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Cash for Clunkers

2009-05-07 18:58:02.960779+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

This evening we're going to look at a truck that was advertised on Craigslist, a 1991 Ford F-250 that's got a claimed 36k miles on it. The story is that the guy's grandfather bought the car, drove it for a few years and 28k miles, it's been sitting in a garage for 8 years, and then they put another 9k miles in the past 3 years. They want $3.5k, the '91 F250 has a number of recalls on it that probably weren't fixed in that time when it wasn't being driven, so there could be some pros and cons. And back-of-the-envelope says this truck would cost about $.15/mile in gas versus a new 1/2 ton truck at $.10/mile. So I figure that since we're going to be up in Cotati this afternoon we may as well look at it, but I'm not sure it's the right vehicle for me.

[Edit: Didn't get the truck.]


Apparently there's a attempt by Congress to implement a "cash for clunkers" program that'd give you $3,500 if you have a vehicle that gets less than 18MPG (the article says "car or light duty truck" and you trade it in for something that gets at least 4MPG more, $4,500 for something that gets 10MPG more. The official EPA fuel economy web site doesn't give me a "search for cars with less than 18MPG that'd qualify" feature, but I'm kind of wondering if there isn't the opportunity for some Craigslist speculation here...

[ related topics: Politics Automobiles Economics ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 13:58:52.58596+00 by: meuon

An F-250 is a pretty hefty truck. I'd say you want the smallest truck you can put a sheet of plywood in. Which, can be a small truck.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 14:55:18.920035+00 by: Dan Lyke

My thought process pushing me towards larger (and some of the shorter F250s are actually shorter than the modern F150) was that I'm the sort of person who will try to bring home that extra sheet of drywall. At some point I will exceed the payload of a 1/2 ton truck, that's almost a given. And my impression is that the bigger commercial trucks are engineered for more miles.

On the other hand, I'm not sure it's worth the $500/year extra (at current gas prices) that a bigger truck would cost.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 16:24:16.058674+00 by: ebradway

Yep. You can always rent a truck when you need something bigger. One of the things that kept us from buying a new car already is that we can rent a car whenever we need to go on a road trip - for less than a single monthly car payment even. And I never even have to wash it!

Have you thought of just getting a flatbed trailer to pull behind the Maxima?

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 18:04:27.883907+00 by: Dan Lyke

Actually I've considered a $200 Harbor Freight trailer (small enough that we could store it upright somewhere), but I had a couple of concerns:

  1. I pulled a trailer home from Burning Man once with the Maxima, and it was squirrely. The Maxima, being front wheel drive, isn't rated to pull a very heavy trailer.
  2. On said return from Burning Man, once we got home to Fairfax (at Oh dark-thirty) I figured it'd be easiest to go around the block, which had a hill in it. That adventure ended in a "you only get one chance at this" backing down the hill (with cars parked on either side) to turn around at the last intersection, 'cause the clutch wouldn't handle the pull.
  3. I've had a heavy trailer get away from me once. I was driving a heavy rear wheel drive (4 wheel, but the front hubs were unlocked) Land Cruiser and when that trailer decided to go a different direction it swung that truck around like it was on ice. Did I mention drywall? And compost?
  4. "somewhere". We don't have much extra space to store a trailer.
  5. VW specifically says "don't tow anything" with the Jetta SportWagen.

On renting, one of the reasons I'm interested in a slightly older truck, and don't care much about cosmetic damage, is that when I'm shoveling compost I don't want to have to worry too much about dings in the paint coming off my security deposit.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 18:12:00.633431+00 by: Dan Lyke

(Oh, I should also note that that $500 is probably way high; my car is the trip car right now, and I used the mileage we're putting on that. Post TDI I'm betting my vehicle will see a lot less mileage.)

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-08 20:58:51.449144+00 by: ebradway

Trailer nightmares... Understood!

And I've seen a bit of your lifestyle. I can't imagine you burning through an extra $500 in fuel a year. You'd just take fewer unnecessary trips in the truck.

#Comment Re: made: 2009-05-09 04:47:38.74932+00 by: Larry Burton

Some things I've noticed about hauling heavy loads with pickup trucks. It is easy to overload a 1/2ton pickup but a 3/4 ton pickup has been less easy to overload, at least for me. It's amazing how heavy what looks like a small pile of pea gravel in the bed of a truck actually weighs. It's also amazing how well a fully loaded pickup rides. I think brakes are actually the more limiting factor on cargo loads than the suspension but you would never notice it except at the critical moment you need to stop.