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My Border Patrol Ford Raptor Is Finished, and It’s Better for the Environment than a Prius

In my office is an old printer that I purchased shortly after I opened my car dealership nearly 10 years ago. After closing my business — because I was the worst car dealer ever — I’ve kept this ancient thing, despite the fact that a replacement toner cartridge exceeds the value of a new printer. Like most things we own nowadays, it was designed to be replaced every few years. This throwaway engineering, which is filling landfills with junk, has been trickling into much more expensive items — including cars. It might not look like the most environmentally friendly thing, but my 2012 Ford F-150 Raptor should be regarded with the same esteem by environmental activists as Greta Thunburg — because this truck was built to last forever.

After months of work, my Raptor restoration is finally finished, and it’s a beautiful monument to my stupidity. Shortly after purchasing this neglected off-roader for around $7,000, I discovered that it was formerly owned by the United States Border Patrol, which explained the extreme wear and the odd features not offered on production-model Raptors. This discovery prompted me to return this truck to its Border Patrol livery with a twist — substituting the word “Hooptie” for “Border” so that this truck isn’t confused with an actual law enforcement vehicle.

Despite the change, I found that people were reluctant to pass me on the drive back from my mechanic, the Car Wizard’s shop — and that probably has something to do with all the accessories I was sent from an online parts supplier called Offroad Alliance. This included a police-style light bar with sirens, extra light bars, a rollbar, a bed cargo management system and a lift kit with some new wheels. With these upgrades, I’d be surprised if the miles per gallon of my Raptor barely gets into the double digits — but I still consider this truck to be very friendly to the environment.

In addition to installing these accessories, there were plenty of things that needed to be fixed after six years and nearly 160,000 of service protecting our Southern border — including a failing transfer case and destroyed front differential mounts. I bought the truck nonrunning, which was solved by installing a new fuel pump relay, so I was thrilled that there wasn’t more wrong with it. Still, there were plenty of other little things to fix, such as the rear doors, which were gutted to disable the interior handles (to haul detainees) and a lot of wiring issues that needed to be figured out. In total, I spent $4,659 at my mechanic, and, after new tires and a few other bits I bought myself, I nearly doubled my investment into this Raptor. Clearly, that’s a lot to spend on a beat-up old truck, but I now have a completely refreshed vehicle that is ready for reliable use immediately.

In an effort to make its vehicles more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly, Ford has recently made a lot of huge engineering mistakes. When Super Duty trucks were transitioned from the ancient 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel engine to the smaller, more efficient 6.0-liter, owners faced countless blown head gaskets — an issue so widespread that owners were stabbed in the back again with greatly diminished resale values. Equally widespread was the disastrous 5.4-liter V8 engine, which introduced a multivalve variable timing system for greater efficiency — but also frequent engine failures thanks to cam phasers that ate themselves. Perhaps the most publicized example, though, is the dual-clutch transmission catastrophe in the Fiesta and the Focus models, which was engineered to help achieve more than 40 mpg on the highway. Unfortunately, they were built so poorly that many failures eventually resulted in a massive class-action settlement between Ford and the unfortunate souls stuck with these defective machines.

Building cars isn’t the most environmentally friendly process, so when a vehicle is not engineered with longevity in mind, mpg figures matter very little. My 2012 Raptor was engineered with zero concern for efficiency. Rather, it was built to handle as much off-road abuse as possible. And based on how well this truck as held up and Raptors’ generally strong resale values, it’s safe to say that the first-generation Ford Raptor will have a very long lifespan. The inefficient dinosaur of an engine under the hood was built for the same purpose. My single overhead cam 6.2-liter V8 engine with 160,000 hard miles is thriving without the complexity of turbochargers, cylinder deactivation technology or a complicated multivalve camshaft system.

The Raptor’s simple, overbuilt theme just works — and the longer it continues to work as intended without the need for a replacement, the better I think it is, overall, for the environment. Sadly, our society doesn’t value longevity over short-term gains like mpg or the latest infotainment gadgetry. I’ve seen Prius owners who get rid of their older cars once the hybrid battery fails or when the next generation boasts more technology and a few more mpg. For first-generation Raptor owners, this isn’t a concern.

Unfortunately, the newest generation of Ford Raptor is only offered with the twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 engine, which repeats Ford’s earlier mistakes of efficiency at the expense of durability, and owners of early Ecoboost trucks are reporting lots of issues with the turbos and timing chains. So my Raptor might be one of the last “green” pickup trucks available for a long time. I plan to put mine to use saving other hoopties from getting recycled into soda cans — or helping to crush them into soda cans by running them over. Either way, it will be doing its part for the environment simply by surviving. Find a Ford F-150 for sale

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  1. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard of the 5.4L referred to as disastrous? The shops I deal with speak well of them; occasionally some of them need new cam phasers when the originals get loud, but rarely does that result in engine failure. Early ones had the spark plugs that would break off when you tried to change them, but they fixed that. Otherwise, they commonly would go do 300k miles with little issue. I put 242k on one before the company sold it and am going through 110k on another now (neither have had any issues at all).

  2. Tyler, love reading your posts and watching your videos.  1 thing though, on the first 160,000 you left out miles or hours.  Might want to fix that.

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