Best (slightly) older truck?

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1,563
Location
Ankeny, IA
Hey all, looks like the family will be adding another truck to the fleet, as grandpa is looking for a new farm truck to beat up. All of the trucks he's come across in his price range range from 1997-2000. I'll post the 3 he's been looking at the hardest below, I need to know which will be the most reliable without factoring in mileage 1. 1997 Silverado 1500, 5.7L Vortec, Z71 4x4 Extended Cab, 4L60-E transmission (I Think) 2. 1997 F150, 5.4L V8, 4x4 Extended Cab, 4R70W Transmission 3. 1998 Ram 1500, either 5.9L or 5.2L, not sure, 4x4 Extended Cab, 46RH-RE Transmission Basically he will use the truck as a DD to and from town, and also for light hauling around the farm. Only towing will be a few mowers so I'm guessing any of these trucks would be fine for that. Also all of the trucks are listed at $3500 or below, per his budget. Thanks guys!
 
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968
Location
Battle Creek, MI
I would go with Ford. Don't see too many Dodge's or Chevy's from that era and if I do they are on the rusty side or have significantly less miles than the Fords. I myself have a '95 F-350 and drive it everyday with over 300k miles.
 
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36,463
Location
ME
It comes down to individual condition but I've had a hard time finding a 97+ F150 that wasn't all rusted out in the rockers and rear cab. My work had a dodge 4x4 that blew three transmissions. That leaves the chevy.
 
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97
Location
SK, Canada
Those Chevys are good solid trucks. The 5.7 is a great motor but I'd be leary of a 4L60 in a higher mileage vehicle. The Ford would also be a good truck. The 5.4's did have a few issues though (spark plugs). If he isn't doing much towing, a 4.6 Ford would be a good option. They're pretty much bullet proof and the fuel mileage is better (slightly) than the 5.4. No experience with Dodge, so can't say anything about them.
 
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804
Location
BerksCounty/Pa.
Plenty of Dodges from that era in my area but --- most do have rust or holes on the bottom of the doors! For a beater truck, take each one for a good test drive & see what Pop Pop feels most comfortable in!! The Big Three all have positive & negative aspects from that era!!
 
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2,788
Location
Indiana
It really comes down to condition and maintenance. Mileage on these trucks would help make a difference....but only if one is really high mileage or really low compared to the others. If I were buying one of these three trucks, I'd look them over real good: 1.) Do any of the truck have maintenance histories available? 2.) Look under valve covers through oil filler cap, pull PCV valve, dip stick, etc....and look for crud 3.) Does radiator overflow tank have coolant in it? Is the radiator full? 4.) Maybe the most important: pull the tranny dipstick. Inspect the fluid. Is it bright red? Or burnt brown? Lots of insolubles in the fluid? 5.) Drive to a paved parking lot and drive the truck slowly, making maxed out turns. Do you hear/feel any clunking? Rebuilding the front end of a 4x4 truck (ball joints, tie rod ends, pitman/idler, torsion bar links, etc. etc.) can get pretty expensive. So drive it down the high way as well and see if the truck wanders all over the road, or is the steering fairly tight? Really worn front end components can be a real safety hazard. 6.) Check everything else? What is the condition of the brakes or when was the last time they were replaced? How is the exhaust (from manifolds to tailpipe)...is it complete? Exhaust holes? Do the doors shut easily or are they sagging? etc. etc. 7.) Lastly, cruise around town in them. How does it shift? Is there a rear end howl at any various speeds (5mph--50mph). If you do all of these things, You'll get a fairly honest feel for how "healthy" the truck really is.
 
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Messages
1,812
Location
Wisconsin
Originally Posted By: SVTCobra
I would go with Ford. Don't see too many Dodge's or Chevy's from that era and if I do they are on the rusty side or have significantly less miles than the Fords. I myself have a '95 F-350 and drive it everyday with over 300k miles.
It's funny how different, different states are. Around here the only trucks you see from the 90s is Chevys and Toyotas. You see a couple Fords and older Dodges are almost non existent. Really if you check any of them over really good and the tranny is fine ( especially the Dodge) they will be fine for grandpa. I personally know guys with older Chevy trucks and Tahoes with the 5.7 runnin around everyday with 200k plus on them.
 

renegade_987

Thread starter
Messages
1,563
Location
Ankeny, IA
Originally Posted By: ChevyBadger
Originally Posted By: SVTCobra
I would go with Ford. Don't see too many Dodge's or Chevy's from that era and if I do they are on the rusty side or have significantly less miles than the Fords. I myself have a '95 F-350 and drive it everyday with over 300k miles.
It's funny how different, different states are. Around here the only trucks you see from the 90s is Chevys and Toyotas. You see a couple Fords and older Dodges are almost non existent. Really if you check any of them over really good and the tranny is fine ( especially the Dodge) they will be fine for grandpa. I personally know guys with older Chevy trucks and Tahoes with the 5.7 runnin around everyday with 200k plus on them.
I agree, it depends on the state. Here in Central Iowa I think you see mostly older Ford's until you get out in the country, then it's pretty close between Chevy and Ford. Dodge's are around, just not as much
 
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14,731
Location
Central NY
Originally Posted By: ChevyBadger
Originally Posted By: SVTCobra
I would go with Ford. Don't see too many Dodge's or Chevy's from that era and if I do they are on the rusty side or have significantly less miles than the Fords. I myself have a '95 F-350 and drive it everyday with over 300k miles.
It's funny how different, different states are. Around here the only trucks you see from the 90s is Chevys and Toyotas. You see a couple Fords and older Dodges are almost non existent. Really if you check any of them over really good and the tranny is fine ( especially the Dodge) they will be fine for grandpa. I personally know guys with older Chevy trucks and Tahoes with the 5.7 runnin around everyday with 200k plus on them.
Here in CNY, the early 90s fords have long since rusted away. I never see any early 90s ford trucks, but there's still a lot of 90s GM trucks on the road! Out of that list, I'd get the Chevy. The Ford and Dodge transmissions of that era were anything but reliable.
 
