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View Full Version : Small contractor fuel savings. My new setup.



Larry Edgerton
09-27-2012, 6:44 AM
I was looking at where my money was going a few months ago and Fuel was one of the biggest expenses with no payback. I was spending between $7-900 a month at the pump driving my full size van everywhere.

I decided to make some changes. I bought a 4cyl Ford Ranger cab & a half, and kept the van for days I really needed it. In four months I used it three times, the rest of the time I managed with the Ranger. I have a topper with a rack on it and for small amounts of material I can strap it on the roof, the rest I have delivered.

I sold the van this past week and bought a nice 1967 Ford Camper Special, ironically a Ranger edition, to haul large loads, move my tractor and so forth. It has a 460 ci engine, so no 30 mpg here, but I will not need it much, and when I do it is fun.

I have been saving between 3-400 dollars a month, so that is one less day I have to work a month to end up at the same place financially. Fuel costs are never going down and raising rates for contractors to compensate is not really an option lately, so I had to cut overhead. I am happy with the new arrangement, and after a little adjustment it is not a handycap.

In a funny twist I now own the first Ranger[1967] and the last Ranger[2011] to be sold here by Ford. Now to sell my 1947 Dodge truck, no need for two old trucks.

Just a thought for some of you small contractors on the board.

Larry

Jason Roehl
09-27-2012, 7:18 AM
Funny. I went the opposite way about 18 months ago. I went from a 20-mpg old Mazda pickup to a 13-mpg Ford E250 cargo van. I just couldn't fit enough of the stuff I needed on a regular basis in the small pickup. That, and I broke it, so I finally caved to getting a van--I never like driving them, so I always drove full-size trucks instead (until I got the Mazda). But, I live and (mostly) work in Lafayette, so I rarely drive more than 25 miles per day, often 15 or less.

Belinda Williamson
09-27-2012, 7:23 AM
Thanks for sharing your experience Larry. My business partner and I were having a discussion along these lines last week regarding whether we need to continue with a van and an F250 for deliveries. Most days a small pickup would do everything we need.

JohnT Fitzgerald
09-27-2012, 7:40 AM
It's always good to look at the "hidden costs". Even for a normal day job, it's enlightening to look into just how much it costs to comment to/from the office. Also to figure out if it's worth driving the extra 5 miles to save $.05/gal on gas, or that "quick" run to the HW store.

Larry - I'm curious about how insurance worked for you for the second vehicle. I've often thought about getting a second much more fuel efficient vehicle for commuting to/from work, but the gas savings would barely offset my increased insurance code, let alone maintenance. Maybe I need to move further away from work haha.

Jamie Buxton
09-27-2012, 11:02 AM
.. Most days a small pickup would do everything we need...

If what you want is a plain ol' regular-cab compact pickup, there's only one still in production for the US: Toyota. Ten years ago there were many companies offering small pickups -- Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Isuzu, etc. One by one, they've all dropped out of the market. Ford closed its Ranger production line at the end of 2011, and GM closed its Sonoma/Canyon production line in June. So now your choice comes to Toyota, used, or low mpg.

Paul Greathouse
09-27-2012, 4:56 PM
If what you want is a plain ol' regular-cab compact pickup, there's only one still in production for the US: Toyota. Ten years ago there were many companies offering small pickups -- Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Isuzu, etc. One by one, they've all dropped out of the market. Ford closed its Ranger production line at the end of 2011, and GM closed its Sonoma/Canyon production line in June. So now your choice comes to Toyota, used, or low mpg.

Well, with the better mpg that some of the full size trucks are getting, the smaller size of the compact trucks just doesn't make sense anymore. We're on our second F150 Ecoboost (The first one got totaled in a wreck) and they do everthing Ford says they will. Made a 55-60mph trip from Lake Charles, La to Springhill, La. (basically from the bottom of Louisiana to the top) and it got 21.3 mpg. Another trip driving 75-80mph with hills from Lake Charles, La to Fort Worth, Tx, we got 19.3mpg. I can easily get 17-18mpg with mixed city/two lane hwy driving if driven sensibly. And the kicker is I'm getting that kind of mpg with a 4WD vehicle.

