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Plowing with old truck vs. new truck

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by NicholasMWhite, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    After plowing with mid 90's Dodge's for a few years now I finally purchased a new work truck. I figured I'd post my opinion on the differences.

    A little background: my previous main plow truck was a 97 Dodge Ram 2500 single cab long bed, 5.9 gas with 150k on the clock. My new truck is a 2012 Ram 2500 single cab long bed, 5.7 hemi. Both had similar options, basic power options, floor mounted transfer-case shifter.

    The differences:

    Cooling system: The new truck's cooling system is much better, with the old truck I would have to run the heater at full blast when driving at higher speeds for any period of time. I still have to position the plow just right to keep things cool, but the engine has never gone over 220 degrees on the new truck. With the old truck the temp used to creep up to over 230 degrees sometimes.

    Charging system: The new trucks charging system is much better. I often had to choose between the light bar (non LED) or heater while actively plowing at night with headlights on. Both trucks had plow prep package and the highest output alternator from the factory. Note: both trucks are single battery trucks.

    Traction control: Now I'm still not sure about this. I guess it's nice to have since I can always turn it off. I would definitely be more comfortable putting an employee in a truck with traction control, but I am confident in my driving abilities without it and still haven't decided if I will keep it on or off while driving between jobs. It does seem to help when backing up on snow covered grass.

    4x4: On the old truck there was a Central Axle Disconnect (CAD) in the front axle that would lock the axle in when the transfer-case shifter was engaged. The new truck's front axle is always locked in. It does harm gas mileage a bit, but I think it's more than worth it. I used to have to rock the truck from forward to reverse and wait for the collar to slip into place engaging the front axle. Now as soon as the t-case stick is moved, I'm locked in. Much nicer.

    Comfort: Obviously the newer truck is more comfortable than the old one. The radio is much better, and the free subscription to sirius radio is great. The HVAC system has notches in between each option which allows more control over the system (eg: 25% floor/75% defrost or vice versa instead of just 50/50%). Also with my old truck I could not manually force the AC to turn on regardless of the temperature setting. Now I can, which helps to remove moisture from the air and defrost the window without using hot air so I'm not sitting in a hot box all the time.

    Plowing ability: Being comparable trucks there isn't a ton of difference in it's capabilities. With the traction control on it does seem a little more sure footed when backing off of the lawns after pushing the snow back. Other than that, it doesn't seem to be a big difference.

    Power: Again, obviously the new truck is much more powerful than the old one, but I don't think that makes a ton of difference while plowing. I feel you'll almost always run out of traction before power. On a similar note the brakes are also obviously much better on the new truck.

    Misc: The new truck has a display in the cluster that shows the exact coolant temperature, trans temperature, oil temperature and so on. Very nice to have to keep an eye on things and make sure everything is doing fine.

    Peace of mind: I know how to fix my trucks and keep them well maintained, but no amount of knowledge is going to keep you plowing snow when your ignition coil or fuel pump dies in the middle of the night. I'm not naive and realize that new trucks can have problems, but in most cases they won't be crippling and leave you stuck on the side of the road. I have both a back up truck and back up plow, but a breakdown is still a very stressful situation. You still need to get the truck off the side of the road and to a safe place where you can leave it. I can say now that I have a new truck, I sleep much better the night before going out plowing. I don't get nervous every time I see snow forecasted, wondering if I'll make it through another storm problem free.

    None of this is meant to start a debate, I just thought I'd share my opinions on the classic new vs old debate. Obviously some of these things are brand (Dodge in this case) specific, but many of them are generic in nature.

    Happy Plowing!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013
  2. Dogplow Dodge

    Dogplow Dodge PlowSite Veteran
    from NJ
    Messages: 3,699

    Some valid points, but you forgot one thing...

    When you smash your new truck into something immovable, and there's a nice new crease in the rear quarter panel (if it ever happened), there's a deep, distinctive feeling of discomfort in your lower intestines that tends to overwhelm you. Now, you may not have to go to the bathroom, but you will feel like you have to ...

    Older truck..... not as powerful of a feeling.... unless, of course your truck hit a line of brand new mercedes S class cars in a local dealership.....

    Yeah. Then it's the same either way..:eek:
  3. TerrForms

    TerrForms Member
    Messages: 80

    Old vs/ New

    Replaced my old f150 plow truck and got a new ram. Scrapping the paint off it with trees and bushes in the driveways. What joy! :mad:
  4. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    It's odd that you have to carry the plow angled just right, and that it runs @ 220*.

    My 12 F250 I can carry the plow any way I feel like and the guage never moves. In fact, since I have owned it, summer or winter, the guage always goes to a certain spot, and remains.

    New trucks are better than sex.
  5. beanz27

    beanz27 Senior Member
    Messages: 984

    Only Diesels....
  6. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I don't necessarily have to carry it angled, it just seems to stay slightly cooler that way. Either way 210-220 the gauge itself still reads pretty much centered. I've just been focusing on the digital temp read out on the display center in the cluster.
  7. JCByrd24

    JCByrd24 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 232

    I don't think Ford has used a real temp gauge or oil pressure gauge in years. They've got dummy light sending units that are basically on or off, or perhaps off/on/too high, but nothing in between. Every Ford I've ever had has only ever run at one temp.
  8. maxwellp

    maxwellp PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,123

    I would love to plow with a new truck but there is the cost thing. For the cost of a new set up I could have 4-5 used trucks with plows. New ones can break also but less likely. But I think the likely-hood of both my trucks going down vs one new one is less. Plus dragging them in the trees and whatever does not matter. Insurance is less on two older ones than one new one.
  9. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I can't say what it will be for you, but for me personally my insurance went from $200 per month to $310 every six month. Mind you though the old truck has just liability and the new truck has full coverage, so with similar coverage's the price probably wouldn't have changed a whole lot.

