Help narrowing down van options... (1 Viewer)

whimsicaliber

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Hey y'all. It is crunch time up here in WI, and the PIC and I will be needing to pull the trigger on a vehicle purchase in the next couple of weeks...any help or advice on selecting our first vandwelling would be much appreciated. We will have a budget of around 2k.

Some basics I have picked up so far:
1. People seem to prefer Ford/Chevy/GMC over Dodge--is this a misperception or is there something to that bias?
2. Higher miles and well-maintained might be better over lower mileage but used only intermittently...but anything over 200k (gas) or 300k (diesel) should be approached with care...
3. v8 engine might be a bit of overkill compared to v6 on most everything van sized and smaller, but v8 will run longer?

Anything else? Sorry, I am a complete amateur when it comes to most machinery, but am hoping I can learn some maintenance basics to help with upkeep.

Also, just for some context, we are looking to boondock around here (south-central WI) through the farm season, then head to Colorado, so we don't need something we can put tens of thousands of miles on over several years, this is pretty much a vehicle that will need to keep us sheltered in relative comfort for a few months, then get us to the mountains, where we will be hoping to get some farming stuff going. Something that would reliably have 25000 more miles to it would be plenty.
 
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whimsicaliber

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Odin

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The only reasons for the Bias I can think of is I have heard that dodge can have oil sludge problems/= engine failure... And in general it seems like Dodge doesn't get the best MPG in comparison. Though I don't have any experience with em to back that up.
Personally if your buying an older cheaper van, Yea go with the Chevy. If you want better gas mileage try look for the "sport" version with a shorter wheel base and a transmission with overdrive.
Ford is good too... but would go with it if you buy Diesel. The 7.3l non turbo navistar engine is bullet proof I hear. Remember though diesel costs a lot more to repair.
Whatever you do... have an inspection done on it before you make an offer. If the seller doesn't want to do that... they probably are trying to unload a complete lemon.
 

milkhauler

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The only reasons for the Bias I can think of is I have heard that dodge can have oil sludge problems/= engine failure... And in general it seems like Dodge doesn't get the best MPG in comparison. Though I don't have any experience with em to back that up.
Personally if your buying an older cheaper van, Yea go with the Chevy. If you want better gas mileage try look for the "sport" version with a shorter wheel base and a transmission with overdrive.
Ford is good too... but would go with it if you buy Diesel. The 7.3l non turbo navistar engine is bullet proof I hear. Remember though diesel costs a lot more to repair.
Whatever you do... have an inspection done on it before you make an offer. If the seller doesn't want to do that... they probably are trying to unload a complete lemon.
Dont forget about the notorious trannies (90's) burning up, cause of a design flaw. A tiny pea size check ball is all that seperates you from 3 grand. Dont ask me how I know that. [emoji35]

A mechanic is town brags that he wouldn't be in business I'd it wernt for Chrysler products. Most of the other guys in town refuse to touch Chrysler, due to the costly come backs. Pist off customers cars breaking down 2-3 weeks later. Small block Chevy is the way to go. [emoji111]
 
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Odin

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Dont forget about the notorious trannies (90's) burning up, cause of a design flaw. A tiny pea size check ball is all that seperates you from 3 grand. Dont ask me how I know that.
emoji35.png

The Dodge right?

Hmm that's something else to consider with your purchase. Whatever van your buying... pay attention if it has a towing hitch and ask if the van was used to pull a trailer or boat... whatever like that regularly.
Often a large van like that is a vacation vehicle and if someone has used it to regularly tow a boat off to they're summer cabin by the lake that will have added a lot of wear and tear on the transmission regardless of the make.
 

milkhauler

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Yeah. An 01 2500 truck with the v10 motor. I shoulda did my homework
 
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milkhauler

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I have a varient of the 350. A 4.3 v6 in my 94 Blazer. Its a 350 - 2 cylinders. The motor and tranny are all original. 20yrs, knock on wood. Its been all over the North American continent without complaining. I still dog the shit out of it. Its an $800 reliable beater. It looks like frankenstien all dentened up.Haha!

I did install an oil cooler and tranny cooler for peace of mind.
 
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Matt Dawg

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I got a 1979 chevy van. If it breaks down for whatever reason, parts are cheap and easily fixable. You don't need something new and fancy, you just need something you can take care of.
 

Matt Derrick

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i like the red chevy truck, and the price is right (also, low miles!) i'd jump on that one.

i had a dodge (similar to the one in your ad) for about 3 months and it broke down on me pretty hard. not saying that's typical, but that was my experience.
 
D

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Rust is your number 1 enemy as once rust starts, rust never sleeps.......
I'm in the minority - as have an '84 E-350 Ford Diesel van [International 6.9 diesel] which was very very reliable - until I took her off the road due to shorted out tail lights.
Diesels - while more expensive - give you tremendous mileage - both in terms of fuel economy and longevity.
But again, they need lots of love and care................

V-8 is definately the way to go, last thing you want is a van that is struggling going up and down hills on long stretches of highway.

Listen, speaking of things that struggle - I came across a while back one of those old school Toyota mini campers - and in retrospect I'm sorry I did not look further into it - as I hear those old 4 cylinder Toyota's run forever...... but on the other hand, how many of those are ever seen on the road ??

I know it sounds silly but hang out at a rest stop and conduct your own exit poll with van drivers, see what they think, etc.... tell 'em what you are up to, if nothign else you might get some more ideas.

