By on February 11, 2011

Keith writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

God, I hope you can help me out with this one. I’m not much of a writer so I’ll skip to the relevant points:

1. I have a 1993 Chevy S-10 with ~100k miles that I paid about $1500 for. I just found out it needs $2000 in transmission/brake work (it also needs a new muffler at some point, but that’s not urgent). Many are urging me not to put money into the Chevy, but use my $3000-ish in savings to buy something else. I’ve always had terrible luck with beaters– I’m on car #8 at 22 years old– and I am very reluctant to buy another collection of unknown mechanical problems. Apart from the work needed, the truck is otherwise in pretty good shape.

2. I’m a student by night and an office worker by day, live in Orange County, so there are no real weather or space considerations. I just need a commuter car that *works* and possibly has some hint of style or sportiness.

3. My credit is absolute shit. As far as I know, my score is around 610 currently. I know that the credit markets have supposedly thawed somewhat, and if I were to use the money as a down payment I could hopefully swing a loan for a car in the $10k-13k range.

Right now I’m leaning towards a Miata on the beater side, financing something in the $10k range such as a used Mazda 6 or Fusion, or stretching things and getting a new Kia Soul around $13k-14k. Alternatively, I could spend the money on the truck and hope that engine problems don’t develop anytime soon.

Thoughts? Saving up more money isn’t really an option since without the transmission work the car doesn’t really have much longer. Thanks for any advice!


Steve Answers:

I would have this vehicle checked out by another independent shop. Also feel free to tell the ‘Best and Brightest’ what the problems are. Many of us here can give you an approximate idea of what your costs should be. $1500 in repairs for a truck that’s extremely easy to work on is a bit unusual but not unheard of.

I’m inclined to think that most of what you need can be done by a shadetree or part-time mechanic. The S-10’s had GM’s most common components for that time and most everything is easy to replace. Parts for them are cheaper than dirt and you can easily buy what it needs and then simply pay for the labor.

Refer to car-part.com, eBay, or even type in the part you need on Google. Your parts costs will go down dramatically. Labor wise, most mechanics working in their off-time will charge between $20 and $50 an hour depending on what you need to have done. 9 times out of 10, your out-of-pocket will be half the expected amount if you go this route.

If you do this, chances are you will come out ahead in the long run. You will ‘own’ the car instead of being a perpetual debtor paying thousands extra every year. But start by getting a second opinion on the truck’s issues and long-term durability. Given the price you paid for it in Orange County, I’m not too surprised that this truck needs a bit of repair work.

Sajeev Answers:

My gut is telling me to keep the truck and fix the bare minimum. Like Steve said, shop a couple more mechanics. Brakes are usually a cheap fix with normal wear items, unless the master cylinder went out. GM’s transmissions are easy to rebuild for just about any transmission shop. Not so if this were a Ford or Dodge automatic, that’d require a pause for the cause.

Because of your honesty and candor, I won’t indulge in a long-winded “cycle of debt” rant, but paying down your debt now (with a payment free S-10) is a smarter move. The more I consider the alternatives, you better keep truckin’ along: if the rest of the S-10 is clean and well sorted, it is worth good money. And always shall be.

You’ll really appreciate the better credit rating in the future, when that night school pays off and your career really takes flight. And the S-10 will still be worth $1500 when that time comes.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to [email protected], and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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42 Comments on “New or Used: The Real Pistonheads of Orange County...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Yeah fix the S-10. Get a second opinion on everything and then decide what really needs fixed, Sajeev is right, a drunk transmission rebuilder with a room temp IQ can put a GM transmission back together and make it run another 50 to 75K no problem.
     
