Author Topic: Need advice for a vehicle decision  (Read 2477 times)

use2betrix

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Need advice for a vehicle decision
« on: May 06, 2015, 12:23:00 PM »
I have lived a long time being very un-mustachian. Since joining the forum I have been convinced to use a portion of my savings to pay off my student loans, and start investing in my 401k. I already had a small one, but now nearly maxing it out along with my Roth. So thanks for the advice thus far.


Anyways, I still have past financial decisions impacting me today.

A little background: I work in the industrial construction industry and travel all over the country. I'm 27. Because of all the travel, often on short notice, I live full time in a 5th wheel with my gf of 3 years and dog of 11 years. 2 years ago I purchased a 42' 5th wheel that we live in. With my dog, hotels were often impossible, and apartments to find difficult. Sometimes finding apartments that would allow month to month leases was next to impossible. The 5th wheel MSRP was 84k, and I bought it for 56k.

Along with the 5th wheel, I needed a truck to pull it. Of course, along with that I also bought a top of the line truck, to the tune of around 60k.

Now, I'm trying hard to pay these off, and I'm considering selling the truck, but trying to weigh the pro's and con's. I owe roughly 45k on it.

Regardless, I would still need something reliable to pull my camper when I move. And no, you can't rent trucks that can tow 15,000 lbs. I can hire a driver, but on some of my moves that would cost $2500, vs my $0.

I am thinking I can have my truck paid off by the end of the year, and just hold onto it, or I could sell it, and get a truck for about 30k that is still powerful and reliable enough to pull my camper. I could also then turn my 99' camry into my DD, thus cutting back on the $150 oil changes, $220 fuel filter changes, and $1600 sets of tires that last 50k miles.

The cons are that my truck is reliable and under warranty (bump to bumper basically) until 100k miles. So like the new radiator they installed a few weeks ago was $100 instead of $1500. I could easily get an older truck, out of warranty, and the engine, transmission, fuel system, etc. craps out and I'm stuck with a $10k bill. Diesels are very expensive to work on..


So, what are you guys' opinion's? Should I sell the truck to save around 12k-14k (after all taxes etc. are done) or should I just work hard and pay it off?

My company does give me a $650 tax free truck allowance, and also pays for 100% of my gas. However, I will get both of those regardless of what vehicle I drive. My work also gives me 650/wk per diem, which more than covers my 5th wheel, place to park it, utilities, and then some.

Ultimately, with the work I do, I'm trying to get to the point where I can take months off between jobs. Once my truck is paid off I will be saving roughly 50% of my take home pay, and will be able to work less.

Syonyk

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Re: Need advice for a vehicle decision
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2015, 05:37:11 PM »
Interesting (and slightly relevant, as I'm considering getting a 5th wheel trailer in a few years to live in part of the year while touring the country/homeschooling, and already have the truck, unpopular though it is around here).  Questions and thoughts throughout.

I have lived a long time being very un-mustachian. Since joining the forum I have been convinced to use a portion of my savings to pay off my student loans, and start investing in my 401k. I already had a small one, but now nearly maxing it out along with my Roth. So thanks for the advice thus far.

Woohoo!

In the interest of having actual numbers to play around with, what do you make annually, and how much do you owe on the truck/trailer?

I'm seeing you owe $45k on the truck, an unknown amount on the trailer, and have the truck and a Camry as vehicles.  I seriously hope the '99 Camry is paid off, or I'll have to reach out and smack you. :)

How many miles/yr are you driving for your work commute (empty) and for moving (towing the trailer)?

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A little background: I work in the industrial construction industry and travel all over the country. I'm 27. Because of all the travel, often on short notice, I live full time in a 5th wheel with my gf of 3 years and dog of 11 years. 2 years ago I purchased a 42' 5th wheel that we live in. With my dog, hotels were often impossible, and apartments to find difficult. Sometimes finding apartments that would allow month to month leases was next to impossible. The 5th wheel MSRP was 84k, and I bought it for 56k.

Wise. :)  At least for that situation.  And I totally understand the pets thing - renting with ferrets can be tough.

