This is actually not of off topic. I've been wondering what car/truck
I should buy if I become an avid home improver. Basically, my question
is this: not being able to imagine myself owning or driving a pick-up,
what is the lightest vehicle that I can buy that can accommodate (in
one way or another) a stack of 4'x8' sheets of drywal or plywood.
Many thanks in advance,
On Tue, 13 Jan 2009 23:00:43 -0800 (PST), Aaron Fude
I'm a landlord, constantly doing repairs and rehabs.
I use a 2002 Dodge Caravan. It's got 48" between wheel wells so
plywood can lay flat. I pulled out the third row seat the day I got it
and when necessary, it's easy to remove the second row seat.
It's good in snow and unlike a pickup, keeps my tools etc completely
Despite the reputation of unreliability, I have found the Caravan to
be just the opposite.
Aside from normal replacement items like brake pads, I've only had one
repair in 122,000 miles of driving it from new.
A pick-up will work swell. Assuming you don't have a passel of kids to
transport, a pick-up has, in addition to the obvious advantages:
* The utility of being sturdier than your regular passenger car. For
example, you can navigate obnoxious speed bumps at normal driving speed
without fear that you'll shake loose the radiator.
* You can hang your long gun against the rear window where it's in easy
* There's less internal volume to heat or cool.
* You don't have to bend over, straining your back, to load or unload stuff.
* Your dogs enjoy riding in the back of a pick-up more than a van (except
for the speed-bump business which requires you to take a dog census after
* An extended-cab version provides ample space to store stuff that would
normally be in the trunk.
* I don't think you could fit an upright piano in a van, so capacity might
* The resale value of a well-maintained pick-up far exceeds that of
alternative vehicles. I've got a female truck (it's a small S-10,
teal-colored) that I bought, used, ten years ago. I could sell it today for
90% of what I paid.
For toting around home improvement stuff, I'd point out that Home Depot
rents pick-ups by the hour for just that purpose -- They don't rent trailers
Don't buy a vehicle for home improvement. Buy a vehicle for comfort
and reliability. If you want to make some sort of statement- buy
that car. [a prius, hummer, navigator, whatever]
Buy a cheap, at least 4x8 trailer for carting crap from wherever to
A trailer is cheaper than upgrading to a truck- and you can leave it
home when you go out to dinner.
It is easier to load than an SUV or pickup. You don't have to lift
as high- and you don't have to worry about scratching anything.
A 4x8 trailer will allow you to lay sheet goods flat. [plywood,
sheetrock, sheathing, etc]
My trailer doubles as a saw horse as I unload it- one stick at a time.
Google this list for past conversations on;
harbor freight trailer
My only caveat- check your owners manual to see how much trailer your
car can tow. It might surprise you. According to their manuals, my
wife's 98 VW Cabrio can tow 2500 pounds- my '01 Impala can only tow
1000. [I think the tongue weight is 250 on both]
The Impala *will* pull 4000, but anything over 2000 makes it real
sloppy. The suspension just doesn't like it.
re: "AND - no additional insurance and minimal maintenance!"
BUT - additional parking space is required. Driveway space (assuming
there even is one) could be a limiting factor. A HOA could also be an
As my kids get older and car ownership increases, I fear the space
taken up by my trailer is soon to become an issue. Sort of luckily for
me, the main use of the trailer is going away for the same reason - as
the kids get older they are aging out of the activity it is used for.
However, if I had the space, I would never even consider getting rid
of it because of all the other things I use it for - although it would
not be used anywhere near as often. Off-site storage is a possibility,
although that comes with inconvenience and cost.
My HF trailer folds up to only take up about a 2x5' space. I even
cut the pressure treated plywood I used for the deck so I could fold
it up. That was 3-4 years ago & I haven't folded it up yet- but I
leave it outside & that might not be possible everywhere.
re: the folding...
For a while I'd fold mine up and roll it into my garage. (Yes the deck
was split like yours.)
I put hooks in the ceiling so I could store the sides above the garage
The added feature that came along with the folding was that the
trailer could be tilted when attached to a vehicle. All I had to do
was pull the pin that allowed the tongue to fold and the whole bed
tilted down. Didn't use it too often, but on occasional it came in
No doubt a pick up truck is your best option for many reasons. One of those
reasons is less confinement to one area. In other words, you can stack items
in and on the bed of the truck, extending beyond the bed and tie down a
load. Also, height is not limited, though, one wouldn't want to worry when
viewing a height warning sign on bridges. Note: all of the above is greatly
reduced if using a cap.
Other options would be a trailer or a cargo van. With a cargo van, one can
keep supplies locked up inside if the need arises. Also, a cargo van keeps
material disclosed and keeps honest people honest.
I have a Subaru Forester and can carry larger items on roof rack.
Also has tow capacity of 2,000 lb.
All wheel drive gets me in most places the big four wheelers go but
otherwise drives like a car and gets good gas mileage.
You can laugh at my Forester but I think most American motor vehicles
are overdone for their usage. I'll bet 90% of all SUV's never get any
more off road use than the shopping center parking lot. Numbers
probably also high for pickup trucks. My neighbor spends more time
repairing his than he does using it. OP is asking for occassional use.
I like a pickup with a sliding glass window in the rear of the cab. It
allows transporting 12 to 16 foot lumber without sticking out very far
in the rear. I know a roof rack will do it better if you have one.
Pickups are just like cars, even 4 door and ride nice. Get one.
Many years ago I bought the "same" trailer from K-mart for $189 - last
one in the store, beat up box, manager gave me a discount.
I built some real nice looking, removable sides out of 1 x 6 slats -
bullnosed the edges, stained, etc. It was a sweet ride!
I used it for about 4 years until I upgraded to an enclosed trailer. I
put thousands of miles on it and then sold it for $250. I'd say I got
my money's worth out if that trailer.
One of the most memorable uses was this:
Every year a nature center near my house collects Christmas trees for
recycling. I'd gather up the kids and a few of their friends, pile
into my full size conversion van and drive around the neighborhood
grabbing trees from in front of people's houses and delivering them to
the nature center. The kids loved it - especially the rides in the
open trailer. We'd get to the nature center where the cars would pull
up with their single tree tied to the top of their car and I'd pull in
with 10 or more in my trailer multiple times a day. One year they took
my name and sent my family a very nice thank you note.
I too vote for the pickup truck. SInce you won't drive it often, it
doesn't have to be new or fancy - a 10 year old model found on
craigslist or whatever will serve nicely, so long as it's been well
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