Any suggestions on what type of vehicle would be the best choice for my new business? I am currently using my Dodge Dakota PU, which is a pain as I have no cap. I plan to do mostly residential/small commercial service.
I live in the NE and we get snow and ice each winter, so I am leaning towards a 4X4 PU with a Utlility Cap. But I am not sure if this will look professional enough, or if it will hold all the tools and materials I will need. My next choice is a GMC AWD 1/2 ton Van. Again, will this handle the weight of the materials I need to carry? Will I NEED a 1 ton Van, how about 3/4? I don't plan on carrying a full threading get-up and massive tools.
I have no interest in driving a box truck around. A plumber friend with an Isuzu Box truck often has to cancel appointments in the winter because lack of 4 wheel drive.
I hope to avoid diesel because of lack of easy access fill ups, though Sprinters do look promising.
I've worked out of pickups & vans. The vans I've had have been 1/2, 3/4 & 1 ton. For sure, the 1/2 ton is not nearly enough truck. I'm currently driving a 1 ton van, but the only reason I bought it was the price being right. I think 3/4 ton is fine, my last one went over 190,000 miles & the suspension was still in reasonable shape.
You would be surprised at how much weight you will have in the van even when you think of it as empty. Empty for me is at least 750 pounds just for racks, bins, drawer units, ladder rack, safety divider and common materials. Start tossing in rolls of wire or some conduit & it gets heavy real quick.
Personally, I don't want to go to work if I need 4 wheel drive. I have a policy that if the school busses aren't running, neither am I. The one time I violated this policy, sure enough, got in a wreck.
Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
I like my step van (looks like a UPS truck). It's noisy though with no sound insolation and everything is alumimn. The cargo area is 12'x7'x7'. It's a 12,000 GVW and we don't have much problems in the winter. I decided a few years ago the the worst snow days are not worth going far. Not because of the traction but because the traffic gos so slow you waist too much time getting anywhere. You figure your odds are much better for a colision. Even if your a good driver it does not speak for the other guy. Does not matter if it's not your fault an accident is lots of problems.
I think it's hard to have a big organized service call stock on a ford or chevy van. I would not get a van less than 3/4 ton. I have a 1/2 ton E-150 thats not full but sitting low. I would not waist the money on 4x4 unless your going off the road all the time. My wife had a AWD mini van that got the worst fuel milage. It will cost you more in auto repairs because more to go wrong and more has to be removed to work on it. Maybe have a older 4x4 as a spare truck instead of the main one.
I was looking once at the Sprinters. They are a bit taller then Ford & Chevy. They look more narrow but maybe it's me. They don't look as strong of a truck (little wheels).
GMC has a 4x4 van that had my eye? I have a GMC van, 1 ton with a 6 liter. I love it, and would rather drive that around than my wifes nissan xterra (brand new). The seat is very comfortable and it has lots of power even full of tools and equipment. Then to pull a trailer, you can hardly feel it. I beat that van(I drive it fast and hard). 40,000 mile in a year and a half and tires are full of tread and still have full break pads. I am going to stay with GMC for any other van or truck. In fact, I am thinking of buying a pick up truck for a second vehicle, for new construction Only. It hold less stock and with a cap hard to get material from the front of the bed.
I have a 3/4 ton extended van With tools and materials it weighed in at 3900 lbs. Got good service so far 145000 miles. I also have a trailer for commercial jobs and those jobs that I want most or the material there. One day it weighed 4200 lbs. together i can easily have 8K+ going down the road. A good strong van is what I have found works best for me.
I've worked out of just about every style vehicle made.
You'll never have a good organized stock on a pickup with camper top. It might be the best choice for driving comfort, but not for working.
We have a box truck with 8 bins on the outside of the body. This truck will hold anything and should be considered, however we wouldn't get it again. 3 problems, 1 it leaks water in all the bins, 2 it can't get up a steep driveway(bumper drags), and 3 it only gets 7 miles to the gallon. If you go this route, they make a smaller one than the one we got.
We have regular cargo vans. Probably your best choice, especially for the money. Get 3/4 ton HD model. You might want the long version, it gives you over 10 ft from the back door to the bulkhead. Gas mileages is still only 10 MPG.
Our newest vehicle is a 140" wheel base Dodge Sprinter. By far this the best all around with a few drawbacks. The best feature is that you can fully stand up inside and easily get to your stock and has room for plenty of it. It is diesel, but it gets over 25 MPG! It is very peppy off the line, but is slugish past 30 or 40 mhp. The biggest problem is the height. We paid $1600 for an electric ladder rack only to find out you can't use it with A frame ladders or more than one ladder on each side. No problem, Dodge got us a refund, but now you need a ladder to get a ladder off(seriously). This is what we will buy for the rest of our trucks, but if you can't go for the cost a regular van will do, just keep in mind, you save $100 a month in fuel with the diesel.
[This message has been edited by Electric Eagle (edited 01-03-2005).]
I recntly purchased a new Chevy 3/4 ton express van they have a special for contractors. You can get a choice of bins ladder racks or tool if ya want . I was driving a Ford F-150 pick up with a topper on it with a door in the back. It worked great but it is apin when u have to go in it to get something out way in the back. Here is a pick of my new van if i find out how to place it here. Oh BTW it comes with a special light package and a side doors that opne with remote controls. Some time they stick when it is cold so I lube it with silicone.
Our step van with a 6.2 diesel gets 14 MPG weighing about 9,000 lbs. I think it has about 170 HP and it is a slow dog. It's ok for short trips but on the toll way against a strong wind your lucky to go 75 mph. I look at HP ratings and the next one will have to be over 200 hp. Right now diesel is about $0.50 a gallon more in my parts. When it gets below 25 deg I need to plug in the block heater or it's hard to start.
The E-150 has a six cylinder and is only getting 13 MPG. It seemed like the 5.0 and 5.8L got about the same MPG only with more power. Mabe a smaller engine is overworked in a heavy truck so it's not fuel efficent.
That sprinter only has 154 HP. I have not driven one but it does not seem like enough HP. They make box truck bodies for the Sprinter but I don't know if the truck can handle it.
I was hoping the newer gas power trucks would get better MPG. Maybe not. I wish the would publish fuel econimy ratings for 1 ton and medium duty trucks. Does anyone get above 15 MPG in a full size besides the Sprinter?