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Old 06-29-2018, 04:44 PM   #1
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2001 3800 T444E 135k reliable??

So I'm looking at buying another bus preferably one that won't break down two hours into my trip. I'm just curious as to what kind of issues I might run into with a T444E with 135k on it. It's about 7 hours away. I've spoken with the owner and he pointed me to this one out of 8 other buses. It's a good running bus. Last it was used was in May hauling students. So anyone out with some pointers or tips?
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Old 06-29-2018, 05:12 PM   #2
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What size bus is it? I have it in my short bus, I wouldn't want it in a full size bus. It is a good reliable motor, mine has about 213k on it now and is going strong. Just consider it to be more comparable to the Cummins 5.9 than to the DT644 you have now.
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Old 06-29-2018, 05:20 PM   #3
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It's a full size bus. I understand it'll be slow and maybe underpowered and that's something I'm okay with. I don't need fast. As long as it gets me around.
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Old 06-29-2018, 05:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John22 View Post
So I'm looking at buying another bus preferably one that won't break down two hours into my trip. I'm just curious as to what kind of issues I might run into with a T444E with 135k on it. It's about 7 hours away. I've spoken with the owner and he pointed me to this one out of 8 other buses. It's a good running bus. Last it was used was in May hauling students. So anyone out with some pointers or tips?
Does he have the software/hardware to verify the mileage and hours on the engine?
If not I'd be skeptical as the gauge clusters are changed out almost as often as the tires.
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Old 06-29-2018, 06:13 PM   #5
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Does he have the software/hardware to verify the mileage and hours on the engine?
If not I'd be skeptical as the gauge clusters are changed out almost as often as the tires.
I wouldn't know I'll have to check and see.
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:38 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John22 View Post
So I'm looking at buying another bus preferably one that won't break down two hours into my trip. I'm just curious as to what kind of issues I might run into with a T444E with 135k on it. It's about 7 hours away. I've spoken with the owner and he pointed me to this one out of 8 other buses. It's a good running bus. Last it was used was in May hauling students. So anyone out with some pointers or tips?
One problem with the T444E is that it is typically bolted to a AT545 transmission. While this transmission is reliable, it is not very efficient due to lacking a torque converter locking clutch. The inevitable slip in the torque converter means that precious fuel is converted into heat instead of propulsion while cruising on the interstate. This drivetrain is a good short-haul combo but not that great of a choice if you plan to travel several ten-thousand miles.

In an International 'short nose' chassis you should check the cooling systems as soon as you get the bus. They use a split radiator where one side is for charge air cooling and the other side for the coolant. When clean and with a functional fan clutch, that systems is adequate. However, as the grime builds up and the fan clutch wears out you quickly get into a scenario where the engine overheats. The ECU will first reduce power and ultimately shut down (been there, done that).

The T444E is a great engine IMO, that deserves a better transmission and cooling system.
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:49 AM   #7
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What happened to your original bus two hours into your trip?
Something overlooked in a pre-trip inspection?

Many folks here have that same engine so would be nice to share your experience.


Thanks,


John
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Old 07-02-2018, 09:35 AM   #8
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My 97 dt466e had quite a bit of blow by and the temp Guage doesn't work in the end it blew a head gasket. So it probably overheated.
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Old 07-02-2018, 09:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by alpine44 View Post
One problem with the T444E is that it is typically bolted to a AT545 transmission. While this transmission is reliable, it is not very efficient due to lacking a torque converter locking clutch. The inevitable slip in the torque converter means that precious fuel is converted into heat instead of propulsion while cruising on the interstate. This drivetrain is a good short-haul combo but not that great of a choice if you plan to travel several ten-thousand miles.




In an International 'short nose' chassis you should check the cooling systems as soon as you get the bus. They use a split radiator where one side is for charge air cooling and the other side for the coolant. When clean and with a functional fan clutch, that systems is adequate. However, as the grime builds up and the fan clutch wears out you quickly get into a scenario where the engine overheats. The ECU will first reduce power and ultimately shut down (been there, done that).

The T444E is a great engine IMO, that deserves a better transmission and cooling system.

Can you get a better torque converter to solve this issue?
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Old 07-02-2018, 10:55 AM   #10
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Can you get a better torque converter to solve this issue?
AFAIK, the only way to fix this is to upgrade to an Allison MT643 or newer since the converter clutch gets the actuation pressure from the transmission.

Changing to a synthetic transmission fluid and going over the cooling system has improved the performance of the T444E/AT545 combo in our 26' box truck noticeably but if I have the choice again I will avoid this transmission.
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Old 07-02-2018, 11:41 AM   #11
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I have a T-444E short bus... several things about a T-444E in the summer..



as noted by others they are typicall 175 or 190 HP units.. you can get luycky and get a 210HP.. its easy to see which version the bus has.. it will be a sticker on the driver side valve cover stamped with the Horsepower.. the owner coulkd easily text you a pic of it..



the VIN will tell you the transmission.. in 2001 many different transmissions were available.. the AT545 being the most common on a 444E.. but also avbailable were MT-643, and the allison 2000 series (5 speed auto with Overdrive.. 2000s are easily identified by a shifter that has R-N-D-4-2-1). the MD3060s were available on the rear engine versions of the 444E though ive never seen one in the wild..



444Es often notoriously have bad fan clutches in them.. these busses were run as in-town route busses and run Nice and cool.. get it out on the highway and the temp will slowly creep... ive helped fix more than one like this.. esp noticeable with an AT545 trans. as the RPMs are up high all the itme on the highway.. Kit-masters makes the fan clutches new and they are a couple hundred bux.



Transmissions can be swapped but its often a rather labor and skill intensive project depoending on what you are going from and to.. I did one on my 444E a year ago and doing an MT-643 upgrade on my other bus as we speak. to see what its like to mate a 444E from an AT545 to a 6 speed dual OD auto. you can read my thread titled (redbyrd transformation).. I did the swap a year ago.. HUGE completely different bus to drive since... reliability.. my bus came with 144k miles on it and im to i think 173k now and havent yet had any engine issues.. though the injectors are getting tired. so I bought a new set of injectors that I'll be installing after my other bus trans is done. the AT545 went bad but the engine hasnt.. I did upgrade my fan clutch to an electric one with a better blade too.. and solved all of my warm-running issues.. I drive my bus lots in the hot weather so I needed it to stay cool inside and outside..



many parts on the 444E are shared with the ford Powerstroke 7.3. so parts availability is still really good with them..

-Christopher
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Old 07-02-2018, 11:58 AM   #12
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My 97 dt466e had quite a bit of blow by and the temp Guage doesn't work in the end it blew a head gasket. So it probably overheated.

Sorry to hear that John. I honestly wouldn't leave the yard without a working temp guage or any non-working guage.

You can likely get it fixed and have a good working bus. But you have to know how to look after any vehicle, not just drive them till they break.


John
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:14 PM   #13
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Sorry to hear that John. I honestly wouldn't leave the yard without a working temp guage or any non-working guage.

You can likely get it fixed and have a good working bus. But you have to know how to look after any vehicle, not just drive them till they break.


John

alot of times with Navistar you dont know.. the guages appear to work but arent accurate... for instance the temp gauge on my 444E reads cooler than what it is until it gets above 210 then it reads hot.. so my dash gauge shows 190 my engine is 200.. it shows 215 my engine is 205.. I only knew this after comparing the readings with the computer readout and shining my temperature gun at the heads.. the temperature gun agrees with the computer.. but to someone not well versed then the dash gauge appears to work normally...

-Christopher
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