Date registered: Nov 2002
Vehicle: 1980 LWB 280GE
Location: Bailey, CO, USA
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RE: Older G as a daily driver
I think you have a nice cross section of opinions. Like they said, I drive my G all the time on a 40 mile, 4000 ft commute each way. It is a 280GE though. I sure wouldn't do the same in a 300 GD. The altitude and grades around here would be pretty unbearable. That said, the fuel costs of my 280GE are pretty close to unbearable too. Brent's "low teens" number is maybe even a little optimistic. I get about 12 all the time, but due to the roads I drive, I'm in 3rd gear with my foot to the floor a good portion of the time. I bought this truck with about 210,000 miles on the clock, and in the last 4 years I've put on another 115,000. The only major maintenance service it's needed in that time was front wheel bearings replaced once. I lash valves every 12,000 miles, change drive line fluids once a year, Plugs and wires every 25,000, oil and filter every 3,000. I had some issues with one of the wiring harness plugs once so I replaced it with a better, newer style connector. Had a leaky fuel breather pipe that I replaced because it had rusted out. Wiper shafts also replaced due to wear, and right now I'm replacing a cracked exhaust manifold.
But these are things we're talking about on a truck that's seen 300,000 miles of all the kinds of use a G is supposed to get. Knowing the guy who put 200 of the 215k miles on that were there when I got it, and knowing all the things he liked to do, and how he cared for the truck, as well as my own habbits, I can say that this G is probably one of the most used, and best cared for trucks around. And it shows that by continuing to be very reliable and very capable in spite of mileage that makes everyone I tell the actual value say, "No Way!"
As far as reliability goes, they really don't require much in the way of repairs, but as with any vehicle, you'll save a lot of money if you can do things like change plugs, adjust valve clearance, and change drive line fluids yourself. I think that shop labor rates are responsible for most of the "deferred maintenance" (great term Brent!) that is seen on european cars. If one has the time and inclination to do these himself, they get done. If not, they get "deferred" since the car seems to be running fine, so why spend $500 in the shop? Pay now, or pay later. The G will take more abuse and neglect than most vehicles and still seem "okay" to drive, so you have to know your stuff when buying one in order to not end up with someone's cast-off beater, and inherit a lot of bills to make it right.
So what kind of driving will you be doing with this truck?