    As far as the truck cost, I had been using the pretty well beat '97 ram for over 3.5 years and had only paid $3350. I got my money's worth, but it had run it's course, was beginning to rust out quite a bit and just needed to be replaced.

    I had been looking since spring and finally found a good deal on a left over model in august. Prior to that I had been looking for a used truck, but up here it is tough to find a clean SCLB 3/4 ton truck in almost any price range. I couldn't justify a 5 year old truck with 50k miles on the clock in the $15-20k range, but that's what I was coming across. Most of them with rust starting already. I bought this truck for $24,500 with a sticker of $35k+. So I bit the bullet and took the dive. It was the right thing to do for me and my business.

    A quick run of the numbers that influenced my decision:

    Old truck:
    Purchase price $3350
    New transmission $2300
    Misc repairs $2000 (u joints, tranny lines, seals, oil pan, bearings, injectors, alternator, among many other things
    All work (except the trans) was done by myself

    Added up it comes out to $7650, when I subtract the sale price of $2000 the total cost was about $5650. Dividing that by the number of months (40) I run (miles is nearly irrelevant, as I don't put more than a few thousand per year on the work truck and maintenance costs will be similar for both trucks) I come up with a monthly cost of $141.

    The new trucks payment is $400 a month. Repairs should be minimal and mostly covered under warranty. If I were to sell it at the end of the loan term (72 months) it should have a value of approximately $15k as it should still be way below 50k miles. Monthly cost to run this truck if sold as soon as it is paid off would be $191. Running it beyond that would have to be analyzed at that point to determine if I should push it longer and risk increased repair/maintenance costs or sell it and start over again.

    Obviously there are additional variables including the aforementioned increased insurance cost, but overall the peace of mind of running a new truck is more than worth $50 a month.
  10. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    No, they work like any other, just no degrees or increments. Just normal, and too hot.
    The needle never moved because it was a ford. One of their positives.
  11. Buswell Forest

    Buswell Forest PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,668

    I couldn't afford not to buy a new truck and plow. That is, I needed reliable transportation to get to my "real job", and I needed to be able to trust the truck if I was going to commit to 36 accounts.
  12. maxwellp

    maxwellp PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,123

    Your numbers look good, but what happens when it does not snow? Two years ago we had just about nothing. It would be hard for me to justify that new truck. But mine are just use to plow.
  13. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I make my money in summer. I would be fine without any snow. Snow money just pads the business account for next season.
  14. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    I didn't also mention that this truck dedicated all summer to mowing trailer duty, so it carry's it's weight, no pun intended.
  15. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Ive been thinking about new for a while now. The things that make me feel this way is my 04 chev 2500 hd head gasket leak, then manifold bolts, then front bearings (costly little bastards). Then, my other truck which is very nice and well taken care of also a 2000 model (old body style) chev 3500 single rear wheel 4x4 with 454..... once again head gasket started leaking. Any time you hear head gasket you know your gonna pay out the ass...... now my brake lines on the 04 where the brake module is under the cab the lines look TERRIBLE, and need to take care of that. Now mind you guys I have made tons of money with these two trucks and neither have left me stranded but I do believe its getting to the point where I have enough work I need both trucks to be reliable and "worry" the night before a storm on brake lines, alternators, yada yada yada. not sure if its worth it. May be worth it to just have another cheap backup truck............

    This will always be a debate im sure, I just cant figure which is best.:dizzy:
  16. snowcrazy

    snowcrazy Senior Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 409

    Were in the same boat here. If it snows it snows I don't care one way or the other. I NEVER count on snow for income. If it comes cool beans and if not I could care less, but when it does come I would love to have that fuzzy feeling of a new truck that I didn't have to worry about when I go out........

    Ive come to the conclusion that if your plowing commercially you should always have another truck just sitting waiting for if a truck breaks..... Prolly even if its brand new?????
  17. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    You're in a similar situation I was in. I have the shop space, tools and experience to do all my own repairs (doesn't necessarily mean I always enjoy it) but that doesn't help me in the middle of a storm. My truck did leave me stranded a few times, both times it was a bad ignition coil... I could have kept a spare (and was planning on it if I didn't replace the truck).

    You've got to run the numbers on your true costs to run a truck and make the best decision for your own business.

    Like I said, if I had found a CLEAN used truck in the 50k mile range for a reasonable price I would have taken it. But SCLB 3/4 tons around here are pretty well beat.
  18. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    Agreed. Ever since my second year I have had a back up truck and plow, all interchangeable. But the few times I was left stranded in the middle of the night I was stuck with a lot of screwing around trying to get the truck off the road and to a safe place, getting a ride back to get the spare truck. I was very glad to have the back up and would never plow as a business with out it. But hopefully with a new truck it will only be for peace of mind.

    By the way. That warm fuzzy feeling is quite nice. I stress out a whole lot before a storm and not having to worry about the truck takes a big load off.
  19. John T

    John T Member
    Messages: 43

    Old diesels are pretty sexy too. :blush2:


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  20. NicholasMWhite

    NicholasMWhite Senior Member
    Messages: 175

    Definitely are, especially when driven by a German Shepherd!

    I love old vehicles, I have a 72 lemans with a built small block, and a 5.0 fox body mustang that I play with in the summer. Around here I have a ton of respect for any truck over 15 years old that is still clean and rust free. I know how hard it is to do.

    I actually would love to build up a clean 67-72 3/4 ton Chevy/GMC with a swapped in 6.0 and a 4L80E to tow my lawn trailer in summer, but it's hard to justify since I'll still need newer truck to plow with in winter since with all the salt around here there is now way I'd run a classic.