Little boys dream about the. Men have written songs about them. Almost every guy remembers their first — pickup truck, that is.
Owning and driving a pickup truck is almost a rite of passage for many men.
There is something about sitting high behind the wheel while driving down an open highway, or hauling rock or gravel on muddy roads then washing and polishing it up to take your favorite girl dancing on a Saturday night.
One of his own
Jeffrey Fiegenschuh wanted to own and drive a pickup truck since he was a little boy. He finally fulfilled that wish a couple of years ago when he took the job as Windsor Heights city administrator.
“I was living and working in Princeton, Ill., at the time, and I had just purchased it when I got this job,” says Fiegenschuh. “It really came in handy when I moved here. It allowed me to pack and haul a lot of items.”
Fiegenschuh owns a 2010 Ford F-150 Supercrew XLT with 4×4 drive. He says it was almost brand new when he bought it in 2012 with just 700 miles on it.
“It now has 60,000 miles on it, but it still runs and drives great,” he says.
Fiegenschuh’s love of pickups began as a young boy while growing up in Nebraska.
“I think it is a Midwestern thing for boys to own and drive a pickup,” he says. “I was certainly no exception. I wanted a pickup to drive around like many of my friends.”
Circumstances prevented Fiegenschuh from owning a pickup until just a couple of years ago.
“Now I got one,” he says. “My goal is to take good care of it and maintain it regularly so I can drive it for a long time.”
Fiegenschuh says he changes the oil when he is supposed to and wants to get an undercoated treatment to prevent rust damage caused by the salt solution used on the highways in the winter.
By doing the required maintenance, Fiegenschuh says he hopes to have his truck in good running shape for years and miles to come.
“Years ago, people thought about junking a vehicle when it reached 100,000 miles,” he says. “Vehicles today can go another 100,000-200,000 miles and still be in good running shape with proper maintenance. My goal is to have at least have 400,000 on my truck before I think about getting rid of it.”
Fiegenschuh’s truck has a 5.6 liter V-8 engine — not the greatest for gas mileage.
But, says Fiegenschuh, his truck can run on E85 fuel, a mixture of 15 percent regular gas and 85 percent ethanol.
“It does cost me a little less at the pump using the E85 fuel as opposed to regular gasoline,” he says. “That helps with keeping the fuel costs down. I also rarely engage the 4×4 feature because it uses more gas when I use it.”
Still, he says, the truck has a 30-plus gallon capacity, and it does cost quite a bit to fill it up.
“That is the major drawback of owning and driving a truck like this, but at the same time, it’s something I can live with,” he says.
The inside of his truck features a six-disc CD player, and MP3 and Bluetooth connections.
“The only thing it doesn’t have is a built in GPS,” he says. “The crew cab allows me to take family and friends on trips, and they can ride comfortably back there.”
Fiegenschuh says the next major purchase he has to make for his truck is getting new tires, and that purchase will also help improve the gas mileage.
“I always wanted a pickup,” he says. “Now I got one; I am keeping it as long as I can.”
Where others can’t go
“I have been driving trucks ever since 1976 — nearly all my life,” says Jim Berg of Windsor Heights. “I just prefer driving a pickup over a car.”
Berg is leasing a 2012 Ford F-150 Supercrew cab with 4×4 drive. For him, owning a truck is an essential element of his job with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department. He helps communities recover from natural disasters such as tornadoes, flooding and severe ice storms.
“My pickup will allow me to go to areas I couldn’t reach with a car,” he says. “We have government cars to drive when we are going to meet with city or county officials, but there are times I need a higher wheelbase than what a car has.”
Berg’s pickup has everything a truck owner could want. First, the full crew cab means his family members, friends and co-workers can ride along with him in comfort, even on long trips.
The mileage is pretty good, too.
“I get around 18-21 miles to the gallon on the highways and a little less than that in the city, maybe 12-14 miles to the gallon,” he says.
The truck’s springs and suspension are sturdy enough to haul big loads, says Berg, but not so stiff that it affects the ride of the truck.
“Pickups were first made to haul loads,” says Berg. “They weren’t necessarily made for riding comfort. But the engineers over the years have really improved things to where a truck can handle a heavy load, but still ride nice and smooth.”
Bert says he has driven his truck to Memphis several times to visit his daughter.
“Smooth as glass,” he says about his truck’s performance on the road. “I have never felt beat up after a long trip in this pickup like I have in some of the previous trucks I have owned.”
There are a lot of comforts on the inside as well. The truck has leather seats that, with a turn of a dial, can be heated or cooled depending on the season. It has a sunroof so he can experience that “open air” feeling while driving down the highway
His truck also has Sirius satellite radio, in addition to AM/FM. It has Bluetooth connection so he can conduct business for his work over the phone without having to take his hands off the wheel. He can also hook up his iPod and listen to songs over the radio.
“It’s pretty luxurious,” Berg says. “This sure beats the first pickup I owned back in 1976. Like I said, I have owned and driven a lot of different kinds of pickups over the years. This, by far, is the best I have ever driven.
“I guess I just wanted to treat myself when I got this truck.”
Looks like it’s broken
Sometimes Craig Becker of Windsor Heights will find a note on his truck after a day of shopping. He laughs each time.
“They think my truck is unsafe to drive,” he says. “That’s because they see the back wheels turned inward or outward at odd angles, and they think the axle must be broken.”
But having back wheels turned at a different angle instead of being straight is normal for a truck that has quadra drive or quadra steer technology like Becker’s 2003 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 HD has.
“It’s useful to have sometimes,” says Becker.
Becker purchased his truck in 2005. At the time, it had 36,000 miles. It now has 76,000 miles, an average of less than 5,000 per year.
“I work in Windsor Heights, and my daughter goes to school just down a couple of blocks to the Windsor Heights Elementary School,” says Becker. “I don’t put on a lot of miles on it during the week. Most of the miles come from taking one or two long trips a year.”
And since he doesn’t put a lot of miles on his truck, Becker says he only fills it up with gas once every three or four weeks.
“It has a six liter engine and gets maybe 12-13 miles to a gallon in the city,” says Becker. “That’s not real great, but I don’t have to put gas in as much since I don’t drive it all that many miles.”
One of the things Becker likes about the truck is its payload capacity. He’s done a lot of remodeling to his home, and even some landscaping.
“My truck can haul up to 3,000 pounds,” he says. “It came in real handy last year when I put in several trees in the backyard.”
Despite its toughness, Becker says his truck is a smooth ride. It’s posh on the inside as well with a Bose CD player among other things.
“My daughter can plug in her headset in the back and listen to her CDs while my wife and I can listen to what we want on the radio,” he says.
Becker says he plans on keeping his truck for six years when his youngest daughter, Kelsey, graduates from high school.
“It will be barely broke in when I sell it,” says Becker with a smile.