    IF you must go for some other used vehicle and don’t really care about cargo or people carrying ability, Miata’s have a reputation for being fairly cheap and tough, but I worry about security if someone decides to cut their way through your soft top and steal your stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Wow – you’ve used the same transmission guy I used back in the 1980s. He did a great job even if he was drunk the entire time.
      I got an S-10 p/u like this from my BIL. He neglected it a little over the years and he had low oil pressure at hot idle. His mechanic told him it wasn’t worth diddly (trying to steal it) but BIL wasn’t going to let him have it. On principle alone he was going to sell it to a junkyard.
      I got it first. For free. Cleaned it up, changed the oil twice over 200 miles and the gunk that came out of that engine! The oil pressure came back up and a friend wanted the truck so I sold it for $1500 after I scrubbed the interior to death (looked good) when it might have been worth $200-$300 more making sure he understood the oil pressure problem.
      He also changed the oil several more times over several thousands of miles and is still driving the truck a few years later. Last I heard the oil pressure is starting to dip down at hot idle again so he knows he’s going to need a rebuild. Loves the truck. Fits his budget and he’s got it detailed to death.
      My profit went into family bills (dentist bill for our son among other things) so I never had any fun with the money. Story of my life… ;)
      In your case – do you like the truck? Get a used tranny from a recyle yard and install yourself. Plenty of information on these trucks all over the web. You could be back on the road reliably for $500 or less. Then do the little fixes that make you happy – a dab of paint here or there, a new muffler, a stereo you like, etc. Meanwhile you can save up some $$$ (recession, remember?) and rebuild your credit.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      If your drunk transmission guy owned a garage in Olivehurst, California back in 1971, I was there. A friend rented a stall from him to work on cars and mine saw a lot of time there. Trouble is, when the owner is a drunk and has a beer fridge and has the freezer full of frozen mugs and demands that you pour yourself a beer at 9:30 on a cold, January Saturday morning in Northern California, even at 19 years of age, the last thing in the world I wanted was an ice cold beer. I waited until 10 am. Got my car fixed too…somehow.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      My father’s perfered “paint and body” man came out of the paint booth once smoking a cigarette, drinking a Budwisier, and being chased by a cloud of VOCs.  But he still does good work. 

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      My transmission guy worked out of a 14×20 shed behind his rural house in GA. Small hand painted sign next to his gravel driveway was the only indicator that he worked on transmissions. As I recall (1987) the shed was piled high with random transmission parts and bolts/nuts and yet this guy could rebuild a tranny with new parts without a fault. That transmission out lasted my ownership and my Navy travels by years.
      We also knew an alternator/starter guy whose shop was also a terrible disaster too – he could pull an alternator for a 35 year old car out of a pile 4ft tall and make it work for minimum cash. Fit my teenage budget just fine.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Thing young man has been given solid advice above.

    Agreed – get a second opinion, and do share with all on what needs to be fixed.

    Say what you want about the S-10 and Rangers of this era, they are incredibly easy to fix and junkyards are full of viable parts. Look around more.

    Repeat after me. Don’t go into debt. I could hammer you endlessly about the cycle of debt and the damage of bad credit. You know your FICO score. You know its bad. You actually know more that a lot of Americans about your status, and why, who are much older than you. Work to fix it – a high interest car loan on a used car won’t help you achieve that.

    Get it fixed by the lowest bidder from a TRUSTED mechanic. Go cheap, but go with someone who knows what they are doing. They are plenty of mechanics who can do this work blind folded, but there are also morons out there that will bid low and make it worse. Ask around, use your network.

    I use to have bad luck with used cars to. The biggest lesson I learned (for the future) is don’t spend too little. In just about anywhere in this country $1500 on a car you didn’t buy from auction is probably buying someone elses problems [INSERT I KNOW THIS DUDE WHO BOUGHT A CORVETTE FOR $500 AND IT RAN FOR 10 YEARS REPLY HERE].  Do not read my next statement as, “go out and buy new truck,” you’ve been candid, the best approach here is fix what you’ve got.

