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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, first post (technically second). Got a few Qs for buying a used van.

1) I live in San Francisco, where prices are ridiculously high and the pickings are slim. Would it be worth shopping used online? I don't want to wait around all year to "only" spend a few thousand over blue book. Seems I could pay an extra grand and have it shipped from somewhere cheap like Florida or the midwest.

2) How much to spend? We technically have enough money to buy brand new, but feel like that's wasted premium. Under 18k it seems I'd be up in the 100-150k mile range. I'd rather have enough miles left on the engine to never have to worry about it, which brings me to Q3.

3) Worth getting older 2014 or 2015 diesel instead of maybe a bit newer gas for the extra mileage and lifespan? I'm thinking the 50-100k mile range for diesel would be low enough. What's your opinion?I feel like I can get an older diesel with lowish miles for cheaper than a newer gas with lower miles. Worth going a couple years older diesel?
 

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Some people love the diesel, but it is now an orphan engine. The transmission is also an orphan and quite unusual in that it is an automatic manual where the computer shifts and operates the clutch on what is a manual gearbox.

Finding people to work on it can be tough I hear. I am thinking it will get tougher now that it is discontinued.

But it does perform better, tow more, get better mileage. I operate in the Northeast and in the cold so I figured gas was better due to the cold. I generally love diesels, just not this one in this application.

The price is tough because every used van is different. Mileage, care, condition, options. If you want to buy a used higher mileage van then just make sure you can handle the repairs if they come. If you are installing a lot of stuff in it, then you are less able to just walk away and buy another.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes, price and mileage are the focus. Only really care about backup camera, bluetooth, cruise, and power windows/doorlocks. I am not familiar with standard features but pretty much all the vans I come across seem to have these. I'd rather not have a bunch of random stuff I have to remove and dispose of like those double passenger seats or cargo shelves. But I was mainly looking at diesel because they say it lasts forever (and if I'm putting all the work into it I'll want it to last as long as possible). Is it really hard to find someone to work on it when needed? I would assume a ram dealer would have someone on hand who can do repairs, but maybe I'm wrong.
 

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The diesels your looking at would be out of warranty and there is nothing inexpensive about repairing it.
 

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(and if I'm putting all the work into it I'll want it to last as long as possible)
On that note, 100k+ mi is always a gamble. It may last another 300k without any major repairs and it may end up being a money pit.
You say you have enough to buy new.
If it were me, there's still new 2019s and certified 2019s with under 20k mi for $25-30k. That leaves a lot left over for the build and you're covered by warranty for a while. That frees you up to concentrate on your build and getting some traveling under your belt.
Find one and do a road trip and drive it home.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The warranty would be nice, especially if buying online sight unseen. I've seen some gas versions listed with 300k miles, so maybe just get a low mileage gas and it should last a few decades of moderate use. Yeah that thread linked above scares me, 7 weeks in the shop? **** no.

Why the H-E-double hockey sticks is that word censored?
 

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Yes, stay away from the PM diesel. Not that it's bad, it's just a one-of-kind orphan in NAmerica. That engine and tranny has never appeared in any other FCA vehicle in NAmerica. It was only available in PMs for 2-3 years, and only a few were sold. Lots of diesel info on this forum. Spend time reading it if you need more convincing. The gas 3.6 Pentastar engine, on the other hand, has been used in Chrysler minivans and trucks for years. Parts are readily available and every mechanic knows how to work on them.

Our thinking on new vs. used: We knew we were going to invest a lot of time and money in the conversion, and we could afford new. We also tend to keep new vehicles for many, many years (15-25) so the initial investment was worth it. We also bought new so we could factory order everything we wanted, and skip everything we didn't want. Lots of folks buy new PMs off dealer lots, but we were willing to wait. We spent the wait (3 months back then) doing research and design. We would do it again, for sure.
 

