So here we are again. Today I want to talk about things to consider when picking the vehicle to use as the base for the #awesomeadventuretruck. I don’t know about you but I don’t have the money to have two vehicles. Ya know, one for the daily grind and one for the wilds of the weekend. So when I picked my base I knew I had to meet multiple needs. Then there is also figuring out what you want on the vehicle, then finding a balance between want, need, and practicality. I mean if I had it my way I would have a Unimog, it covers the ability to plow snow and go anywhere but not so much a daily driver in Northern Virginia.
First you need to think new, used, or really used. This is all dependent on your level of expertise when it comes to vehicle cursing and wrenching. This is an art in and of itself. But seriously if you don’t want to worry about old worn out parts going bad while on the trail, and having a support trailer just to carry the parts you may need in the event that something breaks then buy a new vehicle. If this isn’t a worry to you then buy an older rig.
So for me I knew I needed a truck. Some people don’t have the need for a truck so a suv might work for them or a van or a tank, to each their own. But that is where we start, what style of vehicle do you need to work for everyday use. Now once you figure the answer to the previous question, the next is what does the vehicle need to do? For me I needed a truck that could plow snow, haul a motorcycle, pull a trailer, and handle a decent amount of weight for different projects I do. Oh, and be able to pull my dad’s truck home when it needs it (he drives a #ford).
I knew I needed something more than a compact truck, Tacoma, Ranger, and the like. I also realized a newer half-ton doesn’t do the job either. They just aren’t heavy enough to do the work I needed. So I was left with a ¾-ton or a 1-ton. Well, 1-ton maintenance parts are usually more expensive as well as registration fees. Also, I really don’t need the capabilities of the 1 ton. I’m not hauling huge loads or building an earth roamed with a sleeper cab on the back (although that would be freaking awesome!!) so ¾-ton it is.
This is something to think about with SUV, van, compact trucks, and tanks. What are their weight capabilities? Think about once you build the vehicle and add all your gear. It is important you don’t overload the suspension, brakes, and engine. Remember this vehicle has to survive the weekend wilds as well as the apocalypse. When you overwork things they break, and then you’re stuck, being eaten by a zombie and your last thought will be “I should have bought bigger rig.”
Now lets think about engines. This is a balance between reliability, MPG, and power, oh and we will throw maintenance cost in there somewhere too. In my case I had a choice of Diesel or gas, so a little tidbit about that. Diesel is awesome, super powerful and who doesn’t like power? Also, usually are really easy to get better MPG out of by using a tuner and a good intake. They are usually extremely reliable as long as the maintenance is kept up. But along with all the goods there are some bads. The initial cost is always way higher. Even used they are expensive. We all have seen the Craigslist ad “2000 dodge Cummins 900k miles $35k not a penny less hell It ain’t even broke in yet.” Then you have the maintenance costs of a diesel (15 quarts of oil as opposed to 6-7 quarts). Oh, and when a diesel breaks it breaks good usually.
Then we move to gas engines. You usually have a few options in every model whether it be SUV, van, tank, truck. Well I guess tanks are multi-fuel so they are kind of out of this part of the post. Anyway so, usually you think smaller engine better mileage but is that really accurate? I know in my experience I had a #Dodge with the 5.7L in a ½-ton and I now own a dodge ¾-ton with a 6.4L and the larger one has better mileage. This is partly due to the transmission and gearing difference. Point is look at the options available to you. This could take awhile depending what vehicle you pick as your base. (I mean look at how many #Toyota pickup truck models there are). Myself I went with the bigger motor, this will allow easier plowing and towing, but also when I build my truck and add larger tires and bumpers and all the gear the truck won’t be underpowered. Other ways to combat that is look at gear ratios (we can talk more about that later).
*Side note to consider is availability of aftermarket parts as well as the cost of those parts.
Last I’m going to talk about, trim packages. Awhile ago I was reading an article in an off-road magazine (yes, I can read as long as there are pictures). What I got from my interpretations of the pictures and some words I recognized was that they were able to build a better #Jeep from a base model Sahara and some aftermarket parts for less than you could buy a Rubicon for. Now did the rubicon have a nicer interior and some other options the Sahara didn’t have? Yup. But the point is leather seats don’t get you down the trail any better than cloth seats.
Remember part of the point of this series of posts is to budget build. There are books out there on how to do this. I found one while I was building a Jeep XJ. This book had all the little secrets of how to use junk yard parts to accomplish your goals. Like in the 4 cylinder XJ, Jeep used 4.10 gears in the axles. So If you want 4.10 gears you go to the local junk yard (or the crazy guy back up the holar that has an old Jeep in the yard) and pick up a set of axles, freshen them up, and bam! A case of beer, a can of chew, and 2 rattle cans of paint later you’ve got 4.10s for a fraction of the cost. You don’t have to buy the newest nicest rig out there some of the best ones Ive seen the owner paid $500 bucks for, then probably spent the same amount to buy beer during the build. That same person had a lot of fun with friends building it and didn’t have to deal with the other half complaining about “scratching that nice new expensive truck.”
So back to trim packages, I know that Toyota and Jeep and Dodge all offer some really nice trail ready rigs with the TRD, Rubicon, and the Power wagon. But, those are extremely expensive and I don’t know about you but I’m not spending $70k on a truck then going out and scratching the hell out of it. The other nice thing is when you build it yourself you know how It all works, you can use good quality parts, and in the event something goes wrong out on the trail, you know exactly how to fix it.
So for me I bought a 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 HD with the 6.4 L in it and the tradesman crew cab. It is the base model offered to the best of my knowledge. It fits every need I have
-Room for family
-Plenty of aftermarket parts
-Tons of #power
-Oh and super cool looking as well
So to wrap it up, these aren’t the only things to consider when picking your #awesomeadventuretruck but they are some things to consider. In the end what matters is, does it make you happy and suit your needs? While I would have loved to have a tank or a unimog they just don’t seem to fit all the needs I had (or the budget). Until next time enjoy driving your better half crazy with saying “hey, how about this one” “no wait, how about this one” “ no, no, no, now I got it this is the one I want.” It’s best to do a lot of dreaming and don’t spend money without consulting, believe me the couch isn’t that comfortable.