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1,027
Location
Bremerton, WA
I have had basically a 100% success rate with Chevrolet and Dodge from that era. This Jeep is an exception but it was neglected as is still rock solid reliable. I have only owned one Ford, and it was terrible. And for that I am biased.
 

renegade_987

Thread starter
Messages
1,563
Location
Ankeny, IA
I'll just say right now, we have been leaning more toward the Chevy because thats all Grandpa's ever owned and they've all been more then reliable, which is something I can't say for my 2004 F150 (Transmission, windows, random sensors, ignition coils, etc.)
 
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4,882
Location
Lakeville, MN
Of the three you've mentioned, I owned a '97 and '99 F150, so I can at least speak to those. Of all the vehicles I've ever owned, those two were the most reliable, rattle free, and trusty vehicles I have ever owned. I miss both of them for certain reasons, and reliability was high on the list. I will say, they were both 4.6l V8 equipped, but the 5.4 from that era was pretty similar, just a little thirstier. I wouldn't shy away from a truck of that era if the intent is for a beater / light duty work truck. All that being said, at the mileages and ages you are looking at, the brand starts to matter less, and less. The condition, treatment, and maintenance starts to over rule brand loyalty. If you can find one that is in decent shape and appears well maintained, that is where I would spend the money, if it were me. (And I understand the 2004 F150 not giving you great confidence. That is what I own now, and I miss my previous trucks. The 2004 hasn't been terrible, but nowhere near as rattle and noise free, and there have been other problems too)
 
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3,558
Location
SE Pa
Originally Posted By: renegade_987
. . . Basically he will use the truck as a DD to and from town, and also for light hauling around the farm. Only towing will be a few mowers so I'm guessing any of these trucks would be fine for that. . . .
For that stuff, I'd lean to the Chevy. But if he were contemplating more severe chores requiring a stout chassis, like pulling stumps, I'd lean towards the Ford. Those two are both good trucks. Flip a coin, pick the cheaper of the two, or pick the one with the nicer radio.
 
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5,091
Location
USA
All of them at that age will nickel and dime you to death.The Ford being the least likely to cost a bundle daily.
 
Messages
31
Location
Barbecue, NC
Originally Posted By: renegade_987
Hey all, looks like the family will be adding another truck to the fleet, as grandpa is looking for a new farm truck to beat up. All of the trucks he's come across in his price range range from 1997-2000. I'll post the 3 he's been looking at the hardest below, I need to know which will be the most reliable without factoring in mileage 1. 1997 Silverado 1500, 5.7L Vortec, Z71 4x4 Extended Cab, 4L60-E transmission (I Think) 2. 1997 F150, 5.4L V8, 4x4 Extended Cab, 4R70W Transmission 3. 1998 Ram 1500, either 5.9L or 5.2L, not sure, 4x4 Extended Cab, 46RH-RE Transmission Basically he will use the truck as a DD to and from town, and also for light hauling around the farm. Only towing will be a few mowers so I'm guessing any of these trucks would be fine for that. Also all of the trucks are listed at $3500 or below, per his budget. Thanks guys!
I would think the '97 F150 is a 4.6. They're bulletproof as long as they've been maintained. If it is a 5.4 though, I think any problems with the were mainly from the 3V versions' adjustable valve timing (?), not applicable to that year. The transmissions are generally a bit longer lasting than the GM transmissions of the era, especially with the smaller engine. The Ford was a new design that year, and it is probably the most carlike driving of the group. The Chevy should be a bit more fuel efficient and powerful, and the engine is bulletproof as long as it has been maintained. The transmissions are a weak point. It's typical to need a rebuild around that mileage (~$2k installed for one from Goodwrench with a 3 year warranty). Ask if the previous owner was religious about using the parking brake...according to the rebuilding place where my friend got his Silverado's tranny repaired at 195k, the park prawl kills at least half of them (and killed his) because the bellhousing splits when you pull it out of park on a hill without the parking brake. I don't have as extensive of experiences with the Dodge, but the paint on them is awful. I think their vacuum systems are persnickety. My friend's '95 Ram 4x4 stick-shift also did not like regular unleaded at all, but maybe he just needed a new knock sensor. Still, good advice has been given...they're all good trucks with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. I'd go for the one with the best maintenance history to condition ratio, all else being equal go with the one he finds the most comfortable.
 
Messages
3,018
Location
texas
just toss a coin, whichever is the best price/value/condition. at that age you are guaranteed to have similiar issues, so just have him budget another grand to fix whatever safety related things that need to be done.
 
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