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Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-17-2011, 8:09 PM Reply   
It's almost exactly 1 mile from my driveway to the ramp. Odd as it sounds, I haven't owned a truck in the 8 years I've owned a boat. Always had enough people close by with trucks that I have never had to worry. This year, though, it's already become an issue. With gas prices the way that they are, less and less people are daily driving big trucks. So... My budget is $1500 but it seems reasonable given that I will be in it for less than 150 miles per year. Here are my criteria:

- 4x4 (would be nice to be able to drive it the 1 or 2 days a year that it snows more than my car can handle.)
- Don't want to constantly wrench on it.
- Needs to be regular cab long box or short-box, extended cab. Driveway is tight and need a shorter wheelbase to manuever.
- 3/4 ton/1ton would be nice.... but not totally required?

Boat is an 87 Supra Saltare. ~6500lbs with a full tank of gas and trailer. About at the limit of an older 1/2ton truck.

There are plenty of Chevy, Fords and Dodges available in that price range but all have 175k+ miles. Any of them going to be more reliable than the others for that mileage range or is just going to be a roll of the dice? LOADS of suburbans available. A few expeditions w/ the 5.4L. Just wondering if anyone has info on things to for sure stay away from or advice on engines that are bulletproof over 200k miles.
Old     (Silverbullet555)      Join Date: May 2010       06-17-2011, 9:12 PM Reply   
mid 80's K2500 or V20 Suburban. They will all have high mileage. We bought our 88 3/4 ton Suburban 5 years ago for $2500 with 157000 miles on it. It has about 165000 miles now. We towed long distances so it had more work done to it, but we are still in it for less than 4K after replacing rear seals, new brakes and a front end rebuild.

For short, flat towing, a SBC does fine and they will run forever with basic maintenance.

The only thing to really watch for a mid to late 80's is the fuel pump. They do go out and will cost you about $500 to have changed.

Last edited by Silverbullet555; 06-17-2011 at 9:13 PM. Reason: more info
Old     (cowwboy)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-18-2011, 8:00 AM Reply   
I used to have a 5.4 expo, I sold it at 200k. The only thing i had to replace on it was a alt and a axle seal. Mine even had air ride and didn't have issues with it.
Personally in that price range I'd stay away from the expo's with air ride as it's not cheap to fix.
The gm 5.3 is also a amazing motor. But the trans in the earlier models had a cast sungear shell and not a forged and was prone to breaking.
I'd look for the newer generation of motors. Like the gm ls (5.3/6.0) over the sbc and same for fords modular v8's. Personally I only have experience with the dodge diesels so don't know much on dodge gas. But the casting and machining on the new motors and R&D is soo much better on the newer motors it's hard not to stick with them.
But miles are hard to judge without looking it over. My 200k 02 f150 still runs smoother and looks better then my buddies 70k mile f150. It's all about how you care and treat them.
Old     (talltigeguy)      Join Date: Sep 2003       06-18-2011, 10:46 AM Reply   
I am still holding a grudge against my 99 suburban. Stay away from late 90's suburbans. I do not know anyone that made it to 100K without a new tranny. The brakes are inadequately designed and will wear out very frequently.
Old     (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009 Location: NJ       06-18-2011, 2:54 PM Reply   
Does your Saltare really weigh 6500 on the trailer? I had mine figured for maybe a bit over 5000 lbs

In any event, I'd suggest an '80-'96 Ford as first choice. Simple reliable trucks. I tow my '89 Saltare with an '86 F-250 Supercab with a Dana 60 swapped up front, converted from 351w/C6 to 460/ZF5 (460 is around 425 HP and 570 ft/lbs), 3.55:1 gears, 35" tires. No trouble with power or stopping.

Personally I'd never do a independent front 4x4 or a small block, though for your use it probably doesn't matter too much. The TTB fronts suck, they wear ball joints and you'll spend as much fixing a worn out one as you would to swap in a Dana 60, which is why I did a 60 under my truck. I'd also never do another small block. I've towed plenty of miles with 302s and 351s but it's no comparison to a 460. I get about 10 MPG at 70 MPH towing my Saltare.

In your neck of the woods...
This one I believe is 2wd, but still...
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-19-2011, 11:09 AM Reply   
Thanks for the advice!

It's for sure over 6000 and I only know this because of how it tows in comparison to other boats that I know the weight of. It feels like it's at the limit of a 97-01 F150 5.4 w/ towing package. Highway speeds are a challenge and the truck has to work very hard.
Old     (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009 Location: NJ       06-19-2011, 11:54 AM Reply   
If you're just doing a mile to the ramp and that's all, a 351w will be fine. By the time it irritates you, you'll be at the ramp already and no big deal. A 3/4 ton or up would be good for the larger brakes though.

