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walterj
walterj Dork
8/31/09 4:29 p.m.

I am beginning the process of searching for a replacement tow vehicle. I plan to buy "the last truck I'll ever need" so I figure a diesel is one way to ensure good towing and long life but I have no idea which are good or bad and/or why.

Commence discussion on which is the best 4x4, crew cab, non-dually diesel truck regardless of year or cost except that it has to be less than say... $20k used. It should also be cheap to maintain/replace the parts that won't do 500k miles like the motor. Which transmission and driveline can hold up to all that torque... etc.

JFX001
JFX001 Dork
8/31/09 4:32 p.m.

I'd say a 2001 or earlier Ford F-250 CC shortbed. 7.3 Powerstroke.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla HalfDork
8/31/09 4:35 p.m.

Driveline: D-max/Allison. No other combo.

walterj
walterj Dork
8/31/09 4:39 p.m.
JFX001 wrote: I'd say a 2001 or earlier Ford F-250 CC shortbed. 7.3 Powerstroke.

Can you expand on that? Why pre-2001? Why Ford?

I'm not really up on my trucks... other than I hate to drive them unless they are doing real work. I'm looking for an appliance that pulls/hauls stuff and plows snow, every time I ask it to forever without complaint. Since I don't know anything about them I am looking for the story that goes with the recommendation too.

Cotton
Cotton Reader
8/31/09 4:40 p.m.
JFX001 wrote: I'd say a 2001 or earlier Ford F-250 CC shortbed. 7.3 Powerstroke.

They put the 7.3 in them up until mid 2003 I think. This is a very good choice. I had a 99 F250, 4x4, 7.3, etc. It was a very nice truck and I never had a problem with it, but I prefer a dually towing, so sold it. I tow with a 2wd Dodge dually now, which will probably be sold soon for a 4wd dually......I'm tired of getting stuck.

btp76
btp76 Reader
8/31/09 4:57 p.m.

12 valve mechanical injected Cummins - but the closest truck you can get it in is the 1/2 year only early 98 extended cab with those suicide half doors. Mid year 98 went to 24 valve. I'm wrestling with the same issue. I was working on an 82 4wd Chevy crew that I made into a shortbed. I have all the parts, but no money to finish it now. For the time being I've got a wrecked cummins swapped 88 F350 that'll give up it's drivetrain for a 92 - 96 crew cab F350.

racerboy000
racerboy000 New Reader
8/31/09 5:01 p.m.

diesel land cruiser

Toyman01
Toyman01 HalfDork
8/31/09 5:12 p.m.

Cummings diesel. Having driven both, and towed with both, get the Dodge for the engine or the Ford for the truck. The Dodge pulls better. Fords seem to have problems with fuel leaks. I have three friends with Fords, all of them chase fuel leaks. Dodges just feel cheap. My father and my uncle have Dodges. They'll pull hell off the hinges, but don't slam the door. Makes the whole truck shake. I would buy the Dodge.

Edit: No experience with the Chevy. Not sure I have ever even seen one down here with a diesel.

thedude
thedude Reader
8/31/09 5:36 p.m.

Hilux

edit: duh

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
8/31/09 6:46 p.m.

http://www.fordcummins.com/ one of those cause dodge trucks are horrendous.

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
8/31/09 6:50 p.m.
walterj wrote: cheap to maintain

and diesel does not compute... Understand this before jumping in on one..

Nashco
Nashco SuperDork
8/31/09 6:55 p.m.

walterj, it might be worth mentioning what your repair and performance expectations are. Also, are you willing to toss together a few custom bits to get this forever truck? For example, an old mechanical injection 6.5 turbo diesel GM is super cheap and easy to maintain, but will likely require more maintenance than a newer truck simply due to age. It also won't have the power, cleaner emissions, and driveability of a newer diesel. As mentioned a Duramax + Allison in the newer GM trucks is a great powertrain combo and easy enough to find what you're looking for, but when you do have those rare problems they can get really expensive. The Cummins engine in a slightly older Dodge is a good combo too, if you expect your truck to be a truck, that is.

As you'd expect, people could argue Ford vs. GM vs. Dodge until the cows come home. I suggest you go check out the trucks and compare things before you believe much of what you read...while some might say the interior on X or the suspension on Y is absolutely horrible, you might think it's just fine. Also, while some might say the power of Z is worth the extra money, you might think it's more power than you want and save the extra money to pay for future repairs or improvements otherwise.

Bryce

Mazdax605
Mazdax605 Reader
8/31/09 7:13 p.m.

12 valve Cummins,preferably with a manual transmission. NV4500 is a solid trans,and can hold the torque of the Cummins. I sold my 92 Cummins manual D250 club cab at 260k miles,and it ran great. I miss that truck a lot.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve SuperDork
8/31/09 7:18 p.m.

