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Craigslist curiosities

2009-04-22 21:18:06.823316+00 by Dan Lyke 32 comments

I'm looking for a beater pickup. We're getting the Jetta Sportwagen TDI for Charlene, and that'll be her commuter and our road trip car, and since I don't drive much other than road trips it'd be great to have something to, for instance, drag loads of manure or rental equipment or lumber around in. So I'm watching Craigslist North Bay Cars & Trucks by owner to get a feel for what's out there, and maybe jump on something.

The first thing to which I should not succumb is the lure of the classic. The most awesome was a 1929 (I think) Model T truck, done up in white (clearly not the original paint), but I could repair it, or at least the wheels and a good portion of the frame, in the wood shop, and it's not like we need to get to the dump quickly. Also in there are all the '50s trucks that run, their owners like to advertise that they'll do 60 on the highway, some of them even have 4 speed transmissions! My neighbor has such a beast that he uses for utility work (and his daughter has one that she's using as a platform for building a camper), and I keep thinking "a little wire brush work, about 20 cans of Krylon and...", but: no.

The second temptation are the cars that it'd be cool to have, from the old T-birds to an '80s 528e for dirt cheap; I loved the one I once had, get the engine rebuilt and... well... the old ones would be just for show, we don't have the garage space, and the 20 year olds can't really be insured for what they're worth to me, and what the hell am I doing I don't need another car anyway?

The puzzlers are things like the red '04 Ford F-150 that keeps showing up for $4k, but each time from a different location and with a slightly different description. Makes me wonder what the scam is, but not enough to run it to ground. Anyone else know? Is this as simple as a "lure people into a meeting and mug 'em for cash"?

[ related topics: Automobiles Woodworking ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-22 22:35:17.306832+00 by: ebradway

A base 2004 F-150 with a rough body and high miles would easily be a $4K vehicle. Of course, it'll probably never be worth less than $4K! But, given the ad patterns, it's likely a scam. Wire us the money and we'll ship it to you across the country!

I thought I had a deal on a 2002 VW Jetta TDi. The guy even had good pictures of the car in front of a business than matched his Yahoo email address. I asked for additional pictures and he delivered! It was one of these "buy this car for cheap and we'll even ship it to you for free!"

I started to smell a rat when the guy wanted me to use an online escrow company whose website really, really sucked. A little digging (mostly with Whois) quickly showed that the escrow was one of those propped-up for phishing. I contacted the FBI and was told they can't do anything until I lose my money. So I told AutoTrader about it and the guy's ad disappeared soon after.

If you just want a beater, check out the auto auctions for something with a salvage title. They can do amazing thing straightening frames nowadays - especially for something that'll be carrying heavy loads for short distances.

The other option: Ford's currently offering $6000 cash back on a new 2008 F150.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-22 23:26:26.836548+00 by: markd

Cockeyed has some stuff on the craigslist car scams : http://cockeyed.com/citizen/ac.../craigslist_fraud_outlined.shtml and http://cockeyed.com/citizen/accord/100_postings/45_fakes.php

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 03:41:18.799285+00 by: Dan Lyke

Eric, yeah, this one is decked out and the pictures and the text proclaim it pristine, and the pictures are the same across several different ads. I'll have to check out the auctions, I already missed one low miles but beat up body truck what looked perfect. And, yeah, I think Charlene and I are going to entertain ourselves by going to the Ford dealer.

In terms of used vehicles, I think based on reliability records I've kind of narrowed it down to a Ford, a Chevy Silverado 1500, or a Toyota.

Although I do find it interesting that on some models the GMC and the Chevys look identical, even down to list prices on the base model (the GMCs usually have options that can make them more decked out), but the GMC trucks have reported reliability in the mid range, where the Chevys have relatively good reliability reports.

Mark, thanks, I may follow up on one of these just for giggles.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 03:59:47.773285+00 by: ebradway

Cockeyed was hilarious! Just blew an hour looking at the "how much is in it" pages... I'll have to repeat the "how many beers are in a keg experiment"!

