Buying a Truck to Travel the US.
Updated: Apr 7
I have flown to Boston and headed north to New Hampshire where I plan to buy a truck. My plan is to drive from east to west coast avoiding major routes and exploring the national parks.
After much research I have established that the cost of using public transport is nearly equal to that of buying a vehicle. The journey by bus would take three times longer, inhibit where I visited and most bus routes in the north are closed at this time of year, where there is heavy snow. My Truck will provide me with accommodation and enable me to be spontaneous with my destinations, allowing me flexibility to alter my route as I go. My plan is to avoid cities and venture off the beaten track as much as possible into the wilderness. The truck would provide me with a base from which I can set off hiking without carrying my life on my back.
I was able to borrow a car in New Hampshire and began planning for my eight thousand mile road trip. My check list grew by the day as I planned for my journey. North Conway was to be the starting line.
I continuously searched online for a truck that would fit the right criteria. I set myself a budget and began looking for a vehicle that would be reliable enough and had the capacity to add extensive mileage to. The problem was my budget, most of the vehicles have done over two hundred thousand miles on them already. This seems to be pretty normal; everything is much more spread out in the US so therefore more miles are added to the clock. The trucks in America are bigger with larger engines and giant winter tires. Perfect for my requirements.
I stopped at every Auto Traders within a seventy mile radius. I scrolled endlessly each day down the New England Craig’s List website for vehicles. I pulled over at every truck and RV that was for sale outside someones house along the highways. Every car I found was either out of my budget or had a problem with it and would need extensive work in order for it to pass state inspection. I put a deposit down on an Isuzu Trooper, which was parked in the yard at Interval Imports. I felt sentimental towards it as it was the same as our old family car. It was an ideal size but needed to be taken to a Mechanics to see what work was needed. The vehicle was within my price range however I knew that problems would be found and it would need to be fixed in order for it to pass inspection.
During that same day I drove north on the 302 out of North Conway to a town called Whitefield. The town had a petrol station, a gun shop, a brilliant thrift shop and a cafe. I had found a 1997 Ford 150 V8 4.6L pick up truck with extended cab displayed on Craigs List. An address was noted on the advertisement and was only an hours drive from North Conway. I went to have a look. The truck was owned by a Doctor who had kept it in immaculate condition; it had not been trashed by dogs or children. There was obvious rust on the wheel arches and the bottom of the door frame. This area, being close to the coast, was known for ruining car bodies from the salt on the roads. It had two hundred and thirty eight thousand miles under its belt, fifty thousand of which he had added during his ownership over the last five years - which is a tiny amount!!
I asked if the car had a clean title and if he had come across any problems with the vehicle in the past. Obviously I am relying on whether or not what he says is true or not but thats the challenge of buying a car.
After asking a local in Whitefield who was driving the same type of vehicle, but a new edition, he gave the contact details for a local mechanic he used. I wanted to have the truck checked before buying it. It is highly likely that I would need to spend more on the vehicle to get it up to standard for the road test. Especially as the car is old and hasn't been used in a long time. The owner drove the pick up to Dicks Trucks, funnily enough it is the place he bought the car from.
The systems were checked from front to back; breaks - drums and callipers, lights, engine, suspension, 4x4, exhaust system reliability - manifold to muffler, tyres - tread and spare. He estimated that I would need to spend roughly the same amount as the cost of the car to get it through the inspection . I was buying the car for a fair price for the size and quality of the truck. The Mechanic said it was in brilliant condition for its age and had been well looked after. He reassured me that it should be able to cover the mileage. I was happy. The truck was an ideal size with a spacious ‘cockpit’ and passenger seats where I could stow my gear. The boot was generous and the roof cap was included! I bought the car in cash, and put down my deposit with the mechanics for them to order the parts it needed and to start work.
This 4x4 needed a new bumper, front break disks and callipers, the back breaks needed new shoes, an oil and filter change, a new muffler and a new spare tyre.
I purchased my New Hampshire number plates with the help of a friend who's address is in North Conway then set up my insurance and road rescue. It is essential to have this organised as the car must be registered under a US address in the same state in which you buy the vehicle. I thought that was the case after reading about it somewhere on a blog before leaving Antigua.
Three days later, I picked up the car and drove it back to North Conway where I set about cleaning it inside and out. I began scrubbing the mould off the pick up roof and hoovering through the interior before transforming it into my home.