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Regardless, I would still need something reliable to pull my camper when I move. And no, you can't rent trucks that can tow 15,000 lbs. I can hire a driver, but on some of my moves that would cost $2500, vs my $0.
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I totally agree that you need a truck to move the camper - paying someone else to haul a 5th wheel if you're moving regularly for work is not a great idea.  On the other hand, getting paid to move other 5th wheel trailers is a nice gig... ;)

I'm assuming based on your tow weight that you've got something along the lines of a 3/4 ton diesel (F350 or similar, but... why would you get anything but a Ford for towing)?

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I am thinking I can have my truck paid off by the end of the year, and just hold onto it, or I could sell it, and get a truck for about 30k that is still powerful and reliable enough to pull my camper. I could also then turn my 99' camry into my DD, thus cutting back on the $150 oil changes, $220 fuel filter changes, and $1600 sets of tires that last 50k miles.

If you can knock out a $45k truck loan by the end of the year, it sounds like you've got pretty good income with this job.  What's your current DD - the truck?  And how far is your normal commute from where you park to where you work?  Do you need to haul stuff at work, or do you just need to get yourself to the worksite?

I feel your pain on the oil changes.  If you have a truck and are using it regularly, oil analysis is *absolutely* worth the money, because you can often extend your change interval significantly - replace the oil when it needs it instead of some arbitrary time or mileage amount.  When you're paying $100+ in oil and filter, that makes sense.  If you're doing a lot of mileage, you might also want to consider a bypass filter setup.  It's a very fine filter that can't flow the full oil supply for the engine, but filters a small amount of diverted oil each pass.  It helps extend oil longevity, and if you're putting a lot of miles on, they're almost always worth it when paired with oil analysis.

How on earth are you spending $220 for a fuel filter change?  That's absurd.  Do that yourself!

For the tires, what are you running?  If you don't spend much time off highway, it may be worth the cost to go to 19.5" wheels and some high pressure highway tires.  They don't look amazing, but they wear incredibly well for long towing, and are probably cheaper in the long run than what you've got.

Are you running a set of gauges on the truck (boost, pyro, trans temp)?  If not, you should consider that - transmission temperature and pyro are really, really useful ways to avoid expensive repairs.  If you're towing a heavy trailer and don't have either, you could be doing damage to the engine/transmission and not know it.  Keep the pyro below 1300 and the transmission below 180 and everything is happy.  Go above those, and it starts getting expensive, fast.

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The cons are that my truck is reliable and under warranty (bump to bumper basically) until 100k miles. So like the new radiator they installed a few weeks ago was $100 instead of $1500. I could easily get an older truck, out of warranty, and the engine, transmission, fuel system, etc. craps out and I'm stuck with a $10k bill. Diesels are very expensive to work on..

New radiator under 100k miles?  Hm... might not be a Ford. ;)  Dodge, perhaps?

How much work do you do yourself?  I agree that diesels are very expensive to have a shop work on, but a lot of the work is easier to do yourself (and even if it takes a few days, saving a few grand is worth it).  Short of something like a transmission rebuild, you should be able to do almost everything on the truck yourself.  Oil changes, fuel filters, general maintenance... do that yourself instead of paying a shop to do it.

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So, what are you guys' opinion's? Should I sell the truck to save around 12k-14k (after all taxes etc. are done) or should I just work hard and pay it off?

If you can do a lot of your own work, it *might* be worth an older truck (if you can find a clean 7.3 Powerstroke, they're awesome engines that run forever).  If you don't do your own work, I wouldn't suggest going to something older to tow.  There's a lot that can go wrong, and as you note, it tends to be expensive.

I tend towards thinking your best bet is to keep the current truck, but don't use it as a daily driver.  Take the Camry, or a bicycle, or an ebike, or whatever to work, but let the (very expensive to run) truck sit during the week when you don't need the capacity.

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My company does give me a $650 tax free truck allowance, and also pays for 100% of my gas. However, I will get both of those regardless of what vehicle I drive. My work also gives me 650/wk per diem, which more than covers my 5th wheel, place to park it, utilities, and then some.

$650/mo truck or $650/yr?  Either way...  Plus $650/wk ($2600+/mo) per diem?  Daymn.  AND they pay you on top of this?

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Ultimately, with the work I do, I'm trying to get to the point where I can take months off between jobs. Once my truck is paid off I will be saving roughly 50% of my take home pay, and will be able to work less.

Sounds awesome.

