I have a 1997 Ford Ranger pickup that has spent most of its entire life carrying more weight than it was built to carry. In that regard, it’s kind of like a few people I’ve seen in Wal-Mart. Unlike them, my little truck isn’t dressed in Spandex and polyester. Appearances and aspirations aside, it’s about four cylinders short of pulling a fully loaded horse trailer.
And so, I find myself on this adventure of looking for a good used pickup truck.
I was one phone call late on the Deal of the Century yesterday. A 2006 Ford F150 Crew Cab in excellent condition with lots of highway miles and priced $3000 below the NADA average trade-in value, $6000 below retail. Dang!
And so, I ended up in Independence, Missouri, last evening, crawling around under a black 2000 F150 with extended cab. From a couple hundred feet away, it looked pretty sharp. Unfortunately for the wannabe seller, I was not inclined to settle for inspection at that distance. He’d already said he’d take a thousand bucks off the price when I called him in the afternoon.
What he didn’t say and the pictures didn’t show was that the truck was rusted along the bottom edge around its entire perimeter, that there was no radio/CD/cassette player, that the light switch was broken or that the body panels were completely covered with scratches. On the positive side, there was no evidence underneath of any oil, transmission or any other fluid leaks.
When I checked under the hood, I found the transmission fluid had good color. Power steering and brake fluid levels were good, as was coolant. But when I pulled out the dipstick, there wasn’t a drop of oil on it. Not a good sign. Should have walked away then.
Instead, we added a couple quarts of oil before starting the test drive.
Ready for the road and with hopes we might still salvage this deal with another thousand off, I started up the truck, engaged the four-wheel drive and backed out the driveway. Well, I almost got out of the driveway. As soon as I started backing up, I could feel a bumping in the drive train. Halfway out the driveway, the truck stopped and wouldn’t move any farther in reverse. I pulled back up to where I started. Turned the truck off, got out and handed the guy the keys. He didn’t look the least bit surprised.
Knowing all the stuff that’s wrong with a used vehicle and not telling someone who’s about to drive eighty miles to come look at it is pretty close to dishonesty. Nearly as close as the evangelist who tells you that all your troubles will disappear if you’ll just turn your life over to Jesus.