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Discussion Starter #1
I'm going to start shopping around for a pickup this year and it's going to be my sole homestead vehicle. This means I hope to use it to transport tools and lumber, bricks, and possibly round bales of hay. Also I will probably fit it with a livestock rack for miniature goats and sheep in the future.

I'm torn between looking for an old vehicle and a new one. I like old vehicles because they don't have the electronic computer "brains" that cause most cars these days to screw up. At the same time I realize that the older the truck is, the less reliable it is mechanically and structurally. I want a year and brand that's new enough to be sturdy, but old enough to not have computer brains.

Any recommendations?
 
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Do you need 4-wheel drive? Will you be plowing snow? Regular cab, extented cab or crew cab?
 

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You might do as well to just buy an SUV and a trailer. Then you have a vehicle for stepping out in and you just hook up anytime you need to load and transport.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do you need 4-wheel drive? Will you be plowing snow? Regular cab, extented cab or crew cab?
It doesn't snow here, so I don't need it to handle that. I'd like a regular cab with a long bed so I can get the most bed space.

You might do as well to just buy an SUV and a trailer. Then you have a vehicle for stepping out in and you just hook up anytime you need to load and transport.
I'd rather just put my money into one vehicle that is open in the back. I want to utilize all the space I have on my property for a garden and pasture so there won't be any room for a trailer anyway.
 

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Is fuel mileage a factor ? Manual or automatic?
Ingress and egress ?
Is your property so small that parking space is really a factor ?
Where do you plan to homestead/use it ?
 

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It's nice to be able to lay a 4X8 sheet of plywood flat in the bed and close the tailgate so it doesn't fall out. On the other hand you might need a back seat to transport your goat. Four wheel drive comes in handy in the mud too. Full size PUs have a large turning radius, not good in tight places. A half ton may not have a big enough payload. You may need a 3/4 ton (F250).

A pickup that doesn't have computers would be about 1980s vintage. Georgia doesn't have much snow so if you get one that lived away from the ocean you can find one with little rust from the salt. A pickup used for the farm will be low mileage for that age. If you don't have the knowledge get a mechanic to run tests before you buy it. A vacuum test, for instance, is a simple test and will tell you multiple things about the condition of the engine. If you are mechanically inclined, Ytube has videos that tell you how to fix just about any problem you have with the PU. Personal problems not so much. As a plus, a PU that old will still run after an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or Carrington Event.
 

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Pre-1996 Ford F250 4x4...done ! After that year, the frames became more rust sucseptable, and the electronics became much more complicated.

The best vehicle I ever owned was a 1994 F250 4x4 with a tommy lift gate on the back that would pick up 1000# with a flick of a switch (old State truck). That lift could pick up huge rounds of firewood, garden tractors, motorcycles, appliances, and would extend the flat 8' bed out to 11' long if the gate was down.
 

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If it's not going to be an everyday driver that you need to rely on for long trips, going to work every day, etc. I'd get something used. You can pick up decent used Ford, Chevy, GMC or Dodge pickups with 150,000+ miles pretty reasonably. If you're not putting a lot of miles on it, and take reasonable care of it, it should last a long time. Most pickups are good for 200,000 miles plus if they've been reasonable cared for.

You'd have to go way back, real old to get away from modern vehicle electronics and gadgetry. Anything that old is going to be a worn out junker or an expensive restoration. Look for something 10-15 years old.
 

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best to get 4x4 even if you think you dont need it what about when you go to get the hay and theres mud around the barn or bring in a load of lumber and have to carry it cause you dont want to spin up the yard.its a real comfort having it and not needing it than needing it and not having it.
 

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A pickup that doesn't have computers would be about 1980s vintage.
The last factory non-computer engine would be 1980/81/82 somewhere in there. They then went to computer carburetors, then to throttle body injection, then to port injection with ever more complexity. Lot of consideration is do you have emissions inspections and if so, how old of a vehicle does it have to be to be exempt in your state. Cause most of the computer carburetor and throttle body engines can be retrofitted to carburetor without computer. The later ones not so much. The biggest buggaboo being they tied the automatic transmission into the computer engine management. So it wont shift even if engine runs fine with carburetor. You then either have to go to pre computer automatic or to a manual transmission. Also automatic transmissions went from cheap to rebuild to EXPENSIVE as they got ever more complex. Manual transmissions pretty well disappeared after the 90s. I have found few early 2000s manual transmission F150s but they are extended cab, short bed, and a zillion miles. Nice thing that base model V6 Ford used in them did tend to last pretty well (based on old 302V8), seen some with well over 300k miles on them. The early ones had head gasket problems but Ford seemed to have solved that.

