September 6, 2018

R.I.P. Old Truck


Dan's old Chevy S-10 has finally given up the ghost. It quit on him a couple of weeks ago, so we towed it home. He thought he knew what the problem was and worked on that; no joy. Then he tried something else, then something else, until he reached the point where any of the remaining possibilities were all major fixes. Major expensive fixes. It was time to decide if it was worth it.

Dan bought the truck new in May of 1988, so it is a good 30 years old. It's had no major overhauls and has driven all over the country. It's been a true workhorse for us. A pickup truck is truly a handy vehicle for our kind of lifestyle. The question was, can we live with only one vehicle? Can we live with just my Jeep?

Original miles.

When I was a kid my family had one car. My grandparents had one car. In Dan's family, everyone had their own car, and I think that's pretty common nowadays. Busy lifestyles and jobs pretty much necessitate it, and it's an easy thing to get used to. But also, there's a feeling of security with an extra vehicle. With old cars, especially, because if one breaks down, the other is needed to pick up the stranded driver and make trips to the automotive store for parts.

If the problem with Dan's truck had been simple and he'd been able to fix it without a lot of time and money involved, we would have kept it running. But it had reached the point where problems were frequent. Now, facing a major repair, the question of what would happen after that had to be addressed. How much time and expense were we willing to continue to pour into it? What were the alternatives?

There is no new vehicle on our horizon. We're both home full time so there isn't a need for separate vehicles for jobs. We have a trailer for the Jeep and so can fetch and haul anything we could with the truck. We'll save about $100 a year on insurance and a little on tags and taxes. Fuel will be about the same because we'll make the same number of trips, just with one vehicle.

We knew this day would get here eventually, and it did. Such is life, eh?

R.I.P. Old Truck © September 2018 by

19 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

It got that way with my old '79 GMC. It just wasn't dependable anymore after 28 years and 400,000 miles on (parts of) it.

Goatldi said...

Gosh Leigh an S10 that is a really good truck. You most certainly got your money out of it! And then some. In my family we had one vehicle for most of the years I recall. I think that after I left my parents home my Mama got a car of her own.
Geoffrey's family had two boys in it four years apart and they both earned cars. His parents both had their own vehicle also. When we were married it was about eight years before we had two vehicles at the same time. Mostly because we lived "in town" and if I needed or wanted to go somewhere I either could do it on the weekend and use the car or take advantage of the local bus line which ran pretty well. I could also walk to many places. In our situation now most all of those options wouldn't work.

Gorges hearing about your '79 GMC made me smile. I have a 2006 since December of 2005 and it has been the best truck. It has a bit over half as many miles as yours. Any knowledgeable person I have spoke with always says that they will live forever if you change the oil and take good care of them.

Leigh said...

Gorges, it's sad when they get to that point, but it eventually comes!

Goatldi, it's been a great truck! Dan bought it because it would be easy to work on and it has been. The body and interior are what's been falling apart. If he was willing to do some expensive fixes he could keep it running. But considering our lifestyle changes in the past year and cost versus need, we really don't need two vehicles.

Kristina said...

That's one good truck. We used to have a "farm" truck in addition to our own vehicles. One to haul straw/hay, wood, and take kid goats to the vet, but that left the homestead long ago. Then I took the goats to the vet in my car, lol!

Caroline J. Baines said...

Leigh, the only change I made when our second vehicle died is I added rental insurance to my policy. That way, if my SUV gets totaled, I don’t have to pay for a rental until I can find a new (used!) car... it’s relativly cheap. Just a thought.

BTW, I sent you an email a couple weeks ago. Did you get it?

Ed said...

I think for most of the population, cellphones make redundant vehicles, well redundant. According to what I have read, youth these days are perfectly happy living their lives without any vehicles. Being from a different time and of course, living in very rural America, I can't imagine.

I guess if it were me and I were in your shoes, I might turn the truck into a winter DIY project. If it needs the engine rebuilt, I would attempt to rebuild it. If it needs a new transmission, I might attempt to take mine apart and see if it can be fixed. Certainly paying someone else to do it would be out of the question with that many miles but it could be a cheap learning experience since I've never done much of that kind of work and the consequences of failure won't change from where you are currently.

Mama Pea said...

Well, you know for certain you got your money's worth out of your truck! We go through the same dialogue about our old vehicles. Neither of us has to go out to a job either, but knowing you have that second vehicle to use for the times the main work horse is out of commission or most importantly, to use to rescue the other vehicle and driver should that occasion arise . . . it is a difficult decision to make scaling down to just one vehicle. I'm sure time will tell for you two as to whether you can comfortably make it with just the one vehicle. Having a trailer for hauling will go a long way to replace the pick-up truck.

PeteForester1 said...

412K miles??? That thing owed you folks NOTHING! That many miles on an S10 is phenomenal!

I don't know what I'd do without my pickup. Actually, scratch that; I DO know what I'd do without it; about a tenth of what I DO get done WITH the thing!

Chris said...

I like Eds suggestion, but it all comes down to long term costs, and how much needs a-fix'n. It gets to the point, you're spending more on the car every year in repairs, that it's cheaper without it. Even if it's hard to let go.

Woolly Bits said...

if it's any consolation we don't even have one car:) and we still survive! true, it's a major nuisance sometimes, but it can be done here. if nothing else works we use a taxi - which has pitfalls, too - there's only one hackney left in our area and of course he doesn't drive 24/7. but we both came here from very big cities in Germany that have loads of public transport possibilities - and it took some getting used to it not to be able to just hop on a bus. but there are trains and a few busses here as well - it's just a question of working around them most of the time. and with beginner driver insurance well over 5000 euros a year it would be impossible to start now - if we even had driver's licences. I wonder what people will do, when the whole system comes to a standstill and noone is able to drive anymore! at least I am already used to that:)
I think you'll get used to it quickly - it just takes a bit more planning than before!