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Our thinking on new vs. used: We knew we were going to invest a lot of time and money in the conversion, and we could afford new. We also tend to keep new vehicles for many, many years (15-25) so the initial investment was worth it. We also bought new so we could factory order everything we wanted, and skip everything we didn't want. Lots of folks buy new PMs off dealer lots, but we were willing to wait. We spent the wait (3 months back then) doing research and design. We would do it again, for sure.
Agree with everything Steve said. I also bought new (and special ordered and waited [a super long time...]). A big factor for me was that with purchasing a used van, you don't know who, how, and for what purpose it was driven. Most newer used cars are not generally super-abused. Maybe one owner, driving people around. A cargo van? Could be driven by employees (not particularly caring). Might have carried very heavy loads, possibly over-loaded, possibly severely so. Might have been pounded through rough roads at speeds that an owner of a car might not have. --oh, look, a pot-hole! Let's avoid it! Versus, got to get these deliveries done, pedal-to-the-metal, straight ahead.
 

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We just bought a new 2019 1500 136" LR last month. Originally, we were going to buy a 2018 with only 1,000 miles (it had been a loaner) but there was a recall that would delay delivery. Got our 2019 at a good price because it had been on the lot for about 1-1/2 years and the 2021s are going to be coming in soon. Plus, even though the 2018 had low miles, it had been used by a number of drivers. Like the other posters, we keep our cars until they die (other car is a 2003), so buying a new one made sense especially since it was only a few grand more than the 2018.

The Bay Area may be tough, but you could maybe find something in the cities farther out. Try areas that have lots of businesses that use cargo vans. Good luck!
 

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I'm also in the Bay Area and ordered mine from a dealership in Tennessee. Shipping was $1,200, which still brought the cost under local available options and I got exactly what I wanted (gray, driver slider, etc).

Also, I bought new because I wanted it to last as long as possible.

The diesels do seem to have a lot of negative stuff on this forum. I'd shy away from them.
 

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Further, I believe that diesel engines' mythical longevity is based on experiences from an older and simpler time. Diesel fuel itself is more lubricating than gasoline and thus the internals of a diesel engine didn't wear out as fast.

Diesel engine combustion is based on heat and compression and not on a very fickle combination of near-perfect air-fuel mixture and spark timing from a sparkplug. So they just ran and ran with minimal fuss and tuning, further adding to their reliability aura.

And they weren't that picky about fuel either. People have run used vegetable oil in them, so they're unfazed by mediocre fuel whereas gas engines could choke on even gas that's just "old".

The trouble is that tough emission levels [yay!] forced the use of a super complex emission and particulate control system and trouble with that is what's going to give grief--and a lot of it.

So the short of it is that current diesel engines (taken as a complete "system") are no longer more reliable than current gas engines.
 

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Don't be afraid of buying a van from afar. Prices and selection in the Denver/Boulder area were pretty awful, so we ended up buying one in Milwaukee (saved around $4k for comparable mileage, which were few and far between here). Put down a refundable deposit over the phone, then I flew out there on a cheap flight and the dealer picked me up. Liked what I saw, so we bought it and I drove it home. Probably wouldn't do that right now in the current environment, but with enough photos I could see buying something and having it shipped if it's from a trustworthy dealership.
 

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I recently bought my van from North Carolina (I live in Florida). Had a good experience. The dealer was great to work with, they even drove the van 60 miles from their small town dealership to the airport (I flew there) to give me the van. I paid $39,500 out the door (includes taxes, plates/registration, everything) for a new old-stock 2019. I tend to run my vehicles until they die, my current daily driver is a 2003. Also since I'm investing so much time and money into the conversion, I wanted to make sure the van itself would last as long as possible.

One feature I'd recommend would be the power folding/heated mirrors. They're great for smaller spaces and parking and not having someone walking past knock into your mirrors.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Alright, inching up in budget toward low miles, still under warranty vans. How does this look? I do wish it had cruise control, but finding anything remotely in this price/mileage range with cruise seems like it'll cost a lot more, after scouring every listing on autotrader in the US.
65148
 
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