Manual Transmission Opinions

Hi All Car Talkers,

Can you give me some buying advise on a manual tranny pickup truck?

I would like to purchase a manual tranny “Pick Up” because they are fun to drive. I know that modern automatics are more efficient regarding repairs, longevity, and fuel efficiency…but they are so very boring to drive. What Id like to hear is peoples opinions on what is a good, reliable, etc. As I do not have a lot of $$$ I will have to buy used and am most curious about age, availability of parts, how old is too old? I would like to get a V6 4x4 with extra cab or crew cab. I need a good low to the ground work truck that is a V6 4x4 to haul stuff, and my dirt bike. I don’t need a crazy suspension and would prefer a low to ground truck so I can easily put stuff in/out of the bed (TV, couch, refridgerator, stoves, heavy bricks etc.etc) . I live in the mountains and regularly travel from 4000 to 9000 feet so I think fuel injection is a must. I will also use the truck for car camping and dirt trails (not racing or jumping) I have a dirt bike for off roading…but need an all purpose truck to get the dog, tent, and toys to the trails, and a of course a “work truck” Mon-Fri.
My major questions"

  1. What brands a (I am thinking Ford, Nissan, Toyota)
  2. How old is too old for manual tranny replacement parts?
  3. If older style then advantages of manually engaged transmission (4x tranny stick shift High/low) vs shift on the fly electronic button thingy, vs old fashioned wheel locks & lever to engage? (sorry I don’t know all the terms)

Thanks for your thoughts and advise…if this topic makes it to the show please email me so i can listen.

  1. Since you are buying a used truck, you will save a LOT on a manual transmission version since most drivers don’t want them so they sell for less. That presents another limitation, though, as many manufacturers don’t even offer manual transmissions in many truck models. I’m thinking Toyota Tacoma for a mid-size that might have a manual.

  2. All 3 brands you listed usually carry replacement parts long beyond 10 years so repairs won’t be a problem. It is unlikely you will EVER need to rebuild a manual transmission. Clutches can last 150,000 miles IF properly used but figure 100,000 mile clutch life if the truck was used hard.

  3. Manual locking hubs are just fine, so are manual shift transfer cases as well as the electronic shift on the fly models. Just keep oil in them and change it every once in a while (50K).

Avoid modified, i.e. jacked-up, offerings. If you see monster tires walk the other way. Factory tires and springs keep the bed heights low but most 4x4’s are higher than their 2wd brethren. You won’t find anything but fuel injected trucks in the last 25 years and you don’t want a 25 year old truck if you are at all concerned about reliability.

A loaded manual pickup stopped going up a steep incline is not fun to get going again. A old manual pickup " fun to drive " I don’t think so. Manual sports cars yes.

These are few and far between. Do a search on, see if any are in your area.