1 Million and Counting: Ford Retiree Hits Mileage Milestone Traveling Coast to Coast in His 2002 F-350 Super Duty
People told Gary Mueller that he should probably think about getting a new truck when his 2002 Ford F-350 Super Duty was nearing 300,000 miles.
That was more than 700,000 miles ago.
Today, Mueller says he has no plans ““ or reason ““ to retire the truck, even though it now has more than 1,020,000 miles on the clock.
The reason, Mueller says, is that his F-350 maintains its durability, reliability and comfort, along with the special bond some truck owners seem to have with their vehicles.
“This truck isn’t just a truck; it’s an extension of me,” said Mueller. “I take care of it and it returns the favor. I see no reason at all to think about retiring it.”
Mueller isn’t the only one driving a Ford F-Series truck with a lot of miles. In fact, Ford has more full-size pickup trucks on the road with at least 250,000 miles than any other automaker.
“Trucks like Mr. Mueller’s prove time and time again that Built Ford Tough is more than just a slogan; it’s a promise of proven durability and reliability,” said Doug Scott, Ford truck group marketing manager.
Mueller retired from Ford in 2000. In the six years leading up to his retirement, he worked as many overtime hours as he could while developing plans to travel North America. He invested the money in stocks with hopes to earn even more on his savings.
Then, the market crashed and Mueller lost 70 percent of his “fun money.” His travel dreams seemed to be dead.
A sliver of hope came to him one day, however, at a fast food restaurant. He bumped into a relative who told him about a friend who was seeing the country on the cheap by towing large recreational vehicle campers, or RVs, and delivering them to buyers.
After going on a test trip as a passenger, Mueller was hooked. He bought a truck and launched his new career as an RV hauler. After around 18 months, Mueller decided he needed a new truck. That’s when he bought the new 2002 Ford F-350 Super Duty with a 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 that has been his companion ever since.
Mueller travels between 600 and 800 miles most days and has been to 48 states and seven provinces in Canada. He doesn’t know how many RVs he has hauled over the years but said he has hauled about 40 through the first four months of 2011.
The RV trailers he tows start at about 11,000 pounds, a sizeable load for most pickups but not even testing Super Duty’s maximum trailer tow capability. The 2002 model F-350 Super Duty had a maximum fifth-wheel tow capability of 14,400 pounds. Showing the ever-improving nature of Ford F-Series trucks, the 2011 F-350 Super Duty has a maximum fifth-wheel tow capability of 22,600 pounds. Scott said Super Duty’s best-in-class towing capability enables Mueller to constantly haul the large RVs and sets Ford apart from competitors.
“For years we’ve had a huge advantage over the competition when it comes to towing weight,” said Scott. “That’s why if you’re going to do a job like this, there’s only one vehicle that can handle it day in and day out with confidence and that’s the Ford Super Duty.”
Mueller said that his F-350 Super Duty gets about 20 mpg when delivering RVs ““ a crucial number to him since he is responsible for most of the expenses.
“As long as I can keep getting 20 mpg, I’ll keep hauling,” Mueller said. “That’s the only way it makes economic sense.”
With its 7.3-liter Power Stroke diesel, Mueller’s truck is equipped with the first generation of the Power Stroke engine, available between 1994 and 2002. It produces 275 horsepower and 520 lb.-ft. of torque.
By comparison, the fourth-generation Power Stroke diesel ““ the 6.7-liter version introduced in the 2011 F-Series Super Duty ““ produces 400 horsepower and a whopping 800 lb.-ft. of torque.
Among the features of the prior generation engine in Mueller’s truck are direct injection and turbocharging, which help deliver improved fuel economy with the high torque required of a powerful tow vehicle. The 2011 Super Duty with the all-new 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel engine has further refined fuel injection turbocharging technology for even higher levels of efficiency.
Mueller said his driving habits also contribute to the outstanding gas mileage. He avoids fast starts and stops. If weather conditions create too much drag, he parks the truck. And he keeps the rpm near 2,000 whenever he can while generally staying between 60 and 62 mph.
“I will see the same people pass me two or three times a day,” Mueller said. “They’re going 70 or 80 mph, and have to keep stopping for fuel.”
Mueller said he also maintains the truck properly. He has had the oil changed more than 100 times and the tires have been replaced 10 times.
Mueller said another reason he has been able to log more than 1 million miles on his truck is because of its comfort level.
His truck features cloth seats along with the XLT package that includes power seats, windows and mirrors.
“I wouldn’t have been able to put so many miles on it if I was uncomfortable,” Mueller said.
Scott said other pickup trucks oftentimes force buyers to choose between capability and refinement. He said Mueller’s truck is an example of how Ford F-Series has been a leader in allowing customers to avoid this compromise and enjoy both class-leading capability and comfort.
“For people like Mueller, their trucks are their office. They spend hours and hours in their trucks, so we designed and engineered our truck interiors with that in mind,” said Scott.
Considering the Super Duty’s combination of comfort and fuel efficiency, and the way Mueller knows exactly how his truck will respond to certain conditions and driving actions, he said he hopes to continue his sightseeing while delivering those big RVs throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“I don’t think I could be any happier with a truck,” said Mueller.
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