatic, but would like to hear a few more opinions before I get serious in my search.

wae
wae Reader
1/14/14 12:06 p.m.

Needs a trans, but I'd bet we could get a decent one from the yard and swap it pretty quickly: http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/4263581264.html

If I remember, you're looking for the possibility of transiting scooters without having to use your trailer, right? So a nice XJ is out?

Would a full-size with a V6 get the job done? I don't know how those get priced out, but since you're not really putting that many miles on it, the loss of mpg might not hurt so bad. It seems like the 150s and 1500s out there without V8s are usually less than desirable.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde SuperDork
1/14/14 12:14 p.m.

My BIL had a 5 speed, 4cyl Ranger, a late 90's /early 2k model, and it seemed like a fun little truck. It was cramped though, I'd want the extended cab for longer trips, and that might make the V6 a requirement.

FWIW, I heard someone comparing S10 and ranger shop trucks say that their S10s had the better drive train and the Ranger had the better body / interior.

I'd go Ranger, but I'm a Ford guy...

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 12:16 p.m.

I would not object to a full size with a V6. It might be easier to get all the crap I want in a standard cab long bed full size. That way, there could be a truck box in the bed, but there'd still be enough room for the scooters. A shortbed fullsize could probably do, as well, and would be easier to keep parked in my driveway.

Biggest problem is its a lot harder to do a meaningful keyword search on CL for fullsize trucks, except maybe for Rams. Too many people describe their chevy and ford trucks in too many different ways. I have taken to searching for "truck" in a price range, but I'm sure I'm missing stuff.

stumpmj
stumpmj Dork
1/14/14 12:16 p.m.

You can get a hell of a lot nicer van in that price range than a pickup. Also, full size trucks are generally a bit cheaper than compact pickups.

EvanB
EvanB PowerDork
1/14/14 12:18 p.m.

Astro Van?
Subaru Brat?

yamaha
yamaha PowerDork
1/14/14 12:22 p.m.

If you're buying an automatic and aren't looking to pull a car trailer, the 2.2L S-10 would be what I would buy. Also, with extended cab 2wd s10's, make sure to inspect the carrier bearing on the 2 piece driveshaft....IIRC, those were expensive to have redone.

The 3L vulcan rangers love to eat waterpumps and conversely warp heads.....otherwise, pretty much just the same, just harder to lower properly(damn twin I)

EvanB
EvanB PowerDork
1/14/14 12:23 p.m.

http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/4263411875.html

Ashyukun
Ashyukun HalfDork
1/14/14 12:24 p.m.

I did send you a link to a Dodge Rampage down in Somerset a little ways back didn't I?

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 12:25 p.m.
stumpmj wrote: You can get a hell of a lot nicer van in that price range than a pickup. Also, full size trucks are generally a bit cheaper than compact pickups.

Any suggestions on van searches? Seems I hear Dodges tend to have suspension issues, Ford V8s may blow spark plugs, and V6s may have head gasket issues, and GMs may have transmissions that are too weak for the weight. Is there any magic drivetrain combo I should look for, keeping in mind I really don't need towing power or 4WD?

Oh, and in Reply to EvanB: Love the Volvo. Have looked into Astros, but it seems good condition, sub-200K mile passenger models are getting thin on the ground. And Subaru Brats

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 12:31 p.m.

In reply to yamaha:

Thanks for the info. Neighbors across the street have an S15, I think after the second time the carrier bearing failed, they found someone who would convert it to a one piece driveshaft. May have required bashing in a bit of the cab floor.

In reply to Ashyukun:

Doubt its got a full six foot bed, or the reliability I want

In reply to EvanB:

Love the Previa. Had looked at minivans in general, but my race scooter is about 38" tall, which makes it very close to the interior height of most minivans, and probably taller than the hatch opening. Would like to be able to haul a motorycle, just in case, so need additional room, or I'd snap up a Villager or some other cheap, but good minivan.

yamaha
yamaha PowerDork
1/14/14 12:43 p.m.
eastsidemav wrote: In reply to yamaha: Thanks for the info. Neighbors across the street have an S15, I think after the second time the carrier bearing failed, they found someone who would convert it to a one piece driveshaft. May have required bashing in a bit of the cab floor.

Sounds about right, the 2.2 is pretty much bullet proof. And as long as the auto trans behind it has seen a flush or two, you should be good. I would find it hard to believe you wouldn't be able to find a decent 2.2/at/xcab/rwd one for under $2k bones. I got rid of my '00 2.2/5sp for 3k back in 2005(72k mi). I was tired of replacing the paper machet garbage 5sp in it.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 Dork
1/14/14 12:50 p.m.

having had ALL of the trucks (domestic and fullsizes too)listed, the dakotas were by far the most comfortable for being a truck. major problems were cats, belly pan gaskets, and crank/tps/02 sensors. thats over 300k in both of them. as a bonus, they wreck reeeealy well.

the fullsize, extended cab, long bed chevy i had had a 4.3 5spd, 3.08 that broke 20mpg on the highway, but would NOT get out of its own way stock. a timing bump and 3 inch single exhaust really woke it up. and picked up fuel economy. only failures were cat, brake lines, and water temp sensor in 30 k of driving (on a neglected 89 model that i turned from field truck to daily)

Ashyukun
Ashyukun HalfDork
1/14/14 12:59 p.m.
eastsidemav wrote: Doubt its got a full six foot bed, or the reliability I want

Looks like a 64" bed, so nope- not quite six foot.

stanger_missle
stanger_missle HalfDork
1/14/14 1:21 p.m.

