So I Bought a Truck.

Pretty much since the second I bought and started renovating my house, I’ve felt like I really needed a pick-up truck. At the time, I was driving the same Volkswagen Jetta I’d gotten in high school—a petite and sporty four-door sedan which, I discovered, perfectly accommodated 8-foot lengths of lumber. I loved that car. But soon the time came to replace it, and I was really thinking about a pick-up truck. Basically everyone in my life told me this would be an expensive and regrettable mistake, and I’d be much better off somewhere in the middle between the pick-up fantasy and the teeny Jetta reality, and that’s how I ended up with the very practical and—regionally, at least—extraordinarily popular Subaru Forester. I cannot tell you how many times I have pulled into a parking space and been surrounded by 3 identical Subaru Foresters in the adjacent spots. I lose it all the time in public lots and garages, and one time I tried to drive away in the wrong one because the owner had left it unlocked and parked three spaces behind me on the street. It was the different smell inside that tipped me off to my mistake, and then the car seat. It’s a Very Good Car by all accounts and I don’t blame others for choosing it: it’s comfortable and safe and has leather seats and it can fit a reasonable amount of stuff. And I haul around a lot of stuff. It also has a handy sunroof, demonstrated below.

I’m not sure where it was pointed out to me—probably in the comments on this blog—that this is a great car if you’re, like, a guy who goes back and forth from the city to his country house and does projects on the weekends. And I think that’s probably accurate. The problem is, that’s not me. I still don’t really consider myself a professional contractor but I play one a whole lot of the time, and this is simply not an appropriate vehicle. Firstly, because it has major limitations for what it can fit. Secondly because it’s actually a nice fucking car that should hold some resale value, but using it as a work vehicle means scratches, dents, damage, mess, and major wear and tear. It just does.

To compensate, my brilliant solution was a utility trailer that hitches to the back of the Subaru and gets dragged around. While handy, the thing is a goddamn hazard on wheels. First of all, you essentially become the length of three cars, which is unwieldy and difficult to park and not something you want to drive around any longer than you need to. Secondly, I find it hard to control in reverse, and although my skills have improved immensely, this personal development came at the cost of both corners of the Subaru’s front bumper, a rearview mirror, and a large sheet of molded plastic that ripped off the undercarriage, which evidently is called the engine splash guard, which sounds important. The trailer is big and heavy and a pain to put on and take off of the car, and then it has to be stored somewhere in the backyard where it’s inevitably in the way. One time it bumped a curb and an entire wheel flew off, leaving one end of the axel dragging along the asphalt and spitting up a dramatic display of sparks. Another time, the hitch part wasn’t fully attached when Edwin took off with a couple thousand pounds of concrete, which meant that the trailer was being dragged only by the chains that keep it attached to the car in the event that the hitch fails. Those of us witnessing it outside the car screamed in unison, which prompted him to brake suddenly, which resulted in the trailer violently colliding with the back of my trunk. I have not fixed any of this damage because 1) $$ and 2) something else will just happen again as long as this trailer nuisance is part of my life.

I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. This last event was almost a year ago, and I think this might have been the moment that I resolved, for the thousandth time, to procure a pick-up by the following summer. Which is now. I accepted that this would probably mean owning two cars and made peace with it. I have big and ambitious plans to do a lot of landscaping work—more specifically, hardscaping work—which involves hauling around lots of heavy stuff. I couldn’t face another summer of further trashing my fairly new Subaru, or trying to borrow friends’ trucks, or renting trucks all the time, or relying on deliveries and the slippery timeframes and headaches inherent in that. I just want to be able to do the things I need to do without it being a whole thing.

In case it wasn’t plainly obvious, I am so not a car guy. I don’t know anything about them and I don’t care to learn. I do not know how to change my own oil. I have never jump-started a battery or changed a tire, and I have to be told when it’s time to have the brake pads or tires replaced. It’s not that I’m afraid of driving a stick-shift, more that I am severely disinterested by the entire concept. I find comparing models incredibly tedious and I don’t know what half the words mean. I had to look up the terms “cab” and “bed” and “4×4” and I swear that is backed up by my browser history. It’s just a whole area of culture that I couldn’t possibly care less about.