If you plan to do the occasional highway trip with the boat definitely get a truck with either a 460 or 6.9/7.3. With my 460 I can cruise at 70 MPH uphill and passing people. With a 750 double pumper it may pass into the gallons per mile when climbing and working hard, but still averages 10 MPG towing. I've been there and done with small blocks wide open climbing hills in low gear with 18 wheelers flying past me. Not fun.

Note that first truck I mentioned looks like a good deal. Hell, the front axle in that truck is worth $600-$800 alone. The last ZF5 I bought I paid $350 for, and I've got $2500 into my 460. Yeah that truck's fuel injected, but fuellie heads are actually supposed to be better for torque as cast than the earlier carb heads, as they have better port velocity at least on the intake side. I'd offer $700, see where you wind up, and if you care spend the other half of your budget on a cheapie paint job so it looks a little nicer. As for the rust, new fenders are under $100 each. If you can weld, patch panels for the bed wheel wells are about $25 per side. Paint it to match your boat... haha I'm thinking of doing mine two tone red/white to match mine.
Old     (magic)      Join Date: Mar 2002       06-19-2011, 1:05 PM Reply   
Just a thought, I picked up '96 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with 5.2 V8 motor and all wheel drive for $2000 about 9 months ago. Just hit Craigslist hard and really work for your deal.
Old     (olmoomba)      Join Date: Apr 2010       06-20-2011, 12:24 PM Reply   
Not selling it but I have an '02 f250 4x4 crew lariat 5.4ltr. 235,000miles had it since new. Only had to replace the 2 front hubs (wheel bearings went out) and about 3 coil packs (50 ea). Most recently, shocks and the idle arm for steering. That's it. I used to run hot shots in it with overloading payload capacities and towed my 23ft V-drive with it 45miles one way, 2x/week. Still have it as my 3rd. So i think even the older 5.4ltrs won't be an issues at 100k miles.
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-20-2011, 2:49 PM Reply   
Thanks for the feedback! I've got (4) 5.4 fords that I've had regular dealings with and they all needed head gaskets or valve work around 150 - 170k. Not sure if I'm unlucky or if you're lucky.

I'm keeping my eyes open for an older 3/4 ton. Unfortunately, most of the stuff around here is pretty rusty.
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       06-20-2011, 4:02 PM Reply   
Given your budget, it will be hard to find something for $1500 that doesn't need wrenching and isn't rusted out. If you had a higher budget I'd suggest looking for something down south and driving it back, but that eats into your budget pretty quick.
I'd personally look for an 88-97 Chevy/GMC. I'm from the upper midwest and have had several of these trucks and they seem to be the most bulletproof and hold off the rust about the best.
Don't worry about getting a 3/4 ton for your use. If the back end is to saggy with the boat hooked up, throw some cheap helper springs on it.
Yes $1500 is a roll of the dice. You may luck out and find some old man selling his old truck that was well taken care of though.
You'll up the quality of vehicle alot by looking at 2wd's as well. A good set of snow tires and weight in the back wil get you around pretty good in the winter.
Old     (jeff_mn)      Join Date: Jul 2009       06-21-2011, 7:58 AM Reply   
No way that boats weighs almost 7k lbs..

I'd take a strong look at that first ford listed above. Solid deal.
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-21-2011, 4:01 PM Reply   
Waiting on better photos from that first F-350. Nervous about the amount of rust. This truck is going to sit outside and I doubt it will get washed very often. I wouldn't be afraid to tackle new fenders, patch panels, etc but it seems like it's going to be more work than it's worth. I'm thinking I'd have $500 in body work, $500 in a maaco paintjob and at least a couple hundred in other odds and ends.... Probably be better off just finding a cleaner truck in the $2000 range at that point?

Going to look at a late 80s Chevy 2500 tonight. It's pretty clean, has a detroit locker rear end and new paint. The guy is asking $2500 so I'm going to see how serious he is about the price....

I'm not in a super hurry so I'm just going to keep looking and hope the right thing pops up in my budget.

Thanks for the advice!
Old     (kenteck)      Join Date: Jan 2005       06-21-2011, 4:39 PM Reply   
I just sold this chevy 3/4 4x4 for 1500.00, towed my boat just fine, a little slow on long hills, but did the job, just got a suburban for 1700.00 tows just fine.
Attached Images
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-21-2011, 5:24 PM Reply   
Whoa! I would have jumped on a deal like that.... Just aren't any that are anywhere near that clean around here. I've been looking as far south as MO/KS and even down there they tend to pick up some rust.

So... can anyone weigh in on this setup? 84 Chevy K25. 350ci. TH 400 tranny. 80,000 original miles. 4:10 gears. 208C transfer case. Detroit locker. New brakes and new carb.

Guy is asking $2500 but says he's pretty flexible on the price.
Old     (cadunkle)      Join Date: Jul 2009 Location: NJ       06-21-2011, 8:54 PM Reply   
I can't comment on the Chevy aspect, I'd buy a Ford. Aside from that, I'd never do another small block. Not worth the hassle and aggravation of an underpowered truck. 208 cases suck, I'm on #6 in my truck and have a 205 under my bench I need to swap in. If you don't use it in anything but ice/snow it'll be fine though. The 4.10 gears will help, but it's still a torqueless wonder. For a mile to the ramp in all honesty it'd be fine, but $2500 is about twice what I'd pay for something like that, even if it was a comparable Ford with no rust.

