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Talk me out of buying a more reliable car please!!!

Discussion in 'Tech Discussion' started by thecantaloupeman, Oct 23, 2020.

  1. thecantaloupeman

    thecantaloupeman Full Access Member

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    Dawson
    Truck Year:
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    Truck Model:
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    Engine Size:
    350
    I love my truck. I love driving it, I love the amount of times I've started conversations with people who told me I had a nice truck, I love learning to work on it, and I love that I can haul stuff with it. Recently I've started to realize it may not be practical as a daily driver anymore.

    Two weeks ago I lost brakes. A coworker helped me replace the master cylinder over the weekend and driving it home it died on the side of the road. Had AAA tow it to the shop because I had no time/patience or knowledge to try and figure out the issue. It ended up being the module which I had replaced myself just months ago with a nice accel unit. I also had them do some other things including replacing the sending unit so my fuel gauge would work and they screwed it up. I broke down 500 feet from the shop, they fixed it and were very rude to me when I went to pick it up again. I got it home today and now there is fuel leaking from the sending unit. I drove it to work today and the seal on the sending unit is leaking so now I have to take it back and have them drop the tank a third time.

    I know this isn't all my trucks fault, but I am starting to consider buying a new car that is more practical gets better gas mileage and is more reliable. Only problem is where is the fun in that?

    Even if I buy another car, I will not be able to bring myself to sell my first car after all the memories I've made in it. I'll have to find a place to store it until I can afford to own and insure two cars ,and by then It will probably end up rotting away.

    I had plans to make it more of a street rod maybe lower it, put some nice wheels on it, and up the horsepower so I can have a bit more fun. Would buying a 350 and building it up make it reliable enough to get me to work and class every day and would that possibly get me slightly better gas mileage? Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2020
  2. Itali83

    Itali83 Full Access Member

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    If you don’t have the time, place, or skills do to the repairs you just stated you had to have the shop do, DO NOT even think of an engine swap of any kind to try and gain mileage. One because the results will be marginal at best, and two, the cost and down time of such a swap will take so long to recover in MPG gains it won’t be worth it.

    Do what your truck needs to be reliable. Don’t overlook the little things like hoses, wires fuel lines, and things that are aged and may be fine now but will fail completely at once. A ball joint usually wont just break Off all at once. A 37+ year old heater hose will. And that’s a preventable break down in my eyes. Spend the money to go through it now or over a short period of time to just get it done. Then you’ll have a truck that you can rely on, enjoy and use. Then figure out how much a new or newer car would cost upfront, how much more registration and insurance would be and even basic repairs how expensive they are now. I bet you’ll find that you can spend a shit ton on gas and still be far ahead of the game. Just my experience of driving my 82 k10 and 87 suburban daily. My pickup gets 8-10 mpg and my diesel suburban gets 20-22 so I am spoiled with fuel mileage and I only travel 14 miles a day for work.

    Ben.
     
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  3. Matt69olds

    Matt69olds Full Access Member

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    These trucks were cheap, reliable, and easy to fix when new. There is no reason it can’t be now. Right now your just dealing with 20 years of neglect.

    Get the fuel tank fixed, find another repair shop. Everyone makes mistakes, if they screwed up fixing the sending unit they shouldn’t give you a bunch of crap, just make it right.

    I look at it this way, your current truck is paid for. You can buy a lot of gas and upgrades with the money you would spend on a car payment.
     
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  4. thecantaloupeman

    thecantaloupeman Full Access Member

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    Thanks for this. This is some pretty good advice. Just for the record I do have a good bit of knowledge about working on my truck and for the most part if I don’t know something, I have a few buddies who can help me out. This ignition module was a bit different because I’m not great with testing electrical stuff and I felt like I didnt really have a good place to start looking because it had just died while driving. I just started a new job, so im not entirely confident taking time off or coming in late yet so I felt like it just needed to get done quickly instead of me spending a few weeks researching the cause.

    I mostly struggle with diagnosis although im getting better. I had somewhat of an idea that something with the ignition went wrong and i had just replaced the module, cap and rotor, and plugs and wires so I thought it was the coil.

    Anyway, my plan was to maybe purchase a used 350 and build it up on my free time and when its ready I’ll have a buddy come over and help me with the swap. Does that sound like a good plan? As long as it’s done right, I can imagine it would make my truck a lot more reliable.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. eskimomann209

    eskimomann209 Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I believe I offered this advice to you on day ONE. Sideline the square and buy a FI car/ truck to DD. Work on the square when you have time, space and tools to do it.
     