As it happens, there are many types of pick-up trucks out there. And those shits hold value! Stuff will be like 12 years old and listed for $15,000. Also a lot of them are manual transmission. Also a lot of them don’t drive, but instead are being sold for parts. And sometimes they don’t have a title? There is so much to know. I wanted to spend about a thousand dollars, on a small automatic pick-up that could haul a lot of stuff at once. After extensive research which started and ended with noticing cars around me that looked like maybe something that would fit the bill, I was looking specifically for a Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, or Dodge Dakota. EXCITING, I KNOW. I limited my search to the sketchy wilds of Facebook Marketplace, which seemed like a path of least resistance and a manageably few number of options. I spent about a week checking back whenever I was on the toilet for new listings.

So. I see one that looks decent. Message guy. Guy is a mechanic. Truck runs and drives good. I schedule to go check it out the next day. I check it out. Looks decent. Drives weird. Guy says he knows what’s wrong and he’ll fix it. I come back the next day. He has fixed it. Car still drives weird. Guy realizes he did not in fact fix it but says he can and will. Unsurprisingly I do not understand what the issue is, but am now feeling both wary and invested because I have driven an hour round-trip two days in a row to drive his broken car. I tell him if it is really fixed I will buy it. He insists it will be. I register the car, get the plates, and add it to my insurance policy. I go back for the third time. Car is fixed. It drives like a car. I hand over the money and leave. Half a mile down the road, the Check Engine light comes on. Of course it does.

Admittedly, I felt some immediate buyer’s remorse. I did not want a broken car, and since I’ve never actually had a pick-up, maybe I was vastly over-estimating how much this would really improve my life or even get used. Maybe this was a big stupid waste of time and money.

I took it to a mechanic who had very not-nice things to say about my new car. Something about some part on or above or inside the engine that is probably bad, and that it might make more sense to scrap it than throw good money after bad. A friend recommended a different mechanic so I took it to him. He was rough around the edges but fixed the issue and then didn’t charging me for the work, which…does that happen?! I feel like cars are always a thousand dollars. Whatever is wrong, it will cost a thousand dollars. A few weeks later I remembered that he installed a new battery, so I went back and insisted he at least charge me for that. He’d forgotten he did it but was grateful I didn’t, and now…I think I…have a mechanic?? This is a relief because I think I will be needing him with some frequency. It’s also new for me, and I can’t wait to casually refer to “my mechanic” in conversation. Prior to this, “my mechanic” would have just meant the grumpy guy at Jiffy-Lube trying to upsell me on air filters, but now it’s an actual man named Rob who fixes my car and isn’t a drama queen about it. God bless you, Rob.

AND GOD BLESS THIS TRUCK. OK, so I ended up with a Ford F-150, which is bigger than I was thinking. It has a “regular cab” (2 seats) and an “extended bed” (about 8′ in the back) and it RULES. It has a little less than 100,000 miles on it, and it hails from the distant past of 1997. I think the kids call that vintage! It smells like an ashtray, has no fabric remaining on the ceiling, and has neither a CD player NOR a cassette player—radio only. The windows crank down with a handle and the A/C doesn’t seem to work and it has shitty gas mileage and manual locks and needs new brakes and eventually new tires and it’s MAYBE the best $1,200 I’ve ever spent.

The only radio station I can get to work reliably is the one that plays pop-country music, which feels wildly appropriate because Ford F-150s have got to be the most-referenced automobile in modern country music. Accordingly, I named the car Boondock, which has got to be the most-referenced geographic region in modern country music, aside from “America.”

I love it so much. I’m using it constantly. It takes the complication and headache out of SO MANY THINGS—getting trash to the dump, disposing of brush, hauling lumber and gravel and mulch and concrete and furniture and a pile of beautiful antique doors a flipper ripped out of an old house and left on the side of the road. I feel…I don’t know, empowered? to take on big projects and get some major shit done. It might seem silly but honestly every time I get into it I just feel giddy and grateful that it’s now a part of my life. Maybe I am a car person, after all.

Nah. But I love my beater pick-up and I can’t want to show you what we’ve been up to!

**Addendum: do yourself a favor and don’t buy a car in this manner. Get it looked at by a mechanic first, pay for the CarFax report, maybe even drive more than one before committing. Listen to your mom.  

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70 Comments

  1. I love you—I’m glad you now have a truck in your life. Driving a beater is soooooo freeing! Dings, scratches, and dents just add more character.

  2. as much as you haul, it makes sense!