If your willing to sacrifice some MPG, you can have alot of fun with the Ecoboost also. It has more get-up and go than most trucks I've driven with larger engines.

ray hampton
09-27-2012, 6:45 PM
ord. Now to sell my 1947 Dodge truck, no need for two old trucks.

Just a thought for some of you small contractors on the board.

Larry


how many MPG do you get when driving the 47 Dodge ?

Larry Edgerton
09-27-2012, 8:00 PM
Jason, my jobs are always 6 months to a year long so I do not haul tools with me daily. I get set up and am in the same spot for a while. I am always over 100 miles a day round trip.

When I lived where I am working now all my jobs were in the area that I am living now. Now that I live here, all my jobs are where I used to live. Go figure.

John, part of the reason that I bought the 67 is that the insurance is cheap, $274.00 a year. It can sit there and wait for a heavy load without costing me much.

Paul, I checked out the EcoBoost trucks, but my business can no longer justify that kind of cost. Michigan is still in a slump, and its time for me to wind down anyway.

Ray, the 47 gets great mileage, if you don't mind driving 45 mph!

Larry

Jamie Buxton
09-27-2012, 8:31 PM
Well, with the better mpg that some of the full size trucks are getting, the smaller size of the compact trucks just doesn't make sense anymore. We're on our second F150 Ecoboost (The first one got totaled in a wreck) and they do everthing Ford says they will. Made a 55-60mph trip from Lake Charles, La to Springhill, La. (basically from the bottom of Louisiana to the top) and it got 21.3 mpg. Another trip driving 75-80mph with hills from Lake Charles, La to Fort Worth, Tx, we got 19.3mpg. I can easily get 17-18mpg with mixed city/two lane hwy driving if driven sensibly. And the kicker is I'm getting that kind of mpg with a 4WD vehicle.

If your willing to sacrifice some MPG, you can have alot of fun with the Ecoboost also. It has more get-up and go than most trucks I've driven with larger engines.

I know the "compact trucks don't make sense" argument is what the car companies say. But let's run the numbers... Let's say you drive 15,000 miles per year. Let's take the price of gas as $4.40 per gallon -- that's what I paid yesterday. A 17-18 mpg truck burns about $3800 worth of gasoline in a year. My 4-cylinder Ford Ranger gets 25 mpg in mixed city&highway driving. Using the same numbers, it burns about $2600 of gasoline. That's about $1100 difference in the operating cost per year. In 150,000 miles, the 17-18 mpg truck costs $11,000 more to run than the 25 mpg compact truck. For me, that's a big difference.

ray hampton
09-27-2012, 8:52 PM
I know the "compact trucks don't make sense" argument is what the car companies say. But let's run the numbers... Let's say you drive 15,000 miles per year. Let's take the price of gas as $4.40 per gallon -- that's what I paid yesterday. A 17-18 mpg truck burns about $3800 worth of gasoline in a year. My 4-cylinder Ford Ranger gets 25 mpg in mixed city&highway driving. Using the same numbers, it burns about $2600 of gasoline. That's about $1100 difference in the operating cost per year. In 150,000 miles, the 17-18 mpg truck costs $11,000 more to run than the 25 mpg compact truck. For me, that's a big difference.

Gas mileage are important but I have own two Ranger pickup and a number of 1/2 ton pickups, the rangers are not safe in wet weather, a ranger will turn around on wet streets, I talking rain not snow

Todd Burch
09-27-2012, 8:59 PM
... Now to sell my 1947 Dodge truck, ...

Larry

That wouldn't be a Power Wagon would it?

Larry Edgerton
09-28-2012, 6:33 AM
I'm getting 28.5 average just around here, mostly country. On the road I have gotten as high as 31.6.