    When you get on better financial footing, pay down debt (and keep saving – good on you!!!) don’t spend less than $3K to $5K on a used car. Once you get above the $3K point the reliability factor starts to get better. Around here if it will run, pass emissions, and the AC sputters to life in the summer, its worth $3.5K on Craig’s List. It can be rusted out, have a milk crate for a seat and a dead body in the trunk – still will command that price.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      I bought a new Corvette in 1965, for about $5000.00, and it needed constant attention and repairs for the next seven years. My friends and I did 90% of the work ourselves. Even with my GM employe discount it probably wasn’t worth it, It was a lot of fun however.
      He should be able to fix most of the stuff himself. If not, sell it.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Interesting.  I’ve had good luck with new cars and great luck with beaters – but I’ve lost my @ss in the middle of the market.
       
      Seems when there’s a cream puff for sale at an attractive price, there’s almost always a hidden reason – and when the calculator’s done, it adds up to more than the cost of new.
       
      The bottom of the market, in my experience, is where to be when money is tight.  In this case, the owner knows now what’s wrong – it’s just a matter of making parts, wrench, and price all come together.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Definitely keep it.  You shoulda sent this in to Piston Slap, not New or Used.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    It seems that anytime you take a used vehicle to a shop you will get an estimate like that.
    Not sure if they are doing CYA or they trying to make it as “good as new” and scaring you to death.
    Any legal running 2WD small pickup truck is worth at least $1500, 4WD are worth even more. I sold an 86 B2000 for that with almost twice those miles in four hours on Craigslist. I had over 30 calls and e-mails.
    LA is a prime market for that truck.
    So get a second opinion , fix it and drive it around for 18 months or so and sell it for what you have into it.
    I suspect if you DIY you could fix it for a lot less, very simple vehicle to fix.
     

    • 0 avatar

      You can get the actual factory manual from Helm Inc. http://www.helm.com for about $100. For around $30 you can get AllData DIY from Auto Zone for a one-year subscription. Many shops now use AllData DIY, it contains stuff from the factory manual.
       
      S-10s are a good vehicle on which to learn about working on cars.

  • avatar

    “You’ll really appreciate the better credit rating in the future”
     
    From my recollection, I well paid car loan actually helps credit score. Maybe a small loan now at a bad rate would help get a better loan later ?

    • 0 avatar

      If you already have bad credit, paying down your debt as stated above is the smartest thing you can do.  Especially if you have stuff reported to a collection agency.
      So you are right in general, but I suspect not for this case.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    It’s not easy attracting hotties when your broke, with no credit and always bumming money. So get a tool set,  a shop manual, and learn how to fix THIS truck. Make a stand with it.
    Tranny bad?  Find a wreck in the boneyard and get the box out. Odds are it was shifting just fine before it got hit. Brakes are so easy a caveman could do it. Start thinking about how to improve your credit score, not drag it down or make someone who sells auction cars on a buy here pay here lot rich (Sorry Steve)

  • avatar

    Most 4L60 and 4L40E Trannies are virtually indestructible to about 200K. I’ve run several vehicles with that gearbox and own two now, both over 100K.
     
    Parts for these earlier S-10s are dirt cheap and most anyone with some mechanical knowledge can work on it. Get the repairs made, keep it maintained and you should get another 100K out of it easily.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “It’s not easy attracting hotties when your broke, with no credit and always bumming money. So get a tool set,  a shop manual, and learn how to fix THIS truck. Make a stand with it.”

    GS650G: Man, I had that problem a long, long time ago in spite of doing my own work on my avatar! Broke all the time! That was the story of my life for the first three years of my air force time.

    As usual, I have to agree with Educator Dan and I can’t really add anything else to what’s been said here, just this: Have fun and don’t be afraid to get greasy!