  3. OMG you are my dad. He totally did this but bought a Subaru. He got BURNED. Ended up donating it as it would cost $5000 to fix and he had already dropped $5000 on it (so you were way more sensible there).

    ENJOY THE TRUCK and don’t forget to change the oil! (That’s another Dad story. Just trust me).

  4. I sometimes drive a F-450 for work which can surprise people as I’m a small woman (once when I was getting a windshield wiper replaced the guy came out with ones for a F-150 because he said he swore that’s what I asked for…when I didn’t). My husband made me an F-450 playlist of all country music that is hilarious but I can’t actually bring myself to listen to while driving it. Instead I blast the local hiphop/r&b radio station and sing very loudly. So glad you found the right (for now) truck for you!!

  5. I know so much about cars now and it really ticks me off. I had a Hyundai that was so great the first 100K miles but after that not so much, and because of that I, too, “have a mechanic” But he made me get under it and in the engine so that I could learn stuff and not get ripped off. I fought this every step of the way and while it made me sad that I had to do it, I guess I’m grudgingly glad I know it. Congrats on your new truck! It’s hot.

  6. Yes, listen to your mother always and guess what ad is popping up at the end of your blog?
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  7. OMG WHAT YOU ONLY SPENT $1200?!!! (Or as my pinky on the capslock says, $!@))?!!) Dude, that’s awesome. You can’t buy even a shit truck that runs for that much down in Texas. My much-needed truck that also has no AC and that was also featured in a legit country music video (google New To This Town; he also signed the dashboard) and I paid 3K for that sucker. A week later, I spent too much to replace all the tires. And then 3 months later, I paid another 3K to have the transmission rebuilt. Facepalm.

    As much as I prefer driving a car and having excellent gas mileage, being able to haul shit yourself is such a game changer. It also makes it so much easier to impulse buy shit off Craigslist. XD

    • Right! and easier to pick up stuff that people left out as trash.
      Oh wait, Daniel already started on that one…:)

  8. Should I ever win the lottery, I will 1) add another garage to my house, in which I will keep 2) the beater pickup I will buy. One where you can throw bricks into the back without worrying about the dents you’re making, lend it to friends without worrying if they’ll dent it, and haul any nasty load you want to haul, including manure. Good luck with your new truck; may it serve you well for years and years.

  9. Congrats on Boondock! Beater trucks are a godsend. My folks have a shop truck named Old Blue that I use when I need a truck, since Endora, my 4 door sedan, does not haul large or disgusting things. Old Blue is a super vintage old Ford truck, I think early 80s, you can practically watch the fuel gauge move to empty.

  10. It sounds like, at least based on the first mechanic’s diagnosis, it was head gaskets that were wrong with Boondock. Blown head gaskets were the eventual cause of death for my mom’s 1996 Toyota Corolla after like 16 years because it was indeed going to be throwing good money at bad. But if you can get head gaskets done for free as the second mechanic did…do it! Haha! (Full disclosure: my husband is a Subaru master technician and so I am learning loads about cars just by talking to him. Also yes, Subarus hold their value like one of those boats with a screen door bottom that has been treated with Flex-Seal. It’s kind of bananas.)

  11. A good mechanic (and tailor… and cobbler… and contractor… and… ) is worth their weight in gold. ‘My mechanic’ is named Tony.

  12. Hey we bought a truck too….now that we are in the country a truck is a must, welcome to the f150 club.

  13. woohoo! that is so exciting… love the color and the ‘live shot’ of ‘stuff’
    also i think you have the luck of the Irish – that transaction could have been so disastrous… but with your luck – not! congrats on getting such a deal!

  14. Good for you! Everyone should have a truck at some point in their life. My dad passed away 12 years ago and my mom couldn’t look at it in the driveway so I have his 98 Ford Ranger. 12 years later and I can’t stand the idea of parting with it, and like you it functions in so many ways. I’m only glad my dad can’t see it now. Dings, dents, spray paint disasters in the truck bed….well, you get the idea. But, I keep it insured, the oil changed and wash it regularly. Can’t imagine life without it!