Thistle Cove Farm said...

I am sorry about your truck; it's been a good 'un. I've still got our 1988 GMC Sierra and will keep it as long as possible. It's got farm tags and doesn't have to go far but with only 149,000 miles it would probably take me across the country.

Mike said...

Congratulations on running the truck for over 400,000 miles!

When I look back I think I actually grew up in Mayberry RFD, a town of maybe 300 people, no police department and a volunteer fire department with one fire truck. All the wives were stay at home moms’ and no one had two cars. Today, there’s hardly any stay at home moms’ a societal disaster in the making.
Today, almost everyone has two and sometimes three cars, one for the kids.

It’s a difficult decision time for you to repair or replace the truck. Unless there is a rod hanging out of the side of the block I’d step back for a few days or weeks and if possible have the codes checked. Today almost all issues are electronic and will show up on the code reader, could be something as simple as the fuel pump. This way there will be no wasted money trying this or that.

The truck will run for another 200,000 miles, it’s a good farm truck!

Just a note; whenever possible I buy my parts from www.rockauto.com good prices and they have everything in stock.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Old vehicles. Both the boon and the blessings of the self-sufficient. Well done on keeping the old guy going for over 400.000 miles! We added a vehicle a couple months ago when our son gave us his 1995 Ford Escort wagon. I use it all the time for run around trips (it's a manual shift, great mileage) while Keith uses our 2000 Dodge Neon for work. We only use our truck for taking livestock to the locker now. We'll keep the three running only until its not feasible to do this, and then as they die off one by one we'll just get by with what's left. I'm pretty sure that's the way our kids think about us!

Cockeyed Homestead said...

Got a homestead, you need a truck. While I've got a mini van which does feed, grocery and other stuff, there has to be a vehicle that handle the mule work on the homestead. Our truck might on;y leave the property once or twice a month, but when it does, it's a blessing. Think of the delivery charges alone a truck will you will save you Leigh.

Leigh said...

At last! A little time to get caught up! Even though the harvest is slowing down, fall planting is in full swing!

Kristina, I used to take the goats to the vet in the back of my Jeep! Mostly because we never had a pen in the back of the pickup for hauling them. We do what we need to do, don't we?

Caroline, forgive me, I'll have to go back through my emails. That's a good idea about the rental policy.

Ed, that's definitely a possibility, and I'm not sure what Dan will decide to do with it. No garage, though, means having to work on it outside, although that's never stopped him. If he succeeds, we can always put it back on the road again.

Mama Pea, that's the dilemma exactly. Our money situation really helps with the final decisions, though, and there's no use debating that. :)

Pete, we kinda wish it was the Jeep instead of the truck. Dan built new sides for our small trailer, and so far it's been adequate. We'll see how adequate in upcoming days, I'm sure!

Chris, that's always the question with an older vehicle. He replaced several inexpensive parts, but when those didn't work there's the question of whether the expensive part will work. If it doesn't, then it's another expensive part. If that works we think, 'whew,' but if it doesn't it seems like a waste of time! No easy answers with guesswork.

Bettina, I grew up with good public transportation as well, which is why I didn't get a drivers license until I was 19. I wonder, too, about how people manage with the escalating costs of insurance. But apparently they do.

Sandra, thanks! That's really great mileage for a 30 year old truck! Hopefully it will last you a long, long time.

Mike, thanks for the link! I have to add that Dan really laments how complicated vehicles have become with all their electronics and sensors. He says it's no fun working on them anymore.

Donna, may it be feasible for a very long time!

Jo, yes, a homestead needs a truck. :( It will take a minor miracle (at this point) to get a replacement. Fortunately we at least have a trailer for the jeep, and so far it's been working out.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

That is an admirable amount of mileage. The best I ever reached with a vehicle (1991 Ford Escort) was 314,000 miles and 13 years.

Having two cars (or more) is a convenience, to be sure - when we have been down to one car it almost seems like we are living in the dark ages! That said, my parents are retired and have two, but really only use their smaller coupe for most of the driving and the truck for hauling things.

And yes - insurance is frightfully expensive. Eventually, I suspect it will lead to the demise of lots of people driving (or finding a new insurance model).

Renee Nefe said...

Sorry about your truck. I am not sure I could handle it if we were one vehicle again...we had that when we were in Korea and it drove me nuts! Hubby's current car has been in need of replacement for a long time...but he just isn't ready to commit to a new one yet. :-/ He wants to run this car into the ground and since it is over 20 years old it is well on it's way. Too bad they don't make them like they used to.

Mark said...

Hi Leigh. Love the S-10! My 2003 crew cab with just under 300,000 miles (still a long stretch from your 400k+) just became son-in-law's work truck. Likely too much road salt damage to get that one to 400k.

Sorry about your S-10 reaching the tipping point on "worth repairing".
That's a hard call to make. Getting it to 400k in the first place is a testament to Dan's dedication to regular maintenance as well as some good work on GM's part. Nicely done!

I agree about a pick-up being a really useful tool for rural living. I have a 92 Dodge Dakota for my "farm truck" and it works well as long as I don't mind jumpstarting it if it sits more than a few days, and it sits for weeks at a time recently. I think when it finally quits we'll, like you, go for a trailer I can pull behind my Honda Pilot. The cost of decent used truck these days is pretty steep, at least in this part of the country. Hard to justify that when it's not a real "must have".

Leigh said...

Mark, Dan was really happy with it, but you're right, there's always that unfortunate point when it isn't feasible to keep it running. He's talked about working on it over winter, but he has a lot of other irons in the fire too, so I don't know what he'll decide. One thing, it's made us re-evaluate "must have" and consider alternatives. Never a bad thing.