Unless you're willing to spend a decent bit of time working on an older truck, and think that sounds like a good way to spend time (hint: If you're working on your truck, it's a whole lot harder to run up bar bills & such), I'm not sure the savings would be worth it.  A transmission rebuild could easily eat up a lot of the savings, and if "not getting to a new jobsite on time" costs you a lot of money or the job, that's worth considering as well.

If I were in your shoes, I'd probably just try to pay off the truck and trailer as quickly as I can, and then not drive the truck to work - take the Camry, take a bike, walk, run, whatever.  Use the truck as a truck, not as a car.  It'll last longer and be a lot cheaper that way.

Hopefully that helps some!

use2betrix

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Re: Need advice for a vehicle decision
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 06:22:43 AM »
Wow, thank you for all the good advice, I'll try to address each point.

First, yes, the Camry is paid off lol. I paid cash for it a year and a half ago. I actually bought it as a 2nd vehicle for my gf, but we both work together and ride together, so it rarely gets driven.

My commute honestly changes job to job. We moved into an apartment for the winter while getting some repairs on the trailer, plus northern winters are pretty cold, and that was a 25 mile round trip. Now we are in the trailer and less than 5 miles away. Next month we are moving down south, which will be about a 1200 mile drive, and unsure what the commute will be yet.

I have 52,000 miles on my truck, and it's just over 2 years old, so needless to say, I drive a lot. Often biking is not an option. I work on a construction site, have a lot of stuff to bring with me, and often the drive is single lane busy highways.

When I move, my last two moves have each been around 1200-1500 miles, and the one next month will be 1200 as mentioned. I usually only do this once or twice a year, as my jobs are usually 6 months to a year or so.

I have an F250, it's a great truck, very powerful, fully loaded, about as nice as you can buy. However, I do think it is overloaded beyond the legal limit still with the trailer, not due to the weight of the trailer itself, but due to the hitch weight in the bed of the truck and all the weight it puts on the rear tires. I have air bags, but that doesn't compensate for the weight it puts there. This is another reason I am possibly considering a F350, Dually, gas truck. The dually has over twice the hitch weight capacity, which would make towing in that aspect much better, the power just wouldn't be there (but doabale with the right gear ratio)

I don't haul stuff at work, and typically about 95% of my driving, other than the towing, could be done with the Camry. On weekends when my gf and I do separate errands, we do drive separate ways, and even then, that's not too often, especially now that we have a washer/dryer in the 5th wheel (she used to get groceries while I'd go do the laundromat).

As for the oil changes and fuel filters, I could probably do the fuel filter myself as the labor is so absurdly high and it's not much work (I've been to Ford's all over the country getting fuel filter changes, they all end up being $200+). In regards to the oil, to be honest, I work a lot, don't have a garage or concrete driveway, as much as it sucks I don't mind paying someone else. When I work 60 hrs a week and spend 3 days after work at the gym, last thing I want to do is get home from work at 6 and then change the oil in my truck on my limited free time. Fortunately, my hours are usually 50, but occasionally work Saturdays (have been a lot the last few weeks).

For the tire, I am running Toyo MT's, obviously bought pre-mustache days lol. They have been great, they just don't last as long. If I do keep my truck, it won't be my DD anymore, I may be ok buying them again as they would last 4+ years instead of 2.

The problem with older vehicles, even a 7.3 which I would love, is none of them have the towing capacity. A 2001 F350 Dually, has a towing capacity of like 3000-4000 lbs less than my F250! The new dually's have about twice the towing capacity of the old 7.3's..

I'm going to heed your advice about driving the Camry to work (I have all this week and last week already) at least until I can decide more set in stone.

If I decide to keep my truck, I will talk to my company and switch my "work vehicle" from the Truck to the Camry, that way they will pay for the gas in the Camry (They'll only provide it in my "work" vehicle) and then only use the truck to move and occasionally when my gf and I need separate cars. They will still pay for my trucks gas when I move, even if it's not my company vehicle as it's a moving expense.

The other option, is either getting a Gas 2009-2012 F350 Dually. It will be more stable pulling the trailer, but less power. Maintenance will be less, but I still wouldn't drive it much anyways. It wouldn't be under warranty likely, but if I'm only driving around 5,000 miles a year, I should be in pretty good shape. One of these with around 50k miles costs between 22k-30k. If I found one for 22k, and broke even on my truck in a couple months after I move, I would be saving about 14k-15k. After my 401k and Roth IRA, that's about 5-6 months of savings.