  15. It sounds perfect. I really miss windows that crank down with a handle.

  16. My Volvo 240 wagon was my ‘truck’ for many years, but four home renovations and a 1959 travel trailer demanded a step up. Large Marge came into my life a year ago and I’ve been happy ever since! She’s a 1972 Jeep – think Wagoneer in front, pickup in back – in no less than three colors. She gets thumbs up while driving by rural gun stores and looks of horror when street parking in my boyfriend’s tony neighboring. One woman ran from her home screaming “This is zoned street parking!” and with smiles on our faces we assured her not to worry, we are her neighborhood and have a pass. Her look was priceless. Did I mention Large Marge is horrifically loud? We had a similar mishap five miles down the road from where we bought her, and a $250 tow home. But all in all she’s enriched my life and I couldn’t imagine working on all my house projects without her!

    Trailer backing pro tip: Place hand on bottom of the steering wheel, turn the direction you want the trailer to go. Works like magic!

  17. So your mechanic is what we in Texas call a “guy”. My mom (who is 80 and still lives in Texas) has several guys. She has a “guy” for her car, a “guy” for her yard, and a “guy” for house repairs. You have a “guy”. You seem to be your own “guy” for house and yard though.

  18. I currently drive an absolutely darling Electric Lime Metallic Prius C (Hermione) and I love her. So so many loves.
    But TO THIS DAY (16 years) I miss Angus Og, my extended cab Ford Ranger XLT SOFUCKINGMUCH. That truck was like a horse or a dog – he was my buddy and he watched out for me. For instance: he didn’t let his water pump break until we got home from the Okefenokee (76 miles)!
    He hit 100,000 miles the day my dad died. I wrote prize winning poems in his cab and took photos of big gators from his bed. We drove all over the back roads of Georgia and Florida and he NEVER let me down. Someone said he wasn’t a “real truck” but THEY DIDN’T KNOW HIM!

    Anyway…congrats on your truck – may you have many adventures!

  19. Yup, still miss our 1997 Toyota Tacoma pickup (bought in 2007 when we moved to Central America and had all kinds of things to do involving jungles and mud and roads with lots of holes. I remember driving it home after looking for a vehicle for a solid week, signing paperwork and obtaining stamps that took days to submit when just off the ferry to our remote peninsula, the check engine light came on. We were lucky to find out it just needed resetting by “our” mechanic- the honest and competent Minor, a true gift from the mechanic gods. It reappeared from time to time and stayed on for most of the 10 years we had her. We got to the point where we just opened the hood, checked if the engine was still there, and considered it done. Our Wylie Coyote got us and many, many things, people, and pets through rivers and over mountains, down ravines and around some considerable bumps. I will always remember her fondly.

  20. “severely disinterested by the entire concept” is a phrase I plan to steal and begin using regularly in regards to all sorts of things. Congrats on the new (to you) truck!

  21. Honestly I think cranking your own windows in a car you bought with your own money is a character-building experience we should experience before reaching the age of 30. So well done.

    My first car was $1500. I had to crank the windows and it had a cassette player that didn’t work, so when I drove home from the west coast through Montana I had to listen to bible-thumper radio that extolled 2nd amendment rights every 30 minutes for at least two days. I can’t remember if the cell phone my parents bought me before I left (which came in its own briefcase) worked through that stretch but I highly doubt it.

    Enjoy!

  22. Daniel! I was checking your blog earlier today in the hopes that I might find news, and then this! This is great. May you get much use and joy out of your truck.

  23. This is perfect for you. So happy you made the leap, even if you did it in a manner that makes me shake my head.

  24. You probably already know this seeing as you’re a functional self-employed adult, but I just want to throw it out that this is likely a tax deductible expense. Forgive me if you’re like “fucking duh, this is obvious” but I’ve found that personal finance is tough for a lot of folks and I want to spread the wisdom far and wide!

    Also: I used to have “my mechanic” and believe me it is AWESOME. His name was Shawn and I had his cell # in my phone. He charged me reasonable rates and one time picked me up from the side of the highway when my car started smoking. He drove my car back to the shop and I drove his b/c I was freaked. out. Turned out it was just some garbage lodged in the undercarriage and he did not charge me. For any of that. Would’ve been a hella pricey towing scenario without Shawn. Sigh.

    Now I live in a different city and no longer have “my mechanic” and it sucks. I think one can only acquire a mechanic friend by divine providence so I’m SO happy for you that you got one of your very own! It’s the best.

  25. i have the same thought process CONSTANTLY. What stops me is: 1. It rains in PDX like 6 days a week. And I frequently have things that need to be covered, so….. doesn’t it negate a truck if you get a covered cab? 2. I still have to parallel park whatever I get, frequently, and finding a space for a truck might make life miserable. 3. Gas mileage. i’m supposed to be moving in the other direction as a citizen of earth.

