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Old farm truck - To replace or not?

I have a 1997 Ford F-250 Light Duty with the 6 in the VIN number. This is the oddball of oddballs when it comes to trucks. It has the 7 lug wheels and all kinds of other odd things you won’t find in any other model. It also has 300,000 miles and a decent amount of rust but has overall been a good truck. The engine runs well and the transmission is solid. It was a mess when I got it and I called it the “Fix Or Repair Daily” for a while and this wasn’t an exaggeration. Something was always going wrong. Once I got it in shape, it has been a decent truck and worked pretty well for 10 years without much going wrong. It never left me stranded even in its bad days when I first got it. I used to curse it for being hard to find parts for, etc. and being such an oddball but it really hasn’t been a bad truck once all the problems were fixed. I thought I was getting a good deal by trading a laptop and a rifle for it but I definitely spent more than it was worth after it got done nickel and dimeing me.

This is my farm truck, firewood truck, take it to the river truck, haul in scrap metal truck, haul hay truck. I don’t expect it to be perfect but I have recently started to have a few problems. A wheel bearing started to growl so I took it in to the shop. Recently I was moving firewood on my farm and the brakes quite working. The reservoir was empty and then I noticed fluid all over the underside which ended up being the oil lines leaking. These were replaced 10 years ago and have a lifetime warranty so am replacing them myself tomorrow. The brake issue appears to be a blown wheel cylinder which doesn’t look to be a huge deal either. I will just redo the rear brakes and be done with it.

I kinda got the bug to maybe get a slightly newer truck with less miles but then started to look at the prices! Man, used trucks are pretty high right now! Even older models with quite a few miles are going for good money. I found some 15-18 year old trucks that look pretty cosmetically perfect in pictures for $12,000 or more. I really don’t want to spend that much on something that is going to be a work truck and not kept nice with what I use it for.

I like manual transmission vehicles and would like to get another one if I replace this. I know they are rare these days so that is something to consider. I definitely want 4WD if I replace this one. I would also like extended cab which my current truck isn’t.

Anyway, I looked at a pretty decent 2000 F-250 Super Duty today and the price was right ($3500). It has been through a tornado so was pretty banged up in places but pretty much didn’t have a spec of rust and only has 90,000 miles. It is also not a salvage or rebuilt title. This truck has the 5.4L engine which I understand was pretty decent in this era. It had problems later when the cam phasers came along and the plugs started blowing out of the heads but the earlier models were more reliable even if less powerful and not as efficient. The truck was 4WD which was my requirement as well as the manual transmission which was one of my 2 “wants.” It isn’t an extended cab which was my other “want.” I get the feeling the clutch may be about worn out but am not sure. It seems to engage pretty high compared to my 1997 which got a new clutch right after I got it. Both are hydraulic clutches. I also got the feeling some front-end component might be wearing out. It looks like all the tie-rod ends as well as the upper and lower left ball joints have been replaced. The right side ball joints are original and I think there is some slack. I hear clunks when going over bumps. The 4WD on the 2000 is also the electronic engagement which I wonder about. How reliable has this been? My 1997 still has the mechanical transfer case lever on the floor which I like. I know the front hubs have an electronic and vacuum actuated system which can cause problems but I haven’t had any trouble with them. The hubs on the 2000 have an auto and manual lockout setting on the hubs. The guy has left them in manual so the front diff is always turning, putting more wear on it and killing the mileage for him. The transfer case is disengaged of course. Does this put much wear on the diff? He said he has only put like 6000 miles on it since he got it, moving firewood and such like I plan to do.

Here are the good and bad thing about my truck.

-Overall solid and reliable. I has never left me walking and the main systems like the engine and transmission seem sound.
-Had many parts replaced since I got it and probably can’t remember them all (ignition coils, clutch, rear main seal (preventative during clutch replacement), power steering pump, power steering box, entire front end, new front brakes, alternator, nice LED headlights, vacuum lines, various sensors, Ford OEM fuel pump, fuel filter, one front wheel bearing, you name it)
-All fluids were changed (differential, transmission, etc.) when I got it, whether due to me doing this to make sure they were good or during replacement of parts (power steering, etc.)
-Oil has been changed once a year with synthetic no matter how few miles it gets
-Engine doesn’t burn oil
-I like the manual transmission
-I like the mechanical transfer case engagement
-Truck is overall pretty simple for something in the OBD II era
-I know the good and bad points about the truck.