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  6. eskimomann209

    eskimomann209 Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    I dunno man... he blamed the shop last time too. :rolleyes:
    Something about over charging and under working, not trusting, wrong parts...
    can’t help but wonder if it’s a new shop or same shop, same problems , different day?
     
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  7. Itali83

    Itali83 Full Access Member

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    Engine Size:
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    building pieces in spare time to them swap out in a weekend or week is a good plan for sure. But I guess you need to figure out what isn’t reliable about your truck. Other than gas mileage, what’s wrong with your motor? Motors aren’t usually what cause breakdowns, other than catastrophic failure. It’s usually the systems around them that cause the reliability issues. I’d just hate to see you build a new motor, drop it in and still have an unreliable truck because the electrical system is funky, or brake lines are ready to rot or bust etc etc.

    I do have multiple vehicles so I Can understand having another vehicle to fall back on. But if you’re on a budget and time restraint. Focusing on one vehicle makes a better decision. I see a lot of people end up with two junkers instead of one nice one. Just a thought.

    Ben.
     
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  8. 45tt

    45tt Full Access Member

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    I was thinking the same. Have the square be your toy/project/weekend cruiser and put the daily drive abuse on a newer car.
     
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  9. OldBlueDually

    OldBlueDually Full Access Member

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    Is this the 78 C20 listed in your avatar picture you are speaking about?

    You stated looking for a car, so here is my personal opinion: If you want a full size car, find yourself a 2000 to 2005 Chevrolet Impala. One with a 3.4 v6 will be around 28 mpg. One with a 3.8 v6 will be around 24 mpg. There were a bazillion of these cars made, when stuff went wrong on mine (such as struts or a broken spring) I would buy the whole dang strut assembly from a local salvage yard for $25 that was in super nice condition and install it. Alignment check was about $30 for a minor tweak. Very affordable cars to keep running.

    I personally had 2 2002 Impala's, mine (base model/cloth interior, center console shift, hubcaps..etc.) with the 3.4 lasted to 265,000 miles of which it was cheap to maintain. This car I donated to the local veterans for them to auction and keep the money. My wife's 2002 Impala (leather/heated seats/aluminum rims/larger brakes/tighter suspension..etc.) had the 3.8 v6 which was a powerhouse and would press you into the seats!!! This baby went to 320,000 miles (we bought it with 15k on it). I sold it after the front brakes went out & decided it was time to let it go because I was not sure which was next. The car no longer gave me the "warm fuzzy's"...anyhow, the above is my personal opinion.

    As for your truck (if its the 78), I am not sure what an engine build would gain you at this point. If you are looking to make more power I can see that, but your fuel mileage will still not be good. The 350's that got awesome mileage in cars was the 350 LT1 used in Caprice Classics (cop cars), and Camaro's back in the day. That would not be a super easy swap however.

    To spend little to no money on this 78 (well, any daily driver for that matter!!!), first off be sure all grounds and wiring are in good shape. Be sure the timing is spot on. Put on a new fuel filter if you have not done that for some years. You already did plugs/wires/cap/rotor so you are set there. Fix your fuel leak you have. With a tank of fuel, run 1-1/2 cans of seafoam in the gas, this will help clean up the carb (works awesome on FI too) and help with some carbon buildup in the engine. Then at your next oil change throw in a half can of seafoam in with the oil to help clean the internals of the engine.

    Next what I would do is be sure the alignment is spot on. Places I know charge very little if the alignment is fine, they will charge some if a tweak is needed. I would also run the tires more firm not exceeding their max PSI to help reduce road friction and up the fuel mileage. Next crawl under it and grease it, if there is a grease zerk, then hit it with grease.

    Run it now for around 20 miles, then get on it hard and make it work (without breaking laws of course). Find an on ramp to a highway and give it all it has. At this point, top it off with fuel and run it easy. Don't be doing jack rabbit starts from stop signs, if it has cruise use it. At your next fuel up, calculate your mileage and keep track of every tank fill.

    The above is exactly what I have done with my vehicles. In fact my 99 GMC truck (350 Vortec) was getting crappy mileage, did the above and she was running 18 mpg afterwards. It did 14 at best prior to this. Not a huge gain, but the damned thing did a lot better.
     