Are you looking at Consumer Reports reliability ratings? A friend, who always drove Lincolns and Fords bought a Honda Accord a while back. After numerous visits to the shop, he came to the conclusion that Hondas aren't more reliable than Fords - it's just Honda drivers have convinced themselves that their cars are inherently better. So, even though they spend as much time in the waiting room and paying for repairs, they think their car is more reliable. He likened it to Mac owners...

That said, I've owned several Toyotas - none with less than 100K - one with well over 200K. I've also owned one Honda that I sold at 240K. My first car was a 1972 Mercury that had about 140K miles on it when my parents sold it - not because there was anything wrong with it other than the vinyl seats! My wife has a 1998 Ford Ranger with 170K miles on it. It's been our only vehicle for three years now. Of course, it's actually a Mazda in disguise.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 11:02:27.226233+00 by: meuon

My favorite trucks have been my '53 Ford F100 (started as a 6 cylinder, ended as a 351w) and my '66 Shortbed Fleetside with a 429. I also respect and enjoy my '03 F150 4x4. If you are looking for a 'beater. older Ford 300ci straight sixes are wonderful beasts, but an older full size truck is extremely easy to maintain. If looking for a smaller truck, old Rangers sucketh. old Toyotas defy aging and parts are plentiful. Those mid-size Dodge trucks either get great reviews by their owners, or mumbles about demonic possession, I don't know what the difference is.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 12:53:57.421256+00 by: Dan Lyke

I read a bunch of bad stuff about the mid-sized Dodge trucks, including all sorts of front-end issues, springs going bad, tie rods breaking, which turned me off from them. I think I'm generally looking for something in the 100k miles late '90s range, which is about when this sort of thing pops up.

I was actually looking at the USA Today reliability ratings, which are a composite of a number of sources, but part of my conclusion from the GM vs Chevy thing was that there's probably a big expectation thing, especially since the GM trucks seem to be outfitted at a higher end.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 14:51:57.93914+00 by: ebradway

Second meuon on both in favor of the Ford straight-six (which my father still swears by) and against the Ford Ranger (which my father and I swore AT the last time we tuned it up).

Mazda makes great cars if you never have to go under the hood. Somehow, every Mazda I've owned (counting the Ranger as a Mazda) has required some super- special effort in normal maintenance.

The perfect work truck is probably a late 70s Ford F100 - just avoid the column shifter because it'll get stuck if you ever go straight from 3rd to 1st.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 18:29:55.353867+00 by: Dan Lyke

So the other thing I'm looking at here is that a Toyota or an F150 could very well be a thou or two more than other trucks (I'm looking in the "sub $6k" range, just to make sure I'm seeing the whole field). Thus I also have to ask myself what the additional potential maintenance hassles are worth...

For instance, I see an '01 Tacoma with 111k miles for $4750, and an '01 Ranger with 116k miles for $3700, both 2WD. The difference gets bigger as the trucks get older and larger.

Cue my rant about "why don't car makers publish usage costs the way aircraft makers do?" (yeah, I know, for one thing car hours/miles aren't as commodity as aircraft hours/miles).

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 18:34:15.272924+00 by: Larry Burton

For a full size truck you can't go wrong with the Chevy or the Ford. I think I'd look more to the Nissan and Toyota for the mid- to small-sized trucks. My Chevy C1500 Silverado just keeps going and going.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 18:41:50.522178+00 by: Larry Burton

Let me add something else. My dad was employed as a fleet mechanic for Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling company before he retired. The fleet contained both Ford and Chevrolet trucks. His records showed the Fords were slightly more reliable than the Chevys based on service incidents but overall repair costs were lower on the Chevys than on the Fords. Chevys are cheap to repair.