-Truck is high mileage and I have started to experience some minor failures once again
-Truck is pretty rusty in places although the frame appears solid
-Truck will need new tires based on age and wear within next couple years (possible replacement truck I looked at is similar in this regard)
-AC quit working
-AC problem made more frustrating by fact that driver window (electronic) will no longer roll down which is a very recent problem. The motor and switch are fine. It is something with the electronic modules and I may bypass this. The potential replacement truck has manual windows which I like. The AC also works fine.

Something else about my truck vs. this one. Mine must have pretty tall gears for a 4WD truck. The mileage still stinks but you can tell it is geared very high. It sometimes seems like you need to be going 70MPH before it is time to shift into 5th gear, especially if going up any kind of grade. I kinda didn’t like this at first but just use it in 4 low while moving wood or hay on my farm and have no issues with it now that I am used to it. The potential replacement truck with the 5.4L is geared super low. 1st gear felt like being in 4 low on my truck. I shifted to 5th gear at 45MPH and this seemed fine. Of course it is a larger and more powerful engine than my 4.6L and likely slightly newer technology as well. What kind of mileage would I expect out of something like this? I know it won’t be good but I won’t be putting many miles on it either so am not super concerned about this.

It seems that trucks along what I am looking for are not very common. Something reliable with low mileage for the age but not expensive is not real common. How likely is it that I will get a truck with a manual transmission, 4WD, and extended cab? The guy with the 2000 is pretty sick of trying to sell this thing because of all the lowball offers (It looks like a fair price) and worthless trade offers he has been getting. I don’t think it will go anywhere too fast so don’t need to be in a rush if I end up wanting this truck. This is another fear of mine. I have gotten to where I would rather throw something away or recycle it if I can’t donate it, rather than try to sell on a site like Facebook or Craigslist. It seems people on these sites have just gotten so entitled and asinine. Then most of the contacts you get end up being scams or just time wasters. Getting rid of the old one might be a problem, especially since it isn’t a later model vehicle of high value. It is a rough old truck as I have mentioned. I fear I am going to lure in the real low-lifes trying to sell this thing. I have gotten quite fast at blocking people on Facebook but there seems to be an endless supply of nuts these days.

I would prefer a Chevy or Ford and not a Dodge/RAM if I replace this. I am not tied to Ford but that is what my current truck is and the one I looked at today is just a newer version. I am not a fan of MOPAR products but might consider a Cummins model as these seem pretty solid.

That is a tough choice. I have been looking at new and used trucks, though I am in the max 5 years old and 60k miles but think I ill go for new for the price difference. I guess if it was me I would consider keeping the old beast running.

I am definitely not writing off the old beast, considering all the recent problems have been minor. I patched some of the rust holes in the body with seam sealer as well as patch panels made from scrap before and that worked pretty well. I will just hit the areas with a pressure washer and blow off all the rust, let it dry, prime, and then patch and treat.

The oil lines look like a pretty easy fix and I plan to replace them tomorrow. The brakes will be a little more complex but you can’t exactly sell a used truck with barely working brakes, even if I don’t decide to keep it. If I run into any complications, I will just take limp it to a shop and pay them to take care of it.

Buying new or late model used for what I do with it doesn’t make sense. It will get beat up in no time so an old beater is a bonus in that regard. I don’t think the $3500 truck I looked at today was a bad deal at all and I will keep it in mind. I am definitely to the point in my life where I am busy with work and making good money. I understand buying something new or 2 years old like many do to basically get new without all the depreciation but something like this isn’t a good idea when you are going to be hauling rock, firewood, hay, etc and using it hard. Keep in mind it also might only get 3000 miles a year sometimes. I probably used it more than that this year but it isn’t a daily driver either.

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Sorry but without reading everything, I am a firm believer in random clusters. Things happen randomly but a lot at the same time. So wheel bearings, brakes, etc. Years ago I was talking with our fleet manager on car repairs and when to get rid of them and he said at about 100,000 miles (this was maybe 30 years ago), you develop a lot of problems but then are good to go again for a while. So the worst thing to do is to fix all that stuff and then get rid of it.