Somebody suggested an SUV and a trailer. Depending how often you haul large stuff that might work. But you need the big SUV, the automatics they put in compact and midsize SUVs were not what you would call robust. There havent been manual transmission SUVs for very long time and they always were rare. I have seen a couple old full size Broncos and Blazers from 70s and 80s with one. But those pretty well derelicts or high dollar restored at this point.

I am still hunting for long bed single cab pickup, any long bed past 90s seems rare. Looking like best strategy might be to find one with a straight solid body and put a rebuilt engine and granny four speed into it myself. I so rather just buy something that needed a bit maintenance and drives as is. But not the way of the world anymore. What I want I am going to have to piece together myself. Stuff in my price range has either bad engine or bad transmission or both or fubar electronics. If it rides and drives, it probably has like 300k miles and something very ready to fail.

4WD by way is nice, but good luck finding a ride and drive three quarter ton with manual transmission and manual transfer case. Half ton little less rare, but they bring a premium price or get snapped up almost immediately. Old automatic/electronic stuff will give you no end troubles and expenses. Old diesels unless you really, really need the extra fuel mileage for lot cross country hauling, probably going to be money pit also.

Also remember the poor mans 4WD is a good set tire chains and knowledge how to put them on correctly.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You guys are throwing a lot of really useful information at me but it's a little overwhelming.

My stepdad owned an old toyota tacoma and that thing ran forever. (I know it's not American but it was a solid truck.) Does anyone else have experience with that one?

To answer some of your questions, fuel milage is not a huge factor. It won't be my daily vehicle and will only be used for specific tasks - mainly hardware store runs, feed runs, or picking up new animals. I have room on my property for one more vehicle so I really have to make it count. In other words, it needs to be versatile enough where I won't need to get a trailer or any extra stuff.

I do plan to get one used since I intend to pay in cash so my budget is $3K or under.

In Georgia there is no state inspections of any kind. Just thought I should mention.

A lot of you seem to be leaning towards Ford F150 or F250, but no one has mentioned Chevy. My car is a Chevy and I love it. Are their trucks no good? Lord knows they've been pumping a ton of money into their ad campaigns lately.
 

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I really find the early 90's chevy pu to be the best buy out there. but they still have some electronic parts. I find the tbi fuel injection very troublefree. but agin they are old so you need to find a well cared for example or be able to fix one up.

my 93 chevy half ton 4whl drive has been a very nice truck for me for years. it has a 4.3 v6 and auto 4 spd trans. its a nice balance between new and old. I don't drive it a lot but it is always ready to go when I need it.

we used to run a fleet of early 90's fords at work and they were not near as trouble free as the chevys we had.

when my boss was looking at trucks back then he started looking at chevys but was confused why they cost more than the fords. I told him you get what you pay for. he purchased several fords and couple chevys. he became really sick of the fords and in later years would not buy any more.we would routinely put 3 to 4 times the money in a ford in repairs every year than we did the chevys.

the Toyotas you mentioned are good trucks but with your budget id not expect you to find a really good example of one. even older rusty ones here bring a premium price. the smaller trucks also have a smaller payload and a more cramped cab.

if a small truck is ok with you, the older small ford rangers are often found for a good deal. however I would stick to the 2.3 4cyl 5sp. most of the rest were not as tough. the 2.3 is a proven motor, they went from one v6 to another over the years but they never were all that reliable. where I would not touch a late 80's early 90's ford f150 I would gladly have a little ranger.

ive drove, owned and worked on a lot of trucks over the last 30 years. the ones I recommended are the one I find to be the best values.
 

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The 70s Chevies were rust buckets. They improved them in 80s and 90s. I wouldnt buy a turn of century one as they went the other direction trying to cheapen them to keep profits up. I have no problem with a Chevy pickup but finding one with a manual transmission and one that hasnt been greatly abused is not that easy. Same with the old Dodges, I have no problem with 70s and 80s version but they ALL had automatic so even finding a granny 4spd for a Dodge not easy. The bodies held up pretty well actually. Find an older one with 225 six and a granny four speed in decent condition and you have a real winner. Those old slant six were as bullet proof as they come. Though Dodge was all over the place with gimmicky stuff to meet pollution requirements on the cheap. That old lean burn system truly sucked. I had an old 76 Dodge I got cheap for couple years until automatic started slipping. The 318 itself was ok, but I dont know how many ignition modules I went through. It never got over 13mpg. Back then I didnt know I could have adapted GM 4 prong module to Dodge like I did to my Fords. Ford made a decent module, but the aftermarket ones sucked (poor heat sink I think) so when you could no longer get a genuine Ford module.... The GM modules were bulletproof if you remote mounted them to big chunk of aluminum, heat was their enemy. Even the aftermarket ones held up well if you kept them away from heat.

