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Old 09-12-2009, 05:24 PM   #1
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Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

I am looking for a used work truck, 1995-2002 should fit my budget. A 3/4 ton 4x4 with a long bed. I have always driven gasoline powered trucks but I am thinking of perhaps purchasing a diesel powered pickup because the availability of a larger cab, king cab or crew cab and a 8' long bed. I know diesel trucks cost more so I may have to settle for a single cab gasoline powered truck but knowing what to look for in a diesel pickup would be helpful.

I am wondering which diesel truck engines are preferred and why?

What kind of mileage can these engines handle before they need to be rebuilt or replaced?

What fuel mileage do they get, is it up around 20 mpg?

What kind of horsepower do these truck engines produce?

What kind of maintenance do they require?

Is there any other pertinent information that would be helpful?
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Old 09-12-2009, 08:45 PM   #2
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

the best moter is a 396-402 big block chevy gasser but wait dont you already have one? I think dodge but others will comment im sure.Good luck with yer new truck abbott...timbuk by the way i really like my hemi.....
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Old 09-12-2009, 09:55 PM   #3
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

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Originally Posted by timbuk
the best moter is a 396-402 big block chevy gasser but wait dont you already have one? I think dodge but others will comment im sure.Good luck with yer new truck abbott...timbuk by the way i really like my hemi.....
Ha! Yeah, I just sold my Chevy with the big block, well I have the guy's check and I will see if it will clear on Monday. I am looking at trucks with the 7.3 diesel motor and I am wondering if that is the better diesel pickup power plant over the 6.0 and 6.3. If I go diesel I know I want a turbo no matter which power plant I go with.

I also like my Dodge pickup with it's (new model) HEMI engine although the slight delay in the power band when you put your foot in it can be annoying at times. As you know they don't respond the way the legendary 426's did as they rev up to running on all 8 cylinders.
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Old 09-12-2009, 10:26 PM   #4
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

I would go with a gas motor if I had to do it over again in my pickup. Diesels are way more expensive to repair, oil changes are more money, fuel filters are expensive and the economy isnt that great. Currently I have an 05 6.0psd that gets 13mpg no matter what I do and the 2 other F350s 6.0psd got the same. Chipping them throws off the onboard mileage calculator which is alot of the reason you see people reporting 25 mpgs. I use a 5.4 gas (160k miles) to haul a gooseneck with 10k lbs on it with no problem. It doesnt have the get up and go like the psd but its job is to pull a trailer and not to win a race. I have also had 2 F150s with 150k+ and never a single problem yet my diesel has had every injector replaced, oil leaks, egr problems etc - all of them big $$$ repairs under 100k miles. Theres a reason Uhaul went from a majority diesel fleet back to an all gas fleet. In my opinion, in the past 10 years, gas engines have become alot more reilable and diesels alot worse.
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Old 09-13-2009, 03:53 AM   #5
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

That is a tough question. I think Cummins is probably the best choice in a diesel motor in those years although the 7.3DI guys sure seem to love them. My big concern is that with the years you're looking at there is a risk of a serious failure. That's just the nature of the beast with a used vehicle.

So...despite your thread title I'm going to comment on the rest of the drivetrain and suspension. First and foremost, I would avoid the automatics in trucks of that vintage. Yes, they can be built up, but that's $$$. With the mileage you're going to be looking at it would be best just to budget for a new transmission if you decide to go automatic. The exception might be a GM truck with a 4L80E transmission. These are just the old 3 speed Turbo 400 with an external rearmounted overdrive, much the same as Dodge's 46RE is a Torqueflight 727 with an external overdrive, but GM's execution was far better and these have proven to be reliable transmissions. With the most powerful engine options only being the 6.5 turbodiesel or a 454 big block though it's easy to understand half of why they have proven to be reliable.

Ford and Dodge both used the same transfer cases in those years. I might be willing to argue that the NV271 and NV273 transfer cases are the most bulletproof light truck t-cases ever. They are rated to a higher GVWR than the old NP205's were even. An earlier Ford MIGHT have a Borg Warner case, but I don't think so. A Chevy is going to be an NV241HD I believe. It wasn't until 2001 or so that the NV261/NV263 became available AFAIK. The Chevy cases are lighter duty than the Ford and Dodge units in theory, but I haven't see failures so it must not be that big of a deal. Some GM stuff will have Borg Warner cases too if it was set up to run a PTO. No worries though, even though they aren't common they are strong.

In terms of rear axles it's a bit of a toss up. The Ford 10.5 inch "Sterling" rear is tough as nails. Dodge has always used overkill in the axle department so you're likely to get a Dana 70, Dana 70HD, or maybe even a Dana 80. You're not going to hurt them. What's scary is that the new 11.5 inch AAM axle Dodge us using is even bigger yet. A GM product is going to have the venerable 10.5 inch 14 bolt full floater assuming you are looking at an 8600 lbs GVWR truck, not a 7200 lbs GVWR truck (although the 7200 lbs trucks are a nice step between truck sizes).