So as always, nothing wrong with wanting to upgrade before you start to fix all that stuff but just gotta decide before you do it all. Then again if you get another old one, you might have to do a lot of fixing too. Not likely you’ll get another one for a rifle and a computer. Then again you don’t have the rifle anymore to put it out of its misery.

We have both the F-250 light duty and the F-250 Super Duty in our fleet, and we have both model years that you mentioned and I can say without a doubt the F-250 Super Duty is by far the more rugged truck

If it’s been reasonably well maintained and you can’t find anything horrendously wrong with it, I say go for it

There’s plenty of 4x4 F-250 Super Duties around, but most of them are auto, so if you don’t go for this one, it might be a long time before another one that checks most of the boxes comes up for sale

Parts will be a lot easier to get for the Super Duty

By the way, scratch the idea that the 5.4 on the 2000 Super Duty is “more modern” than the 4.6 on your Light Duty. Very few differences or upgrades

And the front end is a lot more rugged . . . this is a REAL 4x4 with solid front end. No independent front suspension on this best

But that clunk probably is the ball joints, as you suspect. You can quickly determine that with a large pry bar, once the truck is up on jack stands

This things’s got to have some rust by now, correct?

Hopefully nothing structural . . . ?

No, the 2000 has basically no rust so that is a bonus for it. It went through a tornado as mentioned so isn’t perfect but might just be perfect for what I want.

I was wondering about the tech for the 4WD. I don’t know if the 2000 Super Duty has issues with the electronic controls compared to the old floor mounted mechanical system. Are the lockouts ever a pain? It seemed they were hard to turn so the guy left them engaged so the front diff would be spinning all the time. I looked up the vehicle on and it doesn’t appear to have any real glaring problems either.

As for the clusters of problems, you seem right. I dealt with one thing after another when the truck was new to me but it had been neglected. It certainly wasn’t worth all I ended up putting into it but it has been solid since up until this summer. Even then, the problems have been relatively small. One of the headlights went out and since I drive a bit at night and there are lots of deer, I got nice new LED lights. These weren’t cheap but will swamp into the 2000 Super Duty so those will stay with me if I get this truck. That isn’t a reason to pick this truck over another one but a nice bonus.

Ugg, then there is dealing with Facebook. The only person that hasn’t been a complete idiot and actually figured out how to contact me was the guy with the 2000 Super Duty so that is another bonus for that truck. Others send messages and never reply. I put my phone number and that I accept calls only. The one guy realized that was the best way to contact me and wasn’t a nut so that again is worth a lot and a plus for this truck. I don’t have the time or tolerance for these people.

I also dread dealing with these types of people if I try to sell my old one. That is another reason to keep it. There will be the endless stream of “Is this available?” along with other dumb questions that are clearly answered in the ad. Again, I think I will put for them to call me and just disregard all the nonsense that pops up on FB or Craigslist.

I also wonder about parting the thing out. I suspect a few key parts are probably worth a decent amount. There are parts that cannot be obtained new anymore from Ford or aftermarkets. The flywheel for example is one of those. I had it turned during the clutch job but originally planned to replace it. Ford and the autoparts stores swore up and down that this wasn’t a big deal. After going through like 10x new flywheels that didn’t fit, I used the old one and it has been fine. I don’t see needing a flywheel but my main concern is some little part will be a show-stopper. Again, this is probably such a rare truck and everyone else has probably dumped their truck by now so finding a buyer for the rare parts might not be worth it.

Another issue is that the IMRC mechanism sticks when the truck is cold. I have decided to live with it instead of fixing it or deleting it as many do. I would have to remove the upper intake and it isn’t a big deal. The truck sometimes stumbles and dies when cold but then once it is restarted, the IMRC breaks free and starts working normally. I have improved the situation dramatically by dumping Seafoam in the intake and letting it sit a few hours before each oil change. That has freed up the IMRC quite a bit but it still does this.

