Author Topic: Do I sell my truck?  (Read 664 times)

LumberJesse

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Do I sell my truck?
« on: May 07, 2021, 08:21:52 PM »
Hey mustachians,

I work in construction as a carpenter for a local contractor in the mountains of California. I make $20/hour but should see closer to $25/hour in the next six months. We do mainly remodels and additions, and part of my initial acceptance of the job was loosely that I had a truck.

I have a lumber rack and regularly haul stuff around for us. I donít mind that, but What I do mind is the gas mileage. I happened to have an 03 Toyota Tundra 4x4 V8 when I started the job. It gets 13 in town and I seldom drive it outside of work (we drive my wifeís prius for everything else).

Currently I spend about $150/month on gas, $200 at the most. Itís California and the mountains, so itís average $4/gallon up here.

My conundrum is this: itís paid for, itís super reliable and costs my next to nothing to own outside of gas. The trucks last forever and itís great to drive. I put 500-1000 lbs of lumber on it at least once a month doing side jobs, and in two years Iíll have a contractors license and plan to go out on my own.but the gas mileage SUCKS!

Do I keep the truck because it works, or do I sell it and buy a better mpg truck? I know I can get a good 2wd 5spd tacoma or frontier for what I can sell it for, but the ability to haul large amounts of material and do bigger side jobs is really nice. What do you guys think?

travel2020

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2021, 10:35:17 AM »
Looking at average gas mileage for older Tacomaís, you will probably save ~ 40% in gas costs per month. At $150/m, thatís about $60/m or $80/m using your max figure.

If you will lose some side jobs because of having a smaller truck, would this saving in gas make up for it?

Also factor in the known reliability of current vehicle vs any potential unknown issues with a replacement vehicle and costs to address those.

six-car-habit

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2021, 10:44:53 AM »
 Keep it and plan your trips wisely if the gas cost is prohibitive to wanting to use it, otherwise use the prius [ as you have been ] or bicycle.  Don't give up the 4x4 in your area, for a 2wd with a few mpg increase.  Better a known good vehicle, than an unknown rig, with now extra costs for titling/ tax / tuneup/ etc to get it into your name and ready. I would think you may often go to sites that are rural / dirt roads- so 4x4 for that alone,  +getting to job site in snow, pulling some old worn shed down, etc...

  It was the employer who wanted to know if you had a truck, so that maybe you could sometimes haul material / tools if necessary ?

   Plus with your future plans, I can't see downsizing to a minivan or some sedan being a good alternative.

sonofsven

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2021, 10:59:03 AM »
Jesse, I am long time carpenter and have had many different work vehicles.
I currently drive a crew cab six foot bed '12 Frontier with a contractor canopy and rack, loaded with my tools I get approx 18mpg at best, live in a rural area so more open road and less 'town'.
I bought the truck brand new because of the very high price for a used truck with low miles. My partner has the same year and configuration Tacoma and gets the same mpg (except he paid $5,000 more for his rig)

Miles per gallon is only part of the equation as you mentioned. Cost of repairs can be huge, but even worse, lack of your ability to make money due to a breakdown.

I got similar mpg in my previous work rig, a '96 Ford one ton diesel van, 16-18mpg, and I could haul and tow a lot more with that rig, but every part on a one ton diesel is expensive to replace (I sold her at 305,000 miles...) and diesel costs more per gallon than gas. You have to drive A LOT to justify a diesel.

Here's another thing, I rarely haul more material than a few sticks  any more, I have it delivered by the lumber yard.

So I think you should keep what you have and keep up on the maintenance. I'm at 180,000 miles on the Nissan, my plan is to keep driving it until there is a valid electric replacement available.

JLee

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2021, 11:02:03 AM »
Keep it.  If you buy another used truck you may run into a bunch of repairs/maintenance that the previous owner(s) didn't keep up on, erasing all your savings. 

Also, if you haul heavy stuff you will appreciate the Tundra over a Tacoma.

DHMO

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2021, 11:26:17 AM »
I'm not a truck person, but here's some quick math.
At $150-$200 in gas per month, gas $4/gal and 13 mpg, that's roughly 500 miles a month. 6,000 miles per year.

