Everything wrong with my new (old) project truck

After a lifetime of waiting, Andy has scored his first pickup truck — and, big surprise, it needs some work.

Andrew Reuter
Dec 11, 2019 · 8 min read
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FIRST: THE STORY BEHIND THE TRUCK

My dad bought this truck used 2005. It served him well, but eventually he bought something new and relegated “Old Grey” to backup-vehicle status. Then, one day while driving to work, a milk truck pulled out in front of him. He slammed on the brakes, but there were no brakes there! He managed to avoid a collision, shifted into 4-wheel-drive low to limp it home, and started doing some research.

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Rusty, old brake lines at left. Shiny, new ones at right.
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BRAKES

First to be fixed is the rear brakes. They grind when the vehicle comes to a stop. At the very least, I’ll have to change the brake pads, but I should probably change that rotors as well. The rear brakes provide less stopping power than the front ones, potentially justifying the reuse of old rotors here. But they’re only $100 or so to throw new ones on there, so I’ll probably just change them out.

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‘SERVICE ENGINE SOON’ LIGHT

In the same area of the dash, the “Service Engine Soon” light is lit. I have checked it with a code reader, and it appears to be an issue with the emissions system. Sometimes, an emissions problem like this can cost big bucks to fix. But research suggests that this one could be more in the free-to-$20 range. Even though my area of Wisconsin doesn’t require vehicle inspections with working emissions systems, I’d still like to get this fixed. Old Grey is going to be around for a while, and I don’t want to be needlessly polluting the environment. If I was driving some jalopy worth less than the price of a fix, it might be a different story.

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FRONT LIGHTS

One front light looks like an aquarium. The other pops out with the slightest touch. Tape might be a fix for both.

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TIRES

The tires look decent. They still have a driveable amount of tread. But they are old and worn, and they don’t have great traction in slippery conditions. Meanwhile, all four have slow leaks, making it tougher to jump into the truck for quick trips when needed. So that means new tires are in order.

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FLUIDS, SUSPENSION, ETC.

My dad said he took care of the truck, but it’s still probably a good idea to start moving down the list of preventative maintenance items. The oil is new, but I haven’t had a chance to change any other fluids yet. That includes the transmission and differentials.

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RUST

There’s plenty of rusty body work to fix up. In theory, that’s a cosmetic problem, so who cares? In reality, the stuff isn’t just bad looking. It’s also dangerous to anyone who comes near it. That includes rust in the rear wheel wells that does a good job of catching passers by, and corrosion along the bottom of the cab that lines up perfectly with little feet like my son’s when he climbs into the truck.

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SEWING

Eventually, I’d love to replace the seats with fancier versions. Perhaps some leather ones from a junked-out truck could be scored, or heated and cooled seats could be purchased aftermarket. For now, these will do fine with some fixes. That includes a sad armrest that needs new cushioning and a tear on the front left of the driver’s seat that needs a needle and thread.

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MODERNIZATION

Lastly, I’d love to add some gadgets to the truck. Things like a backup camera, a Carplay stereo, and a tire pressure monitoring system would go a long way toward making this truck feel like a modern day vehicle.

LOTS OF WORK AHEAD

All of the above is going to take quite a bit of time. But I’m not worried about it. The goal is for this to be both my first truck and my last truck, so I’ve got my whole life ahead of me to work on it.

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Project Lab

Demystifying DIY.

Andrew Reuter

Written by

DIYer, Project Lab. Web-editor-type, Lee Enterprises. Dad/husband. @djnf, @theexponentnews, @uwplatteville alum. Seeking best obtainable version of the truth.

Project Lab

Detailed, documentary-style DIY videos and blogs that demystify DIY.

Andrew Reuter

Written by

DIYer, Project Lab. Web-editor-type, Lee Enterprises. Dad/husband. @djnf, @theexponentnews, @uwplatteville alum. Seeking best obtainable version of the truth.

Project Lab

Detailed, documentary-style DIY videos and blogs that demystify DIY.

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