Venturing into uncharted waters... Looking for advice on buying my first truck.

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
Hello all,

As the title suggests I'm doing some research on the possible purchase of a used truck. I caveat everything that I say following this sentence with the fact that I have never owned a pick-up truck and know next to nothing about the "Big 3" when it comes to their various iterations. As you can see from my signature, I have been a Land Cruiser guy for a while now. However, despite what some people might say I know they are not the end-all be-all vehicle that some people profess. I fully appreciate all vehicles and their strengths and weaknesses. Having said that I plan to own at least one LC for the rest of my life :ylsmoke:. I'm also not going to tout the Toyota or die mentality otherwise I would clearly not be in the Domestic forum.

A little about me:

I'm in the Navy. I have a wife, twin 1 year old girls and 2 dogs. We like to surf, mountain bike, travel and just be outdoors in general. We are trying to instill very early on in our girls a sense of travel and adventure. We have already taken them on several trips and so far they are traveling great. Now that we have survived the first year of twins we are looking to get out more, do some camping and explore this great country.

I know that our LC could probably tackle about 90% of what we want to do. However, it is the other 10% that has brought me here. I never would have thought prior to twins that I would call a 100-series LC small. But pack in 2 car seats, 2 dogs (80lbs and 35lbs) and try to wedge in a double-BOB jogging stroller and you run out of room VERY quickly. I forgot to mention the LC is currently my wife's DD and soccer mom stock with the exception of the fact that I removed the running boards. I did manage to get it offroad once before the twins were born...
My DD is a Saab which was my wife's car until it died on her twice (once in the middle of an intersection) while she was pregnant and I was on deployment. I'm not going to deal with that car too much longer so I've started looking at our next vehicle.

My plan as it stands now:

I would like to have a vehicle that I can DD, tow with on occasion (more on this subject in a minute), drive cross country and camp with my family. Basically, as close as you can get to a go anywhere do anything type of vehicle. I know up front there will be compromises and I'm not looking to take this next vehicle across the Rubicon or anything like that. I would like to be able to get down some trails to do some off the beaten path camping or drive to the top of the 14ers in Colorado for example.
Towing - I was fortunate enough to fulfill one of my bucket list items and buy my dream car about a year before we found out we were having twins. That car is a '96 911 (993). Not the most practical car but my wife has refused to let me sell it even though the rational side of me has tried to sell it twice since having the twins. She is definitely a keeper!!!

Being in the military we move quite frequently so I would like to be able to tow this car when we move and ship the LC to our next duty station. Maybe one day I'll be able to take it to a real track and I would like to tow it there as well.
Another bucket list item I would like to fulfill when I retire is buying an FJ40 to take with us around the country as we travel. This is quite a ways down the road...

Camping - I'm very interested in a slide-in pop-up or hard-sided camper to add to the mix as well. I have no experience with them, but they look like a good place for young kids and to have a comfortable place to sleep and hang-out in bad weather if necessary.

So you can see how this is snowballing outside the limits of what my LC is capable of accomplishing.

If you are still with me, thanks for reading this far about a complete stranger! That's what makes this a great forum!!

Below is the initial list of what I "think" I want as a basis to start from:

- 4x4
- Diesel
- Manual tranny
- Manual t-case
- SFA
- Avoid all the 07+ diesel emissions requirements
- Enough space for 2 adults, 2 kids (currently, maybe 3 eventually), 2 dogs and all our stuff.

I generally subscribe to the keep it simple philosophy. I have no loyalty to Ford, Dodge or Chevy. So whoever can provide me with the best combination of the things I desire and be as reliable as possible is that I want to go with. When the aftermarket is concerned I have no problem saving my pennies and buying a quality product. I want to do it right and do it the first time.

