A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
The Byrd’s were correct in their ecclesiastical tune; life is a never-ceasing series of sometimes large yet often incremental changes with all things having their time and purpose. This 2000 Ford E-150 had its time and certainly had its purpose.
It’s now time to give it the opportunity to find a new home.
It’s no secret I’ve never been fond of this van. A 5,000 pound momento of some very sad, health related times in my marriage, this van has been a rolling reminder of some things I would prefer to forget. That’s why I have cursed this thing incessantly since right after purchasing it. Maybe that’s not being fair to the old beast but I suspect we all have our targets of automotive scorn. It happens.
We purchased this van in June or July of 2010. We had been shopping used conversion vans for a while as it was needed to ferry us from Hannibal, Missouri, to Bend, Oregon and back – a distance of 1,821 miles each way – for my wife to have a fairly complex abdominal surgery. It was purchased strictly to carry a post-operative woman half-way across North America. For that it served its purpose beautifully.
The couple we bought it from was retired and had only used it for traveling. They were the second owners; the original owners were also retired and had also used it only for traveling as well. The original owner sold it upon the death of her husband.
The odometer read 89,500 miles when we purchased it.
While I’ve never had an affinity for vans, this one is equipped pretty much the way I would have spec’d it if purchasing a new one in 2000; it has the 5.4 liter V8, the trailer towing package, and a light colored interior. It’s pretty easy to find some very tacky conversion vans; this isn’t one of them as it has a rather tasteful upfitting.
Upon purchase, I noticed some premature wear on the inside of one of the front tires. Taking it to an alignment shop in Hannibal (where we lived at the time), I knew the shop owner was fastidious about performing quality work.
The Twin I-beam suspension isn’t the easiest to align, he told me, but there were some metal cams that could be installed to achieve alignment, correcting the tire wear and the slight pull.
During part of the protracted period of trying to sell our house, the van was parked in my garage in Hannibal. The license had expired and the van had to pass a Missouri state safety inspection for renewing my plates. The inspection revealed a few well worn ball joints. I took the van back to the same alignment place for repairs, which is how the cam above came to be removed. The van continues to track straight and true as ever with no abnormal tire wear.
Some of Ford’s 5.4 liter engines have a reputation for puking spark plugs. This one has not, although I suspect it is a model older than the culprits. Upon purchase I replaced the spark plugs; they offered no drama and I coated the threads of the new plugs in anti-seize. These plugs are Bosch +4, the plugs that don’t need to be gapped (a big selling point) and have four electrodes in lieu of the standard one.
The plugs were touted as helping with fuel mileage. Being a van, I was never optimistic about fuel economy being noteworthy in a good way. However, when we have taken this van on trips it has been pretty typical for us to realize 18 mpg on the highway. Our best tank ever was a mind-blowing 19.5 mpg. No doubt those in some parts of the world are in disbelief how I can be so happy about this, but for one of these vans this is pretty phenomenal.
Before leaving on our trip to Oregon I replaced the front brake pads. The brake shoes in the rear looked nearly new. At that time I also replaced the fuel filter and installed a reusable K&N air filter. For these conical filters, there was only a $5 difference at the time for the disposable paper vs one of these. Since the paper was $45 (!), I went with the K&N.
The van now has 115,000 miles on it. I just took this picture today, November 15.
We had the rear differential serviced with new fluid at around 105,000 miles.
This past spring I replaced the radiator hoses and the PCV valve. I only replaced the PCV valve due to mileage; there was no appreciable difference between the new and old in appearance.
Until just over a year ago, this van has always been parked inside – and that includes prior to our ownership. It did sit outside for about five months before we sold our house in Hannibal and since the purchase of our current house it has not had enough rank to be parked inside. The paint looks great and the headlights are not yellowed.
The body is in great shape, but it isn’t perfect. The biggest imperfection came from me and a parking lot bollard. In nearly thirty years of driving, I have backed into fixed objects four times. Using three different vehicles to do so, I suspect there is a commonality as all were Ford vans.
There is one minor, yet irritating, quirk about the van. In colder weather, after having sat for a while, the accelerator pedal will offer some resistance when taking off from a stop. I’ve seen this in other Fords of similar vintage, such as our 2001 Taurus. I’ve squirted lubricant down into the accelerator cable but to no avail. That said, I haven’t experienced this yet since the weather has turned cooler.
We have driven this van to seventeen states in our time owning it. It has given us zero problems, always being as reliable as the sun rise. As she sits at this moment I would not hesitate to drive it anywhere in North America. Yet, with two drivers and four vehicles, we simply haven’t been driving it. Oil changes have become an annual event with last years annoying me as it had all of 770 miles put on it in twelve months. It’s on tap to do the same thing this year too.
When a person is spending more than $1 per mile of usage for insurance during most months, it’s a good sign a vehicle isn’t being used. That’s where we are at. This van has given us zero problems (other than the ball joints at around 100k) in six years and in that regard we hate to part with it. However, it’s pointless to keep paying insurance and license on a vehicle that isn’t being utilized.
That’s the primary reason why we have decided to sell it.
Here’s a cold start from earlier today.
Despite my having bad-mouthed this van for a mighty long time, you now know why and I will freely admit it is a good vehicle. However, the lifestyle of my wife and I simply don’t mesh with this van’s strengths. From our searching for a decent van six years ago, finding one that hadn’t been dipped in nasty was a trick. If a person is looking for a good travel vehicle, this is a prime one. We’ve taken care of it and its appearance betrays its age in a very good way.
If interested, please contact me at email@example.com and we can discuss further.