  10. dvdswan

    dvdswan Full Access Member

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    Don't do it (period)
     
  11. legopnuematic

    legopnuematic Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    While I love my 76, and love driving it, with my current commute to school (in STL city, 30 miles one way), I would not want to daily my truck doing that. But my 2009 Cobalt is the perfect tool for the job, good mileage (even though I beat on it every day), cheap to run, take it anywhere, cheap parts, absolute worst case scenario is pull the plates and battery along with personal info and push into the ditch along the side of the road... Even cars like 90's/early 2000's Honda civics are pretty cheap and last forever or older Camrys, use it till you don't need it anymore and sell it and likely get what you paid back out of it.
     
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  12. Grit dog

    Grit dog Full Access Member

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    OP, you’re using your brain here, which can’t be said for some people, and you appear to be keeping your priorities straight.
    I was in a similar situation as a high school and college student. I had a good deal of knowledge and experience with auto mechanics and as a kid, had the time and motivation to seemingly work on stuff all the time.
    What I was told and found out helped, was if I had an “old” car (or truck), I had 2 of them. I kept a beater C20 or a beater old Buick around. (I had somewhere to park it). And if my daily driver crapped out, I had a plan B to continue getting to school and work. Helped that I had helpful parents or friends around if I needed a tow or whatever. And an old guy that was buddies with my grandfather who knew EVERYTHING and had a killer shop and one of my side jobs was a mechanic and access to that shop plus my parents garage with tools.
    Without all that, it would have been more of a challenge for sure.
    And even with that, when I went away to school it was a pain to work on stuff in an apartment lot with 1 tool box of hand tools.
    I did that routine for a year with my Impala and trips home to do major repairs and the second year I ponied up and bought a relatively new truck. But I had the finances to do so because I made good money as a carpenter and contractor in college.
    If I hadn’t and was tight financially, I believe I would have dumped the hot rod car and not bought a new truck and just concentrated on the most reliable economical transportation.
    Good luck with your decision.
     
  13. Grit dog

    Grit dog Full Access Member

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    So IMO, find a place to mothball your truck if you can’t stand to part with it, or dump it. But either way, imo, if you need to take your truck to a shop for repairs, you’re spending money that could be better used on an economical vehicle.
     
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  14. thecantaloupeman

    thecantaloupeman Full Access Member

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    Pretty sure I have a good reason to blame the shop this time. They somehow had to redo the same job three times. They kinked a rubber hose the first time when the replaced the sending unit and I broke down 500 feet from the shop after they had closed. They mustn't have taken it on a test drive before they gave me the keys. They were very disrespectful and unproffessional about fixing their screw up and then when I got it back I noticed the damn sending unit is leaking so now I'm taking it in for a third time so they can drop the tank again.
     
  15. thecantaloupeman

    thecantaloupeman Full Access Member

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    Thanks for this! I was considering leasing a 2020 hyundai elantra for 125$ a month (3 year lease) with complimentary maintenance. I can definitely afford it and it would certainly be reliable. I just really wish I lived in the country. If I didn't live in my parents house with an HOA I'd just park the damn thing in back yard or something and buy a more reliable car. It just sucks I can't afford/ don't have space to keep it around as a weekend car if I do buy a newer car. That's honestly the biggest kicker for me. I think for now I've decided to give it some more time and figure it out as I go. I really had some big plans for my baby and it would suck to have no more car plans. If I buy a new car it would feel like giving up a part of my life. I won't have to think about my car anymore, it will just turn into a point A to point B kind of thing and I don't really want that. It's not like you can mod a lease car. With my truck it's like a blank slate that I can do whatever I want to.

    After reading what some people had to say about gas mileage I'm starting to not care as much about it. I think as long as I get maybe 15 MPG or something close to that I'm happy. I guess I'm most worried about reliability. For now I might just start by rewiring everything so I have less electrical stuff to worry about. I like the idea someone had about making sure all the systems around the engine are good.

    If I'm going to make it through the winter too I might need some better tires, and consequently new wheels. I don't have any other options for tires if I keep the 16.5 inch rims so I need 16" or 17". I'd kinda like some sportier rims to make my truck look a bit more aggressive but I'm not sure I want to lower it yet. That's another topic though.
     

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