On the front end you start to run into some differences. No matter what you're going to have unit bearings (hub assemblies) in those years. Ford is going to have either a Dana 50 or a Dana 60 depending on year and if it's a 3/4 or 1 ton. Neither is terrible though the Dana 50 is a bit of a bastard child. In either case you're going to have balljoints instead of kingpins like the old trucks. Also, the auto locking hubs on a Super Duty are a suckfest. At least that whole front end comes apart with a 21mm socket. A Dodge is going to have an AAM axle in those years to the best of my knowledge. They are a stout unit, as are the Dana 60's they use, but again, you have unit bearings and balljoints instead of the good stuff of yesteryear. You also will have drive flanges and a central axle disconnect instead of locking hubs. I prefer locking hubs, but Ford's automatic vacuum hubs are not what I'm talking about.

The GM stuff is the bastard child. Since the truck has IFS it's going to have a split case high pinion AAM front. The differentials don't seem to be a problem, but the axle seals will always leak even with the new seals from GM (on revision 20 or something to the design and they still don't work). The CV axles are tough as far as CV axles go, but the boots do tear and the joints do wear out. Still, I'm not sure they I find them any less reliable than the solid axles for general use than the solid axles on Ford or Dodge. They will run smoother on turns and the joints are easier to service. The killer on the GM stuff is the IFS. It wasn't until GM went to rack and pinion steering and coilovers on half tons recently that the suspension and steering problems seem to have been somewhat improved. Expect to replace balljoints frequently. Also, the tie rod ends, pitman arm, and idler arm on these trucks just flat out sucks and it will wear. Aligning them is also a lot harder than the solid axle rigs, but that's not really your concern.

If you had specific questions about anything else I'd be happy to help out as much as possible.
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Old 09-13-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

hahaha i knew the exp would be here sooner than later Abbott,WHAT HE SAID! oh yea you are gonna miss that chevy boy What year is yer hemi? i just put a air raid air cleaner on my 04 it reminds me of flippin the air cleaner cover backwards on a quadrabog I think experience says DODGE.....timbuk
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:15 PM   #7
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by timbuk
What year is yer hemi?
It's a 2007 I just hit 30,000 miles on the odometer. It's my wife's and my main vehicle. A Dodge 150 Bighorn with a 4 door cab.

If I end up going with a diesel pickup I am also leaning towards the Dodge with the Cummings engine. I like the styling of the Dodge and the Fords but that Ford 7.3 turbo Powerstroke averages around 12mpg. It's a great tow-motor truck combination but I don't do a lot of heavy towing. The two main reasons I am thinking of going with a diesel are trying to get up around 20 mpg and getting a larger cab king/crew with a full 8 foot bed.

I may still go with a single-cab gasser with an 8 foot bed or I am considering a gas king/crew cab pickup and building an 8' flat bed for it with tool boxes for sides.

I haven't found to many Chevy/GMC duramax diesel trucks around as of yet so I haven't looked into thier fuel economy and/or performance but I most likely will get around to it.

The guy who bought my Chevy (maybe) sent me a personal check from the U.S. east coast so I am heading down to his bank tomorrow to see if I can cash it. If the check is good then I will start looking for a replacement work truck. The kicker is I have a hernia operation scheduled in the next couple of weeks so that will slow down my looking for another truck. I have a few weeks to look around and make a decision.
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Old 09-13-2009, 10:18 PM   #8
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

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Originally Posted by the_experience03
That is a tough question.


If you had specific questions about anything else I'd be happy to help out as much as possible.
Thanks, that's nice of you.
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Old 09-14-2009, 11:22 PM   #9
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

you pound on the miles all right.30thou already,wow.I want to know if you like that cylinder disable stuff,my truck doesnt have it.Mind you like yourself, my wife drives it mostly until its summer and time to tow then i get my chance.I know your missin that chevy good luck with that hernia,its problaby from pumpin gas in the man trucks timbuk
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Old 09-15-2009, 06:47 PM   #10
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Re: Purchasing a used 4x4 diesel pickup, what's the best motor?

The guy from New York sent me a good check. I plan to sign and send him the title to his Chevy Cheyenne tomorrow and then clean out my items from his truck and clean it up in the next couple of days. He has asked me to hold onto the truck for the next few weeks while he makes arrangements to come pick it up.

After looking at and driving diesel pickups for the past few days I think I will go with a gasoline powered single cab pickup as a replacement for my Chevy. The fuel/money I would save at 20mph for a diesel and the convenience of the extra cab space if I went with a diesel does not seem like enough of a reason for me to purchase one.

I can tune a gasoline powered truck to get up around 15-16 mpg so the fuel saved over the 4 or so years I will drive the truck will not amount to that much money saved.
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