Dirt-Cheap Chevy Silverado: Good Idea, or Money Pit?

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Chevy Silverado

Chevrolet Forum member debates the merits of dropping a mere $500 on a 2004 Chevy Silverado.

Ah, cheap used trucks. They taunt us with their thriftiness and potential. But as most of us already know, this temptress also has a dark side. And it’s called unknown problems (ohhh!). Threatening our wallets and sanity, as well as the sanctity of our current relationships. But what have you got to lose otherwise? If things don’t work out, you’ve just got a cheap paperweight. And that’s the decision facing Chevrolet Forum member .

“My friend is offering his 2004 Chevy Silverado for $500. It’s got some issues, obviously, but it runs well.

Issues: 220K+ miles, tiny transmission leak (but not enough to cause puddles). Radiator fluid leaks, A/C issues, gauges on the dash don’t work, small crack in the windshield. Back driver’s window doesn’t open, tailgate doesn’t lock properly, and some minor dents.

I live in a somewhat urban area, so I don’t really need the truck. But I hope to own a home again in about a year, so it would be useful then. I’ve seen these trucks in similar condition selling for $4k-$6K. Is it worth getting for $500 with its issues? I don’t mind the issues it has except the gauges and the leaks. But other than that, I wouldn’t put much more money into it. I would just drive it until it gives out. So is it worth keeping around and driving it now and then until I can really use it? Or is it just going to be a nuisance?”

Chevy Silverado

The good thing about spending such little coin on a Silverado is that you can typically recoup your money one way or another, as  points out.

“What is the body like? Is it all dented up and rusted out? Anyway, it is worth $500 in parts. So if you have somewhere to keep it, then get it.”

And  doesn’t think that the issues are quite as bad as the OP thinks.

“Just a heads up, the water pump is easier to change than it was on the old 350s. So if the coolant leak is on the front passenger side of the engine, down low, it may be an easy fix.

As to whether to buy it or not, that’s your judgement call. Although I would advise that it will nickle and dime you if you do. Under the major assumption it was reasonably maintained and not driven too hard.”

Plus, we’re talking about five hundred bucks here. For a Silverado.

“For the most part, $500 is a steal,” says .“You can’t find running trucks for that price.”

Chevy Silverado

Of course, as  mentions, the decision isn’t as simple as one might think.

“It all comes down to how many things need fixing, how many miles it has, and how much you are prepared to spend on it. Remember that these beasts were designed to (and do) run almost forever. I bought mine with 280,000 km on it. I’ve traveled around 50,000 since then over two years, mostly towing a 5-ton 5th wheel, with no major problems (but heaps of minor ones). The little ones keep the service guys in drinks and me out of pocket, but I still love the dammed thing.”

And that might be the best advice of all. You can’t expect to buy something this cheap and not have constant, minor, nagging issues at best. At worst, it could grenade on you completely if it was abused enough. But we want to know what you think! So head over here and chime in with your advice for the OP before he plops down his hard earned Benjamins!

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Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts.

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