My Tips for owning or buying a deuce in Utah

Valence

Well-known member
Steel Soldiers Supporter
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129
63
Location
Davis County, UT
Let me share with you a few things that I've learned with owning a deuce in Utah.

Please note, the following are my opinions and experiences and may still contain inaccuracies, please call the appropriate agencies or visit their websites to verify for yourself.

  • Don't forget insurance
    • I've found that many companies will not insure my Deuce and a Half (Geiko, American Family Insurance, Travelers, Farmers, etc) Allstate said they could, but it would be through a "sister company". I wasn't comfortable with that arrangement so I went with a local State Farm office.
    • Because of the weight, State Farm would only insure it under a Commercial policy, which is about double rates, however, they let me suspend my insurance for up to 6 months. I do so during the winter months so the salt-brine on our roads won't rust my awesome truck further.
      • VERY IMPORTANT: Please be aware that if you suspend the insurance on a currently registered vehicle longer than 90 days, you will be sent a letter from Insure-Rite (Insure-Rite Home), stating that the records show that you have a registered vehicle WITHOUT insurance. Somehow, with no proof of wrong doing, your registration may be legally REVOKED or you may be FINED $100. You need to call the number in the letter and let them know the vehicle is SEASONAL use only.
    • I recommend the higher 100/300 liability insurance because, well, regardless at who is at fault, in an accident you likely won't be the biggest loser...
  • Registration
    • I had absolutely no problems registering my 1972 M35A2, using the serial number found on the top of the driver's side frame rail, above the front axle - this is the one you should use because sometimes it doesn't match the data plate in the cab. Bonus if they do match! This was necessary for me because I had to get a title since this was the first time my truck was registered. If it already has a title, well, you probably don't need to worry about that... or maybe you do. I'd still check to see which number the truck has been titled with, who knows if that'll cause problems?
    • I opted to register my truck for about 18,000 lb gross, because I do not expect to haul more weight than that (that's about 4,000 to 4,500 additional pounds), but I wanted the option to legally do so. This weight costs about $150 (total registration fee).
    • Vehicles only need to be at least 30 years old to qualify for Vintage plates and registration. However, there are ambiguous restrictions that apply (such as: Only used for occasional transportation, is primarily a collector's item and used for Events, Parades, Shows, and Public Display). I wasn't comfortable with "fuzzy" laws, however, I do agree with many on Steel Soldiers that state "Whenever I drive my deuce, it's on public display!" - this is because so many people (even police officers) will go out of their way to talk to you and ask you "Why?" or "What do you do with it?" questions.
  • Utah Safety Inspection
    • This one has been the hardest for me, not because the truck has trouble passing our many, many laws, but because many shops will try to get extra money out of you, or require modifications that by law, you do not need to do.
    • You will need a licensed "Heavy" inspector since the braking system is Air Assisted, and they'll probably place a 2"x3" sticker in the corner of your Driver's windshield or side window.
      • My first experience with this problem was King's First Stop Auto in Layton, UT (the fellow told me I didn't have front brakes !?!) he also told me that he'd need to take off the tires from a rear axle to check the brakes. This would break the hub seal and then a new gasket would be needed and I would incur at least $160 in shop labor and parts. And I would need to do that every year for a $17.00 safety inspection? NO THANK YOU.
      • I then had Boyce Equipment in Ogden do my safety for the first two years that I owned my truck. A very long story short, their inspector staunchly insisted that my M35A2 required additional running lights on the front fenders and rear of the bed, clearance lights on top of the hard top cab, and a light bar on the back center of the bed. He absolutely, 100% positively, refused to listen to reason or call the Utah Department of Public Safety Admin (801-965-4461). I cannot stress to you more that those modifications are not required for a personally owned truck not used for commercial purposes (it may be if you plan to use the truck commercially, you'll have to check). Both the Department of Public Safety Admin and an in-person visit by a county Trooper confirmed this for me.
      • I recommend finding a diesel repair shop that works on fleet trucks, such as Transtech Diesel in Clearfield, UT. The owner there informed me that you can check the rear brakes from looking behind and under the truck and you do not need to pull off any tires (FYI: To inspect the front brakes, there is an inspection port held on with a single nut that is accessible from the exterior of the front wheels).
    • By Utah Law, you will need to install a license plate light. I bought this 24v one: Licence Plate Light, 1-60151
      • I mounted a metal plate and the light to the 2 bolts that hold the Driver's side tail light, and I piggy backed off the wiring there so that the license plate light is powered when I have my headlights on.
  • Weigh Stations?
    • I'm no professional driver, and was concerned/confused that the sign for weigh stations would say "All Vehicles 10,000 lb+ gross exit". I have personally called the weigh stations in Southern and Northern Utah, and a weigh station in each of our neighboring states: Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Each weigh station told me the same thing, that only commercial vehicles need to worry about exiting.
  • Need a CDL or a different class to drive a Deuce and a Half?
    • In Utah you do not. Your regular Class D driver's license is sufficient. My deuce specifies it has a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of about 23,500 lbs, I only pay the registration fees up to about 18,000 lbs. A CDL (or Class C) is for commercial vehicles and vehicles above 26,000 GVW.
    • Cool chart: Utah Department of Public Safety
    • You also do not need to worry about keeping some sort of log book or fuel tags/stickers.
  • Local restrictions?
    • I strongly suggest calling your City office or local police station and asking if there are any vehicle restrictions. Things that may be restricted (ideas to ask about) are: Weight, height, width, length, noise, and even the number of axles. It all depends on how the law/ordinance is written.
    • Talk to you neighbors, or be on good grounds with them. If you're not on favorable terms, buck up, approach them and see if the disagreement can be settled. If you're already having problems with them you wouldn't want to add more salt to the wound or give them "undo noise!!" or "unsightly blemish!" to complain about. Tell them of your interest in these cool, and historic, service vehicles. Tell them how you do not wish to cause them inconvenience or irritation and apologize if you need to leave early in the morning.