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Sounds like I was in a very similar position to you, however my car was worth bupkis and had a whole host of other things wrong with it. I opted for the ‘very nearly new’ route (because I’m fed up of getting covered in engine oil and scraping my knuckles on stuff under the bonnet) and bought a cheap and every so slightly used 2010 vehicle which I’ll have paid off by the end of the year.
    In the past though when a vehicle has had only one thing wrong with it, I’ve stuck with it and done the work myself to keep costs down. Like Sanjay and Steve say, if you can find the parts cheap and get the work done cheap, then stick with the S10 if the rest of it is in sound condition.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    Way back in my salad days (very green) I did very well with beaters.  Basically I’d get a cosmetically-ruined jalopy, generally with problems I could see were minor or straightforward.  I’d put a little more money, and a lot more work, into them than most people would; fix whatever was immediately wrong, drive each for a year or two, and sell it when my sixth-sense told me it was time.  Generally the sale would be for as much or more than I paid – I was almost riding for free!
     
    You say you’re broke; that means, realistically, you have little choice.  Debt digs a hole for you that you’ll be a long time climbing out of.  A truck repaired is genuine value.  As noted, the S-10 is pretty straightforward – a cut-rate shop should be able to plug in a new transmission very reasonably.  If wrecking yards your way don’t have a transmission, they may be able to buy or swap from another yard in another area; or there’s Ebay.  Ask for a guarantee.
     
    When it’s rolling again, get a set of tools and START LEARNING.  As you can see, name-brand repair shops are something you can’t really afford.  Time is money; and yours is cheaper than a shop’s, even with your schedule,

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    That’s half-life for that vehicle if the body is in good shape. As mentioned just do the minimum and save for your toy. :)

  • avatar
    EyeMWing

    “$2000 in brake and transmission problems” sounds an awful lot like a mechanic pulling your leg. Give us details.

  • avatar
    jaje

    It is a long uphill battle from bad credit (been there).  The S-10s were pretty bulletproof and if in good condition are very reliable (unlike a lot of the vehicles they made back then as it seemed most of GM’s main focus on quality went into their pickups).  Follow the main theme of advice, and never settle on the opinion or price of one mechanic – get a 2nd / 3rd if you feel comfortable.  Fix it for a good price and save each month what a new car payment would cost and the difference in insurance you’d also have to pay.  W/in the year you’ll recoup all the money you spent on repairs and be back in the black.

  • avatar
    pauldun170

    You could pick up a beater Miata but it will probably have its own set of items in need of attention. That being said, junkyard transmission + manual + a long weekend = Fixed S-10
    Its a pretty simple truck

  • avatar
    Ian Anderson

    I agree with Steve, Sajeev and the commenters, fix the S10. Get a second opinion and shop around. If I can fix stuff in an S10 than I think anyone can. Any mechanic that’s been around a 700R4/4L60E can probably rebuild one, so get that fixed and whatever brake problems you have.
     
    But before you do the above, make sure it will pass California’s tightening emission laws. If it fails at that for whatever reason then start considering other options (and ship the truck to me, I could use the clean sheet metal!)

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Remember, pickup trucks are like gold in the US. Hang onto it if you can. You always get your money back out of them. Additionally, they are very versatile vehicles, you could use it for almost anything, negating the need to have to buy something else sooner. Ian Anderson’s advice is good too, make sure it will pass the sniffer test. I don’t know CA law, if vehicles get ‘grandfathered-in’ after a certain point in time. Emissions might be the other big hurdle for you to deal with. Additionally, saving the truck and bux you would use for a used heap will put you way ahead of where you are today. I have car payments for the next three years, I’d give a left teste to get out of them if I could.

  • avatar
    radimus

    Definitely get a second and third opinion on the transmission.  Find out how to pull the transmission trouble codes if the trans is electronically controlled.  With the electronic transmissions problems are more often than not caused by bad solenoids rather than a failing mechanical part, and all too often supposedly experienced trans shops will tell you a tale of how this and that and the other thing in your tearing itself to pieces and causing the problem.  I had a case like this not too long ago with a 2004 Buick Century where the tranny would buck when accelerating from a stop.  I called a local and recommended tranny shop and got an earful about how this clutch plate or whatever is failing and yada yada yada.  Then I went back to my regular mechanic.  He had a friend of his there that worked in a Buick dealership.  I explained the issue to him and he said it sounded like a failing solenoid.  He told us what code to look for, so the mechanic and I go out to the car, get the codes off the computer, and there it was.  Cost me all of $350 instead of $2000-3000 for a rebuild.  I had a similar issue with a 2002 Ford Focus.  It wouldn’t stay in overdrive because of a bad solenoid.  It was fixed for $250.
     
