Reliable truck for around $5k?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by datalink7, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. datalink7

    datalink7 Lifer

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    Hi all,

    Want to get a truck, but I won't use it that much so I don't really want to spend a lot of money on it. The requirements are:

    1. Must be able to pull another car on a trailer (so when I move I don't have to hire someone to move my other car)
    2. Reliable
    3. Can drive decent in poor weather

    Mostly I will only be using it to move about when the roads are too slick for my car, to take the dog to the dog park or vet, or to occasionally get stuff from the store.

    Most other things don't matter that much, including air conditioning or even radio (though I'm sure most will come with a radio).

    I was thinking a Ford Ranger would be a good bet, but would like input from the forum.

    Also, around what mileage should I be looking at? I've only ever bought new cars and never used so this will be a new experience for me.

    Thanks.
     
  2. msmy300z

    msmy300z Member

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    Personally I think the ranger is a great option. You can get one cheap an the 3.slow will never break. Consumer reports says its a reliable truck (2wd). But it is very small and underpowered as trucks go. If you need a reliable truck for occasional use, it would be a good fit
     
  3. SilthDraeth

    SilthDraeth Platinum Member

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    If you want one to pull a trailer with a car on it, and not just a car dolly, then F150/F250, 85-95 would probably work well and be in that price range, might be able to get it with 4wd as well.

    That is what I would get, and er that is what I want to get.
     
  4. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Ranger is a little wimpy for towing 3000lbs+.

    Only two real choices for cheap half-tons (IMO). Chevy or Ford with a small block V8.

    You might find a Tundra in that price range. But I think with the domestics you can get more truck for your dollar; and they're reasonably reliable and the cheapest/easiest thing to fix.

    Personally I'd avoid 4WD. Just more stuff to break, and I don't think it's something you need for just occasional on-road towing. Save 4WD for off-roading, I say.
     
  5. SpatiallyAware

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    I love rangers (I own one) but I wouldn't pull a car with it unless some sort of short distance emergency situation.

    I have loaded mine down plenty, 2 motorcycles in the back and 3 on a trailer, but that isn't nearly as much as towing a car.

    When you say roads are too slick, you mean ice/snow? If so, 4wd is a must.

    Have you considered an explorer or expedition?
     
  6. SarcasticDwarf

    SarcasticDwarf Diamond Member

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    A couple of things:
    - IMO, something the size of a Ranger is going to be way underpowered for towing any distance. If you needed to tow a trailer across someplace flat like Kansas @ 50mph it would probably be fine, but you will not be able to *safely* tow it through any kind of hilly terrain.
    - A RWD pickup is WORSE than any car out there in winter weather. You will get decent traction on snow, but none at all on ice. You should be able to pick up a truck with 4WD in your price range.
     
  7. Black2na

    Black2na Senior member

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    99-04 chevy silverado. your gonna be able to find a few decient examples in your price range. the Fords from the same years CAN be troublesome the 5.4 tritons like to eat plugs and the bodys on them are plauged with rust and rot ive repaired more then i would care to count. had a 03 silverado for 2.5 years till it was more money to fix then it was worth. liked that truck never left me stranded.
     
  8. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    Once you're moving, 4WD does absolutely nothing for you. Unless he plans on actually towing in snow/ice, there's really no point. 4WD will help him to get going from a stop- that's it.

    I like watching people in 4WD trucks slide backwards down hills while I pass them in...well, anything. Ah, southern drivers...

    Though I won't argue that sandbags or some such in the back of a RWD truck during winter weather is a pretty good idea. I just hate the whole '4WD = invincible' perception that some people have.

    And yeah, I'd rather have cancer than a 5.4L Ford truck.
     
  9. BudAshes

    BudAshes Lifer

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    I spend a lot of time driving in the snow and you are a moron if you think 4wd isn't necessary. Get a ford expedition, it's cheap and will do everything you need it to.
     
  10. phucheneh

    phucheneh Diamond Member

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    I guess I'm a moron.

    On the plus side, I know how to drive. Saying '4WD is a necessity in snow' is utterly asinine.
     
  11. BudAshes

    BudAshes Lifer

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    Depends on where you live maybe. I live on the west coast and our snow is very wet, they won't even let you on the road without 4wd and snow tires.
     
  12. rommelrommel

    rommelrommel Platinum Member

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    You need a full size to tow a dolly'd car, period.

    Also, where do you live on the west coast that requires 4x4? Snow tires and maybe chains, but by those rules 80% of the public would be banned from the roads when it snows.
     
  13. SarcasticDwarf

    SarcasticDwarf Diamond Member

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    That is incorrect, 4WD helps you *maintain* traction while accelerating in ice and snow. Granted, it does nothing when you are keeping a steady pace.
     
  14. CurseTheSky

    CurseTheSky Diamond Member

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    DO NOT get a Ranger if you're looking to tow another vehicle. That would be fine for towing a lawn tractor or something, but not 3000+ lbs plus a trailer.