The 03 Tundra and 08 Tacoma seem to be similar in value currently. The 03 Tundra V8 gets 13 mpg city unladen, and the 08 Tacoma gets 15-20 mpg city unladen depending on configuration. I have no idea how those numbers change when hauling (no easy online estimate), and it sounds like you haul semi-frequently for work. It might be worth researching.
6k miles at 13 mpg is 460 gallons ($1,840 at $4/gal) vs 6k miles at the most efficient option of 20 mpg is 300 gallons ($1,200 at $4/gal).
The advertised payload capacty of the Tundra is 1,700 lbs vs the Tacoma's capacity of 1,400 lbs. I'll assume those are accurate numbers, but I have no idea whether maxed-out hauling would cause poor handling or other issues. Truck people, let me know.

The difference is costing you about $10 per hundred miles, around $50 a month at your current mileage.

Is the extra payload capacity needed? How do the ongoing costs of the Tundra compare to your needs? You mentioned taking on large side projects. If you do one extra large project a month and you had to pay a buddy $50 to deliver the extra materials, would that sink the project? This could go either way, depending on your preference. If you'd opt to stop taking on projects rather than have a buddy deliver at any price, then it might make sense to keep the Tundra. If $50 is too high a price, and would make the project not worth it, then it may make sense to stop. You're already paying the money, it's just hidden in your daily costs.
You also mentioned getting a contractor's license in the next two years. It's a bit far in the future to consider planning a vehicle around it, but would that change your driving needs? Driving unloaded to and from planning meetings would definitely add up quicker with gas/carrying costs, if you didn't take the car. Or, if you'd be hauling heavier and more frequently, it may be worthwhile to stick with your current truck.

JLee

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2021, 11:27:30 AM »
Oh I forgot to mention - there are also transaction costs (title/registration/sales tax) that happen with a vehicle change.

Syonyk

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2021, 01:15:59 PM »
It gets 13 in town and I seldom drive it outside of work (we drive my wifeís prius for everything else).

Great.  You use the truck for truck things, not for car things, and use a car for car things.  That's what I do as well (I have a diesel F350 and mostly drive a Volt).

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My conundrum is this: itís paid for, itís super reliable and costs my next to nothing to own outside of gas. The trucks last forever and itís great to drive. I put 500-1000 lbs of lumber on it at least once a month doing side jobs, and in two years Iíll have a contractors license and plan to go out on my own.but the gas mileage SUCKS!

I've owned a lot of used vehicles in my years, and I'm 100% with JLee here.  Keep the truck you have, know, and use.  A small savings in gas is erased by the fact that if you're buying someone else's used truck, you're very likely buying someone else's problems they will conveniently forget to mention to you.  Or just don't know about.

I think that trying to trade a reliable, capable truck you know for 4-5mpg of someone else's problems is likely to end up costing you far more than you save.  Keep the truck you've got and keep up on maintenance.

Loretta

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2021, 02:37:00 PM »
If you think your current truck is super reliable, I'd keep it as long as possible.  I can't imagine any chariot getting great MPGs with 1000 lbs of lumber in it, but is there anything that might squeak out a better MPG without too much hassle?  Would a tune up help eek out a gallon?  Get your heaviest stuff delivered to job sites directly, bypassing your need to haul them in your truck like suggested below?  For the rest of its life with you, can you do some tricks that might get you slightly better MPGs?  Like when you need new tires, try ones that might offer better fuel efficiency? 

Cadman

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2021, 03:56:27 PM »
I'm wondering if there's a tax angle here you should be pursuing. It sounds like you're using your personal truck for work-related activities beyond just commuting. Something to consider....

Zamboni

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2021, 06:42:41 PM »
Any full sized construction truck is going to get similar mileage . . . but you have the advantage of reliability. My brother's Chevy work truck engine literally exploded at under 100K miles. We were in the market for a truck and he told us to buy a Tundra, maybe a RAM (because he's had better luck with those), definitely not a Chevy. His business uses another employee's Tacoma for the smaller jobs, but as you note, it's not nearly as good for hauling or towing, so he can't go that route as his only vehicle.