I think even if I keep my truck but quit driving it so much, I will still come out pretty ahead. I will just have to be diligent in driving the camry, especially if I have to start paying for my own fuel in the F250.

Syonyk

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Re: Need advice for a vehicle decision
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2015, 10:43:56 AM »
I'm assuming you've got a 2012/2013 F250, with the 6.7 - so it should be a pretty solid engine that'll last a long time.

Regarding hitch weight/bed weight/etc: Can you load the trailer differently?  Put heavy stuff in the back of it while moving to pivot some weight off the bed?  Air bags help, but you've clearly been able to successfully tow it around as-is, and you only move a few times a year, so I'm not sure the cost of a new truck would be worth it over just figuring out how to load your trailer a bit better and accept the weight.  You've got the air bags, so air those up, put the heavy stuff in the back of the trailer, and deal with it.  IMO.

Even if your fuel is paid for, 25k miles/yr on a diesel truck is insanely expensive (as you realize - it's not just fuel costs).  Get that number down as much as possible, which it sounds like you're doing with the Camry.

Your plan of "Keep the truck, drive the Camry, use the truck only when needed" sounds pretty solid to me.  You know what it is, it'll last pretty much forever, it's under warranty, etc.  Even if you're heading to town on occasion with it, it's still a lot less miles than driving it every day.

If you replace it with a different truck, you're going to have to pay taxes/registration on the new truck, as well as the general maintenance and upkeep that goes with a new-used vehicle (I've found it takes about 6 months to work out the quirks in a new vehicle, and if you're paying a dealership for labor, that's expensive in a hurry).  You'll still very likely come out ahead, but I don't think by quite as much as you're figuring.  Assuming the profits after taxes/registration/maintenance/etc are half what you're expecting, is it worth 2-3 months of savings to deal with a new set of problems?  I can't answer that for you, but it's not something I'd do without a very good reason.

If you don't want to do your own maintenance/fuel filters/oil/etc, do you know someone else who would be willing to do that work for less than a dealership?  A couple six packs for a buddy to change your oil/fuel filter is a lot cheaper than the dealer...

use2betrix

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Re: Need advice for a vehicle decision
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2015, 11:21:00 AM »
Thanks for the info. It's a 2013 Lariat with the 6.7. The truck in its entirety is unreal haha. Fully loaded with every option, the big MT tires, 60 gallon aux fuel tank, bed cover, etc. Like I said, purchased prior to me keeping track of my finances lol.

Once I move I will switch my "work vehicle" over to being the Camry. The Camry only has 97k on it and is in excellent shape, so it should last a long time. One thing I have noticed when I have done this slightly in the past, is that it makes me really enjoy driving my truck that much more on the certain occasions I do.

I will see about doing the oil changes and fuel filters myself, it will depend on housing situation when I move. One RV park I looked at today had specific rules about no vehicle work/oil changes are allowed on the RV sites.

Another good thing about having Ford do them, is that I have it in the system, a proven record of exactly when I had the oil change, for warranty purposes. That way there is no question. Also, last time I had it in they also noticed the small leak in my radiator which they swapped out. I doubt I ever would have noticed that until it would have been too late.

Again, thanks for all the info. I will go the route of keeping the truck for now and see how I feel about it. I should hopefully have it paid off by late this fall, which will free up a good chunk of money.

Syonyk

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Re: Need advice for a vehicle decision
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2015, 01:15:36 PM »
Unfortunately for going with an older truck to do the same job, if you go back too far, you end up with the 6.0 diesel, which you should run, not walk, away from.  The gas engines are an option, but I'm not sure how well they'd tow a heavy trailer across the country.  I'm sure they'd do it, but I'm not sure how well they'd last while doing that job.

Downgrading to a cheaper vehicle is hard when it has to tow your house. :)  Though I'd point out that a '94-'97 F350 with the 7.3 and 4.10s is rated for 14300 tow weight, and you can get one of those for about $10k.  It'll probably need some work, but they're solid trucks and they'll move your trailer down the road just fine.

If you want to save money, going with a significantly older truck that can get the job done and doing the maintenance/repairs yourself is the way to go - as long as the frame is solid and the engine has good compression, everything else is easy.  But that comes with it's own set of risks and problems.