Random Notes From My Summer

October 2011 Column Ryan Harris


I'm not a big camper. I go just often enough to remember why I don't camp that much. This summer we pulled the trailer a couple hundred miles to park next to a peaceful, quiet lake with about 300 other people. But just as we made it halfway there, the tandem-axle travel trailer blew out a tire. And it was on top of a mountain pass and just after my Duramax had passed two gassers pulling boats up the grade. Then, on the way back home (and nearly home), BOOM! Another complete blow-out. And yes, I had checked tire pressure before departing. Turns out you should replace travel trailer tires every three or four years so they don't get flat spots. Turns out, too, that I don't like camping anymore.

Lucky 7s

You either have to own your truck for a while or have good timing, but when the odometer on our 6.4L Ford hit 77,777.7 miles, I nearly parked the truck on the spot and walked to the nearest convenience store to buy a Mega Millions ticket. But after thinking about it for a while, given this truck's history of leaving its driver either stranded or in limp mode, I figured I was lucky just to still be running down the road without a check engine light on. But I bought a $2 scratch ticket later just in case.

Cheap Thrills?

Tech Editor Nate King, myself and a couple other guys picked up some radio controlled monster trucks this summer. What's that? I'm 33 and married with kids. Why do you ask?


Anyway, we figured these would be a way to have destructive fun and excitement without doing so much damage to our diesel pickups. And just in case any of you out there were wondering if driving radio controlled monster trucks is a good way to save money that would normally go to diesel repairs, the answer is no. I don't care if it's a wind-up toy car out of a cereal box; give it to us and we'll spend a month's salary modifying it into an indestructible machine... and then we'll go jump it off a cliff.

Buyer's Remorse

It seems like buying new trucks is in the air. Each time someone around here gets a new truck, I have to close my eyes and tell myself that new is a relative term based on the truck's production date and State Fair time. But then I open my eyes and see a shiny new truck in their driveway and buyer's remorse kicks in-my remorse for what they bought. The only thing that keeps me from caving in is knowing that in two years, my fixer-upper used diesel will be worth more than I owe, and their brand-new two-year-old trucks will still be 15 payments away from equity. But there's no harm in just test driving one, right? Ooh, love that smell...where do I sign?


Don't you just love the guys who throw out mythical MPG numbers like they live in some fairy tale kingdom where steel doesn't rust and Starbursts don't come in yellow? I got one of those emails the other day. "My truck gets 19 mpg, stock with the DPF in place and a leveling kit to boot." Well, okay I guess. Not sure where you learned this magical math formula, but on planet Fact Check you have to divide miles by gallons used, not number of tires on your truck. We've tested a dozen trucks with your same setup, and not one has averaged outside of 12 mpg. But who's keeping score? Tell Santa Claus hello for me.

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