+1 on the 12v Cummins. I operated 2 that were routinely worked hard, beat and abused and put away wet. No problems with the motor on either, just change the oil from time to time. I pulled these 4000 pounds trailers coast to coast many times over:

When I left, they had a half-million miles between them.

walterj
walterj Dork
8/31/09 9:01 p.m.
ignorant wrote:
walterj wrote: cheap to maintain
and diesel does not compute... Understand this before jumping in on one..

Well, I guess that needs some definition... When I said cheap - I meant things like ball joints, pitman arms, rotors, pads etc that wear out before major driveline components. Aside from a lot of oil and fuel filters... what other major cost is there I am not expecting? Glow plugs? 'splain please.

Ian F
Ian F HalfDork
8/31/09 9:59 p.m.

well, an oil change in a 12v Cummins takes 3 gallons of oil... you'll need to change the fuel filter much more religiously than in a typical gasser... damn leaky injector rails... thing smells like... well, a truck... my neighbors hate me when I start up at 5:30 in the morning...

walterj
walterj Dork
8/31/09 10:44 p.m.
Ian F wrote: well, an oil change in a 12v Cummins takes 3 gallons of oil...

So... its just like my 3.6L 911 then. So, nothing crazy - just more of the same stuff.

curtis73
curtis73 HalfDork
8/31/09 11:24 p.m.
ignorant wrote:
walterj wrote: cheap to maintain
and diesel does not compute... Understand this before jumping in on one..

I get so frustrated with this misconception. Sure, a diesel takes more oil, and a failed injector pump might cost $600, but I wish people would stop looking at the short term! I was in charge of maintenance of a fleet of hundreds of vehicles for a fleet that belonged to a utility company. The fleet included gas and diesel from all three trucks. Hands down, without exception, diesel truck investments keep more money in your pocket than gas. Period. Cost to maintain might be a tiny bit higher, but when you consider the HUGE fuel savings and the monumental resale value difference, its a no-brainer. Not to mention, we were struggling to keep our gas engines alive at 180k miles, but diesels were hardly breaking a sweat at 300k (not to mention that a 300k diesel is still worth more on the open market than a 180k gas).

Don't look at the "3-gallon oil change," look at the long-term wallet effect and you'll see. In my 5 years in fleet maintenance, every single diesel vehicle (with three 6.0 powerstroke exceptions) kept more money in our pockets than the gas vehicles. There was never a single gas vehicle that had a lower cost of ownership than any of our diesels. That includes purchase price, maintenance cost, repair, everything. We could buy a gas vehicle for $20k, use it for 150k miles, and sell it for $6k on the average. We could buy a diesel vehicle for $25k, put 300k on it, and still sell it for $8-10k.

I personally bought a 95 powerstroke as my personal vehicle for $10,400 with 44k on the ticker in 2000. I drove it towing a 10,000 lb travel trailer for another 60k while we full-timed in our RV. During the course of the 3 years I owned it, it was hit twice; once denting the driver's side door, cab, and bed, the other denting the rear bumper and tailgate. I collected $3100 in insurance checks, but never repaired the vehicle. I sold it for $7100. I basically broke even on a truck that I beat to death for 3 years.

Take a look online at the percentage of diesel truck purchase price vs. selling price compared to a similar gas truck. Then compare the approximate 30% fuel savings you have over that life to the magical "3-gallon oil change" that everyone says is so terrible. Now compare the same 300k-mile diesel to a 300k-mile gas truck. Compare how many spark plugs, fuel pumps, MAF sensors, catalysts, and downright longblocks you have to go through to make that gas truck last for 300k to the lack of all of the above it took to get the diesel to last that long. Then consider that a gas truck with 50k on a reman longblock is worth about one quarter what a diesel truck of the same vintage is, and its so ridiculous to think that a diesel costs more to own.

Keep your precious 6-quart oil changes. While you suck down gasoline at 12mpg, I'll keep my 23 mpg and resale value. Not to mention when I burn fuel that I made in my garage from free waste oil and 45 cents worth of lye and methanol while saving the environment, I can safely thumb my nose at your wimpy little big block. You keep making 350 lb-ft of torque, I'll take my 600 lb-ft along with my 3-gallon oil changes.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
8/31/09 11:48 p.m.

Cummins is a great engine in a crappy vehicle. Not a bad choice if you like replacing transmissions frequently.

BY FAR the pre 2003 F-250 7.3L Powerstroke. My daily driver has 400,000 miles on it, and I don't plan on stopping driving it before 1,000,000 miles.

Don't buy an '04 or later. That's when Ford introduced the 6.0L Powerstroke (which was introduced for the sole purpose of putting the 7.3L out to pasture, since it was bullitproof, and Ford couldn't make any money on repairs for the darned thing).

Ask any farmer. F series trucks are the #1 selling vehicle in the US for 35 consecutive years. That makes them REALLY easy to get parts and have work done.