As far as being unsafe Ray, I think you had bad tires. Conditions are a lot worse up here and there are Rangers all over the place doing just fine. Mine has the manditory traction control, anti skid control and anti lock brakes.

Toyota and Nissan are the only games in town now. I tried one of each and the Ranger was more comfortable and got better mileage, and they are known with this motor/tranny combination to run for 300k. Nissan was my second choice, but 23 mpg is about the best you can expect. The non turbo Ford 150 6cyl gets about that and has 300 hp, but I wanted to be up around 30 mpg. Like Jamie pointed out in the long haul that 10 mpg difference adds up, and fuel prices will probably not be going down.

Todd, no its a 1/2 ton deluxe with crank out windsheild and not one but two electric wipers! Standard was a hand lever.It has the same flathead six as the Power Wagon and a 5.something rear gear. A race car it is not......

Larry

ray hampton
09-28-2012, 12:29 PM
I'm getting 28.5 average just around here, mostly country. On the road I have gotten as high as 31.6.

As far as being unsafe Ray, I think you had bad tires. Conditions are a lot worse up here and there are Rangers all over the place doing just fine. Mine has the manditory traction control, anti skid control and anti lock brakes.

Toyota and Nissan are the only games in town now. I tried one of each and the Ranger was more comfortable and got better mileage, and they are known with this motor/tranny combination to run for 300k. Nissan was my second choice, but 23 mpg is about the best you can expect. The non turbo Ford 150 6cyl gets about that and has 300 hp, but I wanted to be up around 30 mpg. Like Jamie pointed out in the long haul that 10 mpg difference adds up, and fuel prices will probably not be going down.

Todd, no its a 1/2 ton deluxe with crank out windsheild and not one but two electric wipers! Standard was a hand lever.It has the same flathead six as the Power Wagon and a 5.something rear gear. A race car it is not......

Larry

the tires was not bald but my first ranger made a perfect U turn when I apply the brakes to stop, the second sort of mishap happen on a exit ramp, I had slow down to about 20 mph when the ranger fishtail, I never test drive the ranger but adding weight to their bed [550 lbs]might improve the fish-tail if YOU KEEP THE WEIGHT BETWEEN THE WHEELS not sticking out behind the rear wheels, I drove 5 or 6 miles with plywood and drywall in the bed of a F150 so heavy that the front wheels barely touch the pavement[top speed maybe 30 ]

David Helm
10-01-2012, 11:32 AM
Would love to see a pic of the '47. That is the vehicle I learned to drive in way back in the old days of 1955. The truck was my grandpa's and this 13 year old worked for him on his farm. One of the perks was driving the '47!

David Weaver
10-01-2012, 12:39 PM
I drove a ranger for 6 years and never had one fishtail. Traction in 2wd wasn't the best in snow, but never any issues anywhere else. Great truck, I really liked it - it hardly ever required anything other than gas and periodic oil changes. At the time, mileage was about 30% better than the full sized pickups, with the small v6 they had. that small v6 is probably about the same power the 4 cylinders have now.

I really wish the manufacturers would manage to build a pickup that was between the size of the current full size and the compacts. I'd assume they make a much better margin on a 40k truck than they do with a stripped down 20k truck that's smaller, so everyone is boxed into getting a 2 1/2 ton+ pig.

Jason Roehl
10-01-2012, 1:05 PM
The problem with the mid-size trucks is that they don't manage to blend the good points of the compact and 1/2-ton trucks. They manage to combine the worst of the two. To-wit: the Toyota T100 and the Dodge Dakota, which have both been around for about 20 years or more. They get horrible mileage compared to the compact trucks, and can't haul as much (by size or weight) as the 1/2-ton trucks.

