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Rekindling an Old Flame: Affordable Ways to Revitalize an Older Truck

I've always loved my truck, but time had brought me to a crossroads with my old 2000 Ford F-150 XLT. Maintenance and repair costs of my 22-year old pickup had started to rise, and I wondered if it was finally time for me to sell it and get a newer truck that wouldn't require so much work.

2000 Ford F-150 Pickup Truck on Nitto Recon Grappler tires

Then the Pandemic hit, new and used vehicle prices skyrocketed, and after running the numbers on buying a new (or new to me) vehicle, I realized I'd save a ton of money if I kept my old truck. With that revelation in mind, I decided if the truck was worth keeping, then it was worth some money and effort to improve and restore it.

Before photo of 2000 Ford F-150 front driver side

I started out by targeting the areas of the truck that required change and then moved on to the areas that would have the biggest visual impact and improve the overall looks.

Before photo of passenger side of 2000 Ford F-150 XLT Truck in white

Exterior Upgrades: Big Visual Impact, Low Cost Options

As is the case with most turn of the century vehicles, the paint was starting to show it's age and some of the exterior add-ons that might have been cool in 2000 were not appealing to me. I had never been in love with the hard rubber color-matched door bumper guards, or the silver pinstripe that ran the length of the either side of the truck.

REmoving the rubber door bumper guards from the side of a 2000 Ford F-150 Truck

After consulting and hiring a professional detailer, he assured me both items could be removed, and thanks to Ford's excellent paint of the time period the paint could be buffed out and a ceramic coating applied to give the exterior a few more years before it needed to be repainted. So, instead of spending thousands on a new paint job, I was able to freshen it up for about $500. My only regret was that I had not done it sooner—removing those items and buffing out the paint made a huge difference.

Freshened-Up Front Facia

Next I took a hard look at the front end. While the truck wasn't used in any commercial sense, it had always been kept outside, and been well used in various truck duties and still acted as a commuter vehicle. A few years ago while on a trip to work a truck ahead of me dropped piece of metal that bounced into the grille and left a hole. Additionally, the grille's coating was starting to change color and the headlight housings had started to turn yellow—again.

2000 Ford F-150 honeycomb grille and front facia damage

Thankfully, there are still numerous aftermarket parts vendors who support my 22 year old truck, and it wasn't hard to locate all the new front facia parts. For another few hundred bucks and a day's work I was able to replace the grille, the headlights, and chrome pieces surrounding it. 

New Front Facia, black honeycomb grille, and new headlight housings on 2000 Ford F-150

New Wheels and All-Terrain Tire Upgrade

The truck needed new tires badly and I wanted to upgrade to an all-terrain that had a more aggressive look, which checked both the boxes of "required change" and massive "visual impact," and that led me to look for a new set of wheels as well.  

Old tire vs new Nitto Recon Grappler A/T tire for my 2000 Ford F-150

After considerable research, I landed on a set of Nitto Recon Grappler all-terrain tires and Motiv Glock 427 wheels

Installing new Motiv Glock 427 Wheels and Nitto Recon Grappler tires on 2000 Ford F-150 truck

Nitto Tire just expanded the sizing for the Recon Grappler line and had the perfect size for my truck's wheel wells without the need for a lift of any kind (285/70R17), and the two-tone machined look of the Motiv wheels fit the look and style of the accents already present on the truck.

Nitto Recon Grappler all-terrain tires tread detail on Passenger side of white 2000 Ford F-150

As with any truck that's not lowered, wheels and tires make the biggest visual change, both in an updated look and the functionality of the truck. Plus, my old tires were starting to crack, and were too old to be considered safe if I chose to do any off-roading. Additionally, the old tires were more on-road oriented, and I wanted a tire that would give me more capability off-road, which is exactly what the Recon Grapplers did for my truck.

Front Passenger side of revitalized 2000 Ford F-150 on Nitto Recon Grappler A/T tires

Minor Maintenance & Repairs Make a Big Difference

There were a host of little repair items I addressed next that I had been working around because they weren't essential, but would be nice to have repaired. For instance, sometimes the turn signals didn't work. At first I thought it was a batch of bad lights, but after changing them out a few times, I figured out it was the real problem was wiring issues in the steering column connected to the turn signal switch.

New Motiv Glock wheels and Nitto Recon Grappler tires on 2000 Ford F-150

Then I repaired and replaced the missing access panel on the tailgate, and that didn't cost me anything to fix other than a few hours of effort. I also popped in new LED bulbs into the bed lights above the rear window.

Passenger side of white 2000 Ford F-150 on Recon Grappler A/T tires

An Old Flame Rekindled

In the end, I spent far less than the equivalent of a few months of a new vehicle payment, and I didn't have higher insurance or registration fees to look forward to for the next five or six years, either. While newer trucks have shiny bells and whistles that my truck doesn't have, my older truck can still do everything a new one can. And now that I've fixed all its little problems, freshened up its looks, and put more capable tires on it, I've fallen in love with my old pickup truck once again.

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