The Toyota pickups with the four cylinder were also pretty bulletproof but sell for far more than they are worth. Get one in good condition and it will last, the weak part being timing chain. Need to replace it on regular schedule. If you want a four cylinder, also look at four cylinder Rangers with 5spd, those held up though finding a low mile one is difficult anymore. The 3.0L Ranger with manual also pretty good but geared wrong for the engine. With numerically higher axle ratio, be ok. But they were making them to please EPA, not the customer. The OHV 4.0L engine in 90s was also very good durable engine (never got more than 16mpg out of mine), but the Ford put weak automatic and weak manual behind it. Stay away from the SOHC 4.0L from late 90s into 2000s. Had two timing chains, one front, one back end of engine. Engine had to be pulled to replace them and this had to be done about every 90k miles. Not cheap to have done. They should used same 5spd behind the 4.0L that they used in the F150 behind the 4.2L V6. It was heavier duty. And no the heavier duty one wont bolt up to the 4.0L.

Should also mention the Fords with the 300-6 (4.9L) were great too. Lot easier to find one of them with manual transmission, but 1996 last year so finding one with lower miles not easy. They are probably worth a rebuild though. Amazing engines. Long ago GM made a similar 292 straight six with granny four speed, but you rarely see them. They were mostly sold to farmers and for fleet use. Consumers all bought the small block V8 with automatic cause they wanted to pretend they were race car drivers I guess. The 292 was much better truck engine for a work truck. In older Chevy I would much prefer the 292 or a big block V8. Small block more a car engine though they can be built pretty strong.
 

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People tend to recommend what they know and they tend to have brand loyalty that means the guys driving Chevys will usually recommend a Chevy and the guys driving a Ford will usually recommend a Ford.
I am a ford guy but I deliver all kinds of vehicles all over the nation I’ve driven pretty much everything that moves everywhere. In your particular circumstances I recommend a third or fourth generation D series Dodge pick up that would be something between the 70s and 93.
Dodges have always seem to do exceptionally well in the kind of sporadic park it and forget it duty cycle you are talking about.
This series of trunks commonly have an 8 foot long full-size bed and a full width bench seat and full size cab I consider those highly important in a farm truck.
Yep they are reasonably compact . They also have the lowest loading height of any of the pick up trucks from that era and far lower than current ones
I have one now it is lower to put things over the side of the bed on the Dodge then it is to set things on the tailgate of my Ford.
This lower height of the entire truck also makes it more convenient to get in and out of.
All in all it is one of the more compact of the full-size pick up trucks.
They are occasionally available with four-wheel-drive , Good solid dependable trucks with good tires and battery available in 2 Wheel Dr. models will be worth between 500 and $1500 four wheel drive models are worth between 1000 and $2000.
Valuable recent maintenance items would be a new radiator, new starters, new ball joints, new brakes
 

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as far as any $3000 truck being trouble free, its not going to happen period. my 89 ford ranger has needed several small things but lately blew the clutch slave cylinder and throwout bearing. not a big deal, I just pulled out the tranny and replaced it. cost was about 70$.

my 93 chevy 4wd blew the front tranny seal and I had to replace that about a year ago. again not a big deal.

I say not a big deal cuz I can do the work my self. parts are cheap its paying for labor that kills you.

a few years ago I installed a 9000lb car lift in my yard. id imagine its prob already paid for itself. it makes a daunting job into a walk in the park.
 

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Let me help you shop for a pick up truck if you are not deeply mechanically Inclined I suggest the following

Do not tell the person when you were going to be there when you show up lay your hand on the radiator and then the motor to make sure they are cold.
If they are proceed

Get in the truck turn it on turn the radio on if it is set at ear bleed sound levels leave.
If it is set on news is talking classical music or classical rock in roll this is good.
If it is set on anything that makes your head hurt leave
Started up let it run for 15 seconds repeat this for a total of 10 cold starts.
Drive to the nearest place where you can drive at least 10 miles at 65 mph turn around and drive 10 miles at 65 mph returning
Pulling in to the driveway park the truck and turn it off get out check the oil look at the undercarriage and tires return to the truck cab
Start the truck total of 10 times letting it run for 15 seconds each time.
With the truck running get out look underneath for fluid leaks open the hood look for weird things happening strange sparks things spraying Strange unusual or bother some noises etc.
Shut the truck off one last time and spend about 10 minutes listening to it cool down looking for on the leaks and strange odor’s
If it passed all of these things pay the man and drive your truck home
 

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Discussion Starter #19
AmericanStand, thank you so much for the buying tips. I was planning on paying a mechanic to come out and inspect it with me but I'll be sure to do all these things myself as well. Was the radio part a joke or are you serious??

I assume bailing out if I find the motor is warm implies that they were tweaking it before I got there so it means something's wrong, yes? This test might not work for me since I might be buying in the summer and any sitting vehicle will be hot as hell anyways.
 
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