MrTrailer presents: The Truth about Trucks Series! part one
Learn how to “Get the Right Pickup Truck,”
It’s like judging trials we did in 4-H and FFA. Score the choices and pick the best one.
Pick the Grand Champion, not the bum Steer that is the dealers oldest unit and makes the salesperson the most money! Save Money, Save Time, and still get the Right Truck! Friends don’t let friends buy the wrong truck!
“The Right Truck.” I learned how to buy the right truck by; you guessed it, by buying the wrong one a few times! Since my first trucks were used, I had no idea of what the manufactures gross vehicle weight rating or warranty requirements where all about. I hauled 3000 pounds in my ½ ton, 5000 pounds in my ¾ ton, and 10,000 pounds in my 1 ton. OOP’s, that was probably a little too much. That could explain why so many u-joints, clutches and brakes.
Disclaimer: This report contains my opinions and research. Use this as a guide to make an intelligent choice on your own.
Copyright 2001-2021 H. Kent Sundling and MrTruck.net All rights reserved including digital rights.
Which Truck Do You Need?
- Priorities, do you need a ½ or 1 ton, long or short bed?
- Do you need a diesel or gas engine and what’s the mileage, and break in period?
- What do you need to know about diesel fuel, winter, maintenance, and emissions?
- Which transmission will work best for you? Warning about overdrive.
- Duals or Single Rear Wheels?
- Which axle ratio do I need, limited slip axle or not?
- Will this truck pull my trailer?
- Bed liners, resale and safety
- New or used, truck and auto dealer.
- First year blues.
#1 Priorities, 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton or 1 ton?
Ford ½ tons, (F150) GM, (Chevy, GMC) ½ tons, (1500) Ram, (Ram 1500) Toyota, (Tundra 1/2 ton,) Ford ¾ tons, (Super Duty F250,) GM, (Heavy Duty 2500) Ram (Heavy Duty 2500.) Ford 1 tons, (F350,) GM, (HD 3500) Ram (HD 3500.) Ford 1 ½ tons, (Super Duty, F450, F550,) GM, (Heavy Duty Series 4500. 5500)Ram(4500, 5500) MrTruck Top Pick truck and trailer accessories
#1a Long box or short box?
#2 Do you need a diesel or gas engine and what’s the mileage, and break in period?
The down side.
Diesels costing over $10,000, to pay for themselves with better mpg, need to be driven a long time, or pull trailers constantly, the cost of the diesel option will be minimized. You know diesels are louder than gas engines. If you buy a diesel with a manual transmission, it will require more skill to shift. In very cold conditions, (-10 F) you will need to plug in block heaters and be sure you are using blended fuel, #2 and #1. Normally diesels run on #2 diesel. #2 has lubricating qualities that make it oily, smelly and stays on your hands for a few days. #1 diesel is like kerosene or jet fuel and less oily. The lubricating properties in #2 are what gels when extremely cold. Oil changes will cost twice as much or more than gas trucks, and in area’s where you are required to have an emission test on trucks, the diesel emission test costs more and sometimes are required more often.
#3 What do you need to know about diesel fuel, winter, maintenance, and emissions?
Most of these diesel engines have a bleeder valve on or near your fuel pump to drain off water from the fuel filter, diesel engines are prone to condensation in the fuel tanks and fuel lines. Semi-tractor trailer rigs have dryers on the fuel lines to eliminate water and large fuel filters. If you pay close attention to servicing your fuel filter, air filter, oil and oil filter, and radiator service at the right intervals you should expect to join the 300,000-mile club.
In Colorado emissions are tested every year in certain Front Range counties. You get 2 years emission exemption when the truck is new.
#4 Which transmission will work best for you? Warning about overdrive.
