I was in my friend’s truck the other day when he started to complain of another problem with his pickup. “Dang it. I think the water pump is toast. This piece of junk!”
I should probably give a little background on this truck: He’d bought it years ago and become its third owner shortly after taking a part-time job that required a truck bed. It became his only vehicle that he drove out to meet us in the desert in, haul junk in, and drive to work wherever he was going—every day. This truck, which he’d purchased for only a few thousand dollars, had more than fulfilled its duties as the manufacturer had intended it to. And now he calls this vehicle junk?
I leaned over on the bench seat and looked at the odometer. “Is that accurate?” I inquired.
“As far as I know. Never had a problem with the speedometer. Just lots of other little things,” he quipped.
I couldn’t help but smile and start giving him a hard time. The truck’s odometer read 304,000 miles (give or take a few hundred miles—the first three numbers on the odometer were all I was concerned with). “Your truck has over 300,000 miles on it! How can you fault your ride with that many miles?! You’re lucky the frame hasn’t broken in half at this point! Water pump?! You’ve never even fixed the timing chain on this thing! You’ve got less money into this truck than I have into the fuel in my truck. You should be ashamed!”
He thought about it for a second and started to laugh. “You know, you’re right,” he said. “Maybe it’s time to give it a little love, or maybe buy a second vehicle to commute with. Three hundred thousand miles is pretty good.”
He was right. How many miles do you get out of a truck before the average insurance company would deem it “not worthy of fixing?”
There are only a handful of vehicles that can even look over the horizon at 300,000 miles, and even fewer that achieve the goal.
Occasionally you run across an F-150 or a ’90s Chevy that has hit the 300,000-mile marker, but most trucks and SUVs do not make it past 150,000 miles without some major overhauls—especially not with the original engine and transmission. Old Toyota four-bangers, Jeep Cherokees with inline six-cylinder engines, and some diesel trucks are about all I can think of that buck this trend. I see more extreme high mileage out of those three than any other.
The diesel truck, unfortunately, holds its value and is not really feasible for the “under $2,000” scavengers, but those Toyotas and Cherokees are ripe for the picking. With a low buy-in, minimal maintenance, and decent fuel economy, these two vehicles have to be the absolute best deals in transportation that you can find.