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Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/11/19 11:53 a.m.

So my 19YO kid's working at our shop. I want to set him up with a little parts-runner type rig, but we're cash poor right now and I'd rather not borrow. Tacoma's are the truck of choice around here and retain their value a little too well. I'd like to stay under $5k. Should I go Nissan? Are the older Rangers getting too old? What else?

Lof8
Lof8 GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/11/19 11:55 a.m.

I’ve owned a few Rangers. They get my vote. Run forever and when you do need a part, cheap cheap cheap. 

captdownshift
captdownshift PowerDork
2/11/19 12:12 p.m.

I'd go pre Tacoma 2.2RE or 2.3L Ranger. Would a midsize SUV work? Early explorers, expeditions, Xterras and Escapes are quite cheap and ditching all but the front seats yields space capacity. 

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/11/19 12:30 p.m.

I can vouch for a '99 Tacoma and Rangers I've had up to '94. 3.0 is the engine you want in a Ranger.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/11/19 12:42 p.m.

You want the newest Ranger you can buy in your preferred configuration.

barefootskater
barefootskater HalfDork
2/11/19 12:44 p.m.

You won't go wrong with a ranger.  Personally I'd go 1st gen S10, but that may be too old for your liking and it may need a little maintenance.

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/11/19 12:52 p.m.

4cl ranger or dakota gets my vote. 

STM317
STM317 SuperDork
2/11/19 12:59 p.m.

The 01+ Ranger got the all aluminum 2.3L DOHC Duratec engine. That's probably the one you want, (preferably with a manual trans). Mine got an honest 30mpg. The auto trans trucks got shorter gearing and see about 5mpg less than the manuals.

Antihero
Antihero GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/11/19 1:11 p.m.
NermalSnert said:

I can vouch for a '99 Tacoma and Rangers I've had up to '94. 3.0 is the engine you want in a Ranger.

The 3.slow? It gets virtually the same mpg as thebigger engine with less power.

 

I've owned a 91 ranger now for 19 years with the 4.0 ohv engine, I actually have 2 cars with that engine with over half a million miles between them, I'm a pretty big fan of them.

 

Run screaming from the 4.0 sohc though....3 timing chains and you have to pull the engine to get to one of them

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
2/11/19 1:14 p.m.

1990's Nissan Sentra with the sawzall pickup conversion.  You can buy decent cars for <$1000, and a pack of sawzall blades is about $19.  I assume you already own the Sawzall.  

This rig will get you 35 mpg, and a lot of jealous looks.  

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse UberDork
2/11/19 1:17 p.m.
captdownshift said:

I'd go pre Tacoma 2.2RE or 2.3L Ranger. Would a midsize SUV work? Early explorers, expeditions, Xterras and Escapes are quite cheap and ditching all but the front seats yields space capacity. 

This, too.  Pickups retain value, but the SUV's based on them depreciate horridly.  You can pick up running Suburbans all day long for $1k.  

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/11/19 1:53 p.m.

"Run screaming from the 4.0 sohc though" Antihero, Oops. I ran screaming from all 4.0's Thanks for clearing that up!

Curtis
Curtis GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/11/19 2:16 p.m.

I just went through the same thing... looking for a Taco and got a Ranger. If you find a decent Taco, inspect the frame big time.  They had a major recall on rusty frames and they tend to rust from the inside out.  Jab the frame with a screwdriver.

Mine is a low-mileage (90k) 1994 Mazda B4000 (Ranger copy) 4x4 manual that I snagged for $4k.  The 3.0L is pretty bulletproof.  The 4.0L has two variations; the early pushrod style and the later SOHC.  The SOHC is a PITA because the chain guides like to fail and the engine really needs to come out to replace them.  The chain that hooks the two cams together is in the back.  The pushrod style does tend to have lifter collapsing issues, but usually not until the 150-200k area.  The 4-banger is bulletproof.

The A4LD automatic isn't anything to write home about but it is fine.  The M5OD manual is overkill, but keep an eye on the rubber plugs that fill the holes they drilled for the shift shafts.  They can fall off and you lose fluid.  Easy fix, though.  Most folks pull the rubber plugs out and put them back in with silicone.  Some go more intense and use a freeze plug or tap for an NPT plug.

I also looked at a few Colorados.  They are pretty nice and will serve well, too.  Most S10s will be wasted at this point, but they are bulletproof as well.  The 4.3 V6 is basically a 350 small block with two cylinders chopped off, and the 4L60E is overkill.  The manual is a T5/NV3550 design and it's nice.

I owned a Dakota once.  Once.  It was not my finest choice.  I just hated that truck.

Any of the Japanese trucks will do well, but as you noticed they hold their value incredibly well.

bearmtnmartin
bearmtnmartin GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/11/19 2:36 p.m.