I thoroughly enjoy researching this stuff and so far my research has led me toward Dodge. I have already subscribed to every Dodge thread on this forum that relates to the type of build I'm looking for. I'm a little OCD sometimes. But, I fully acknowledge my noobie status on this subject. I'm looking for the vast experience of the ExPo forum members to help guide me. Maybe a Ford or Chevy is the right answer??

Thanks again! Looking forward to hearing your opinions/advice and learning about trucks that I don't have a lot of knowledge on.
 
Last edited:

texasmedic

New member
Well you cant go wrong with Dodge and I understand your reasoning for not wanting to deal with the diesel emissions so here are a couple things to think about

1. You could go with a mega cab and that will have more room than your LC does in the passenger compartment

2. You could go with a newer hemi crewcab if you go that route i would suggest a 1500 with 3:92 gears it can actually tow more then the 2500 hemi and for what you want to haul/ tow the 1500 would be just fine unless you want an 8ft bed

3. The 2014 2500 and powerwagon have the 6.4L hemi

4. There are kits to remove the new emissions stuff for the newer diesels and are legal depending on what state you register it in the reason i mention this is a crew cab sounds like the best option for you

5. There is no reason to go with a manual tranny anymore unless you just like to drive them better them as the newer automatics get just as good or better MPG than the manuals now

I have a new 1500 and it has been able to handle everything i have put it through and can tow 10,000lbs I am also in the army so I know how moving go`s and have had no issues
 

ExpoMike

Well-known member
I'll let others comment on specific day to day pros/cons of specific models BUT I will put my .02 in with regards to the camper idea. If you are thinking of ANY slide in (pop up or hard side) you will NEED a minimum of a 3/4 ton truck. Don't let anyone kid you into thinking any 1/2 truck is truly an appropriate choice. Even a striped out, bare bones pop up, once you add all your people, dogs and gear is going to put you over the GVW of your truck.

In all honesty, since you are going to buy a truck (versus already owning one), figure out what type of camper you need and buy a truck appropriate for it. A pop up will get by with a 3/4 ton while a decent optioned hard side will likely need a 1 ton. Our Dodge and FWC pop up, loaded for a trip is sitting right at GVW. Don't look just at towing capacity as it doesn't give you any real idea of load capacity. Towing heavy will typically find the trailer with brakes, which helps stopping. A camper is on the truck and requires the brakes to work much harder than having a trailer behind you.

Also, under load, a diesel will return better mileage but does come at a higher maintenance costs. Modern gas engines are great for daily driving and no load, will get close to diesel MPG. If you only plan to have a camper on a few times a year, a gas engine will likely make better sense but if your camper will spend much of it's life on the truck, diesel hands down.

Good luck and hopefully others will give some good input.
 

98dango

Expedition Leader
With your manual tranny manual t case sfa. You pretty much have a dodge Ford made very few manual tranny trucks from 99+ the out there but not all that common. I love my short bed crew cab some days I want the 8' box especially when camper shopping.
 
Chuck,
Welcome to the forum. I am in the same boat as you but looking for a gas truck as I have heard that diesels are not good daily drivers due to taking longer to warm up and the high maintenence costs when something does go wrong. I have settled on looking for a crew cab for my needs and have found that the Chevy/GMCs have the highest tow ratings while the F150s and Ram 1500s trail behind. I am eager to hear what input others have so I can apply this to whatever truck I choose.

Lastly, I wanted to thank you for your service. I received a medical discharge on my active duty date so never had the opportunity to serve.

Sincerely,

Kevin
 

Larry

Bigassgas Explorer
Really? We need another “help me pick out a (diesel) truck” thread to add to the other pages full of threads just like this one, that will yield the same results, with the same truck suggestions by the same members as all of other threads?

 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
What? You couldn't find a bigger not-so-smiley face Larry? :D

Chuck, as a fellow surfer and multiple TLC owner I'll gladly offer my two bits. ExpoMike nailed it. If you have even the slightest thoughts of a slide in camper, get a 2500 or 3500.

I'm not brand loyal, other than having favorite vehicles for every market segment. For a fullsize crewcab its either an "old body style" or OBS F350 with either a 7.3 diesel, or 7.5 gas. The issue? None are newer than '97. My other favorite is pretty much what you describe: a 5.9 Cummins Dodge, pre '07.5

I think Larry is right in that there are quite a few threads on this, but since you have a fairly specific list of wants, it is easy to point you in the right direction. 2003-2007.5 Dodge gets you what you want. Not much else does. The '03-'04 are a tiny bit simpler mechanically speaking, than the '04.5-'07 models. Buy whichever is the newest, cleanest, stockest (that's a new word, by the way) you can afford. A few suspension mods are fine, but I would stay away from ones with engine mods. Gas engines in the big trucks are fine, but seem to be harder to find in clean condition, as they tend to be (in my area, at least) base model fleet trucks. The one issue with gassers is unless you get the 6.8 V10 Ford, none of them will have much power once you put a camper in it and tow your car or FJ40 or? You also will pay more for fuel.

I suggest you go drive a few at the dealerships so you can try different brands and models, and see what you like. At least this way you can get a sampling of how they drive, as coming from a 'Hundy, they might all seem a bit vague/loose.

PS: Is that you in your avatar pic? Goofy-footers gotta stick together!
 

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
I appreciate all the replies, even Larry! Don't worry Larry I'll still talk to you even though you are a Chevy (gas) guy. :sombrero:

Well you cant go wrong with Dodge and I understand your reasoning for not wanting to deal with the diesel emissions so here are a couple things to think about

1. You could go with a mega cab and that will have more room than your LC does in the passenger compartment

4. There are kits to remove the new emissions stuff for the newer diesels and are legal depending on what state you register it in the reason i mention this is a crew cab sounds like the best option for you

5. There is no reason to go with a manual tranny anymore unless you just like to drive them better them as the newer automatics get just as good or better MPG than the manuals now

I have a new 1500 and it has been able to handle everything i have put it through and can tow 10,000lbs I am also in the army so I know how moving go`s and have had no issues
I would like to keep the overall length of the truck as short as possible. Am I crazy to think that I would fit everyone comfortable in a QC or regular CC?

Good to know on the emissions stuff. I'm not against the environment but it does get expensive to maintain these systems overtime... Maybe I can go the WVO or Bio-diesel route.

I didn't realize the 1500s could tow 10,000 lbs, that is pretty impressive!

Manual tranny is my preference but not a deal breaker.

I'll let others comment on specific day to day pros/cons of specific models BUT I will put my .02 in with regards to the camper idea. If you are thinking of ANY slide in (pop up or hard side) you will NEED a minimum of a 3/4 ton truck. Don't let anyone kid you into thinking any 1/2 truck is truly an appropriate choice. Even a striped out, bare bones pop up, once you add all your people, dogs and gear is going to put you over the GVW of your truck.

In all honesty, since you are going to buy a truck (versus already owning one), figure out what type of camper you need and buy a truck appropriate for it. A pop up will get by with a 3/4 ton while a decent optioned hard side will likely need a 1 ton. Our Dodge and FWC pop up, loaded for a trip is sitting right at GVW. Don't look just at towing capacity as it doesn't give you any real idea of load capacity. Towing heavy will typically find the trailer with brakes, which helps stopping. A camper is on the truck and requires the brakes to work much harder than having a trailer behind you.

Also, under load, a diesel will return better mileage but does come at a higher maintenance costs. Modern gas engines are great for daily driving and no load, will get close to diesel MPG. If you only plan to have a camper on a few times a year, a gas engine will likely make better sense but if your camper will spend much of it's life on the truck, diesel hands down.

Good luck and hopefully others will give some good input.
Good points! After I posted the initial post I did a few hours of more research. I completely agree with going for a 2500 at a minimum.

So far I'm liking the FWCs. Basically a similar set-up to what you have.