Good luck !!
 

hermitdan69

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I've had a 2001 Ford 6 cylinder van for 9 years now. It has 185,000 miles now and never had any major problems. I would highly recommend this model. I service it regularly and don't drive like a idiot, so I'm hopeful of another 100,000 miles from it.
I've met many other rubber tramps that swear by Ford 6 cylinders too.
 

whimsicaliber

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Thanks for all the replies! After having a friend more mechanically inclined than I give i the once over we were pretty pleased and put an offer out...

The strange thing is that the guy apparently never titled it in his name, and I'm not sure if he expects me to do something but the DMV said he has to title it in his name and then transfer it over to me...is this as unusual as it seems, or do people often wait to title the vehicle for a while after they buy it? IDK seemed strange, and his English is only a little better than my Spanish, so we'll see what happens.

Finally, this is my partner and my last official night indoors before camping for two weeks and then moving right into the (a) van, so any prayers, well wishes, tips, tricks, hacks, or last minute words of wisdom on the eve of the next step in our journey would all be welcome! Peace and love to all!
 
D

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oh boy.................. you have to go with your gut instinct on that one !!

I know a while back I was all set to buy a 1989 convertable Volkswagon that was mint with super low miles till I saw that none of the paperwork was signed by the original owner - so I walked......

Strange thing was - I tracked down the original owner via Facebook - some hot looking rich girl from Greenwich CT, and she was like "paperwork, oh what's that ??" so it turns out it was a legit sale, the girl was just too dumb to realize she had to sign everything over......

Who is this ride you are interested in registered to ??

Is there a previous owner where the paperwork matches up with ??

Only asking because I have done many a shaky deal out here, when I bout my 79 C-10 truck - that came with 4 or 5 bill of sales and NOBODY ever regestered it !! But I was able to flim flam my way through it and get everything done, because I did have the last registered owners paperwork.

My diesel van was even worse - that came with a 7 digit number written on a small piece of paper - no paperwork whatsoever !! - with a promise that if I go to the Bridgeport DMV, it's in there system - and incredible as it sounds it was.

If you are suspicious - get the van's vin number - run a car fax, or bring the vin to the DMV and see if they can provide last owners info, while you are there - tell them up front what's going on - and what do you need to do to solve this issue of the title not being Kosher.....
 

creature

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if the mileage is correct, go for the red conversion.
look at the ball joints to confirm the actual milage is that low.

also, at 54K you can still run a synthetic oil.
have changed to synthetic on *man* high mileage vehicles, with absolutely no problems & no regrets..

***GET YOUR TRANSMISSION HOT-FLUSHED**

this is about a $150 operation.. it changes about 90% of the trans fluid, rather than the 60% with ordinary service.. well, well worth it..

use walmart 'supertech' brand for the synthetic..
fuck.. i use their conventional oil, too.. far, far cheaper & clearly just as good..

**make sure you use the properly rated oil**

1 grade won't make much of a difference, generally (10-40 vs 15-40, or 5-30 vs. 10-40), but stay within range, especially in the winter.. synthetics tend to be more fluid, but conventionals can build up a lot more pressure.. go synthetic & change every 6,000 with a highended filter...
synthetic can take the abuse of forgetfullness.. 6,000 on a conventional is like strangling your vehicle slowly..

also.. when you test drive..
1) check where the *exact* spot where the vehicle is parked (assuming it has not already been warmed up.. if it has, you can omit the cold start oil comparison steps).
2) check the oil **exactly** (several times, to be 100% sure) .. count the number of fucking crosshatches it covers on the stick..
3) warm it up for at least 10 minutes. move to a more level & still *exact* spot, if required (whatever spot is ok, so long asl close to level).
3) check oil *exactly*, again
4) drive at least 20 miles, then park *exactly the same* in that *exact* spot (yeah.. sorry..)
5) let sit for 5 minutes, return, crank the engine, let run for 30 seconds, then check the oil exactly, again.
compare with oil level in 3^.
6) move back to the original cold start spot & let the vehicle sit for several hours (overnight, if possible), in that exact spot check the oil

7) in all cases count the number of hatches covered after, as compared to previously..
did you loose *anything* noticable?? more than a 1/16th of an inch in both cases?

1/16th may be hard to verify, but an 8/th is easy..
if you get two deltas of *any* measurable amount, after 20 miles, be wary.. the safe range on a stick is usually an inch or less, so 1/16 is about 1 quart every 400 miles..
if it's clearly 1/8th, **do NOT buy it**

check the fluids..
is the oil a translucent brown, or a very dark, near opaque brown/black?
dark, burned oil is a sign of poor care.

check the trans fluid.. is it a light brown with a touch of pink to it, & a not too strong odor like a rubberband that you've stretched a few times to warm up, or is it almost opaque, with a smell of a burnt rubber band, gone cold?

if dark & with a vague burny-smell, it's been abused or used for towing.

good trans fluid (unless new) won't be completely pink, but the pink will still be visible.

check the underside to make sure there are no oil/fluid stains on the frame & underpinning parts..
an engine can be cleaned, but hard grime & grease stains are hard to wash off when they've accumulated..

oil stains near the oil drain are normal, but check for stains around the pan gaskets (oil & trans), and around the head (as opposed to the valve cover gasket).

check the coolant before warm-up.. is there any milky gunk in it?
that is evidence of a head gasket leak into the cooling system.

check the oil.. any evidence of milky gunk in it?

that's evidence of coolant in the oil, & also indicated head gasket failure.
avoid the vehicle, in either case, unless you are willing to drop another $500 into it, minimum.. **assuming** you have an honest mechanic that won't screw you for nickles & dimes & dollars..

anyways..
good luck!!

yer gonna be fine : )

peace,

C
 

Fatboy

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I had an 82 ford van with the 300 six.... not a lot of power but it ran and ran without ever needing much work... plus ford are really roomy upfront compared to other vans.
 

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