My son has a 1998 mazda/ranger he paid $200.00 for. A year in all he has done is a tuneup on my advice and a couple oil changes. Very basic and reliable little truck. And he has discovered it will comfortably pack a dead cow weighing 700 pounds.

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
2/11/19 2:50 p.m.

I had a 2000 Dakota that was great.  It's one of the only vehicles I've sort of regretted selling.

If you were closer, I'd offer to sell you my 1993 T100.  They haven't held their value as well as early Tacomas despite being a better truck.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy UberDork
2/11/19 2:59 p.m.

Subaru Impreza plus Smyth kit would be a great project and parts runner....

Antihero
Antihero GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/11/19 3:51 p.m.
NermalSnert said:

"Run screaming from the 4.0 sohc though" Antihero, Oops. I ran screaming from all 4.0's Thanks for clearing that up!

The OHV is a hell of an engine, ive read people getting over 750k miles on them and still running without rebuild. Its torquey enough for what it is and gets decent mpg, if i baby mine ive got almost 24mpg out of the manual ranger and 23mpg out of the auto explorer.

 

The sohc is one of the worst engines ever. For it being rated so much more powerful that the OHV it doesnt feel like it until its at much higher rpms, 4k or so which is not what you would usually drive a truck at anyway. This also leads to worse mileage. No matter what you get never, ever,ever get a 2002 explorer with the SOHC. I literally cant get rid of mine

NermalSnert
NermalSnert Reader
2/11/19 3:59 p.m.

My last Ranger was a '94 3.0 with 328k on it. Was running great when I sold it. I got 24mpg most of the time. That SOHC was a stupid design. If I remember right, they put a jack-shaft where the cam was in the v and ran chains to the cams overhead.

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/11/19 4:04 p.m.
bigeyedfish said:

I had a 2000 Dakota that was great.  It's one of the only vehicles I've sort of regretted selling.

If you were closer, I'd offer to sell you my 1993 T100.  They haven't held their value as well as early Tacomas despite being a better truck.

That made me look at where you were in the country. The T100 is an interesting truck. 

Kreb
Kreb GRM+ Memberand UberDork
2/11/19 4:06 p.m.

Wow! Lot's of useful info here. Thanks! I'll try and sort it out and get back to y'all.

Brokeback (Matt)
Brokeback (Matt) Reader
2/11/19 4:09 p.m.
STM317 said:

The 01+ Ranger got the all aluminum 2.3L DOHC Duratec engine. That's probably the one you want, (preferably with a manual trans). Mine got an honest 30mpg. The auto trans trucks got shorter gearing and see about 5mpg less than the manuals.

I second this - the early 2.3 is HELLA slow but the 01+ is much better, and with the manual I also got 28-30 mpg with mine.  Maintenance is simple, parts are  pretty cheap (except for fuel pumps and thermostats, from what I found) and they're pretty reliable.  I drove mine from 120k to 210k and averaged about 10c/mile (including fuel). 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
2/11/19 4:09 p.m.

So what do we think of the 2.3 Rangers? I see more than a few with that motor and a five speed in my general area in the single cab short box configuration. 

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
2/11/19 4:21 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:
bigeyedfish said:

I had a 2000 Dakota that was great.  It's one of the only vehicles I've sort of regretted selling.

If you were closer, I'd offer to sell you my 1993 T100.  They haven't held their value as well as early Tacomas despite being a better truck.

That made me look at where you were in the country. The T100 is an interesting truck. 

Interesting indeed.  They built a 1 Ton 2WD version of it as well, which is wild when you look at it side by side with a new F350.

The bed is 8' long and 4' between wheel wells, but the cab and engine bay are pretty short.  As such, the wheelbase is short, so it's really maneuverable.  I really wanted to keep it forever, but the single cab is difficult with kids and it's just not enough truck to pull some of the trailers we use.

barefootskater
barefootskater HalfDork
2/11/19 4:23 p.m.

In reply to mazdeuce - Seth :

As close to bulletproof as it gets. If you find one that suits your needs and your budget I wouldn't hesitate. We used to put about 40-45k/year on them in town, 6 days a week, 110* summers, and more abuse/less maintenance than any machine deserves. Only thing that killed them is bigger trucks not stopping in time.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/11/19 4:37 p.m.

Watching this with interest, but my budget is less than half that.  Rangers, Mazda B-series and Nissan Hardbodies are on my list.  I also include (and may be a Texas thing) C1500's and F150's.  I like the C1500 idea because it's a bigger truck and parts are just as silly cheap on them and will, generally, run forever.  My list is the '88-99 models as they seem to be in the sweet spot for cost.

Any reason why you're staying small?  A single cab short bed (what we're kinda looking for) isn't much bigger physically, but will haul a lot more.

-Rob

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