With your manual tranny manual t case sfa. You pretty much have a dodge Ford made very few manual tranny trucks from 99+ the out there but not all that common. I love my short bed crew cab some days I want the 8' box especially when camper shopping.
I figured I narrowed it down pretty quickly to an older Ford or Dodge. I just wanted to see if there was anything on the Chevy side too.

Chuck,
Welcome to the forum. I am in the same boat as you but looking for a gas truck as I have heard that diesels are not good daily drivers due to taking longer to warm up and the high maintenence costs when something does go wrong. I have settled on looking for a crew cab for my needs and have found that the Chevy/GMCs have the highest tow ratings while the F150s and Ram 1500s trail behind. I am eager to hear what input others have so I can apply this to whatever truck I choose.

Lastly, I wanted to thank you for your service. I received a medical discharge on my active duty date so never had the opportunity to serve.

Sincerely,

Kevin
I hope this thread helps you too. That's why I decided to post it. Thank you VERY much for your support!!

Really? We need another “help me pick out a (diesel) truck” thread to add to the other pages full of threads just like this one, that will yield the same results, with the same truck suggestions by the same members as all of other threads?
Larry you have some very nice trucks! I figured I was being pretty specific with my requirements in this thread. I already have an idea of what I want, just wanted to see if there was anything that I was missing.

Chuck, as a fellow surfer and multiple TLC owner I'll gladly offer my two bits. ExpoMike nailed it. If you have even the slightest thoughts of a slide in camper, get a 2500 or 3500.

I'm not brand loyal, other than having favorite vehicles for every market segment. For a fullsize crewcab its either an "old body style" or OBS F350 with either a 7.3 diesel, or 7.5 gas. The issue? None are newer than '97. My other favorite is pretty much what you describe: a 5.9 Cummins Dodge, pre '07.5

I think Larry is right in that there are quite a few threads on this, but since you have a fairly specific list of wants, it is easy to point you in the right direction. 2003-2007.5 Dodge gets you what you want. Not much else does. The '03-'04 are a tiny bit simpler mechanically speaking, than the '04.5-'07 models. Buy whichever is the newest, cleanest, stockest (that's a new word, by the way) you can afford. A few suspension mods are fine, but I would stay away from ones with engine mods. Gas engines in the big trucks are fine, but seem to be harder to find in clean condition, as they tend to be (in my area, at least) base model fleet trucks. The one issue with gassers is unless you get the 6.8 V10 Ford, none of them will have much power once you put a camper in it and tow your car or FJ40 or? You also will pay more for fuel.

I suggest you go drive a few at the dealerships so you can try different brands and models, and see what you like. At least this way you can get a sampling of how they drive, as coming from a 'Hundy, they might all seem a bit vague/loose.

PS: Is that you in your avatar pic? Goofy-footers gotta stick together!
I am a goofy-footer. That's me in Kauai. Only me and 1 friend out that day in perfect little waves.

You guys have pretty much confirmed what I had been thinking based on what I know so far. I think my sweet spot is an '03-07 Dodge Diesel, 2nd Gens a possibility too. I have seen some Fords on here that I would be more than happy with.
I think what I really need to determine now is the cab configuration and the bed length. Since, its going to be a DD, my mind says keep it as compact a unit as possible. Which to me means QCSB or CCSB, but I need to balance passenger comfort too. I'm still learning what these configurations are so if I'm getting these mixed up please let me know. My Father-in-law has an F150 with an extended-cab (suicide rear doors) and the 8ft bed and to me that is a really long truck.
I guess I need to dive into the numbers and see what the lengths are in the various cab/bed configurations. For all I know at this point a Crew Max/SB (if they make that) could be as long as an extended cab/long bed.

I've also been looking into the suspensions and it looks like Carli, Thuren, Deaver and King are the people to talk to in the industry. This is one area that I definitely want to do the research and make the right decision the first time. Being a DD, I'm concerned about the vast difference between being unloaded/loaded 85%/15% of the time and how the unloaded ride will be affected. Is that where airbags help fill the gap when loaded? I obviously have no experience with this either.