    So yes, fix the truck.  Even if the trans needs a rebuild you can get by cheaper with a junkyard trans, which is a worthy option because these transmissions are generally reliable.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Assuming your S-10 is a 4.3 V6, I would fix the truck for sure, especially if the body is good and not much else is wrong. Brakes are nothing and anything you buy could need that done. The S-10 uses very common components such as the 4L60 4 speed automatic tranny which is a piece of cake to rebuild for anybody that works on transmissions knows. 2 grand sounds high for a tranny rebuild and brakes. If this were a newer designed vehicle with a 5 or 6 speed tranny and massive rotors etc, then 2k wouldn’t be so bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Ian Anderson

      Ponchoman has a good question, what engine does the truck have? Iron Duke, 2.8 60º V6 or the 3/4 350 4.3 V6? If it’s any of these with throttle body injection then it’s a definite keeper, even if the 4.3 gets the mileage of it’s small block parents. If it’s a spider-web-manifold CFI 4.3, then you have a ticking time bomb on your hands.

  • avatar
    DIYer

    I have a 1995 S-10 with 200K on it that I bought new for $15K.  It has the 4.3 V6 Vortec and a manual transmission, and I have maintained and repaired this vehicle myself over the years, to the tune of about $5K.  If I had paid a shop for the same repairs, I would be easily looking at $10K in repairs and maintenance.  Some of these things (gas tank, brake lines, fuel lines, clutch line) rusted out because I live in Michigan, so you may not have these problems in Southern Cal.  Your figure of $2K for the items you describe sounds reasonable.
    I did replace the clutch with the help of a neighbor who once worked as a professional mechanic, and I found it to be difficult work, but I saved a lot by doing it myself. Sometimes automatic transmissions improve if you put in fresh transmission fluid and a new filter. I would try this first before taking it in for work. If you find parts or a lot of metal in the pan, you’ll need a replacement. A used transmission will run $1200-$1500 installed. I would not recommend doing this work yourself.
    New front brake rotors, new rear drums, pads, and shoes will run $450 to $600 installed. If you want to try this yourself, have someone experienced help you and it will run $200 in parts, and $50 more if you don’t own a set of socket wrenches.
     

  • avatar
    tiredoldmechanic

    I would be interested in knowing what the original problems were. Not what the shop says, but what were the symptoms that caused Keith to take the truck to them in the first place.
    Another question, is the truck rusty or fairly clean. It makes a difference for more than just value, because some of these trucks require you to unbolt body mounts and jack the body off the frame a bit to access the trans bolts. If you have a rust bucket this can create more problems. Not impossible, but not fun either.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    Definitely get a second opinion (that sounds high and not every transmission problem requires a rebuild) but I defiinitely wouldn’t spend $2000 in repairs to fix this truck if that’s what it comes down to.   I’d sell it as is and move on to something else.  You can find a lot of pro techs that do work out of their garage on the side, cruise around on CraigsList, ask around, etc.  It’s usually not a good idea, but you could find a used tranny at a salvage yard to bolt tight up for cheap.
     
    Unless that 93 S-10 is especially clean and otherwise in perfect mechanical condition, I’d take my loss here and find another inexpensive ride if the only option is drop $2,000 on repairs, this could just be the tip of the iceberg.
     
    Have a mechanic you trust thoroughly go through the next ride before you buy, its cheap insurance.
     

  • avatar
    Tree Trunk

    New or Used?  If the advice is always the same it is not really advice.
     