The newer automatics on the Ford, Chevy, Ram and GMC have the same load rating whether it’s manual or auto. But again in the mountains the more gears the better and you can leave it each gear longer when you are down shifting a manual transmission. The rest of the time diesels are a pain to shift all day if you are using it as a car. If you are only going to pull 10,000 #’s, a 3/4-ton will do. If you were in the future planning on hauling larger loads, then the 1-ton or larger would be better. Generally the factory dually or cab and chassis have larger brakes and axles and the newer one’s on the Ford, Chevy and GMC will be 4 wheel disc brakes which are great at getting rid of the extra heat generated braking down hill.
#5 Duals or Single Rear Wheels?
I eventually went to duals, mostly because I pulled my trailers on dirt roads. Dirt roads are hard on the magnets on the trailer brakes. I soon discovered not to count on the trailer brakes. And duals on the truck will surprise you on their ability to stop you. On a factory dually not a cab and chassis, the inside tire matches the front tire. When the snow got deep I would take off the outside duals and they would track fine. On a factory cab and chassis the rear duals splits the front track. With duals you also need to carry your hammer or bat just like the big boys to check the air pressure more often. You won’t be able to look at duals to see if they are low unless you’re loaded. So get in a habit of checking the tire pressure. If you have a flat on one of the duals for long, they can loosen up the lug nuts.
I have pulled a 32′ gooseneck for years behind a 3/4 ton and later a 1 ton dually on the plains. I went to a dually just for the braking advantage. My trailers were triple axles with electric brakes and I usually pulled on dirt roads that ate up the brakes and the magnets that activated them. With duals on the truck I could count on stopping where as I couldn’t depend on the trailer brakes. Generally duals are a pain if you don’t need them.
For heavy campers I like a dually the best. They are a pain because they are 8 ft. wide. Extra tires make me feel safer. Campers are notorious for side wind. I recommend air bags or aftermarket overload spring on the rear. This should stabilize it. This is true whether a single or dual rear wheel.
#6 Which axle ratio do I need, limited slip axle or not?
I personally like lower gears. Dodge is the truck you want to choose axle ratios wisely. If you are using the truck for a car, I recommend higher gears like 3.20 or.3.55 rear axle ratio for better fuel mileage especially with the new 10-speed automatics. If my customer was planning to pull trailers in the mountains, I recommended the 3.75 to 4.10 ratio. The lower axle ration, 4.10 also helped the truck run cooler under a load. I have had several customers come to me after they spent the $40,000 to buy the wrong truck and now they can’t pull their new $70,000 R.V. trailer in the mountains without overheating. This is the financial term Up-Side-Down came from. It’s a retirement nightmare. Axle ratios vary across the country on lighter duty trucks, ½ tons, because of elevation. The new truck computers will adjust for elevation with constant adjustments to air volume, injection pressure and timing.
Limited slip differentials
Generally in a limited slip rear end a clutch engages when the right wheel, which is the driver, spin’s, allowing both rear wheels to give you traction. It’s usually beneficial to have it unless you are pulling heavy loads most of the time and on dirt or mud wearing the clutch in the differential.
As for limited slip or locking rear axles, I like them. They will get you rolling without the 4×4 a lot of the time. I have friends who pull trailers a lot in mud, sand and snow in Eastern Colorado who won’t buy a limited slip axle because they are spinning their tires a lot and wear out the clutch in the differential on the limited slip axle.
#7 Will this truck pull my trailer?
Always read your owner’s manual about your particular trucks weight limits, pulling limits, and gross vehicle weight rating!
#8 Bed liners, resale and safety.
I was surprised when I moved to Denver to sell trucks and saw used five year old pickups with beds that looked new. My trucks on my farm-ranch, it had to pay for itself. After I dropped the first salt block and 1500# big round bale in the bed, it just didn’t look the same. But that’s where bed liners come in. They can keep the dents from lowering your resale value. If you don’t haul a fuel tank or fuel containers in your truck bed, the cheaper plastic bed liners will work. If you haul fuel cells or fuel containers you are better with a sprayed in bed liner or nothing at all. I’m a fan of sprayed in bedliners. They help keep your truck bed more resalable. The ones with more grit help keeps cargo in place. The new carbon type that comes with new trucks is slick.