My '03 Ford E250 cargo van has the 4.2L V-6 that Ford used in the trucks for a dozen years or so. I was leery of it when I bought it, but it's really not that bad. It's 200 HP, so it's not going to win any races, but that's better than the old 5.0L/302ci V-8 Ford used to make (195 HP at its newest and best 16 years ago), and close to the 5.8L/351ci V-8 (220 HP or so at last manufacture date). Low-speed torque is also good--not sure on the numbers, but I've noticed that it chugs through light acceleration when I would expect it to downshift and rev high as smaller engines tend to do. I've not towed anything with it, but I think it's rated to tow 5000 lbs, which my '90 F150 with the 302 struggled to do. It really struggled when I had about 7000 lbs behind it, especially up hills. As for mileage, well, it's a full-size brick...errrr...van. 12-14 MPG in town, and I suspect it would get 16 or so on the highway--haven't done any long trips to find out. I once got 17 mpg on the highway with the 302 (got just shy of 600 miles out of a fill-up!), and was ecstatic when I got 14 MPG out of a tank with the F250 that had the 351. Normal was 10 mpg for that and about 14-15 for the F150.

I'm still hoping for a small turbo diesel to find its way into the 1/2-ton trucks and vans. After all, VW is putting small ones in their Beetles, Jettas and Passats. I would think a 3.0-3.5L V-6 turbo diesel could be made to adequately move a 1/2-ton truck if it were loaded, yet return 25 MPG unloaded, perhaps more on the highway at a constant speed. Of course, if one came out next year, that would mean I would be still at least 5-10 years from owning one...

ray hampton
10-01-2012, 1:29 PM
I drove a ranger for 6 years and never had one fishtail. Traction in 2wd wasn't the best in snow, but never any issues anywhere else. Great truck, I really liked it - it hardly ever required anything other than gas and periodic oil changes. At the time, mileage was about 30% better than the full sized pickups, with the small v6 they had. that small v6 is probably about the same power the 4 cylinders have now.

I really wish the manufacturers would manage to build a pickup that was between the size of the current full size and the compacts. I'd assume they make a much better margin on a 40k truck than they do with a stripped down 20k truck that's smaller, so everyone is boxed into getting a 2 1/2 ton+ pig.

My first Ranger was a 4x4 and I do not recall the truck fishtail except for one time when I apply the brakes in a light rain and made a perfect U-turn, the second Ranger was 2wheel drive and it would squeal tires or fishtail even with new tires, they would drive on ice if you could drive on the wrong lane

Greg Portland
10-01-2012, 1:41 PM
You need one of these babies:
242122

The 340cc engine gets great mileage (that's right, a large chainsaw engine).

Mac McQuinn
10-01-2012, 1:48 PM
I believe the new GM Canyon/Colorado's due out next year or so will be built in Mississippi and not all the Toyota Tacoma's were made in the U.S., mine(09) was, although some were built in Mexico.

I always look at the total cost involved; Initial new cost + Fuel, Insurance/plates and Maintenance to get a clear idea of total investment. Always look at scheduled maintenance, It varies considerably vehicle to vehicle depending on manufacturer requirements.
Mac

Bill Cunningham
10-02-2012, 10:35 PM
i bought a new Canyon last year, and get about 480 miles to a tank on the highway (never had it in a city) that's about 24 miles to a U.S. gallon.. It's a 5 speed manual,4 cyl, 4x4 with locking dif.. Slam on the brakes in rain or snow, the abs keeps in in a straight line. The pulsing of the brakes, feels and sounds like something ratchiting over a gear.. A little un nerving at first, but quite effective.. The Canyon is a bit bigger than the ranger, the jump seats face the front, not from the sides like the ranger. Safer, and more back room..

Ben Hatcher
10-03-2012, 3:33 PM
If you don't mind driving a bread box, those Dodge Sprinter 2500's get about 30 mpg and have a ton of cargo space for tools.

Kevin Bourque
10-03-2012, 3:44 PM
I traded my gas guzzling F-250 for a 4cyl. Tacoma about 8 years ago. I've saved thousands $$$$. :)