You may feel differently about Deuce ownership than I do, but I had to go through all that legal research first, as I didn't want to get in over my head or be surprised later by some major requirement or stopping block that would impede or greatly diminish my enjoyment of owning such a cool, fun, and historic truck!

I can only mention the basics that you'll probably, already know to look for. The truck may drive and run, but here's a few other things that may cause you heartache later:


  • Check the color of the fluids
    • Black oil? or when was the last time it was changed?
    • Brown Anti-freeze? or when was the last time it was changed?
    • Check the batteries. Typically these trucks do a lot of sitting, so check for corrosion on the battery terminals and the fluid level in 'wet' batteries. Bring a multi-meter to to check their at rest voltage level.
    • Open up the fuel tank cap and take a flash light to it, do you see floaters? Is there excessive leaking around the lifter on the tank?
    • In the lower passenger front, there's the primary fuel filter that has a little drain valve on the bottom. Can you open it and drain a bit of fuel? Do you see water/grime?
    • Behind the driver's side of the cab, inside the frame rail are the air tank reservoirs. Try to open both of them and see what comes out. Oily air? May have a valve going bad in the air pump or something wrong with the brakes. Some Water? Normal. Excessive water? Not normal, and may indicate that the tanks haven't been properly drained much. Rusty water? Maybe water sat in the air tanks for a long period of time. Remember, air is need to properly stop the truck!
    • Does the hand/park brake work? Will it hold the truck on an incline?
    • How well does it shift? How much free travel is there in the clutch? I believe the "Multi-fuel Operator" manual states that there should be 1.5" - 2", to be adjusted correctly.
    • The truck may or may not have a cab heater installed, if it does, does it work?
    • Likely the truck will have air-operated wind shield wipers. They can be operated manually or via air. They may need to function independently via air to pass safety.

Also of interest: the Utah Military Vehicle Club.
 

Valence

Well-known member
Steel Soldiers Supporter
2,004
129
63
Location
Davis County, UT
I got tired of paying so much money for the deuce when I barely drove it 100 miles last year. So I registered it as an "Antique", which does NOT require a safety inspection or emission test. When doing so I was informed at the DMV that I would need to place a "Statement of Truth" in my vehicle. This document was explained to me as a paper that I've signed stating that I certify that the vehicle is safe to operate legally on the road. I have not verified if this is truly needed or yet more DMV misinformation

I also changed from State Farm's outrageous commercial liability only insurance, which was about $325 every 6 months. (Note: because of the Deuce's weight, the commercial policy was the only one they would insure the truck under). I finally found a collector car insurance that would give me a little more freedom in my use of my deuce. I am now insured through Continental Western Group Collector Car Insurance (http://www.cwgcollectorcar.com/). I find that paying their "Special Use" premium was exactly what I had been looking for. Such as driving my deuce on occasional trips to work, carrying people in a local Independence Day parade and etc. There are still a list of restrictions and requirements, but I was able to meet them all, however, this may not be right for everyone. Though for me, it was nice to reduce my insurance costs from $325 every 6 months to $122 annually, while also getting full coverage and limited tow reimbursements!
 
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