Reader Question: Keep Old Dodge Diesel Truck?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Sean asks: Hi Eric, I’ve got a ’95 Dodge Ram 2500 with the 12-valve Cummins engine, which I’m sure you already know is one of the most reliable engines ever made. The rest of the truck, on the other hand, is starting to show its age after 210k miles, and will need some pretty extensive body work to keep on the road. Mechanically, the truck is solid (just the usual maintenance things you see on older vehicles) and I was told by the body shop that the frame is in great shape. My question is, where would you draw the line for what’s too much to invest in an old truck? The way I look at it, the cost of the work required will be less than the cost of a newer truck, and I know I’ll like the result more than a newer truck, so I’m leaning towards fixing it up and trying to get another 5-10 years out of it. But I thought maybe you’d have some other thoughts on how to weigh the decision.

My reply: Your comment that “the frame is in great shape” is decisive – or would be, for me. That means we’re not talking about structural problems. If you’re not concerned about cosmetic issues such as some exterior panel rust – or the truck maybe needs floor panels and some work to the bed – I’d consider keeping and patching it as necessary.

Compare the cost of that vs. the cost of buying the newer truck, which also includes the cost of the unknown. You know you truck. You know that it i mechanically sound. You do not know the true condition of a hypothetical replacement and won’t until after you buy it. And then you may have bought someone else’s problems.

You also mention that you like the truck you’ve got – and that has value, too.

If you have access to a used parts yard – and can weld or have a friend who can – my bet is you could repair most  of the cosmetics for relatively little and probably get at least another ten years out of the truck.

That’s my 50 – and what I’d do!

. . .

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Cabs, beds, and fenders are replaceable, you know.

    You could probably find a donor pickup of similar vintage. I’m not sure at what point the electronic dashboard crap makes a newer cab impractical to adapt ???

  2. Thanks so much for your answer! I’m definitely planning to fix the truck up now. Hopefully this helps some other readers to weigh the same decision themselves.

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