    Look for an F-150, Silverado, or Dodge Ram in good shape. I'd be less concerned about the company that made the vehicle and more concerned about how the owner(s) took care of it. If you can find one of the 3/4 ton or 1 ton (F-250, F-350, Chevy 2500, etc.) trucks in good shape, that's even better. Price tends to go up steeply though.

    For towing a vehicle, you're going to want something with a trailer brake controller, and preferably with a tow package (transmission cooler, etc.). Obviously you'll need a hitch and related parts, but I figured it's worth mentioning since I've overheard people talking about trying to tow a loaded trailer on the bumper ball...
     
    #14 CurseTheSky, Nov 25, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  15. marvdmartian

    marvdmartian Diamond Member

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    I'd guess someplace with mountain pass roads. There are some passes that, when you get wet, heavy snowfall in the passes, the highway departments will only allow vehicles through under certain conditions (chains, 4x4, etc).

    However, that IS on the left coast, and it IS in the mountains. FWIW, I've found drivers east of there to be a bit more knowledgeable about driving in the snow. ;)
     
  16. Smoove910

    Smoove910 Golden Member

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    Funny, I've seen sooooo many 4wd vehicles in the barrow pit or flipped on their roof because they have the mentality of "I have a 4wd, the ice isn't slick with MY vehicle"... granted, these idiots usually have California plates, so that kind of explains things a little.

    My theory is believe what you want, all vehicles still have 4 wheels contacting the road. 4wd or not, ice = ice and it's slick no matter WHAT you drive. Once you lose respect/common sense when driving in icy/slick conditions, that's when the problems happen!
     
  17. nerp

    nerp Diamond Member

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    GMC Yukon Denali.
     
  18. jlee

    jlee Lifer

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    This. And it makes it possible to keep a steady pace uphill.
     
  19. desy

    desy Diamond Member

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    4X4 better traction on hills and curves with good tires and better ground clearance
    Cons, worse on fuel, longer stopping distances and greater maint costs and repair
    I haven't 'wanted' 4X4 in a while cause the FIL has one if I need one
     
  20. spaceman

    spaceman Lifer

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    well datalink
    for 5k, its going to be one in the best shape u can find
    should score u a really decent p/u
    anything v8 will be fine for towing or older f series with the 4.9
    if it was me,id want something fuel injected,v8 as straight as u can find
    they all have their gremlins so just go w cleanest example
     
  21. SyndromeOCZ

    SyndromeOCZ Senior member

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    I personally would only touch a chevy in your situation. I've had chevys around for years and they've always held up(Even when abusing the snot out of them). I've had a few fords and dodges too but they just aren't the same.
     
  22. railer

    railer Golden Member

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    I drive my 2001 F150 4x4 in the winter, and, like any truck I've ever been in, it's terrible in the snow/ice when in 2wd. Lots of torque + no weight over the driven wheels = terrible traction and a propensity for the rear end to swing around if you're not careful. A good set of snows and some weight in the back would certainly help with that....but there's really no comparison compared to being in 4x4 mode. It's very difficult to swing the rear end around even on purpose when the front wheels are also pulling in 4wd. Yeah, if you hit ice going 80 on the interstate you'll be eating some trees whether your in 4wd, fwd, or rwd. But for general driving in crap winter weather 4wd in a truck is much, much better than rwd.
    I'd be shocked if my 2001 with 125k on it was worth more than 5k. I'm sure you can get an early 2000's 1/2 ton chevy or ford 4wd for under 5k if you keep your eyes peeled.
    If you don't drive on hills, and your roads are plowed in the winter....you can probably get away without the 4wd and save some money.
     
  23. Jimzz

    Jimzz Diamond Member

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    For 5k don't be to picky. The ones I would look for are Chevy, GMC, and Ford. I would skip dodge due to trans issues.

    Canyon/Colorado would be the smallest I would get and skip the 4cyl for towing 3000k+. The 5cyl might work for that but it be close.

    Skip the rangers. I own one and like them but I would never tow a full size car with one. I had a nissan titan before my ranger and towed my 73 Corvette and it did it very easily, but I would never tow something like that with my ranger.

    Full size GMC/Chevy/Ford from 96+ should be fine. Look for condition over name.
     
  24. datalink7

    datalink7 Lifer

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    Thanks for all the input. I'm certainly not looking to be too picky. I don't even really care if there are some dings on the thing as long as it is fine mechanically. It is mostly going to be used for random utility and some winter driving when I can't take the best (Shelby GT500) out.

    Again, I appreciate it and am starting my search :)
     
  25. BudAshes

    BudAshes Lifer

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    It's not where I live, it's where I go. I spend a fair amount of the winter in Lake Tahoe area, driving in places where 2 -3 ft of snow in a day is not unheard of.