Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thinking of a Bug out Vehicle

I'm just going to ramble here for a few.  I've been spending more than a few hours looking at different trucks and trying to decide what vehicle to get.

First, I want a diesel.  They run forever- to the tune of 250-500k miles when maintained.  The fuel is more stable and stores longer (up to 10 years with treatment).  The fuel is less likely to run out compared to gas.  I can also burn vegetable oil and heating oil for fuel.  They are generally strong enough to pull a good sized trailer (more on that later).

Second, it has to be reliable.  After reading all about how crappy Ford's diesels are, I've nearly decided against them (I did find a nice 2005 F350 that otherwise meets my criteria).  Most websites put the Dodge Cummins at the top of the list, with GM's Duramax in second.  As far as reliably, that includes fixability.  From what I've read, that also puts Ford out of the running.  Fixability also includes finding parts.  My understanding is that there are way more Dodge diesels out there on the road and junkyards hands down.

That puts the Dodge Diesels out in the lead.

For me, if I'm going to have a truck, it has got to be a 4x4.  In a SHTF situation, I want it.
I also have a largish family with three kids (is that large?)  That means I need room in the back for them.  That means I want a 4 door.
Next, I want big bumpers for safely bashing other cars out of the way in a SHTF situation.  I also need a place to mount my Warn winch (it's on my Heep right now).
I also want a tool box and a bedliner.
Finally, it's got to be in my price range.  I don't want to spend any more that $14,000.

Here's a likely candidate: 2004 Dodge Ram 2500.  137k miles.  4x4, 6.0 Cummins $13,500

I'd prefer a different color, but my criteria is very specific.  This might get the job done.  (I would add off-road lights and a CB/HAM radio).



Bitmap said...

I have never heard good things about the automatic transmissions in Dodge trucks. I've always heard that with Dodge trucks you should get a manual.

Another upside to a manual is the ability to roll start it, although I've never done that with a diesel.

The downside to a manual is if you are stuck in a major traffic jam like the Rita evacuation then you will not have fun.

Of course you always plan to be ahead of the crowd, right?

A downside to big diesel pickups is weight and size. The same size tires will be carrying more weight so you may sink in deeper in some conditions and the long wheelbase makes it more difficult to get through tight places and more likely to high center. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get it, those are just some possible tradeoffs and things to consider.

Bitmap said...

I wanted to add: that is a good looking truck and I would consider it a good thing if it fits your budget.

Jimmy (pen name) said...


Thanks for the heads up. Very good points to consider when driving a heavy vehicle.

Prior to catching the prepping bug, I was an avid Jeeper. By that I don't just mean driving one around. I built 2 jeeps from scratch and know my way around the rocks. It's very important to know the limitations of your vehicle- and a Bug Out situation is not the time to find out your truck's clearance and tow capacity/turning radius...

I believe that GM makes the best transmission- the Allison. I don't think that the engine is as good though.

Dodge transmissions vary depending on the model. 46RH or 47RH or the NV4500 HD are possibilities with the Diesel. This happens to be the same series of engines that Chrylser put in my Jeep Grand Cherokee--which I've twice destroyed. Your right- with that much power paired to this weak tranny, it does not last.

These trannys cost about 1,200 to rebuild the way it should have been done (if you pay to have it done which I highly recommend). The take down and the install is not that bad, but opening the bellhousing and tearing into it is not that easy- you need a lot of specialize tools and know-how.

FYI, I recommend Sea Foam for anyone that has a slipping transmission. It works wonders to extend the life (extra 10k or more depending on how you drive it) before you have to get it fixed for real.

scrambo said...

I got an old chevy 350 but not old enough to withstand an emp strike. I believe 1978 has none of the new electronics that are knocked out by emp. also every redneck in america can fix a chevy 350 and every junkyard in america is full of chevy 350 parts.