#9 New or used, truck and auto dealer.
NEW verses USED
We have all heard how much you loose when you drive a new car off the lot. The people you hear this saying the most from are the USED CAR SALESMAN. They make more money on used than new. Auto prices drop like a rock no matter whether they were used or new. You don’t have an invoice on used vehicles and you have no way of knowing exactly how much they traded it in for. Very few people pay full retail for new vehicles and then there are those rebates. It would surprise you how close the actual sales price of a new vehicle and a one-year-old one are. And you know the new one wasn’t raced to the airport by 100 different people. I actually know people who trade every year and never change their oil. Some of the used vehicles make it all over the US that have come from the last hurricane. You can see the water damage on the starters and exhaust systems. Some manufactures, especially have different settings from the factory by the altitude of the states they are sold in.
Now in trucks, since they have better resale value and generally last longer, can be priced even higher at one year old than new. I have seen that happen often. To see a significant difference, you need to go back 3 years
in trucks. The 3/4-ton also holds their value better than 1/2 ton’s and extended cabs or crew cabs 4X4’s are the kings. In 4X4’s used, can be a whole new experience. Since you won’t know how much off road use it had, a
4X4 can create it’s own payment! It seems that every repair on the bottom of a 4X4 costs $2000. If you are the first owner of a truck, especially a 4X4 or diesel and you take care of it, can last you decades. I see a lot of people buying diesels that don’t know anything about how to take care of them.
Should you buy a used truck from a New Dealer or a used dealer?
There are several great used car lots, ones that have been in families for generations. And there are several that are high pressure, and target you for one big sale. I’ve known used lots that send buyers all over the country buying the last flood, hurricane, hail, tornado damage vehicles at auctions and ship them home for the repaint and rebuild. Ever wonder how used lots have the latest model year vehicles? Manufactures also sell the lemons they can’t fix at those auctions. Watch out for the newer models with low miles thinking there is still factory warranty left. They don’t all have it. If you live in a small town, usually the used lots can’t be too bad and have to stand behind what they sell or they get escorted out of town, either financially or otherwise.
When it comes to recommending the best truck, everyone has their opinion and few of us humans won’t let facts get in our way. When I was growing up, my dad had a model 92 Massey combine and my uncle had a John Deere model 95. And of course we thought the Massey had to be the best combine around. Then a funny thing happened. I ended up helping my uncle harvest wheat one summer. I couldn’t believe how easy the John Deere was to grease and work on. Everything you worked on was on the outside where you could get to it. The Massey had everything buried to the inside. Since you always have to work on combines, I was impressed. But you know I never could convince my dad to buy a John Deere! That’s how trucks are. They keep improving and if you get the latest model, (after their first year). You will like it much better than your old model. Brand loyalty
My opinion of present truck choices.
I’ve owned all three trucks, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge, plus Toyota, Mazda and Isuzu, pulled with all three and for about 10 years have sold all three. I like to see competition in trucks and now they are very close. You can’t beat the power of diesel but if you are only going to use it for pulling a few times a year, you have to decide the economics between gas and diesel. In looking for a new truck check them all out. The best truck last model might not be the best the next model.
#10 First year blues.
I know you’ve heard it before. But we all give in to our emotions. The new model looks so cool you just have to have it! I’ve seen, bought and sold first year models. As hard as the manufactures try to get the bugs out, trucks are very complicated products. It sometimes takes thousands of vehicles in use to find the weak links. Sure they give recalls when most things are discovered, but have many trips to the shop do you have time for? Reviews and evaluations by Consumer Reports of the new model of truck take time. They are usually complete half way through the year. The reviews you see before and at the introduction of a new truck are usually from the manufactures and do you think they are objective? You’re the one stuck with the payments and downtime, don’t be the Guinea pig too.
“The Truth about Warranties. Don’t give yourself TWO auto payments!”