Again, even Ford kept telling me that my truck didn’t come with an IMRC. I finally made the guy at the dealership go out and look under the hood. I was starting to doubt myself. Yep! There was an IMRC and it isn’t like the engine was just swapped in with it before I got the truck as the harness and all that are there and connected. Mine is a real oddball truck. It has a 6 in the VIN instead of the W which is the rarest of the rare. The IMRC didn’t show up on any of the parts lists or computerized records at the Ford dealer. Yes, finding parts has been a pain because the computers do not know my truck. I finally got to where I just took old parts in when buying new ones.

Anyway, I plan to fix the truck as it sits now with the oil line and brake issues. The oil lines will just be my labor as they were replaced when I first got the truck so won’t cost me a thing. That is the nice thing about a lifetime warranty. It looks like 4 bolts and that is it. I am going to eat lunch and head out to tackle that project right after that.

I think a big issue with the mind-boggling stupidity on Facebook and similar is that the economy is going well right now. Most people just buy new or newer used and are not buying private party as they might when things aren’t going quite as well.

A couple of my buddies who used to flip cars and a lot of other things for that matter have about given up. They say the sweet spot for not dealing with the nuts is about a $10,000 car. I am guessing I could maybe get $2000-2500 out of the old truck and being it isn’t pretty, I might not have the best luck selling it private party.

The only thought I can add to your careful consideration is to ask why the seller is getting rid of this truck now. Trucks like yours and his are tools for use in a very limited way, and most of the people I have known with a “beater” truck keep it until rust makes it collapse or it just drives them crazy with maintenance, and they are fixing it more than using it. You understand your reasons to be looking for another truck, and you should try to understand why the other guy is selling.

The other guy inherited several cars and trucks a few years back. He figures it is dumb to license, insure, and maintain all of them and this truck got like 10 miles on it last year so he is selling. He seems legit but I agree that trucks like this are still valuable tools and don’t usually get sold without good reason. The guy bought some land with a trailer house. They are living in the trailer house but want to build a regular house back farther off the road. He is just looking to sell some of the extra cars he has and free up money for that project. He seemed pretty legit compared to most I deal with during online sales.

I got the oil lines changed today and it was a little bigger job than I expected but I think I did it in under the “book time” so that is good. This is a stupid design and seems made to fail. I found many references to these lines leaking at the crimped fitting. I guess these 4.6L engines were made to be in the Crown Vic or whatever. The oil filter won’t fit in the normal place on a 4WD truck because of the transfer case and all so they made an assembly of two lines and relocated the oil filter up in the front bumper.

Anyway, I was going to look at the brakes today but the oil line job turned into an oil change once I had to remove the filter to complete the work. I realized that of all the cars I own, this is the only one that I didn’t have an oil filter for! Of course the oil change was unplanned but I can’t move the truck to a better spot for the brake work until I pick up a filter tomorrow.

Another guy called me and has a couple more work trucks. This one looks nice but I am a little scared of the 6.0L Diesel! It has not had the heads and EGR redone so could be a ticking time bomb. It looks great otherwise but I understand that is a very costly job.

The other one I have is an F350 dually with a flatbed and 7.3L Diesel. It is $2500 with 160K but has some rust and needs brake lines. It was a salt and plow truck. Again, I might be trading one rusty truck for another! I don’t think this is a bad deal if someone needed a truck along these lines. It is a manual and the engine runs well but probably a tad more than I really need. I have been making do with a “light duty” F250 so think this one might be overkill. Plus I use my trucks for camping as well and this one is more of a work truck although I am sure I could make it work for that as well.

The second guy deals in trailers and farm implements so sometimes ends up with old trucks on trade.

So far I think I am still liking the 2000 F250 Super Duty the best of the bunch for what I want.

Another possibility is I just get the other truck fixed for now and start keeping an eye out for someone selling something exactly how I want it. The F250 Super Duty is definitely not a bad option.

I was just kinda frustrated with my old truck as it let me down when I kinda needed it during weather where I needed 4WD and I had some projects going on.

I am interested in that 6.0 if it has been studded. It looks like it is super easy to tell and I sent the guy some information to check into this.

It was funny that the job mostly required 10mm sockets and of course the depth that would have worked best was the only one missing from my toolbox! I just saw a 10mm socket joke and thought of this.

My uncle Paul, who lives on a farm in Southern Illinois, realized that the bed liner in his early 1960s Ford F100 was the only thing holding his truck bed together, retired the old truck, and bought another farm truck for $450 or so.

