What I’ve Learned Driving a Dirty Ol’ Pickup for a Month

We did something that was long over due, we bought a work truck just for me. Trust me it’s a dirty old work truck and literally no one is jealous of me except for maybe because of the rack on it. I usually drive a regular car and we let others do our heavy hauling. I recently had to admit that as much as I’ve been limping along using my SUV it was time for my very own half tonne. I held off so long because I claim to love the environment, am not a talented parker and it really is a whole new skill set. All that aside this really has been long overdue. So this truck is a bit of  ‘test truck’, it’s old, not 4WD and if it goes well I’m like to sell my daily driver and this one and get a better work truck and just drive it all the time. I’m inclined to think one person really doesn’t need two cars even though honey says the Subaru could be a Sunday ‘driving around car’ but I’m not so sure that’s a thing. Aren’t all cars by definition driving around cars? I knew I would learn new things and frankly the idea of learning a new set of skills which has definitely turned out to be true sort of scared me. Even though that idea scared me just a little bit I’ve taken to it with no problems. I’ve actually been hauling like crazy and it’s already paid for itself but now it’s broken so read on. (fixed)

Delivering wood to someone who needs it this winter

Never cut off a pickup

Pickups are a weird beast some are carrying a crazy amount of weight in the bed even though you can’t see it and others never get more than groceries. Also the older a pickup is the more likely it is to be a work truck. Now I knew that before I started driving one but it wasn’t until this week when I was hauling 770 kg of shingles to the dump (sorry recycling facility) that I realized I’ll never cut it close with another pickup again. My old truck has brand new brakes but let me tell you it handles differently and Ill never cut another one off again. Another interesting fact 770 kg of shingles fits in the back of the truck bed without being visible to other drivers.

You have to register the truck for the load

I have no shame in overloading my car or SUV I’ll just take it slow. Can you fit 13 bundles of insulation in a Toyota Carolla because I can. Did you know that when you register a pickup you have to register it for the maximum weight you plan to carry. At least here in Nova Scotia what you pay to register depends on the weight of the vehicle. I made friends with my DMV lady, hi Sasha so she explained it all to me. I also tipped her off the the $3 swim at the pool near her work so it went both ways. Apparently if you get caught over weight by vehicle compliance you’ll get a fine. Also apparently these folks have no shame in telling a lady like me that you’re extremely over wight, how rude. So if you plan to haul plan on paying a bit more to register, unless….

Ask the DMV to max you out in your weight class

Sasha hooked a sister up! I said I had no idea how much to register it for so she suggested I just max it out in my weight class. The price you pay depends on what weight range your vehicle falls into mine weighs 1900 kg but we registered it for 3200 kg the top weight in my class all for the same (not so) low price. That means I can haul 1300 kg in the bed of my truck absolutely legally! Thanks Sasha! PS based on the fact that 770 kg made the engine temperature tick up slightly I don’t think I’ll be going there ever! Plus she said the VC guys give you a little leeway! But I still don’t think I want to help you move, unless there’s pizza with pineapples!

Just some of my loads from this Monday. Not pictured second brush load and wood load plus Big Ronda the 5 ft x 3 ft log since it was dark.

Trailers are registered separately for towing weight

So I have yet to tow anything besides a rented wood splitter but you pay for what you tow when you register your trailer. I haven’t totally figured this out yet but… this week a boat trailer is on the grocery list soo…

Hitches come in different classes

Our first purchase for Taylor, that’s what I named her she’s sort of a tomboy, was a fancy new class 4 trailer hitch made especially for her. Hitches come in classes we were deciding between a class three (more than enough for our inflatable boat) and a class four for heavy hauling should I need it. Turns out the class 4 was cheaper since it’s more popular so yeah I can launch your boat up to about 25 feet, more if it’s a whaler. Please don’t ask me to do it soon though I haven’t taught Taylor how to swim yet! 

What does half tonne even mean?

I had a vague idea about this I can haul a half ton right! Is that in the bed or on a trailer though and since we’re up in Canada with the metric system is that a ton or a tonne? Well check out this infographic from Chevrolet. Helpful right!

