Old vs. New

(I believe I got the article that is subjecting you to this post via the Woodpile Report.)

Last October, I did something I’ve wanted to do for over 20 years–I bought a pickup truck. Before anyone reminds me that it wasn’t so long ago I was lamenting how retirement constrains one’s purchasing power, thank you, I got the memo from Mrs. Freeholder first.

However, I did not go into debt for this purchase. I spent some of what remains of my inheritance. Rather than gracing some dealer with $50k plus for one of their over-blown, over-gadgeted new trucks, I bought someone’s Dad’s truck–a 2001 GMC with “only” 149,000 miles on the odometer. So it’s more like a “new-to-me” truck.

Mrs. Freeholder often jokes about one of my Dad’s favorite sayings–“It’s just more stuff to break.” I believe I first heard this in 1973 when asking why our new car didn’t have such niceties as power windows or power locks. In those days, he was much closer to right than wrong. I can remember an uncle’s vehicle that spent more time at the dealer’s than in his driveway because the power windows refused to work more than occasionally. After the warranty was out, he sold the car and bought something without all the power-this-and-that’s. “Less stuff to break,” was the way I believe he put it.

Times do change and the quality of things improves. I owned a 1998 Olds Intrigue that was one of the 3 best vehicles I ever owned. In 14 years and 250,000 miles, the grand total of things that had to be replaced (other than wear and maintenance items) was a starter and a power steering rack. The power windows and locks worked just fine the last time I coasted to a stop with a dead transaxle.

Compare that to its replacement, a 2011 Subaru Outback. What a turd. Blessed with a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) and a torque converter that could crap out never or in the next 15 minutes, I wish I’d never bought the thing. While my Olds was under one recall, this thing has been recalled for everything from its puddle lights to the infamous Takata exploding airbag initiators, which I was told that it didn’t have until it did. While I have to give credit where its due and state that it has never stranded me and never broken down-plus the power windows and locks still work-I have little confidence that it will see 250,000 miles before something drastic happens to it. It’s going to get sold sometime soon, which will more than pay for the pickup and the various things I’ve done to it so far.

Why did I buy an older truck? Partly because it cost roughly 1/10 of what a new truck would have cost, even if I payed cash for it. More important was the lack of complexity when compared to a new truck. No “Advanced Fuel Management“.  Half (or less) of the “control modules”. No CAN bus. An engine (the 5.3 l) and transmission (4L60E) that are about as thoroughly debugged as it’s possible for something automotive to be. Steel (even if it is thin) rather than aluminum body panels. Excessively well supported by the aftermarket. Still relatively capable of being worked on under a shade tree. All the things Detroit’s newest aren’t.

Evidence seems to point to the concept that I’m not the only one who is effectively writing off new vehicles. Price used cars and especially used trucks. They’re going for far more than you’d expect as long as they are known to be reliable.

Oddly enough, one of the most maligned (with good reason) car companies has figured out that people aren’t totally enamored with the “latest and greatest”. Dodge is still selling-and selling well-their “Classic Ram”, a pickup that is mostly 2009-ish technology.

As noted in that article, a lot of the techno-wizardry in new vehicles is simply to keep the government and the greenies off their back while their engineers desperately try to violate the laws of physics and the marketplace so they can keep selling any vehicles at all.

Yeah, this isn’t going to end well. Undetermined yet is for who.

I’ve done some upgrades to the truck. First I stripped out nearly every light in it and replaced them with LEDs. I still have to figure out how to deal with the high beams-it’s a physical space issue. I had a Line-X bedliner shot in. I’ve changed half the fluids to synthetics and will get the rest as maintenance intervals roll around. I’ve done brake jobs, front and rear. I’ll be replacing the stereo and adding in a ham band mobile. It needs some cosmetic love.

What I’m not doing is adding in things that cause more complexity than they worth–there is no Tire Pressure Monitoring System in my future, for example. I own several perfectly good tire pressure gauges and I’m not afraid to use them. It had three 12v sockets, two of which now have USB chargers. I’ll add the optional backup camera to the stereo.

Plus I added a toolbox and customized it.

Not bad for a $100 toolbox, huh?

2 thoughts on “Old vs. New

  1. Not a bad purchase at all. It's a good thing newer vehicles are more reliable than old-tech because they seem to be cripplingly unfixable by Joe Shadetree. Occasional updates on your progress would be appreciated.

    I detect a certain theme in your toolbox's under-lid stickers which is marred only by the Army sticker. Go Navy! 🙂

    The tire pressure monstrosity system, I detests it. Whatever the threshold is for false alerts, it easily exceeds such.

    Are the LED replacements home-brew or off-the-shelf modules? I had mixed success home-brewing LED license plate lighting; there was much pleasing light but the harsh environment apparently led to premature failures. Oh, well, it was fun trying to solder upside-down in a confined space.

  2. The LEDs are all off the shelf. Head, tail and fog lights are Spyder. Headlights have bulbs from JDMAstar. The taillights are LED marker, brake and turn. I replaced the incandescent backup lights with specially designed LED replacements. Those could be brighter. The overhead in the truck is an LED replacement bulb specially made for those weird fixtures. All the rest of the interior bulbs were bought in quantity, since they're all the same bulb.

    All the Spyder untis came from CarID.com. Everything else is from Amazon. You can get the housings on Amazon, but they are cheaper no-name stuff. Don't know how good they might be.

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