My uncle just needed a truck for farm use; he doesn’t drive it on public roads, and even he retired his pickup as soon as the rust compromised the truck body.

Think about that for a minute.

let it go

It sounds to me like you are describing an old work horse and a dear friend… if you do your own work there is no reason this cannot go on indefinitely.

If you believe it is getting beyond saving sure…there are other trucks that can replace it. Personally I prefer the 90’s F series with the Inline 6…manual trans…and 4wd if you need it. Good luck finding one as they dont go to the yard until they are literally falling apart…and even still they drive there under their own power.

That’s what I’d be looking out for… or I’d just keep the old friend around and help him in whatever ways he needs.

While mine has rust, the paint on bed isn’t the only thing holding it together. The frame is pretty solid but some of the cab corners and rockers have had rust. Surprisingly my basic body work has held up for 10 years and prevented rust spread where I have treated it. I think I might fix the other holes and let it go on for a bit. I know the quirks and what has been fixed. The IMRC may stick if started when it is cold. It may stumble once or stall but then restarts and is fine for the rest of the day. There are other issues as well but it hasn’t been a bad truck. I wasn’t so happy when I first got it though and it was one problem after another.

Here is a picture of the truck. Yes, I do use it as a work truck and the rust isn’t so bad it can’t handle this.

I do need 4WD and do need it to be licensed and insured for use on public highways so using it as a farm only truck isn’t an option unless I buy another one. For now I think it can be fixed and safely used out on the roads. I will be looking into fixing the brakes this week if I get some free time. Luckily the weather doesn’t look too threatening for the foreseeable future.

Yes, it is like an old friend. There are quirks but I know what is good about it (many parts have been replaced) as well as the bad. I really think the big issue will be parts availability down the road. Some critical part will fail and it will become impossible or uneconomical to replace it.

I really like those old 1990’s model Fords with the inline 6 as well. They are great for farm trucks and dead solid reliable. Decent ones command a high price and the others are in the condition of mine or worse. Again, I know what mine has to to offer as well as the problems. I could end up with new unknown problems. I definitely don’t think it is beyond saving but I am working quite a bit these days. Sometimes when I need the truck, I need it and don’t want to have to mess with it. In the old days I didn’t have as much money but had more time. Now I have more money and less time. I could afford to replace it and am willing to do so if it more problems pop up at an increasing rate.

On the plus side, the entire front portion of the frame is coated in oil from the leaking lines so it shouldn’t rust for a while! I just hope all that oil is from the lines because it is all over the bottom of the truck. I figure it just blows everywhere as you go down the road. That problem is fixed for now.

While this isn’t the perfect truck, I am not close to ready to drive it to the junkyard.

Back when no one was really paying attention to pollution issues we would save up drain oil and put it in an orchard sprayer and spray it all over the bottom side of a truck like yours. Also drill a couple of holes in the door sills and pour drain oil in there to coat the inside. A slow rear main seal leak was an automatic rust controller, sort of a benefit.

Your truck looks good, and what you are describing sounds like the routine things a truck like this is going to need. As much as you are sort of itchy for another ride, it seems like you won’t be solving any real problems by switching. And, as a side note, I would never buy a truck that has been used for plowing. The stress on every part from that sort of work is enough to make all sorts of mechanical problems come up.

I took the truck into the shop today. I got home early and put the oil filter on, then drove it to a shop 3 miles up the road from me. I was happy to get it somewhere close to me since it has very poor brakes and he thinks it will be done tomorrow. The drums didn’t want to come off and were basically crumbling as I tried to get them loose. I decided to put it back together before I made it undrivable and took it to the shop. I had all the parts right there so it should be ready to go.

I have heard about all the uses for old oil in the past and know this isn’t good for the environment. I will take some pictures from under the rear frame area and bed once I get it back. It looks worse from underneath but not horrid. Maybe I should just pressure wash it clean of dirt/rust and prime/paint the underside with tractor paint. I find Rust Oleum rusty metal primer followed by tractor paint works really well at stopping rust. No one will see that the underside is John Deere green or whatever.

There is really no rust on the front frame. All the leaking oil has prevented that! Hopefully it is no longer leaking with the new lines.

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