Roosh Buys a Truck

If you haven’t been following the travels of Roosh this last year, you should hit his YouTube channel and watch them. I’ve enjoyed the series tremendously.

So, done with his travel, he appears to be gearing up to migrate into the wilderness by buying a truck, and put out a video of what he looked for in a used vehicle. I love these sorts of videos for as much as they get wrong as they instruct.

So lets get one thing straight; He’s not buying a truck, he’s buying a beater. A high mileage, old, worn, cheap vehicle. There’s a difference in how you go about doing this. For instance, I have a friend in the used car business, and I’ve had great luck buying cars from his company. You just have to do some research first and know how to inspect a car. He doesn’t sell beaters. Roosh shuns dealers in this video, which is correct – for a beater. They’ll want too much money, and you can bet the low end dealers have duct taped whatever they could to get it rolling out the door. When I lived in Virginia, the bargain basement dealers were the worst of the worst to score a car.

Although he admits he really doesn’t know what he was doing, he did a reasonably good job evaluating the truck. He started out looking at probably the best choice for a used truck – a Toyota. I’ve had pickups and one 4Runner. They are built like tanks, and parts are ubiquitous and inexpensive. You almost can’t go wrong.

I grew up not to far from him, and as he said first (for that area) look for rust. It doesn’t snow a ton in the DC area, but it does, and when it does they lay down copious amounts of salt. That will destroy a car if not rinsed off. You can also bet that if there is structural rust you can see, there’s most likely rust happening where you can’t. If it’s not structural damage, you can patch it though. Better off avoiding rusty beaters if you aren’t equipped to deal with them

Check under the hood. He pointed at the oil and ATF dipsticks – pull them out. Oil should be clear, brown. Not black, not tarry, and should be at an appropriate level. ATF should be red. Not brown, not smelling burnt. He glossed over the radiator – don’t just eyeball the level in the overflow, pop the radiator cap and look at the fluid – should be bright green (or pink sometimes). Not brown, not olive. Both colors show that it probably wasn’t maintained. Also take a sniff when you pop the hood – Smell a sweet smell? Start looking at hose connections. Antifreeze has a distinct sweet smell. You’ll see stains where there’s a pinhole leak or bad clamp.

Speaking of leaks, check everywhere. What he thought was the power steering, was the brake master cylinder – nearly always driver side top. Look for leaks. Look in the perimeter of under the hood for an ABS (brake) manifold (if it has ABS). It’s a block with metal brake lines running in it. Look/Feel under it for leaks. I missed that on one of my cars, and the part alone is over $900.

None of the Japanese cars I’ve owned have ever dribbled on the pavement. Doesn’t mean they won’t leak. After 15 years or so the gaskets get hard and can fail. Look at the engine for any black oil stains. Look under, front of motor and at driveshafts – grease will gather and there’ll be sticky gunk all over. His transfer case had that. Probably has a seal going. It’s expected at high mileage for this to happen. If the car is FWD, look at the driveshafts -You can’t miss them. Visible grease could be a CV boot tear.

Here’s some more esoteric stuff I look at; first, the keys. For over the last 20 years, Toyotas have had transponder keys. Each car has two black, and one grey courtesy key (to hand the parking guy). Back in the day, you needed the black ones to make duplicates. If you only have the grey one, you can forget using the glove box locks. And, these keys are $85 a piece or so. I just dropped $300 on a spare for my Rav4, and neither key is mechanically cut – so I have to pay to have that done eventually. Make sure you have keys – more than one.

How about the tires? First thing; driver door sill there’ll be a sticker with tire size and pressure – Make sure the size matches what’s on the car. I bought a car once that handled sort of funky. Turned out to be all four tires were wrong. I also check – do they all match? Same brand? Same size, Same model? I get you have a flat from time to time, but unless the tires were new, I replace two at a time. Three different make tires on the car? I’m gone. Tires, especially in an area that gets snow are super important. Weirdness tells me they skimped on maintenance as important as tires, they probably skimped elsewhere.

Here’s one that he missed that is super important – the Timing Belt. The 4Runner I had was the first year that they had no timing belt. It had gears, I believe. Hence, it had very, very long maintenance intervals. Typical timing belt replacement intervals on a Toyota V6 is every 90K miles. This is super important. Why? Because when a timing belt goes, it can ruin your motor. A timing chain may slip a tooth – that’s what? 1-2 degrees out on timing? When a belt goes, it’s done- the cam doesn’t move. So what happens is the valves are stuck open on a compression stroke, the piston hits them, and your motor is toast. If you are out in the hinterlands when this happens, you are well and truly screwed. The tow alone will be wallet busting.

From what he said, it had 261K on it. That’s 8K from the 3rd interval. Timing belts can be pricey to replace, but not anywhere near as expensive as a new motor. Typically, you’ll replace the water pump at the same time, since it’s exposed. What I look for is first – does it have a timing belt (the cover is very apparent – large plastic cover, rounded, on the edge of the motor- in his case, the front. The second thing I look for in that case is a sticker – nearly any reputable garage will put a sticker with the date and mileage that the belt was replaced. His had stickers, but he didn’t zoom in on them.