Maybe an older Ford F150 with the 4.9L I6? Reliable as gravity and cheap. And you could get them with the M5OD2 5 speed manual or the 4R70W auto although the tow ratings are higher on the auto. It is bigger than a Ranger and would get similar gas mileage.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
1/14/14 1:42 p.m.

Mazda B trucks would be my suggestion pertaining to the title.

http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/4287153215.html

Around my area (Indy) there's usually a couple nice ones available at any given time in the $1500-$2500 range.

Ashyukun
Ashyukun HalfDork
1/14/14 1:44 p.m.

It may be worth noting that I know somebody here who has an older 4-cylinder Ranger I believe they're looking to sell since he got a bigger truck to tow their boat with, I can see if they are indeed looking to sell it and what they'd want for it. It's not particularly pretty by any stretch, but worked quite well when I traded vehicles with him (the Saturn, of course) for the weekend when I was moving things out to the storage unit.

Dusterbd13
Dusterbd13 Dork
1/14/14 1:50 p.m.

and i have a friend ready to sell his late 80's ram 1/2 ton 2wd longbed. again, if youre interested.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 2:13 p.m.

In reply to Ashyukun:

As long as its an automatic, I might be interested. Needs to be something my wife can drive.

In reply to dusterbd13:

I think I'll pass on that for now. A bit older than I am wanting to play with, unless maybe its got the TF727 trans. I've noticed that tranmissions in general got a lot more reliable once they were computer controlled vs vacuum/kickdown cable controlled.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
1/14/14 2:20 p.m.
stanger_missle wrote: Maybe an older Ford F150 with the 4.9L I6? Reliable as gravity and cheap. And you could get them with the M5OD2 5 speed manual or the 4R70W auto although the tow ratings are higher on the auto. It is bigger than a Ranger and would get similar gas mileage.

When I was faced with this same conundrum recently this is what I bought. Mine is as basic as basic gets ( 4spd with granny gear) besides it having A/C, it's a total stripper. ( and who doesn't like strippers! ) It is such a breeze to work on, and runs like a champ. It does everything I need a beater truck to do. I wouldn't think twice about taking it on an extended trip. I found it by searching Craigslist under $2,500. There's plenty of choices out there, and fortunately here in FL, most aren't rusted out. I found that bang for the buck, the full-size trucks offer more. As you stated, the Toyota and Nissan trucks in that price range all have a million miles on them, and may get marginally better MPG. (granted the 4cyl models get much better mileage, but also have very little power.)

I paid $1,200

Ashyukun
Ashyukun HalfDork
1/14/14 2:21 p.m.
eastsidemav wrote: In reply to Ashyukun: As long as its an automatic, I might be interested. Needs to be something my wife can drive.

I THINK it was an auto, but I can't remember for certain- I'm so used to driving my manuals I wouldn't have blinked twice at it being a stick so it didn't stick in my brain either way. I'll check and find out.

You could also just pick up an El Camino like mine- they've got a better than 6-foot bed.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 2:34 p.m.
Ashyukun wrote: You could also just pick up an El Camino like mine- they've got a better than 6-foot bed.

Umm yeah, in my price range, it'd be a project, and the last thing I need right now is another project... Really hoping for something I can buy, change the oil, and drive for a while without too many concerns.

Ranger50
Ranger50 PowerDork
1/14/14 2:44 p.m.
yamaha wrote: If you're buying an automatic and aren't looking to pull a car trailer, the 2.2L S-10 would be what I would buy. Also, with extended cab 2wd s10's, make sure to inspect the carrier bearing on the 2 piece driveshaft....IIRC, those were expensive to have redone. The 3L vulcan rangers love to eat waterpumps and conversely warp heads.....otherwise, pretty much just the same, just harder to lower properly(damn twin I)

Driveshafts I have done at the local diesel place that makes new ones.

3.0L's, first I have ever heard of that problem. Those are about as reliable as gravity. The only thing that really sucks about them is the oil filter placement. Either do it cold and have the oil run down your arm, or do it hot and add burning yourself to the list.

As far as the OP's original requirements, anything with a truck bed on it in the given price range will work.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy SuperDork
1/14/14 2:51 p.m.

I wouldn't hesitate to drive a '84-86 slant-6 automatic full sized short bed dodge pickup or swb van around the world. Since 86 was the last year you are stuck with that old unless you do a swap.

But if you can swing 4k I would be looking for a '99+ Silverado myself. Shouldn't have any trouble finding a 2wd for that price, and worst case scenario I'll drive out and sell you my '03 4wd short box standard cab. I was hoping to get $5k, but would take less for a GRMer.

eastsidemav
eastsidemav Dork
1/14/14 4:14 p.m.

I may be an idiot. I was assuming the headroom of a vehicle would be close to the height in the back of a van. I guess that number is actually based on the distance from the base of the seat to the headliner, so there may be enough room in a minivan. Anyone here with a mid-90's to early-2000's minivan willing to take a couple quick measurements? I'd be looking for how tall the rear hatch opening is, and how tall it is from the floor to the headliner in somewhere in the back seat area when the seats are either folded down or removed.

I've seen numbers like this for a few vehicles, but not for many.

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