    And yet… I desperately want to be able to pick up a yard of compost or two, or haul a teardrop, or get wood that’s longer than 8’…. things my Ford Escape hybrid CAN’T do. argh.

  26. Hooray! Good for you. Good for Boondock! I look forward to your next Excellent Adventures.

  27. I am happy for you. I can’t stress enough how much joy I feel when I see there is a new post from a you, a complete stranger. I settle the dogs down for their nap, grab a beer, put my feet up, and laugh and laugh and laugh. Thanks again.

    • I second this. You take all the shit I feel and put it into words waaaaay better than I ever could. Now I know I’m not the only one who sits on the toilet browsing Facebook marketplace. You’ve inspired me to take the plunge and get that beater truck I’ve been dreaming about.

  28. CONGRATULATIONS! Your story is my life at every level this last year. My husband and I have a small farm and three kids under five and that sadly means we have like 8 motor vehicles of some type at our disposal (car, van, riding lawn mowers, boat). TOO MANY. So when my husband was gunning to buy a truck I was like, “No way. Get a trailer to add to our many, many vehicles.” But he was nervous a trailer would do exactly what you described. It would help but ruin our lives.
    Cut to now. We have an F350 and use it every single day. It is the wind beneath our wings and I want to sell everything else so we can just use the truck. I can’t imagine life without it now!

  29. Congrats on the new ride! FYI, I recently purchased an older car with out Bluetooth and bought a less than $20 Bluetooth adapter thingy on amazon that plugs into the cigarette lighter and works through the radio. Sure as shit it works better than my fancy Bluetooth in my new model Lexus. All the music (in reality podcasts) and phone calls you can handle.

    • FM transmitter. Best $17 I’ve spent to upgrade my daughter’s 1997 Acura with Bluetooth.

  30. Good for you that you got a truck! (I’m pretty sure it was me who pointed out on here that you are not the city-dweller, weekend-country-house-owner to have a car or SUV rather than a truck.) Next, time, solicit more internet advice first, and get a manual. (And you can probably sell your car – you probably don’t need two – you’ll likely find that your pickup suffices for everything – there’s a reason American car makers are abandoning making cars, it is because they sell so many more pickup trucks – google it.)

    I’m not a car gal (though I did research the two cars I’ve bought, because … I like research – it is easy since the internet came along – and I like learning something about things I know nothing about, like cars, at least enough to figure out how to buy reliable ones that will serve my needs), though I have jumpstarted batteries and changed a tire, out of necessity – neither are hard (though I have not changed my own oil, being a city dweller – it is kind of hard to do so when parked on the street.) But you are a DIY guy, and manual driving IS DIY-driving – and it is a lot more fun!!! (Probably not if you live in a place with a lot of hills like San Francisco, but where you are, it’s fine, better even, especially when hauling loads – you can downshift rather than strain your engine.)

    I didn’t learn to drive stick when I first learned to drive like my older siblings did – my father got my family’s first automatic transmission car just before I turned 16, which probably incidentally made it easier for me to learn to drive initially (I never had to hear him yell at me about grinding the clutch as my siblings did), but that just put off my learning to drive stick until I was in college. It was on a spring break trip with 3 others in the car, one who was a non-driver, and when the other 2 (stick) drivers got tired, one gave me a ten minute lesson in a parking lot, and then I drove for the next 12-15 hours (all night) while they all slept, even through my lurching on and off the highway to get more coffee. And then I was a stick driver!! That’s all it took, and although it was more than a decade after that that I bought my first car (having moved to NYC after college, where I didn’t need one, and not having been born into the class that had their own cars while in college (didn’t need one at my big-city college anyway, and almost no one I knew had one – it was a different era) or high school (when I was allowed to drive the family’s old beater second car to get to work after school, but it wasn’t mine), I never considered buying anything but a manual when I did buy my first car in my 30s, which I needed to get to a job when in grad school – a manual is that much more fun to drive. You, too, can learn – and I recommend doing so before you buy your next pickup truck – it is easy, and makes driving much more fun.

