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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I'm planning a van conversion for 1 year trip, but i'm on a really tight budget.
I'm not sure what would be a better option - buying 2006 to 2008 van with around 150k miles for about $6k, or a newer van (2010-2014) with better MPG but with higher mileage. price including gas for one year (i estimate 40k miles, mostly highways) can be close, but i'm not sure about the risks of 200k+ miles car.

I found a dealer ad for 136WB hightop 1500 Promaster 2014, with 201k miles, asking for $11,500.
Is this a good price? what should I check before buying? what problems do you anticipate?

thanks.
 

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TCO on a cargo van will be over $10K annually. Even an economy car will cost over $5K per year to operate. You'll need funds for the unexpected particularly on an old vehicle. Save, combine costs with another traveller or just get a backpack and walk the AT.
 

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CAS is right but he is in Vermont. If that van is in Phoenix it will have a better chance of going. I have bought lots of 150K vehicles and had good luck. 200K gas vehicles can have a lot of miles left on them but EVERYTHING is suspect and some things are bad now and some more will be bad. Service records can tell a lot as can the Carfax. That being said 10-12 year old 150K vehicles are an even bigger risk IMHO. If you are vehicle savvy (can change brakes, oil, spark plugs, a coil, an axle half shaft, etc.) then I would not worry too much. If you are not savvy don’t buy either. If you ignore my advice (and I know you will) take it to a trusted local who can do all those things and have him go over it, grease and inspect the wheel bearings, inspect the exhaust, change out the final drive and transmission fluids, filters, belts, coolant, brake fluid, brakes, and test drive it enough to be happy to have it be his daughters van.... then go for it. I love an adventure too. Or go hike the PCT.
 

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I'm not sure what would be a better option - buying 2006 to 2008 van with around 150k miles for about $6k, or a newer van (2010-2014) with better MPG but with higher mileage.
As far as the gas mileage is concerned (for gas models), if you get an older GM or Ford cargo van with the smallest sized engine for the model year, you will get similar MPG to the ProMaster. (I don't know about the older Chrysler vans, but they are probably similar.) The bigger engines will be worse. I had a 1997 GMC Savana 1500 with the 4.6L engine and I got 19-20 HWY / 13-14 City. A newer model may be ~1 mpg better.

Also, parts will probably be cheaper and easier to find.
 

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Too many variables/unknowns here. For example, when you get back to 2006, your only tall van option is the Sprinter. I don't remember whether 2006 was the last of the good ones or the first of the bad ones, but earlier Sprinters (T1N) were and probably still are more reliable than newer ones, plus they get better fuel mileage, because they don't have modern emissions systems. Instead, rust grows on them like a weed.

It all comes down to the individual vehicle, your tolerance for unexpected adventure, and your ability to fix it.
 

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If you do decide to buy a van with 200k miles on it make sure the extra engine transaxle is in the big box in the back, otherwise, move on!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will add few Variables that may change the picture:

1. I'm going to buy the van, quickly make a basic conversion to camper (around $3k), drive it for one year and then sell it. So for the TCO you have to add the van's depreciation. I guess this will be higher in a newer van.

2. I have no mechanic skills but changing tyres/fluids. for every little problem I will have to pay a local mechanic.

3. i don't live in the US. As a foreigner I'll probably pay more for everything (buying the car, paying for fixing it), and sell it for less (i can't sit and wait for months for the right price, i have to leave!).

I'm now thinking about taking a loan and buying a relativaly low mileage PM van (~$18K?). The Price for buying this piece of mind would be higher depreciation and loan interest.

what is your opinion now? and please don't bother trying to convince me to give up this dream ;-)
thanks.
 

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Buy a mini van and a tent or an older low mileage camper for a few thousand dollars there are tons of them out there no one wants anymore and you can get them cheap. With no mechanical knowledge or skills you are looking for big problems with your plan.
 

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I will add few Variables that may change the picture:

1. I'm going to buy the van, quickly make a basic conversion to camper (around $3k), ...

3. i don't live in the US. ...
Those don't seem compatible. In the US, vehicles are registered in the state you reside. Insurance and drivers license from that state are generally required. You might get by with a foreign driver's license if you can PROVE you live and work in the state.

If you plan to but a vehicle in the US and are not able to register the vehicle in the US you will need to "import" it to your home country (may be difficult and/or expensive).

If you have figured out how to buy and register a vehicle in the US without a US address, then where do you plan to do the conversion? You can't set up shop in a motel and work on it in the parking lot.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
For you situation, you might consider vans similar to the ProMaster that sell for less as used vans. A quick look at Autotrader shows some pretty low prices on used Nissan NVs. It has more or less the same room in back as the PM. Its not as popular, probably in part due to its somewhat odd looking front end, but it does the job.

Or, as KOV says, maybe a regular van.

Gary
 
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