    If somebody asked what they should do with a 1962 Beetle, with 700K miles that needs 4000$ transmission work, I am pretty sure the advice would be to fix it up.
     
    Driving around in an old beater is certainly the most economical thing to do in most situations, I should know with a ’91 and’95 in the driveway, but that does not make it the right thing to do in every case. 
     
    The guy is weary of old beaters, but somehow he wound up with a 20 year old pickup that is freaking him out.  None of the vehicles on his wish list are pickups, so there is no reason to think he wants or needs a pickup even tough he happens to own one.
     
    The dude is working while in school and money is tight.  My advice is and I think it should have been S+S advice if they had thought about the situation for more then a second.
     
    Sell the pickup, it has relatively low miles, like S+S pointed out the problems are probably overrated so you will likely get your money back or somewhat close to that. 
     
    Use that money with the 3k that you have to buy an unloved post 2000 compact, Caviler, Focus, Geo, Cobalt or similar.  Something relatively new and reliable, that gets very good mileage and will take you trouble free through the rough economic situation you find your self in.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I would keep the vehicle even if you end up draining your savings.   If you buy any other car under $5000 expect to spend additional funds to repair it also.   Then the total cost is higher than the S-10 with the repairs.   Stay debt free.    
    The S-10 is perfect for the California life style.   Jet ski, surf, dirt bike, whatever is your thing.
     
    Brakes & exhaust are just regular maintenance.   So this cannot be considered a bad vehicle for reasons like this.    The transmission going bad is probably because the previous owner did not follow proper maintenance schedules.  

    So invest the money to get the car squared away.   You need a good starting point.   
    Get it fixed by the BEST shops that specializes in what needs to be done.  Get the transmission repaired by a dedicated transmission shop.   Don’t put a used transmission in unless you plan to sell it.    
    Have the brakes done by a shop that are good at brakes.   Get the exhaust done by a recommended muffler shop.  You get the drift…

    Now here is how you can make the car live and learn how to maintain and manage repairs yourself.  Kind of like “management by walking around”.  By doing simple maintenance yourself you can catch things before they go bad.   You can decide in advance if you can tackle it yourself or use a recommended shop.  The key is to manage your used car repairs to prevent unscheduled downtime that effects your job or school.   One tow can really kill your budget and job.  Create a savings account for future repairs.  Drop $100 a month in the account.   This will be for future suspension repairs, tires, cooling system, etc.

    1. Start by changing your oil & filter yourself.  Change every 3000 miles since you do not know the previous history. 
    2. Grease the front suspension every oil change. 
    3.  Change the rear axle fluid yourself.   Do this every 3 years.
    4.  Add a drain plug to the transmission pan.  Drain the trans fluid every oil change.   It will probably take less than 3 qts.   So the cost is only like $8.00   Very cheap.  Change the trans filter every year.  
    5.  Change the anti-freeze every year.  
    6.  Check fluid levels and tire pressure every weekend. 
    7.  Understand the normal operating temperature of your engine.  As soon as you see some deviation, get it checked.  If the temperature starts running higher than normal, plan to change the radiator & thermostat before it runs too hot.
    8.  If you run in the desert or load it down, add a trans cooler.
    9.  Invest in yourself.   Tools, repair manuals, and try to tackle more & more difficult projects.     

    You say the vehicle has around 100,000 miles.  Follow this plan and you will have a reliable vehicle for the next 80,000 miles without any rebuilds or excess cost.  

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      “I would keep the vehicle even if you end up draining your savings.   If you buy any other car under $5000 expect to spend additional funds to repair it also.   Then the total cost is higher than the S-10 with the repairs.”
       