    And yes, I’ve done the same thing, tried to drive away in a car that was identical to mine – in my case, in an old Honda Civic sedan – I got into one back in the 90’s in Boston that was parked on the street in the spot directly behind mine, same color, looked exactly the same (apparently it was keyed the same, too, as I got in – there were a limited number of key options, as I learned when I googled it) – I think what first clued me in is that it had a radio (mine was so bare-boned that it came (used) with no radio/tape deck having ever been installed (no radio in a Civic was still an option in late 80s models), and I put in one of the sort of radio/tape players that you pulled out and took with you when you parked the car (all those years of living in Brooklyn in the 80s seeing broken glass on the street from broken car windows smashed for their radios and whatever else might be found in the car (though that was usually nothing) while walking to the subway every morning made me realize that an installed radio in a big city, back then, was then a very bad idea.) I even saw the hand-lettered sign I had taped in the window stating “no radio, no money, no nothing” in a photo accompanying a newspaper article about the problem after I moved back to NYC … but I digress.

    Enjoy your truck! Enjoy your hand cranked windows – I wish I had them now, as my (also manual) Mazda3 (that I bought new) has for most of its life had a driver’s window that won’t open after the car has spent a day sitting in the sun (the next day, it is fine, but hand cranks don’t have this problem with heat, as electronic sensors do.) And when your truck is ready to go (to the junkyard, as my Honda did when the bottom rusted out, as the 80s Hondas did, or to some other poorer person who needs an old truck), don’t be afraid to get a manual one – you’ll like driving it so much more.

  31. So happy to see a post from you and the “new” truck looks gorgeous on the outside, at least. Congratulations on making your own life so much easier. I finally had to let go of my 14 year old PT Cruiser at the very end of 2015. Though I love the gas mileage on the Honda CR-V, that Cruiser could haul anything. Storm doors, artificial Christmas trees in long boxes, real trees – even an antique three seat Stickley Brothers settee! I will always miss that car – it was made for me. Enjoy your hauling adventures!

  32. As someone who has hauled an 8 foot Numerar countertop in a Mini Cooper, this post gave me all the feels. Keep on truckin’.

  33. Learned to drive on a very similar truck my dad had on our farm (its was manual and silver in colour, also the long 8′ bed reg cab).
    It’s like an indestructible tank that consumes a lot of gas :)

  34. I drove a beater once that would start itself when I was pumping gas into it…..

  35. Well done you! and may it serve you well. Our first car bought second/third/fourth! hand from a friend cost us £300 and had no power steering, weighed in at several tons, and handled like a bus….. but you could slide a 7 foot couch into the back with the seats down (the back seats folded down level with the trunk floor) with no trouble and for the life we were leading at that time it was a magic vehicle. Have fun with Boonie!

  36. Oh, you made me laugh…again. Love your column and so glad you got the truck. Wish I had one, too, for thrift shopping, etc.

  37. So you’ve bought what we in Australia would call a ute (short for utility vehicle). They were marketed to farmers here that they could transport sheep during the week, and then the missus to church on Sunday.

    Enjoy your ute!

  38. My brothers in the Midwest have F-150s. My Aygo could drive underneath them. They use pickups as you do–hauling stuff to build then fix houses (their own–they aren’t pros), and they also need trucks for hauling large animals they have hunted. I think their trucks are about 30 years old. One has a mechanic as a best friend (from high school, so the friendship predates the mechanic skills), and that helps the entire extended family a lot. For fun on weekends, they go around to junk yards to look for parts like transmissions and replace them themselves. When they screw up, mechanic BFF comes to the rescue. It’s all very DIY like your renovation work, and I strongly suspect you are on the precipice of a rabbit hole of automotive renovation. Your next post will be an enthusiastic recounting of how you put in a new radiator that you sourced at the junk yard and it wasn’t so bad.
    BTW, I love a manual transmission. Bad starter? Park on a hlll and you can pop the clutch. When I had an old Fiat Spyder, it was small enough that I could push it myself to get it rolling to pop the clutch. You won’t be pushing an F-150. And in the snow, you put it in 2nd gear and you can get through anything. Not first–you’ll spin–and never up to third–you’d be going too fast and if you slip around you don’t want to be downshifting. It takes practice to get going from a stop in 2nd but I tell you it works. In second you can just chug through, slow and steady.

  39. When I was young and footloose in the 80s my best friend had a Ford Ranger and I named it Buck the Truck. We were wild and crazy in that truck….
    Fast forward to 2007 and the meeting of her husband’s best friend and me…..we are now married. He drives a Ford 350 and his last name actually, for real, is Buck.

