Truck Love

So, I had to get my truck in today to get a little lovin’ before the big trip to Rapid City and the Black Hills this coming weekend for the Dakota Rural Action Local Food Summit (with Deborah Madison as keynote speaker!).

The total bill for two new rear tires, mounted and balanced, plus a new windshield wiper thingamajig that allows my wipers to work even when it’s raining (I’ve found this helpful), plus new rear brake drums (and the prerequisite checking of the fluids and belts and air-in-the-spare) came to just over four hundred bucks.

I haven’t put a lot of money into my little S-10 lately, so that wasn’t a huge shocker.  Vehicles are money-pits, but they’re an essential part of doing a little farm business, and for the money (and it was bought used eight or so years ago), my pickup was, and is, a great deal.

Big pickups are all the fashion in South Dakota–the bigger the better, and if it has that loud diesel growl, well it’s macho as can be.  It also helps to have lots of chrome and a bed that’s never seen a scratch.

But, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who are doing serious work on a budget have smaller trucks with more miles and more scratches–trucks that last.  The big pickups have big beds that might carry a lot, but they’re a b*tch to load and unload. Still, they look fancy pulling a big trailer with 4×4, Custom, and Deluxe emblazoned on their sides.

Whatever. While I may look with longing on the 60s and 70s domestic pickups (the ones that weren’t too huge or high to load and unload), the big trucks these days seem all about show–certainly the gas mileage is showy. Mine gets a modest-but-respectable mpg, and it gets used for its intended purpose quite a bit of the time.

The only gripe I have about the S-10 is that crappy plastic bumper that’s ubiquitous these days. The problem is that there’s no tow-point on the front of  the truck that doesn’t require going underneath the bumper to hitch. Then, when you pull the truck out of the ditch or the farmyard, you inevitably crack the bumper to pieces. Bad design.

Pickups are great for carrying things, but they do get stuck–even the big ones with four wheel drive.  There just isn’t enough weight on the back end unless you constantly put a bunch of weight in the back–and then you’re killing your gas mileage and making it hard to put other stuff in the back. So a good tow point is essential to a good overall design.

Unfortunately, over the last couple decades, our vehicle manufacturers have decided that sporty looks outweigh useful function.  Or maybe there just aren’t enough farmers and ranchers left to lobby with their dollars for something that really works.

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