      This is an important point.  On the one hand, worst-case, you’re looking at being out $2000.  On the other hand, if you trade, you’re looking at:
      –Loss on the purchase of the vehicle – the truck is valueless with a bad transmission
      –Purchase price of another vehicle.
      –Possible repair of the purchased vehicle – many people don’t sell unless there’s a major cost looming.  It might be as much or more than the bill you’re looking at now
       
      So, you’re back at Square One with a car note to pay, too.  That’s a fast way to dig a hole too deep to get out of

  • avatar
    nrd515

    The late 80’s S-10’s with the 4.3 amputated 350’s are rock solid.
    My 4.3 S-10 Blazer was a great vehicle, just a tiny bit too narrow in elbow room for me, but it was nearly trouble free, just a battery, a starter that died soon after I bought it, covered by a secret warranty, and a couple of turn signal bulbs, and a headlight switch, also covered by warranty. I had it for 5 years, and a friend bought it, and even after it was sliced open like a tin can by a flatbed truck that sideswiped it, stolen twice, and severely trashed one of those times, he rebuilt the tranny at 250K, put an oil pump, timing chain, water pump, and a new master cylinder and booster in it at 300K, and drove it until 2008, when rot got to the point driving it in the rain was like taking a shower, and retired it at about 500K miles. He bought a Chevy Trailblazer whenever it was when they came out, and it’s got over 150K on it and has been almost bulletproof too. He’s going out West this summer to look for a decent S-10 Blazer or ext cab truck that he will drive back and make his daily driver.
    Another friend of mine had a 350 from an early Camaro in his S-10 4×4 truck, that was a lot of fun!

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    My best friend had a ’95 or so S10 when we were 16, in ’96. He beat the ever-loving piss out of that thing; it’s remarkable that it survived 10 days, but it was still hanging in there a few years later. He had that thing up to 120mph at one point (going downhill…), and I remember quite clearly the sound of the mirrors shaking and body panels flexing. I also remember thinking that dying in an S10 accident at 16 would be really, really lame.
     
    At any rate, I have fond memories of it, particularly since he put a subwoofer in. It doesn’t take much to make a light pickup truck cab pound like bloody hell. But I’ve seen crash tests of light pickups five years newer than that, and they look alarmingly similar infamous Landwind test. For example, consider this S-10 crash test – and then consider that it’s a newer generation than yours. That’s gonna ache in the morning.
     
    So: If you’re not reckless (or optimistic), buy a $2k Saab 9-5. Not an NG-900, because they’re almost as bad as the truck (really!). It’ll cost you some amount of money, and will probably cost you more in a while, but you won’t die if you hit a Vespa.
     
    But either way, stay debt-free. Buy-here-pay-here is the primrose path, my friend.
     
    And if you keep the S-10, keep the suspension in great shape and put good tires on it so you can try to avoid an accident… and get really good medical insurance and write a will in case you can’t.

  • avatar
    Madroc

    If it turns out that it does make sense to replace it, my vote would be a late-90s Civic.  Reliable, cheap (probably under $5K) and the last Civic to be fairly called “sporty.”  A better call than a used Miata, IMO.
     
    But heed the advice of everyone telling you not to get rid of the truck unless you absolutely have to.  Despite what predatory lenders tell you, you don’t “rebuild your credit” by borrowing more money.  You do it by paying off what you owe, paying all your bills on time, and waiting for the bad stuff to age off your credit report.  I’ve been there.

  • avatar
    George B

    Keep the Chevy S-10.  It’s inexpensive, light weight, RWD, and a small block Chevy V8 will fit in it.  Because of these facts, it will have value even when the engine and/or transmission fails.

  • avatar

    I have a 91 Miata that I have driven over 40,000 miles in the last 6 years. I believe it is unbreakable. Also more fun to drive that either of the two Covettes I have had.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Keep the truck just dump the money in it and rebuild your credit. My dad has a 91 S-10 Blazer 2 dr 4.3 4X4 that he bought new, back then it ran for about $18K most options including the aux oil cooler and tow pkg. It has 100K on it and still runs fine. Just normal maintence. The front suspension is a weak spot on these he had to do the ball joints and torsion bars.  

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