Thanks again for all the comments! I couldn't imagine trying to tackle this without the vast experience of this forum.
 

kojackJKU

Autism Family Travellers!
while the same cannot be said for the ford or chev desiels, the cummins system is super reliable. I would not even look at the ford or chev desiels. they are trash. The dodge heavy duty is the only truck I would consider at this time.
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
In my area: Go out to your busy intersection. Find a chunck of rusty dust. Pretty safe bet that's an 04 or earlier Dodge, or a Toyota frame. I spend all week on the road. Might see 1 old Dodge. The rest turned to dust years ago. Hopefully they've improved paint on newer models. I'd like to have another choice of used truck in the future than just Ford.
-
You posted no requirements that scream DIESEL. If you don't NEED a diesel, don't get a diesel. Todays gas engines are better sorted, and cheaper to repair/replace. Don't believe all the hype. The Cummins has it's own set of problems, no matter how many giant "C" stickers you add to your truck. You can pay extra for fuel use, or you can pay extra for repairs. But paying extra for fuel doesn't involve downtime and momo techs. Todays "Consumer grade" diesels are as reliable as British cars. A crank no-start condition, 10 miles offroad, will kill your love for diesels instantly.
-
Don't overlook auto transmissions in the big trucks. Manuals lack in just about every performance category in these trucks now. And a fullsize has a hard enough life off road. Adding a manual just makes it harder, and less Detroit Locker friendly. Auto trans are cheaper to rebuild than a ground up manual in my experience as well.
-
Ford Superduties are easy to find with manual xfer cases and hubs. Auto hubs can be replaced with Warn manual hubs in 30min.
 

daveyboy

Adventurer
I know the Cummins is reliable. How does the rest of the chassis hold up over time?
My Dad's 3/4 ton just broke a tie rod end this week. Luckily, he was only a couple of miles from the shop (he has a construction business) and wasn't towing a gooseneck. My family's business has used NOTHING but Dodge Cummins pickups since they came out. The front ends are junk.

I drive a Tundra... .
 

redthies

Renaissance Redneck
Good to see all the usual suspects are here with their usual arguments. Myself included, of course.

Dodge front ends are their weak point. We all know it. Personally, I would prefer to replace a few ball joints and a trackbar with quality parts, than say, take a cab off to change a gasket. Or an entire engine.

There is a future requirement for a diesel in Chucks original post. He wishes to have a slide on camper and tow a Land Cruiser or his 911. You could certainly do that with a gas engine, but I am making the assumption that fuel economy numbers with at least two digits (not including decimal points) would be appreciated.


I have only been in the waves around Poipu on Kauai. I went up to Hanalei Bay, but it wasnt surfable. It's a beautiful island!
 

Flys Lo

Adventurer
I wouldn't discount a 1/2 ton truck either. They will be cheaper on gas/maintenance, cheaper to buy, and will do everything you have outlined, not to mention be a lot more comfortable with ride/handling.
The 1/2 trucks today have over 10k tow ratings, and with payload packages well over 2k payload (a 4x4 F150 supercrew has up to 2330lbs). If/when you do get a camper, as long as you get a lighter popup, you will be well within the weight ratings.

I personally would find a slightly used 5.0l F150 supercrew. I am sure the Dodge/Chevy equivalents are just as good, just I am less familiar with them.
 

ChuckB

Expedition Leader
Well, you guys are definitely giving me something to think about!

I'm going to have to dig up some GVW numbers and see where everything falls out.

I'll be honest. I want a diesel purely because I want a diesel. Same goes for the manual tranny, I just like them. But, I'm willing to keep all the options open at this point.

In general I think redthies and I have a similar mindset.

OT: Kauai is one of my favorites. Each island has its unique charm. I lived on Oahu for 3 years.
 

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