To compare just go to one of the auto parts websites and check the prices on brake disks, brake calipers, air filters clutches or whatever part you can think of and compare the replacement costs for similar parts on the various trucks to give you an idea of repair costs.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 20:33:41.173123+00 by: Dan Lyke

Larry, I'm beginning to think that the market for used trucks is actually fairly efficient, that repair costs are roughly factored into sales costs and it really doesn't matter what I buy. The Dodges are cheaper than the Chevys are cheaper than the Fords are cheaper than the Toyotas. Purchase prices on these things are dwarfed by insurance and fuel and other consumables (ie: tires, brake pads, etc).

So buy something that looks like a good deal, when the price to repair is more than an equivalent model on Craigslist scrap it and buy another one. It'll probably end up costing me roughly $1k/year in capital costs, or twenty bucks a week. We have an awful lot of "donate your car, running or not" thingies out here, so scrapping costs should max out at zero.

(And Eric and I have been having an email exchange which is reinforcing this for me).

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-23 21:13:49.351001+00 by: skrubly

Well, if you change your mind about older trucks, I'm willing to sell my primary vehicle - 1968 Ford 6cyl truck. It has a manual choke and the high beam button on the floor. Goddamn, I'll even deliver it to you in person. I'll trade for anything, especially a motorcycle.


#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-24 11:57:40.640831+00 by: Dan Lyke

Skrubly, lemme think about that... The "will trade for anything" kinda scares me, what don't you like about the truck?, but... Perhaps a trade for a '96 Nissan Maxima that's pretty sound mechanically but has been beat up cosmetically (both inside and out)?

Drop me a line or call me (415-342-5180 (cell) or 707-765-1321 (home)). At the very least I think we're in roughly the same geographic area, so we should meet some time.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-26 04:49:53.192986+00 by: ebradway

Hah! '68 Ford with the straight six is golden. You don't even have to smog the sucker. Of course, you may have trouble finding a mechanic that remembers how to work on it.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-26 11:55:14.378269+00 by: meuon

You won't have to. It's about a simple of a vehicle as can be had. And if you ever needed to, it's got the engine compartment of a battleship, you can fit -anything- in there. From 4 cylinders, to a hybrid/EV system.. to a big block .

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-26 15:21:06.685269+00 by: Larry Burton

The great thing about sixties era engine technology is that just about any repair can be done on the side of the road with basic hand tools. The bad thing about sixties engine technology was that repairing things on the side of the road was the norm.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-26 18:25:32.363562+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I'm coming back to something mid to late 90s and small (just 'cause our driveway is fairly small, and because I don't need larger). I've come to like modern engine technology, and ABS and airbags have something to recommend 'em. Toyota in that age range is about two grand more than others (mostly Ford Ranger), but after that I think it's a crap shoot.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-27 13:46:48.923796+00 by: Larry Burton

Dan, if the truck is something that you will only be driving back and forth between the lumberyard and home or the landscape supply store and home the dependability may not really be a worry. Keep the truck well maintained and mechanically sound and an all original Model T would probably be dependable enough for you. If it becomes more of a daily driver with the miles rolling up on it through the week then dependability becomes an issue.

Safety issues, like airbags or even padded dashes, are even a concern if you are only going to drive it around the block once a month.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-27 14:05:28.959467+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Unfortunately it is also going to be the thing that I drive to San Rafael or Santa Rosa occasionally, which says highway miles, which sends me back towards something with safety features. I've steeled myself to the notion that this may be a $6k truck, not a $1.5k truck, and we need to go look at new just to see what the deals are, but probably not 'til after Charlene's car arrives.

#Comment Re: Jetta made: 2009-04-27 20:32:58.149674+00 by: jeff

Speaking of which, are you two getting more excited about the delivery of your Jetta? I see more and more of them out on the road every day, it seems.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-27 21:05:59.52357+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Yeah, although a bunch of that is that I just want to lock in that sub 6% fixed interest rate before the inflation kicks in...

Also, I need to build a spreadsheet to compare the numbers Edmunds.com is giving me for TCO versus my expected use patterns and actual insurance patterns, but it's looking as though if I deal with this rationally a 2 or 3 year old truck may be only fractionally less more expensive to operate than a 10 year old one...

