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Old 12-19-2017, 09:26 PM   #1
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Ford or GMC

Don't have a time frame for getting a skoolie but keeping my eyes open (want to do a cross country road trip within next year or two and other adventures). Looking right now at two similar short buses, both are 5 window dually, same model year (2004) and are diesel. One is a Ford E450, the other is GMC-3500. The 3500 I've read a fair about the 6.5L and it's mannerisms. The 450 I'm not as well versed/educated. Any here have an opinion or advice on things to consider between the two?
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Old 12-19-2017, 09:50 PM   #2
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Hello

The popular opinion on this site seems to be for GM products over Ford. That's a popular topic so simply start throwing some questions on here. You'll likely get opinions from both sides.
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Old 12-19-2017, 10:27 PM   #3
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In 2004, Ford switched to the 6.0L diesel engine, which was plagued with problems.

From '03 back, they used the common, popular and durable 7.3 engine.
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Old 12-19-2017, 11:05 PM   #4
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The older Fords with the 7.3L diesel motor made by International may be an option. Seriously, avoid the Ford-produced 6.0 diesels.

Furthermore, I am not a big fan of Ford's accessories in their vans and trucks, regarding quality. I say this as a mechanic of 20+ years, but I admit I have worked with very few full-sized Fords or Chevy. I would never buy a Ford gas motor. And the Ford vans are a real pain to work on the motors, access being the problem. Just try to change a spark-plug on a gas one. Chevys are easier to work on, and (back in the day at least) Dodge made the best design for repairs - I could pull the heads and rebuild the motor with the block in the van; something I would never try with a Ford.

Another mechanic I talked to said he loves the Chevy diesels, as they are strong, but much quieter (especially vs. a Cummings or Cat).

For me there is not even a question. Get the Chevy, if it is nice. Avoid the Ford, unless they give it to you for under $1000 and it is also very nice. The money you save can go to fixing the motor, or you could just walk away in a few years without too much loss...

The other issue is wiring. Not a big fan of how Ford wires their full-sized trucks, and the mystery electrical problems. Can't say anything about Chevy in this regard, but the one thing I would not want is the "On-Star" system that Chevy uses, that allows them to remotely control vehicles. If that is in their commercial vehicles, I would either want it yanked, smashed, or I would buy something else. But that's me just being a privacy freak.
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Old 12-20-2017, 07:53 AM   #5
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Just to chime in..

Ford used Navistar motors for a long time and they're good motors (7.3 IDI and 7.3 Powerstroke). GM used their 6.2 and 6.5 diesels. All of these are great with the occasional well known blemish. Ford versions of the engines are usually tuned higher than the International versions. I'd say there's more debate between cutaway and medium duty chassis than there is between ford and chevy!


Of course this all ends around 2004, the 6.0 Ford (VT365) has a reputation for being a grenade.
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post


Of course this all ends around 2004, the 6.0 Ford (VT365) has a reputation for being a grenade.
If you let it overheat ... Which it might, if the cooling system isn't perfect and it's in too big a bus.
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Old 12-20-2017, 09:49 AM   #7
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Indeed, they explode when they get hot. And lots of them have gotten hot. I understand they are awesome engines if you do the "bulletproof" mod, though!
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Old 12-21-2017, 10:33 AM   #8
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Thanks All. I have been leaning towards the GMC/Chevy since there seems to be a lot more info and use. Don't have exact questions right now but do appreciate the responses. Of course since asking the GMC I was looking at isn't on Craigslist anymore but a dealer is still has a 2002 that used to be part of a limo company with "only" 125K miles
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Old 12-21-2017, 12:39 PM   #9
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There are quite a bit of issues with the 6.0 but if the engine is left stock and maintained properly (coolant changed regularly as well as oil changes, etc..) they can be fairly reliable. Our shop 550 didn't have any issues other then injectors until the 280k mark which it finally lost a head gasket (well known common issue).

The 6.5 had been in production a good long while by that point and is pretty reliable out of the box again, as long as it was maintained properly.
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