Dealerships use what is called “leg.” They are pulling yours! When working your payments, they left room for extra interest and a warranty in the payment they quoted you and you worked so hard to get them down to. Another good reason to “Get the money First.” I’m not against warranties; in most cases I recommend them. I just think you should know what you are buying and for how much. Not being rushed into it at the last minute when you’re tired and just want to go home in Your New Truck, or at least New to You, so you start signing everything in site. As I recommend getting your auto loan before you go shopping for trucks, I also recommend doing your homework before you buy the “Free” used truck warranty from a dealer. All warranties are not created equal. Some are down right worthless! They only cover what doesn’t break down. Then try to get your new “Best Friend the finance manager,” to return your phone calls! His phone’s not working. He still love’s you; he just doesn’t want to talk to you anymore.
Why not test drive your warranty like you do the pickup you’re looking at!
You hear a lot in the press about recalls. It’s has become pretty much common place to have recalls from the manufacture. They will fix these problems, but it shows you that they trying to make vehicles too fast. With the big boom in the economy that we had for the last 10 years,” yes I did say had,” manufactures had record truck sales. There were assembly lines with workers jogging along the trucks putting parts on. Some manufactures had 3 shifts running 24 hrs a day. Some manufactures put up quick factories in Mexico and South America. I have seen several trucks built “99 to 2000” with defects that only come from too much hurried production. Now it looks like the manufactures will have more time in increase quality, at least I hope that’s what they will do with this slow period. But buyer beware! There are dozens of computers that run automobiles today. The time when you could work on your own car or truck is passing. Mechanics today have to plug their computers into your car’s computer to find the problem.
You don’t usually know what the first owner of the truck did with it. Did they pull a trailer? A really big trailer? Did they do all the required maintenance? Did they race uncle Jed to the airport in it? Especially with diesels, filters and servicing can mean the difference between it lasting 50,000 miles or 300,000 miles. This is when you need the truck health insurance! Four-wheel drives have twice as many expensive parts, as do their cousins the 4×2. When things like transfer cases, differentials, axles and trannies go down, you could be adding several zeros on the end of that check you trade the mechanic for your fixed again pickup truck or you could be glad you test drove the right warranty for 30 days to see if you like it. Don’t forget the rental car that’s included with the warranty, if yours breaks down. You will still need to get to work to pay the car payment even without the car. And since moving to the big city, having “road side assistance” to fix or tow my vehicles, gives me great peace of mind knowing my family won’t be stranded on the freeway!
New and used Warranties, Emergency Roadside Assistance, Towing, And they Call You Back!
“The User Friendly Warranty”
And that’s my opinion of ten years in the auto business wondering why everybody is some kind of a manager in the auto business, who makes a commission when they smile and shake your hand. Me I’m just a “good ole country boy trying to make good ” in the city and save the farm! I recommend what I believe in. Back when I was still farming and ranching, I used to go to Denver and help my friends buy trucks from the “Sharks” late on Saturday night at the end of the month. Most of the sales people you meet are regular people, but things get interesting when they bring you their “manager.”
“The Truth about Auto Loans. Always get the Money First!
“Just take it home today, we’ll deal with the bank. Don’t worry about it. We do this all the time!” Dealers like to “Hook You,” into thinking you are approved for a loan and then after you show your new vehicle to all the neighbors, they call you. And guess what, they can “Get you Financed,” with more down or a higher payment! The other side is they send you home in your new vehicle when they know they can’t get you financed. Then they call you to tell you how hard they worked but that “darn ole bank” just wouldn’t budge! Now they Have to charge you that famous $1.00 a mile and $100 a day while they were “working so hard for your loan.”
Refinance Your Auto Loan!
Now here is my disclaimer: I drove a tractor in a circle summer fallowing for a couple of decades, so as I told the folks in Denver when I moved here 20 years ago, if you think I can spell or remember the grammar I learned in high school, you’d be incorrect. I don’t know everything and can make mistakes. Just like listening to the preacher on Sunday, you better follow along in the Bible to be sure. Sorry for any mistakes they were not intentional.
© Copyright 1999-2021 H. Kent Sundling all rights reserved including digital rights