And I'm a Chevy guy. But my work truck workhorse appliance is an F-250.

ignorant
ignorant SuperDork
9/1/09 4:34 a.m.
curtis73 wrote:
ignorant wrote:
walterj wrote: cheap to maintain
and diesel does not compute... Understand this before jumping in on one..
I get so frustrated with this misconception.

sorry boss.. I worked in warranty and product development for the Big C.... Misconception, maybe to you, not to me. After you've had a customer go through 3 pumps cause they all suck wind............

edit: I didn't provide proper backup information and my answer was kinda terse. So here goes. The biggest enemy of a diesel pickup is the 50 year old guy who buys one as an ego boost and drives like a granny everywhere. Sure if you drive loaded or get her hot repeatedly you'll stack up miles like crazy. Daily Driver lightly driven trucks are generally moneypits once they get to a certain mileage, and the with the newest generation of trucks, that mileage is quite low. Therefore, it is not a misconception that a diesel is more expensive than a gasser. To 90% of the poeple out there, it is.

walterj
walterj Dork
9/1/09 7:40 a.m.

OK, so... the question comes down to: Do I fit the demographic of good candidate for a diesel? I looked at length of life and huge towing capacity - and I tend to agree with Curtis's observation that people don't do the math over time but there is some argument to be made that for certain usage it won't make sense. I live in the cold and there will be a lot of times where it won't get hot before I park it. There are days where I'll forget to run the block heater and have to wait for it to warm up before I can leave... typical use for me is:

  • towing 20' box trailer full of race car and tools, 10-15x per year (7000+ lbs loaded)
  • minimum unladen drive 130 miles one way when a car is unavailable
  • local hauling for short mileage to carry tires, mulch, home improvement supplies and whatever else is too dirty, big or heavy to haul in a car.
  • driving in foul weather, possibly armed with a snow plow
  • camping, ATV in the back.

Otherwise its parked.

Truthfully, my Tundra does all of this right now and really only struggles with the load of the trailer going up long mountain climbs. My goal was to replace it with a very long lived, value-holding appliance that could do everything well and drink as little as possible doing it.

RossD
RossD HalfDork
9/1/09 7:57 a.m.

So what are the specific years and engines and combos of the all the different trucks to stay away from? It appears the 6.0 Powerstroke is to be advoided? Anything else? One thing my dad likes to mentions is that the Dodge and the Ford have solid axles up front where as the Chevy does not; less things to break and wear out on a solid axle.

curtis73
curtis73 HalfDork
9/1/09 8:21 a.m.

94-97 powerstrokes are bulletproof, but you'll need occasional glow plug relays and one cam position sensor. 99-03 powerstrokes are the same basic design, but they add an intercooler which is nice if you're going to up the power. 04-later powerstrokes have little to write home about.

Early Cummins (rotary pump) are fine, but the transmissions tend to suck. Pre-98.5 Cummins have the P7100 inline pump and are widely considered the best thing since sliced bread.

Chevy 6.2/6.5 are fair, but not up to snuff. Just avoid them. Not nearly as HD as the others. The Duramax/Allison is quickly nipping at the heels of the Cummins in terms of customer appreciation, especially since Cummins went to the 6.7L. Its not that the 6.7L is bad by any stretch, but its kinda like "new coke." The original was appreciated so much by so many that its hard to change even if it is an improvement.

You are certainly not at the point where you need a diesel, but you are certainly at the point where it is a huge benefit. You'll find that the newer diesels warm up just as fast as gas eliminating most of the concerns that were a problem for commuter diesels in the past

doc_speeder
doc_speeder New Reader
9/1/09 8:23 a.m.

My dad has a 2003 D-max that is coming up on 350,000 km. He's had it for the last 80k or so. The truck is solid, and it's been pretty much trouble free. No powertrain trouble at all. However, the injectors were replaced just before he bought it, which was the reason he bought it.
He uses it as his daily driver, and it pulls his 31' RV 5th wheel with ease. Unloaded he gets 25+ mpg (imperial gallon, divide by 1.2 to get pretty close to US MPG).

Cotton
Cotton Reader
9/1/09 8:55 a.m.
SVreX wrote: Cummins is a great engine in a crappy vehicle. Not a bad choice if you like replacing transmissions frequently. BY FAR the pre 2003 F-250 7.3L Powerstroke. My daily driver has 400,000 miles on it, and I don't plan on stopping driving it before 1,000,000 miles. Don't buy an '04 or later. That's when Ford introduced the 6.0L Powerstroke (which was introduced for the sole purpose of putting the 7.3L out to pasture, since it was bullitproof, and Ford couldn't make any money on repairs for the darned thing). Ask any farmer. F series trucks are the #1 selling vehicle in the US for 35 consecutive years. That makes them REALLY easy to get parts and have work done. And I'm a Chevy guy. But my work truck workhorse appliance is an F-250.

The auto tranny was rebuilt in my 95 Cummins Dodge before I bought it and it was built right. Do the transmission once right and you'll be fine.

I loved my Ford F250, but sold it for two reasons. The Cummins just flat out pulled it and the Dodge was a dually. If both were duallys it would have been a hard decision. I've never driven the duramax/allison combo, but will before I buy my next tow rig I will. They look great on paper

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