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-28 16:59:20.706556+00 by: ebradway

Being an old car fan, I used to balk at new car prices. I mean $25K for a compact station wagon? I also whined about "crumple zones". I mean, if you have a small accident it's going to cost $5K to fix it because it crumpled.

But then, as I got older, I realized that even a moderately bad accident could leave me with $25K in hospital co-pays. In that light, spending $25K on a compact vehicle that surrounds me with the latest safety gear makes alot more sense.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-28 17:06:33.371845+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, and ever since the Volvo salesguy gave me the awesome traction control demo, I'm now in the "computers have better reflexes than I do" camp. The Edmunds numbers are also (re-)convincing me that the 4MPG between 16 and 20MPG are way more important than the 4MPG between 40 and 44MPG...

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-28 20:08:21.074212+00 by: Larry Burton

Yeah, just change the units from mpg to gpm and it will give you a lot more useful numbers for comparing mileage.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 15:34:10.752795+00 by: ebradway

Europe uses "liters per 100 km". It really helps to understand why a change in, say, semi-truck technology resulting in an increase of 0.1 MPG is a pretty big deal. Flipping the ratio also helped us decide to spend a lot less money on a car that gets 31mpg highway versus the VW TDi which does about 40mpg. Once you factor in the price differences between gasoline and diesel fuel, the "miles per dollar" figure levels out quickly.

I need to figure out the in situ fuel economy of our Ford Ranger. I've long felt that replacing the light truck tires with passenger car tires might pay off within the life of the tires. And this truck is so small that it's not really rated to carry loads that require the stronger sidewalls of a light truck tire.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 16:21:51.698765+00 by: Dan Lyke

Something I'm having trouble finding is maintenance costs on vehicles over 5 years old. I stopped at a Ford dealership yesterday, and given some of the deals they're throwing around a new Ranger may actually have roughly the same cost of ownership as an older truck, even a Toyota. If repair costs on a ten to fifteen year old truck run fifteen hundred to two thousand bucks a year then it may just be worth buying new.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 19:37:15.381187+00 by: Larry Burton

The repair costs on my fourteen year old truck is at around $300/yr but I do the repairs myself.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 19:43:57.147462+00 by: Dan Lyke

Larry, yeah, I don't want another hobby.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 20:20:26.84423+00 by: meuon [edit history]

2003 F150 Crew Cab 4x4: $30k-ish new. 99k miles later, it's cost me a set of tires, 1 set of brakes and oil/air filter changes and gas. Oh, and 7 "washes". It's due for a tune-up (every 100k). But I run full synthetic oil and I expect it to last another 5-10 years and a total of $250+k miles. Maintenance costs should not be an issue for you.. Re: Tires, Buy real truck tires, they last forever. My 12 ply BFG ATKO's are awesome. 60k miles and have a lot of tread left,

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-29 21:54:02.694286+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, that's exactly what I figure for maintenance for the first hundred thousand miles, which means a Ranger costs roughly $2k/year for the vehicle for the first decade. The question is how that stacks up to a ten to fifteen year old truck, either Tacoma bought for $4-6k or Ranger for $2-4k.

Basically assuming that fuel and insurance are roughly constant for either decision.

It's seeming like unless I'm interested in doing my own repairs the cost is the same, at which point the question is new or slightly used. If they'll give me a fixed zero interest rate loan, the balance goes towards new, if I pay cash it's headed towards slightly used.

If I did my own work, the balance goes towards old.

Regarding tires, I'm guessing that Eric's thinking the car tires would give him better mileage. I'm wondering if, with softer sidewalls, the car tires would give worse mileage. Should be fairly simple to figure a gross vehicle weight for the car tires and not exceed that.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-30 02:22:40.621146+00 by: Dan Lyke

Just for amusement, here's TC attempting to find me a car back in '01.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-04-30 11:14:56.972501+00 by: meuon

I run 55psi in real truck tires on the road, instead of 30-something in car tires. lower rolling resistance.