    Congratulations and I hope your next boyfriend is not named Boondock.

  40. Country music also really loves Chevys with lift kits and “God’s country,” which is an expression that infuriates me. Congrats on your truck! I would love one as well, but it would take some convincing of my husband (although I know – KNOW – he would love it in the end).

  41. UGH! So jealous…. I have always wanted a beater truck!! I had my chance back in college but my parents made me buy a K-Car instead that I drove into the ground. Surprisingly roomy trunk though – I moved many times in it, but it would have been easier with a truck!!! Anyway, having lived in NY for 23 years I can no longer drive (licensed lapsed around year 2 and I never did anything about it) but I swear on all that is holy if we ever move I’m getting an f’ing truck!! Of course, by the time that happens I’ll probably be too old to do anything that a truck would be useful for, but a girl can dream, right?

  42. Thank you for acknowledging the truth that there is NOTHING as boring as cars. Could I save some money by learning to do certain things myself? Probably. Would I rather run screaming into the merciful darkness? Absolutely.

  43. LOVE your radio situation. Beater-car quirks are their best part! The love of my young life was a pimp-gold 1990 Volvo station wagon named (natch) Old Gold. About 10 years into our journey together, she mysteriously decided she needed 8-10 minutes for the FM stations to come in after I turned on the car – kinda like the radio needed to warm up? This is not a thing. And yet. So I started listening to NPR on AM, got totally hooked on their slightly-different schedule, and now I find the static soothing. When I turn on WNYC on the FM station and I hear the real voices of my radio friends (Brian Lehrer), they freak me out. AM 820 4eva. And R.I.P. Old Gold. Long live Boondock!

  44. This is a touching tribute to a truck. The love of a human for their truck (and good mechanic) is one of the great unsung romances of our times. I will now weep quietly for the loss of my beloved gold 1987 Mazda B2000 cab plus with matching bed cap… I am not a car girl but I sure as hell am a truck one. I can highly recommend a future investment in a bed cap (eg https://cap-it.com/departments/caps-and-covers/truck-caps/). So great for easy camping/road-tripping (holds a proper mattress, no need for a tent) and hauling dirty dogs around. *runs off to buy lotto ticket to be able to buy dream vintage Toyota 4×4 pick-up*

    Also, when you find a mechanic, your mechanic, you treat that person like GOLD. In my family, a relationship with a mechanic traditionally lasts longer than any/all marriages. That relationship is truly sacred.

  45. My husband backs up trailers for a living. When he was teaching me how to back one up he said “the tires on the trailer are called trouble, when you see trouble in your mirrors turn the wheel towards it. When trouble is gone from both mirrors, straighten out your wheels and back up.” The most difficult part for me was learning when my wheels were straight. We drive an old f250 and you have to turn the wheel a good 6 times to get the tires straight.

  46. We have a similar pickup, in similar shape but who’s back tailgate (that’s what you call the door to the bed. WHO KNEW??) is covered in cool/dopey bumperstickers, and is always covered in a fine layer of mulch dust. WE LOVE IT.

  47. Congrats! You will never regret having a pickup or a mechanic!

  48. Enjoy your truck, but if it’s not 4-wheel drive (and I’m thinking it’s not) be careful when you begin driving it in winter. Our first truck was a 2-wheel drive. We were living in PA at the time and we needed chains pretty routinely in winter.

  49. Hi Daniel, so happy for you!. Just a suggestion to make things even easier
    https://www.harborfreight.com/12-ton-truck-bed-cargo-unloader-60800.html?cid=paid_google|*PLA+-+All+Products+-+Lower+Sales+Items|New+Products+-+%283%29+Price+%2430-50|60800&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&mkwid=sF6Gd4fvj|pcrid|318476002959|pkw||pmt||pdv|c|slid||product|60800|&pgrid=63088205026&ptaid=pla-295241303266&pcid=1654049980&intent=&gclid=EAIaIQobChMItbqbhJ3D4wIVDp-fCh1GNgJKEAQYAiABEgIEMvD_BwE

  50. I had the same mechanics for 25+ years & literally cried when they told me they were retiring. They saved my ass so many times in ways that people in my personal life couldn’t even touch. I briefly commiserated with 2 other neighbors who were equally thrown & disoriented until “my guys” gave me a referral to a friend who is cut from the same cloth. He kept my Honda Civic going until she was the victim of a hit & run @ 258,000 miles. I am now on the 4th car of my life & I am 62. Good mechanics are beyond valuable & I hope there are plenty of youngsters going into this field as it is sorely needed. (Apologies to my wonderful son with his fine arts degree).