If rust is an issue, look FAR south, and out west. Yeah it could be a 2-3 day drive home and a lot of gas, but if you really want something nice it's worth it.
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       06-22-2011, 9:25 AM Reply   
A truck like Ken sold is what I was talking about. That's what you need to look for.
RE the 84 K20, sounds like a deal for $2k if it's not rusted out and checks out reasonably well mechanically. If the smog equipment/air pump is still on it, take it off. I believe the Turbo400 trans is not OE. Think they went to 4sp OD auto trans in 81-82. 200R4 (junk in stock form or 700R4, holds more power). Either way a solid TH400 is very reliable. 4.10s and no OD will make the engine scream on the hiway unless it has big tires. The Detroit is a good locker, but watch out on the ice that it doesn't come around on you!
About the simplest truck to repair you can buy as far as that goes and SB chevy engines are dime a dozen if it needs replaced and they all fit. Put a 307 out of a 69 Malibu in my dad's 85 Chevy pickup back in the day and the only thing that didn't bolt right up and work were the exh manifolds.
Classic look too, but no where near the creature comforts of an 88-up.
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-22-2011, 3:12 PM Reply   
I'm also finding 94+ Suburbans all over the place that are nice and clean. I think I'd prefer a pick-up, but.... those trucks sure look nice.
Old     (kenteck)      Join Date: Jan 2005       06-22-2011, 5:26 PM Reply   
give and take, sometimes i wish i had my truck and sometimes im glad i have the room for everyone in my suburban...
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-23-2011, 3:30 PM Reply   
Can you get a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood in a suburban? It would be nice if the truck didn't end up being good for only 1 purpose.
Old     (baitkiller)      Join Date: Jan 2010       06-23-2011, 4:53 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by wotan View Post
Can you get a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood in a suburban? It would be nice if the truck didn't end up being good for only 1 purpose.

Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       06-23-2011, 4:54 PM Reply   
If you can get a 94-up Sub for around $1500 that isn't rusted out or beat to sh.....t then go for it.
Yes you'd rather have a pickup, but said yourself you will only be towing the boat to the ramp and driving it a few times in the winter.
Unless you're going for a load of cow manure, a Sub will do 90% of what a pickup will do and given you haven't had a pickup in a long time you don't have a "need" for one.
Get a Sub!
Plus then you can haul all your buddies to the lake that don't have trucks anymore and get gas money for the boat and for the tow rig out of them!
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-24-2011, 11:58 AM Reply   
Just found a '96 Suburban 2500. It's exactly what I need. $1600. Very little rust. Black (yes!) Looking at it this weekend.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       06-24-2011, 1:18 PM Reply   
Yes, a Suburban will swallow a 4x8 sheet of plywood.
Old     (wotan)      Join Date: Jul 2008       06-24-2011, 1:19 PM Reply   
Oh... and the pickup vs. suburban issue has 1 more pro con to consider. I can load my stand up jetskis in a pick-up without too much worry about it. They'll probably leave the suburban less than perfect after leaking 2-smoke gas/oil and water everywhere.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       06-24-2011, 1:25 PM Reply   
for $1600 who cares! Put down a mat.
Old     (magic)      Join Date: Mar 2002       06-24-2011, 2:52 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by wotan View Post
Just found a '96 Suburban 2500. It's exactly what I need. $1600. Very little rust. Black (yes!) Looking at it this weekend.
If I remember right, that is the first year GM moved from TBI to FI motors. Better power and mpg with the newer motors. I don't remember if the early FI motors had any issues, might be worth looking into. I had '95 K2500 'Burban that I towed my old boat with. Rear brakes needed adjustment all of the time, ABS system SUCKED (I just disabled it), was so nice to have that much room.
Old     (kenteck)      Join Date: Jan 2005       06-24-2011, 4:21 PM Reply   
ahh, the 96 up suburban, 2500 its probably a 454, but the vortec style is the way to go, 1600 is a good deal! if you get a year with it, without putting a ton of money in it, it just about paid for itself......
Old     (Thrall)      Join Date: Oct 2010       06-27-2011, 9:41 AM Reply   
Don't know if you pulled the trigger on the '96, but if you're up for a drive, there's one here in CO that looks good.
Check out the SOmeone selling a '91 Sub, low miles, cherry shape, no rust, custom conversion pkg (ghey, but whatever). $1800 I believe. It's been for sale 4ever b/c it's a 2 wheeler and they don't sell out here.
Nonetheless, probably the lowest mi, best shape rig for under $2k, just lacking 4wd. Throw some bad@ass snow tires on the back and some sandbags in it in the winter and let er rip.


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