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Truck buying basics

Thinking about buying a pickup truck between now and Jan '11.

Very “under-qualified” when it comes to car shopping and even worse for trucks.

Don’t want to buy too big.

Was thinking Dodge Dakota, Toyota, Mazda, etc., but some of the Silverado style models don’t seem excessively big overall.

Found '94 GMS Sonoma Diesel. Thinking this is still too big, but price is drawing me back for a 2nd look.

Two big questions…

1. Truck has 265-75-r16 tires. They appear to me to be the std size, but replacement costs are pretty high. How do I confirm these are the recommended tires?

2. Diesel - owner says 21mpg/highway

That surprised me for diesel. I was expecting much better fuel economy but realize the size of the vehicle makes big difference. Is 21mpg reasonable?


You can get the EPA fuel economy rating for any vehicle from this web site.

You can go to any tire company web site and search for the vehicle to see if there are other tires that will fit the vehicle and check their cost.

Your very first decision point is: “DO I REALLY NEED A TRUCK???” Yes, Tom and Ray get countless requests on how to “make the truck run more like a car (comfort)”. “getting better mileage out of my truck”.

Tom & Ray also explain that 1) all department stores deliver, 2) all garden centers deliver, 3) that single bale of hay from farmer Jones can be carried in any hatchback, 4) most hatchbacks can carry one or 2 bikes.

Trucks are not very much fun to drive on a long trip, especially in heavy crosswinds.

If you want a truck and are worried about gas mileage, you probably should not own one. I grew up on a farm with pickup trucks, and have never wanted to own one living in the city.

If you really need a truck to pull a heavy camper, boat, or you are building a cabin in the mountains, there is a great selection. Most people would be satified with a mid size one such as the Toyota Tacoma, Dodge Dakota, and several other Japanese models.

Please tell us in detail what you need the truck for.

Pick up trucks circa 1994; 21 mpg is very good. City mpg for a full size PU is about 13 to 15, with hwy about 17 to 18.

On the tires go to and load in the info on the vehicle, they will give you the OEM size tires recommended for the vehicle. Truck tires are pretty expensive compared to some passenger car tires. They also don’t last as long. You can expect to replace your truck tires about every 30 to 35K miles.

In effect trucks and SUV’s are more costly vehicles to operate than a standard mid sized sedan.

The Sonoma is the compact truck, identical to the S10. It didn’t come with diesel in 1994. Are sure you don’t mean you were looking at a GMC Sierra?

21 MPG is pretty good for a full sized truck. Though the 6.5L diesel (if it is in fact the 94 Sierra you’re looking at) is probably the least desirable diesel of that era.

My rule of thumb when it comes to trucks, is decide what sized truck is capable of handling the duties you need, then go up one size. Doing so gives you more leeway in capability for potential future needs/wants.

Having just sold my beloved Bronco to some high school kid for more than it was really worth. I’m in the market for a pickup as well. All I really need is something that can tow a jetski and haul yard waste to the dump. A small pickup would realistically be all I need, but I’ve decided on getting an F-150 instead, on account that I may end up buying a boat in few years or I may end up turning my TR6 into a trailer queen. I may not end up doing any of that, but I think it’s better to have the option of having a vehicle that can accomodate changing wants/needs.

Then you might as well get a Super Duty diesel, “just in case” :stuck_out_tongue: