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Looking for a used vehicle for the Right of Way

I am looking for a used vehicle that will work well to get me up and down pipeline Right of Ways. Do a google image search of “muddy pipeline right of way” to get a sense of the driving conditions. I will be putting a lot of miles on this vehicle for work, so mitigating excessive depreciation costs and fuel expenses are also considerations.

4x4 or AWD

That is the short summary.

Some preliminary (non-expert) thoughts:

Pros: The 1500 platform is so common that aftermarket parts are cheap. They don’t hold onto their value well, so used vehicles are economical.
Cons: Poor gas mileage. Mediocre Reliability.

Pros: Reliable (although I heard some years were less so).
Cons: Because Toyotas hold onto their value, so more expensive.

Pros: Handles poor traction well (muddy conditions). Good Gas mileage.
Con: While the ground clearance is not that much less than most SUVs, I am not sure how the suspension will handle uneven terrain.

Pros: Used seem to be a decent value.
Cons: Have heard a lot of anecdotes about recent years having poor quality.

Grand Cherokee:
Pros: Has a decent reputation as an off road vehicle
Cons: Poor Gas mileage for the size.

For pipline inspection purposes, or do you happen to live near a road that shares ROW with the pipeline? I don’t know if any road-legal 4-wheeler is good for pipline patrol…they go straight up-and-down, across bogs, etc.

I’d get the most hardcore 4X4 imaginable and suspect to walk a lot of the harder stuff…

You might get some good ideas here:

If it were me, I’d go for a Tacoma 4x4.

It’s too bad this is 2014 rather than 1954. In 1954 you could buy one of those cool and very tough looking Dodge Power Wagons!

I would be going to visit one or two excavation sites each day. Not exactly inspection, but in that ball park. I have no issues with walking, but it isn’t always practical if the excavation is miles in from an access road (which shouldn’t be too often hopefully).

Most people have large trucks, but I think that has little to do with practicality.

The Tacoma and the 4Runner look like they use most of the same transmissions and engines, for the years that would be in my price range. Any advantages to the Tacoma over the 4Runner besides the standard truck vs SUV considerations?

Thanks for the responses! And jalopnik article has good food for thought.

Hahaha. If I find a Power Wagon, I will pick it up without a second thought.

An older 4 cylinder 4 wd Tacoma; the are all good off road vehicles. 4Runners tend to be much more expensive and though they share their drive trains, the Tacomas overall are simpler. You won’t have things like climate control and power lumbar to go wrong that come in most 4Runners. :wink: out backs should not be driven off road…Power a Wagon ? Do you have stock in Exxon ?

Be sure to become familiar with “Tacoma frame rot.”

How about a HumVee ? A true Power Wagon were made in 3/4 ton and heavier…

Thanks @GeorgeSanJose; for the site. Those were some cool pic’s.

When I was a kid…in the 60s a local marine/boat store had a power wagon for towing boats in and out of the local lakes…spring and fall. I fell in love with them then and still wish I had one.


The Tacoma with a camper shell might be an option. I really don’t need a truck bed, but it keeps coming up as a suggestion.

The Suzuki Vitara from the Jalopnik article is an interesting idea. Lighter weight and shorter wheel bases are supposed to be better for off-road.

Would it make sense to get a tow vehicle and tow a six wheel ATV to the site for the pipeline inspections? You can even get tracks for these vehicles.

I’m not familiar with the pipeline ROW inspection profession but the pipeline industry has been going great guns in this area.
Some of the dirt roads here are impassable during times of heavy rain or melting snow so I can only imagine what a ROW is like after it turns to mud.

Maybe mountainbike’s excellent suggestion would work. Some of the terrain around here is more suited to a JD Gator or Kawasaki Mule than it is a pickup. It’s fairly flat but littered with countless gullies and dropoffs. The farmers are certainly huge fans of them.

The terrain where you’re at may be different and a 4WD truck suitable in your case.

Im a sucker for the Ford Expedition myself. My dad has a 97 that I used to drive in highschool over 10 years ago. Ive taken it in very similar terrain without issue numerous times. He has the XLT 4x4 with the 5.4 v8. Just took it from NC to Philly PA and back without issue - and it didnt lose a drop of oil. 160k on the clock. He does maintain it well.

The only gripe with the 5.4 and 4.6 power plants is that if somebody didnt torque a spark plug perfectly when replacing, theyve been known to blow out the threads. Common enough to be easily repaired by a familiar shop. But I wouldnt let that scare you away. Theyre great trucks.

Its essentially a short bed f150.

The only problem with pickup trucks is the lack of weight in the back. Makes for poor traction unless you have some weight back there.

Stay away from Land Rover. We had one for many years. While very capable off road, their reliability will more than nickel and dime you. Not cheap to repair either.

Older jeeps are great in my opinion. The 4.0 inline 6 is a wonderful engine when maintained. The aftermarket is plentiful and affordable. If you can find a well maintained older cherokee (not the new watered down BS jeep released) then hop on it.

Toyotas are great but they hold their value SO well, that theyre not even worth the money anymore in my opinion. Youll see really overpriced tacomas with 200k on them and something along the lines of “if you know toyotas, you know 200k is nothing for them”. Sorry but mother nature takes her tole on rubber and plastic and metal just like any other brand. Years and miles are years and miles.

Anything you get is going to be used so I wouldnt be surprised when you need some sort of repair. So plan your budget for that. If it was me and Id be doing that type of driving all the time Id get a small lift (2-3 inches) and some aggressive tires. Maybe a winch as well.
At the very least you’ll need good tires.

Personally Id get a jeep cherokee or ford expedition. Just make sure if its a jeep you get the 4x4 with the 4.0 I-6 or if the ford the 4x4 with the 5.4 V8.

I also thought first of a Gator, but You’d have to haul it to the site.

I don’t know if this would be practical, but you could get a 4wd pick-up truck and have a loading grate mounted where the tailgate would be.
Pull up near the site…fold the grate down…hop on the gator and go.


Now that you have many vehicles from which to choose …
don’t forget the next piece of the puzzle.
The wrong tires on the right vehicle can still leave you stranded.

I was curious about the ATVs and searched for one with a heated cab and at $20,000+ they are somewhat over the top in my line of thinking.

And it occured to me that to build a pipeline a path of some kind, adequate for trucks carrying the pipe and equipment , was built and a true off road 4WD pickup should be able to travel the ROW with little problem.

Instead of towing, just put the ATV in the pickup bed. I see more transported this way unless the guy has more than one ATV to transport. You can get ramps for RO-RO.

I wonder what the terrain is like that the OP will be traversing? The pipe and equipment used in laying the pipelines around here is drug in by dozers and trackhoes. The pickups stay near the roadways.

The terrain is variable. Google image search of “pipeline right of way” or “muddy pipeline right of way” gives a good sense. The big wooden “mats” you see can be a rough ride. The right of way will usually be cleared or graded to the subsoil.

Fender1325, a Jeep Cherokee is tempting, but they get about the same (or worse) gas mileage as a Yukon/Tahoe. Though I would guess are more capable off road.

The point about tires is well taken. I am pretty much assuming buying a new set. I have seen and felt the difference that makes.

Getting a side-by-side might be an option if I was going to be out there all day and moving up and down the right of way, but in my current role, it is pretty much in and out. A good thought though.

It is almost tempting to get a old forester, just to see if I could pull it off. Take the whole thing as an opportunity to experiment instead of optimize. hahaha.