Add this to the list of votes to keep your Tundra and drive it forever if it keeps running like a top.

Syonyk

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2021, 08:33:13 PM »
I can't imagine any chariot getting great MPGs with 1000 lbs of lumber in it, but is there anything that might squeak out a better MPG without too much hassle?

There are plenty of trucks that get better fuel economy, but they also tend to be far newer, and rather radically more expensive.  Though when you get to large trucks, 1000 lbs isn't that much.  I don't think I could tell you the difference in fuel burn with half a ton in my truck bed vs empty.  Ride quality, drastically improved.  Fuel burn change, minimal.

The problem is that if you're putting reasonably few miles on a truck (and putting the rest of the miles in a car), the difference in fuel burn just doesn't make enough of a difference to justify the rather drastically increased costs of a far newer truck.  Going a few years newer usually won't make a difference, and going a decade newer costs a small fortune.

At $200/mo, $4/gal, 13mpg, that's about 650 miles a month, 7800 miles/yr.  Go up to 20mpg (which is hard to find in a heavy truck), you're at $130/mo, which is $70/mo or $840/yr savings... but you've probably spent $15k+ to make the trade.  It just doesn't make a lot of sense, financially, if you've got an older truck in good condition.

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Get your heaviest stuff delivered to job sites directly, bypassing your need to haul them in your truck like suggested below?

Delivery is nice, but I've found, often enough, a large truck gives options that a small truck doesn't, in terms of being able to go get things cheaply, and having to rely on delivery services is... sometimes a problem.  I could get lumber delivered to my place for projects, but if I go and get it myself, I can ensure that I'm getting straight, non-mangled boards.  If any exist.

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For the rest of its life with you, can you do some tricks that might get you slightly better MPGs?  Like when you need new tires, try ones that might offer better fuel efficiency?

Not too many options in large truck tires, and while I wouldn't run off road swampers on a work truck, I might not go with pure highway tires either if I were getting onto muddy jobsites regularly.  My truck runs medium commercial truck tires (19.5s), and even with 4WD, my mud/snow traction is pretty poor.  Toss a trailer on the back, and I run out of traction long, long before I run out of 4-Lo torque.

I would expect, from experience, the financially optimal option here, by far, is to keep the large, well maintained truck, only use it when needed (and be realistic - if your jobs don't require a large truck that often, consider a smaller truck or a van), and run it as long as possible.

This forum has a lot of weird blind spots about trucks, and Pete's opinions about trucks are valid for his use cases, but they miss an awful lot.  There's nothing wrong with a huge truck if you use it as such regularly, and there are plenty of things you can do with a large truck that a smaller one just won't consider. 

the_fixer

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2021, 09:42:52 PM »
What about renting a Home Depot truck, uhaul van or other rental when needed?


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Syonyk

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2021, 10:16:51 PM »
What about renting a Home Depot truck, uhaul van or other rental when needed?

Doesn't seem practical on a daily basis, and they generally lack things like lumber racks.

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...and part of my initial acceptance of the job was loosely that I had a truck.

I have a lumber rack and regularly haul stuff around for us.

terran

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2021, 07:24:39 AM »
I'm wondering if there's a tax angle here you should be pursuing. It sounds like you're using your personal truck for work-related activities beyond just commuting. Something to consider....

Only if they're self employed, which is possible despite working for someone else as classify people as independent contractors is pretty common in construction (even when it's an inappropriate classification). Unreimbursed employment expenses are no longer deductible, so this would only work if the vehicle can be a business expense, and only if the actual expense method were used since the standard mileage rate is the same regardless of what you drive.

Fishindude

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Re: Do I sell my truck?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2021, 07:26:46 AM »
If you are hauling anything for your work, your boss should be paying you well for the use of your truck while doing so.
I think the current Fed rate is $0.57 per mile.   You should get at least that to cover fuel plus wear and tear, plus should get paid for your time loading, hauling the material and unloading it.