All in all, he got a great deal from what I can see. A running, non rusty Toyota truck for under $3K is a good deal. 30 years ago, when I was a field tech, Our Toyotas would run to 400K miles or so. And even then, worn out and leaking, we’d sell them for $1K. That’s nearly $2K in today’s dollars. So, he did well.

Next steps on a beater odyssey for me would be total fluid replacement, replace belts, any hoses or vacuum lines that have hardened, plugs, wires, distributor cap (if it has one), and all filters. Seems extreme, but for a few hundred bucks, I’ve driven my beater cars until I was tired of them, selling them for nearly what I paid.

Fundamentals (part one)

I grew up around men who fixed things. And fixed them properly. They showed me the way to do nearly everything, and started with the fundamentals. Things that if you get wrong at the beginning, everything else will be screwed as well. I thought of this as I watched my neighbors fence go up, replacing the old one felled by the storm a few weeks ago.

It looks like it was built by teenagers.

Because it was.

It was a painful thing to witness. Day one they had a crew of three, and a hammer. A single hammer between three guys to take down the two parts of the fence still standing. One attached to my fence at the rear and at the front, the part where I had replaced the posts. After awhile watching this in the camera system, I waddled out and lent them my 4′ crowbar and a sledge. Later in the day, I went out with some handy advice – Get a cordless drill. You aren’t going to beat or pry 3.5″ deck screws out of my brand new posts. Fundamental: Get the right tools for the job. If you are going to do this  work, get proper hand tools, a cordless drill, and a sawz-all.  I learned long ago do get the best tools I could afford. Even when I was just starting out, I bought the best I could get. FFS, at harbor freight, hand tools like crowbars and sledges are stupid cheap. I came back from a job one day when I was installing sound systems and handed my boss my tool belt to store in his office, so I wouldn’t have to carry it on the subway.  His eyes popped at  the belt I handed him, full of Channelock, Klein, and other high end tools.

Day two, the crew chief showed up, a beer bellied dude about my age. At that point, they looked like kids playing soccer, moving around as a group, for the most part. True, they had badly underestimated the job at hand. The fence apparently had been replaced at least once before, and there was a ton of extraneous concrete where they needed to plant posts. I could’ve told them that, as I found this out when I replaced two posts. Looks like there was a chain link fence at one point that they merely sidestepped when the last fence was installed. It took a lot of pain to deal with this. I suggested they rock up to Home Depot and rent a demolition hammer (an electric jackhammer). That’s what I had to do. The tubby dude complained they only bid two days. Seems correct. I’ve seen fence replacements (by people that knew what they were doing) and it took about that long. Fundamental: Never give a fixed price before giving a long hard look, especially on an older property. I told the dude he should carry a 1/4″ aluminum rod to probe the ground around fence posts to be certain. When it comes to installing physical networks, I never, EVER, give fixed price unless I’ve sized the job up, and also why I do not do residential. These days services like Thumbtack want you to quote sight unseen. I quote my hourly rate-always.

When they started building the thing, I noticed the tall section was really tall. Much more so than when I replaced the posts. Tubby dude said my neighbor said it was 10′. It wasn’t. It was 8′. I pointed at my new posts (That they had removed) lying on the ground and said “It was 8′. Those posts are 10′, and 2′ was buried. Undaunted they moved on. Here’s the issue – 10′ is against code and he’ll surely set my neighbor to catch the jaundiced eye of the city. The day is coming. Worse yet, I see no permit. I’m certain you need one. You need one for everything here. Fundamental: The customer isn’t always right about everything. See above about quoting. You could look at the thing and see it wasn’t 10′. Measure the SOB, and ask about a permit if you are contracting.IMG_0634

As they started building the fence, it became very apparent they had no clue. they started at the front, the high end, and worked their way back, using a line on the top as a guide.

What resulted was twofold – the cross-members are crooked as they tried to match the fence at the back of my yard (Why? Who knows!) and when they put up the planks they hit a spot where it’s 6″ off the deck, then drops to meet the back fence height. Looks like shit. Fundamental: Start from the known (my fence) and work back. 

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You know you want a nice corner, build that, then move forward to the new part. And, work from the bottom – the ground is a known. You put a plank on the ground as a level and spacer (to keep the planks off the ground – (they suck up water and rot) and let the top take care of itself (Tip: it’ll be level). If you want  a fancy header, you can bolt that on and trim. Easier to do on top than the bottom (where they covered the gap with 2x6s).

Later, one of the younger dudes, an dot-indian kid that tubby dude said wanted to get into the business, showed up with a retail grade compressor and finish nailer to fasten the bottom of the fence pickets to the 2×6 boards running on the ground. The exact, wrong way to do such a task.

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To make it worse, He showed up later to paint the fence with a pump sprayer you normally use with insecticide.

It looked worse than shit.

What finally broke me was turning out the driveway one day to see the same dot-indian kid painting the fence with a 2″ brush, one you’d use on trim. I was about to go back, get him one of my 4″ brushes.

Then I thought: Fuck this. Fuck them. They leave, I’ll fix the part I see from my  yard myself.

Don’t be lazy. Do it right, or don’t do it at all.

Here’s the point. Before you get started on anything, there a fundamental concepts you have to consider. And here’s the sadder point still, these young men could have and should have had mentoring to show them how the job is done.

But they didn’t learn that. All they learned was the pain of failure, if anything at all.