New (to me) Truck

August 26, 2017
By: Randall Chapman

1999 Chevy Classic K3500 Club Cab

Well, I just sold my Tacoma and bought a Chevy, one ton, 4X4. I am really happy with this truck so far. It has a few things I’ll have to get used to but for the most part I think it will suit my needs just fine. I always say, you don’t buy a new vehicle because there’s something wrong with yours, you buy one when you have a new purpose. With the camper and trailer I have a new purpose, or need, so it’s time for a new truck.

I really loved that 98 Tacoma Limited Edition. It was exactly the truck I needed in my old life but I came to the conclusion that with my new adventures it just wasn’t going to make it. I was doing what I could to beef up the suspension and with a lot more work and money I probably could have made it work but what it came down to: the Taco could handle the camper or the trailer, it just couldn’t handle the camper and the trailer.  I set out to find a truck that could handle the load but I also had about 10 things I was looking for to make what I would call the perfect truck. This truck hit 8 out of ten with all three of the mandatory qualifications met so I’m pretty happy with it.

      • 4 wheel drive (mandatory)
      • 3/4 ton or better (mandatory)
      • extended cab or bigger (mandatory)
      • Price
      • tow package
      • E Range Tires
      • Chevy or GMC
      • Not beat up
      • Diesel
      • Stick shift

4 Wheel Drive:

4 wheel drive is a must for the traveling I intend to do. I plan to go all over North America including Canada and Alaska, on some of the roughest terrain imaginable. Also, rear wheel drive is sketchy to drive in the snow and ice, it can be done safely but I’d just prefer to have the 4X4 option.

3/4 Ton or Better:

I figured I needed at least a 2500 (3/4 ton) to handle the load of both the camper and the trailer. This truck is a 3500 (1 ton) which is even better and it came with the 350/5.7L and not the 454/7.4L so the MPG will be close to the MPG of a 2500 with the same motor.

Extended Cab or Bigger:

I needed at least an extended cab because Aukie (my dog) will be traveling with me and a regular cab just wouldn’t do. I have always put his bed behind the passenger seat and he loves it back there, dogs are den animals. It’s also better to have him in the back so he’s not interfering with me driving and it makes room for passengers. The Crew Cab on this truck is even better because I can now seat six comfortably and I can use this truck to run shuttles when kayaking or rafting with bigger groups, an issue I always ran into with the Taco. I sat in the back seat (I’m 6’3″) and was very comfortable.


Tacoma’s hold their value well so I knew I could find a full sized truck for what I sold my mini truck for. I didn’t want to take on any new bills so a car payment was out of the question. I sold the Taco for $5000 to my older brother and bought this truck for $4500 which even gives me the money for tax, title and license.


Tow Package:

Tow package wasn’t a deal breaker as I could always install one myself but it was nice to find a truck that already had it installed. This also has the 4 pin (which is what my trailer has) and the 7 pin with break controller (which is what the TRR trailer has).

E Range Tires:

E Range tires were also not a deal breaker but new tires for these trucks can run $1000+ so to find a truck with E Range, All Terran Performance tires in good shape was a plus. E Range tires have a higher load capacity so they can handle the weight better, overloading your tires is a major hazard and happens more often then you’d think. I had C Range tires in the Taco and I was looking at putting E Range before my next trip.

Chevy or GMC:

I have always owned Toyota trucks (with two exceptions) and would have loved to have replaced my Taco with a Tundra but they didn’t have the payload or towing capacity I was looking for. I’ve owned a couple of GM vehicles and feel comfortable working on them so I felt a GMC or Chevy would be the better way to go. Every older truck is going to break down, I am not a mechanic but I know how to replace parts, I needed something I would feel comfortable working on.

Trucks and car I’ve owned in my life:

      • 3 years, 85 Toyota Pick-up 2WD, 22r, regular cab, regular bed
      • 4 years, 88 Toyota Pick-up 2WD, 22re, regular cab, regular bed
      • 1 year, 92 Saturn S-somthing, the dark ages, I am not a car person
      • 9 years, 94 Toyota Pick-up 4WD, 22re, regular cab, regular bed
      • 10 years, 79 GMC C15 Sierra Grande 2WD, regular cab, regular bed. I bought this truck for $500 when I still had the 94 and sold it after I bought the 98. I used it for dump and Lowe’s Depot runs
      • 4 years, 98 Tacoma, Limited, 4X4, 3.4L V6, Extra cab, regular bed

Not beat up:

I wanted something well taken care of, not just the oil changes and standard maintenance but the interior as well. I didn’t want a run down piece of junk that looked like crap. I find it easier to fix mechanical issues than reupholstering or fixing the dash etc. This truck has a few minor blemishes that are not bad at all.


I really wanted a diesel, they get better fuel mileage especially when you’re hauling. They do however cost more, I wasn’t able to find a diesel in my price range that wasn’t complete POS. I’ve never done the research myself but I was told that if you factor in the extra cost of the purchase, oil changes (diesels take gallons of oil not quarts), and higher maintenance costs the extra fuel economy only is an advantage when you’re hauling a load, otherwise it’s pretty much a wash. After quite a bit of searching in two states I decided to get this truck with a gas motor.

Stick Shift:

This is the first automatic I have ever owned. I learned how to drive in a stick and didn’t drive my first automatic till I was in my 20s and drove my dad’s truck across the country for him. I had to ask my stepmom how to do it before I left. I’ve driven plenty of automatics since I just prefer a stick shift. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find a 2500 or 3500 in a stick but I was hoping, they do exist and I’ve seen them, they are just rare. I may someday swap the tranny on this truck to a stick but I probably wont unless the current tranny fails.

There are a few things wrong with it, but find an almost 20 year old truck without issues. The biggest issue so far is the paint is peeling. Pretty much all of the GM trucks I looked at around this age had this issue so what do you do. I’ve been told that the paint peels on these GMs because they used a cheaper clear coat and paint to save money. Another issue is two of the four doors don’t unlock when you hit the button, you have to unlock them manually. The driver door works but the front passenger and rear driver side doors do not. I don’t think this will be too hard to fix but it will be a hassle. This truck is really long giving it a wide turning radius but it also sticks out in it’s parking spot. I’ve driven trucks this big and bigger before, I have a CDL (commercial license to drive big rigs), it’s just more of an annoyance and I would have preferred the short bed that would have made it two feet shorter. It’s not outrageously big, it fits in a drive thru. I will be towing a trailer most of the time with it anyways so it really wont be a big deal.

All in all I’m happy with the truck and happy to be one less obstacle away from my goal of living on the road. I think this truck is going to be a great solution to my overweight issues and it will be versatile enough to get through anything I come across in my travels.

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