What was I looking for?
When I was looking at cars to buy it was a long process, I kept an eye out for over 9 months to find something that I liked and during that time there were probably only 4 cars that stood out to me, with most being overpriced (even within the already overpriced COVID world of 4WDs).
I didn’t know what I wanted straight away, but over time I narrowed it down to a few things which kind of limited my options anyway.
Having driven manuals my whole life, and getting rather sick of it, I was sold on getting an automatic almost instantly. The comfort of being able to use the car through the city, as well as it giving me more control made it an easy decision.
I wanted it to be simple, although manuals offer the advantage of roll starting, theft deterrence and being towable, I didn’t foresee these being a big enough issue for my style of travel.
The greater throttle control, comfort, ease of operation for me knees, better sand driving capabilities and having a sealed transmission unit seemed like the way to go. The only thing I needed to do was make sure to keep the temperatures as low as possible.
I wanted a ute, because I knew I wanted a chassis mount canopy on the rear. This eliminated all wagon 4WDs.
I didn’t want a dual cab ute, despite the greater range of accessories available I thought that all that space wasted by the seats in front of the axle could be done away with.
Single cabs didn’t appeal to me with their upright seating and generally they are only released in the lowest trim models as work cars.
As a single man without kids, this decision was the happy medium.
Non – DPF
I wanted to get a pre-DPF model ute for reliability.
There were horror reports about DPFs being very bad for the cars, as well as reports of inaccurate fuel economy being advertised.
Although I had no intention of using the car for small trips to the shops etc, it was inevitable that it would sometimes be used in short trips which are famously bad for vehicles with DPFs.
This meant that I was trying to find cars with Euro 5 emissions control and not Euro 6, but it also meant that the below desire was achieved by by virtue of having to look for a 5 year old car.
No unnecessary tech
I wanted to avoid the new cars, not only for cost and wait times, but all the sensors and warnings that they come with really put me off. They’re being over developed and I had no interest in paying for features like rear cross traffic alerts when I didn’t want them in the first place.
I wanted comfort, so climate control would be good but non-essential, but not some over priced high spec ute that has leather seats. Honestly, leather seats on a ute!?
It is supposed to be a work car, and in the majority of Australia leather seats are an absolute nightmare in the heat. One of the worst things about some of the higher spec utes is the use of leather, as well as the abundance of annoying tech.
This was a difficult one to pin down, due to looking at 2012-2015 era vehicles it was hard to find a low kilometre vehicle as they’re often used to travel the country with.
Anything under 80,000km I considered to be reasonably low given the age.
I wanted low kilometres to help mitigate the risk of the automatic transmission having been driven too hard whilst towing, and leading to early failures.
Few existing modifications
Although having some modifications done to a car when you buy it second hand helps alleviate a lot of the costs of doing it yourself, I wanted more or less a clean slate.
I wanted to do a lot of the work myself, or at least be able to make enough decisions to get the build going in the direction that I thought I wanted it to go.
Finding a car with good tyres and a bullbar is always good, but I dismissed most that had too much work done to them.
This may have been the hardest thing to find (avoid John Hughes like the plague).
It is hard to buy a car when you are away at work more than you are home to look at cars. It was also during the peak of COVID that I was looking and people were taking the piss.
I would often see a good car come on at a reasonable price, only to be gone within a week.
On the other end of the spectrum you’d have a good car come through John Hughes at $4,000 too high a value. I would save it on Carsales and get price alerts, they would always sit there for months.
Gradually the price would drop to where I originally placed value on it and it would sell within the week of hitting that price. So I knew my valuations were accurate, which was a good sign.
I just had to wait for the right timing.