1996 2WD Ranger that I’ve had since 1998 and has been a good truck. I like having my vehicle paid off. I like paying $35/year ad valorum. That’s basically the cost of manufacturing a license tag and not much more. I need a truck occasionally to haul my dogs, but not most of the time, so a small truck is a good compromise.
A couple of weeks ago, the oil pressure indicator started flopping around like a fish on dry land. I took it to my mechanic, whom I trust since he has occasionally directed me to people who can do work cheaper than he can. He put a mechanical gauge on it and determined that the oil pressure is actually fluctuating, it isn’t just a bad sensor. So far, no lifter noises though. He says there’s a leak somewhere and to find it will require pulling the engine to get the oil pan loose since most of the stuff that might leak is inside there. Since the engine has 200,000 miles on it, he says I might as well get a new engine. That’s in the range of $2500 to $4000 depending on whether I get a remanufactured one or a new one. Remannufactured has a three year warranty.
So I’ve been trying to decide whether to replace the engine or just get a new truck. Toyota and Nissan have incentives right now that make new vehicles competitive with recent used ones. But I’d really like to get a few more years out of this one. I’ll be applying for tenure and promotion next year, and a raise comes along with that, which makes a new one more achievable. Of course, the incentives will go away by then.
I figure $4000 is pretty close to what I would be spending on payments on a new one in a year, so from that point of view a single $4000 expense makes sense over one that will last for 5 years. On the other hand, the transmission has had a slow leak for the last ~80,000 miles. The transmission guy (recommended by my guy) told me I’d be better off living with it and just topping up the fluid, which I’ve had to do about every 6 months for the last 7 or 8 years. It seems to be stable . . . but it IS a leak, and the transmission does also have 200,000 miles on it too.
You see the dilemma. I was really hoping for another 2 or 3 years out of this truck, let’s say until I get a raise and the stepson is out of his residency and raking in the bucks as an orthopedic surgeon (with no student debt to pay back!). I could swing a new one but it would definitely put a crimp in the family budget. Meanwhile I’m driving it sparingly until the sound of bad lifters forces a decision.