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I’d like to introduce you to one of my best friends. Email subscribers heard about her earlier this week.
She’s been with me through thick and thin and she is currently helping me get out of debt. I call her Lola, and I’ll explain why in a minute.
Just a few years ago I was driving a beautiful, brand new Dodge Ram truck. I loved that truck. Man, could it get up and go! And it had plenty of hauling power for my needs.
Unfortunately, the only thing it didn’t like to haul was the truck payment towed behind it.
Soon my wife and I decided our plan to get out of debt was more important than that nice truck.
I swallowed my pride and traded the Ram truck in for Lola. How did I do that, exactly?
I went back to the same dealership where I bought that Dodge Ram and told them I wanted to trade down.
I asked them if they ever bought back vehicles. They did, if the deal was right.
So I offered up my Dodge Ram for a little more than I owed, which was a fair offer for both parties.
How I Met Lola
In return I asked to test drive the oldest, ugliest truck on their lot. The one they found had a few problems:
- The paint on the hood was fading
- The windshield was cracked
- All of the paint from the bed had been scratched down to the metal
- The tailgate wouldn’t close
- The dashboard was cracked
- The passenger front turn signal assembly was hanging out of its socket
But things were not all bad. For a 1997 truck it had relatively low miles – around 150,000. The engine looked clean.
The tires still had a lot of tread.
The seats were in great condition.
The aftermarket radio worked – it even had blue tooth capabilities.
It had a key fob with working power locks (unheard of in most 20 year-old trucks).
I took the truck for a test drive and it drove great. Didn’t pull to one side. Brakes were good. Engine sounded good.
I learned from the sales person, and the stickers on the cab back window, that the truck’s owner had been in the armed forces.
He had taken great care of the truck for much of its life (he was the only owner). It had been shipped to Hawaii to follow him to a new duty station.
It was in Hawaii that the former owner affixed a sticker of a hula girl, complete with a coconut top (you know what I mean) and a grass skirt. Her name was Lola.
The dealership wanted $4,900. I conceded that miles were low, but pointed out the number of things in need of repair. They dropped the offer to $4,500. I told them I needed to put at least $1,000 in it (that was really a high number, but I figured if they can play games, so can I).
We settled on $4,000. I wrote them a check after moving money from my “New Truck” savings account.
They let me drive it home that night, not waiting for the check to clear. They were probably happy to get the eyesore off the lot!
Like I always do, I called my insurance company from the dealership lot and added the vehicle to my policy. The increase was negligible.
Since we are working to get out of debt, and I paid cash for the truck, I didn’t have much money for repairs.
The most immediate need was to get Lola a new windshield. I contacted my insurance company and arranged for a mobile glass repair shop to replace the windshield.
I was honest about it and told them the damage existed before I purchased the truck; I agreed to pay for the repair.
For roughly $200 the mobile repair company had a new windshield in by the end of the week. Visibility was much better minus the crack and splintered glass in my field of vision.
I ordered a dash mat from Amazon to cover the cracked dash.
I managed to repair the tailgate latch myself with a can of WD-40 and some needle nose pliers to work the mechanism a dozen times.
In lieu of a new bed liner I opted for six cans of PlastiDip, which I sprayed on the truck’s bed myself in many coats over a few days to build up a sort of cushioned bed liner.
It looks much better than the bare paint, but I figured out things don’t slide very easily on the rubber coating.
Some Gorilla Glue had the turn signal assembly back in place.
And with that I was satisfied this truck was ready to be my daily driver. Oh, just one more thing. I had to scrape Lola’s sticker off of the back window. My kids would not let me drive that truck to school with her on the back!
Updated: Six Months Checkup
Lola is still going strong. I’ve added another 5,000 miles. The only repairs I have had to make was a replacement alternator in month 2, and just recently a full tune up in month 5.
Those repairs combined cost about $600, or the cost of my old truck payment.
Every month that I do not have repairs is a victory. I have received zero rude comments or strange looks. Not that I was particularly concerned about the optics, I did wonder if people would wonder why I was driving an old beater.
I’m proud of my truck.
Over the last several months I have been able to save a lot of money not having a truck payment.
When we do get out of debt I imagine I may want something a little nicer, with a few more creature comforts, but I won’t get rid of Lola.