1/2 ton, 3/4 ton vs 1 ton, you’re welcome

Pickups come in a seemingly infinite number of models

At least Chevy/GMC pickups do. I use Sonnet insurance which I recommend and my plan was to put a bare bones, no collision, no rental coverage type policy on this truck but it ended up with full coverage and here’s why. PS Sonnet was literally amazing when I had my first bad accident last year and once they sent me a battery pack for my phone, just because!  With Sonnet you do everything online which means that the VIN number has to match the model you select exactly! The thing is there were so many options mine didn’t even show up on the drop down menu and it took VIN searches and about 45 minutes to get it right. Plus swearing, lots of swearing. When I finally got it I was so frustrated, and the price was so low, I just accepted the full meal package to be done with it. But there are so many slightly different variations on pickups Chevy vs GMC, regular cab vs. extended cab vs crew cab, 1500, 2500 or 3500. LS vs. LX , 2WD vs. 4WD and so on and so on ad nauseam. Check out that infographic for trim options, why so many? and did they ever make 2 the same?

How to open a broken tail gate

When we ordered that hitch we also ordered a new handle too the just put the hitch on first. But I’ve been told you can tell it’s a chevy if there’s no badging on it because the tailgate will be broken. Mine was. Should you need to open one reach into the hole where the handle is, or was until right now and grab the two little metal rods on both sides. Now pull them, if it still won’t give also give it a good strong hip check as you pull. Thankfully they get stuck closed so if you slam it it will close once you’ve opened it. Give it a shake though just to be sure.

On that note at least GMC trucks have some quirks

Other than that tailgate thing trucks or work trucks or maybe GM trucks have some quirks, at least one does. Richard’s son has been through a few in the last two years and he agrees even off the lot by the end of the first season the tailgate is broken and you never see the milage for all the warnings on the dash. Mine already had the bed replaced before I bought it (common though overloading doesn’t help) I actually used to borrow it on the regular from the previous owner so he took care of that and the brakes for me. But all the usual warning lights are on and up until today the ignition was shall we say tricky. The trick was that sometimes the key turned no problem and other times you had to twist the wheel back and forth, wiggle the key, turn it around and jiggle the shifter. This usually took about 4-7 minutes to work, so I let it run extra sometimes those fist two weeks. That was until yesterday when honey tried to start it in the morning and then right after it didn’t start at all due entirely to his lack of patience. He ‘fixed it’ by hammering a screwdriver in to it and then grinding part of it off. Which did work, you didn’t even need the key after that but it only ran for three seconds before the anti-theft turned it right back off. Nice honey!

If you’re ignition looks like this put down the grinder and back away slowly you are currently too frustrated for car repairs.

But the day after we went to a friends and harvested an older ignition form a friend’s parts truck and he put it in while I ran a quick 5k. All with out getting punched in the face by an airbag, which if it did happen he kind of deserved because his little freak our led to a stressful yesterday. To his credit he did fix it which needed to be done eventually. But we also learned that a portable grinder is a powerful thing that one should not have access to when angry. I’ve also gathered this is a common problem from youtube and that I’m not the only one with a Chevy with one key for the doors and another for the steering column. Feel free to paint one purple with nail polish so you can tell the difference after that.

Finally the only thing that sounds right in an old pickup is country music

New black pickups with spinners that’s for dirty rap, new white ones with stick families are for top 40 pop but at dirty old pickup like mine it pretty much has to be country or in my case some CBC. I’ve already had (near) beer in it and a dog so all that’s left is for my wife to leave me. Now it doesn’t have satellite radio or even bluetooth so don’t call me but it does have a CD player. The very first run after buying it I found a Taylor swift CD intact on the side of the road so there’s that. 

Finally here are some other exciting things that I want to try or have happened

  • Someone told me nice rack which never happens unless I have the j’s on the Subaru
  • I want to take it to our town’s outdoor movie night next summer
  • I want to buy furniture on a whim an take it home with me that day
  • Maybe I’ll take it camping or at least have a nap in the ‘bed’
  • I can’t wait to take smelly garbage down to the road not in the back of the Subaru
  • I’m never riding in a car with a used, full grease trap again!
  • Picking-up full sheets of stuff at the building supply center is so easy now
  • I want to dismissively say “Just throw it in the truck” and then drive away with said object, hopefully it’s heavy
  • I want a cargo net
  • I want to put an ATV or lawnmower in it just to see what it looks like
  • Ohhh I want to drive it wearing cut off jean shorts and a plaid shirt!
  • I need to find out what tailgating is exactly and where one goes to go to do it around here. Also is vegetarian tailgating a thing?
  • We still have to mount the toolbox in it
  • Also would a hello kitty sticker be going too far?

All joking aside I actually learned a lot in the first two weeks (not actually a month) and I figured if I had to learn this stuff so does someone else so it might be helpful to know. What other pearls of wisdom do my fellow truckers have for me? Someone besides Sasha has to help a sister out!

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