  51. YOU are killer cute.

  52. Congrats! Regarding the ashtray smell, I’ve had good luck renting an ozone machine and running it for about an hour in the cab. Will greatly reduce the smell.

  53. It amazes me that 1` you seem to have quite the “older” set of readers and 2~ that you had to look up parts of a truck. BUT this is coming from a Florida girl who has NO IDEA how a radiator works! haha

    That Ford will run for 250,000 miles if you take care of it. I don’t like Ford in general but I have to admit the built Ford tough seems to hold true on their pickups. I am in the land of pickups and the always general war of ford vs chevy vs dodge vs “the imports”

  54. I learned how to drive stick in a Ford Ranger! I actually kind of love it and have plans to buy a manual beater truck when my fiance and I get our own place. Despite being the one in the relationship that learned how to drive with a car that was a stick, he haaaaates driving stick, so it’ll be all mine! I also plan on having electric cars for most of the time and just using the truck to haul stuff, so I figure it works out to be net zero environmentally.

    Ah, “the guy.” When we were growing up, my dad was distrustful of American mechanics and the friend of a friend mechanic that was actually Vietnamese and could argue with my dad did not really know what he was doing, so my dad did it all himself. When we got older, my brother was severely disinterested in the entire concept of cars, so I learned how to do basic diagnostics, change the oil, change a tire, change the brakes and rotors, all the fun stuff. I think it’s pretty great because I know when I actually need to take a car to the mechanic and when I can just pop that thing on a jack and fiddle around with the underside. My friends now end up coming to me before they go to the mechanic so that I can tell them what’s wrong before the grumpy dudes try to tell them that they need to change their turn signal fluid. Sometimes I pop their cars up on a jack and fix it myself, too. I do have an actual guy though, for the harder to fix things, and I went to high school with and he usually takes me in after hours so that I can get out into the bay with him and work alongside him instead of just sitting in the waiting room, so it’s great.

  55. Awesome truck, congrats!
    Random question about your other house you’re renovating – the one with the lovely green basement. Do you keep it insured? My mom has a major fixer-upper upstate (from dad) and I’m not sure if it needs insurance during probate. The neighbor is keeping an eye on it and says it’s been broken into – I don’t know anything right now…

    • Thanks Alena! YES—definitely a good idea to keep it insured, even if it’s under renovation and doesn’t qualify for a regular homeowner’s policy. I got my policy through a local agency—it’s pretty bare-bones and doesn’t cover much, but it does keep good liability insurance and fire protection in the event of a total loss. It’s only a few hundred dollars a year, and I can increase the coverage any time as I put additional money into the house and need it to cover more. Hope that helps!

      • Yes, definitely, thank you!

      • Sorry, one other question – I got a $1,200 quote for a Vacant Home Policy. I know vacant homes are more costly to ensure, but is yours insured as vacant or as another type? I did some Googling but didn’t see anything good.

  56. Silently laughing so hard right now – from toilet browsing sessions to all the descriptions about your truck adventure. Cure for a Trying Tuesday!

  57. Welcome to F150 World! I also have a 1997, manual transmission, extended cab (has a back seat , but not a full back door), with full 8′ bed. Been driving pick-ups for 25 years now and I don’t think I could go back to a regular car.

  58. I’m glad you have found your own mechanic. And that he is honest. That’s huge Daniel! I’m happy for you. I love your blog. I mostly read it at work where their “smart filter” doesn’t allow me to make comments. But I had to congratulate you on the mechanic deal. It will save you money. Bake him cookies.

  59. My hubby knows everything about everything with vehicles. And thank gawd because who can afford or trust mechanics!? PS that era of the F150’s are magical vehicles. We can’t live without ours (contractor+constant reno life). Once in a while hubby will suggest we get rid of the truck for something less gas guzzling and then we laugh and laugh.

  60. It looks like great fun and a real workhorse but you should definitely take the Subaru to auctions to reduce temptation.

  61. I’m not a car person either, so I didn’t read this post until today, after reading about the Bluestone Cottage and needing a little more “Daniel” before getting to work.

    A v. funny story, but I’m glad it all worked out for you. The truck looks magnificent, much nicer than I was expecting.

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