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Old 01-13-2010, 08:57 PM   #1
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How do we all feel about the T444E?

Ok, so I am getting pretty close to owning my forst bus. I have looked at a few in the past couple weeks and the most recent is a 1995 International 3800 series with a T444E 7.3 V8. It has an automatic tranny, though I dont know which one. All 6 tires are in good condition. Barely any smoke on startup or after it was warmed up. It has hydraulic brakes, which I think I prefer only because I am familiar with them. The bus company wannts 1800 including delivery. I figure this is pretty decent considering they were asking 3500. So what does everybody think about the whole deal?

Thanks in advance,
Eric
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:46 PM   #2
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Re: How do we all feel about the T444E?

The T444E was a very popular engine in school buses and medium trucks for most of the 90s. If properly maintained, they'll run for a long time. Don't expect a lot of power, particularly with the Allison AT545 (a 1995 most likely has this transmission). I like the 444s, but I prefer the inline 6s in an International (DT466, DT408, DTA360). 444s aren't known for being the best to start in cold weather. If you need to take the bus out in the winter, make sure you plug in the block heater the night before. Sometimes it helps to cycle the glow plugs a few times (key on, wait for the "wait to start" light to go out, then turn the key off and repeat 2-3 times before finally starting) when it's really cold out. Always let it warm up for a couple minutes before driving, and it's usually best to let it idle for 3-5 minutes before shutting off (better for the turbo to slow down after being revved up).

That's a decent price, buses with that engine/tranny/brake combo go for about the same at auction in this area. Just be very careful about rust, road salt in this area is hell on any vehicle. You might be able to find some better choices at a bus auction, maybe even get a rear-engine with the same engine/tranny/brakes for the same price.
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:53 PM   #3
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Re: How do we all feel about the T444E?

Well thanks for the info guys. I think Im going to bite the bullet and get the bus tomorow. All I wanted to hear is that that motor is not a total failure, which i guess its not. It did start right up in 15 degree weather which was nice. And it only has 120k miles on it. Ill update and start a new thread if i do end up getting it.

Thanks everyone!
-Eric
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:16 PM   #4
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Re: How do we all feel about the T444E?

The DT408 was very short-lived, right around the time they switched over to electronic controls. (94-95ish) I don't know much about them, but mechanics I've talked to say they're reliable like the other DTs. I've driven a couple, they had decent power. You should be able to get parts through any International truck dealer. The engines were rare, but there are enough of them out there.

So Eric, how's the bus? Let's see some pics! I wouldn't mind seeing it in person either. What part of CT are you in? I'm up in the northeast corner.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:33 AM   #5
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Re: How do we all feel about the T444E?

Well the money has been wired to First Student, and Im waiting on the bill of sale and for a call from the transport company. Its kind of a wierd feeling knowing that you sent money off only hoping you wont get ripped off, but their a huge corporation and Im confident that all big corporations in this wonderful country are completely honest...NOT. But anyway ill update when I take delivery of the bus. Phil, Im in higganum, you've probably never heard of it. Its about 10 minutes south of middletown. Ill let you know when I have made some progress so you can check it out if you want. I hope to move quickly on it, but im a full time college student finishing up my freshman year so I dont know how often Ill be able to work on it, at least every weekend though.
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:41 PM   #6
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Re: How do we all feel about the T444E?

First Student and "honest" don't belong in the same sentence...I should know, I drive for them. But they don't take your money and run, if they said they'll sell you a bus for a certain price they're good for it. And I also know about free time being a scarce resource, I'm a full-time college student and work 2 jobs, sometimes more than 50 hours a week. Fortunately, that all takes a break over the summer, which is conveniently when my partner and I are buying a bus
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:04 PM   #7
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2002 International AmTran T444E

Hi guys,
I read you opinion about the T444E but what about a recent motor like the 2002?
We'll buy our bus next week, 2002 International AmTran T444E, 130 000 miles.

Is that a good bus? What should I be careful to, what should I look before?

Thanks for your answers.

So Impatient to start the conversion project
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:27 PM   #8
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good engines. Best is smaller to midsize buses, but they will get you there even in a 40' bus.
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:30 PM   #9
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Great! It's not the longer one, so it should not be so heavy.

I will try to be smart during the construction to be as light as possible with the material and equipment I'll chose.

Here is the beast:
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:31 PM   #10
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Looks like about a 35 footer? Looks like a nice bus in the pic.
You looking to drive it cross country, live in it, or just have a rad RV?
If you're gonna spend a ton of time on the interstate, then go for big engine.
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:32 PM   #11
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Looks like about a 35 footer?
Honestly I forgot to take the measurement outside...
Inside it's about 29 feet long.

Hope it won't be to hard to drive...
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:53 PM   #12
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Piece of cake, man.
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:53 PM   #13
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I own a 97 T444e and am perfectly happy with it. It's no power house, but it brings me everywhere I ask of it. It seems that the modifications to the later years of the T444e were all improvements. Better up-pipes and turbos come to mind. While I can replace my up-pipes with the better version, I wish my engine just came with them stock.
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:54 PM   #14
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I just bought a T-444E and drove it 1100 miles... thats how i feel about it.. ran like a champ...

there are some very good videos online about the common issues a T-444E can have.. and if you are willing to turn wrenches a little to replace a sensor or an injector here and there you can do it yourself pretty economically...

the T-444E is similar to the ford Powerstroke 7.3 so theres quite a bit online about it..

will it power that bus in the pic? see if you can get the seller to find the tag on the driver side valve cover.. wipe it off and see what horsepower / TQ rating it is... they came in a few variants..

what kind of travelling do you plan to do in it? rocky mountain tours? weekend at the lake? running mild hills like the smokies?

-Christopher
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Old 09-30-2016, 03:59 PM   #15
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by the way that looks like a nice well cared for bus...

couple things about your T-444E... KEEP YOUR OIL FRESH!!! they use engine oil to help drive the Fuel injection system... clean oil helps it stay happy..

DONT GET IT HOT!! they like to run cool... if your temp gauge starts creeping up to that 210-220-230 area slow it down.. But dont shut it off unless the temp goes quickly ballistic..

its not uncommon for a school bus to have a bad fan clutch or a radiator full of dirt.. so if you buy it and drive it far to get it home watch the temperature and check the oil often...

-Christopher
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:00 PM   #16
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Also, I noticed one of the early posters mentioning hard starts in the cold. I've never had a problem starting the engine when cold (down to -30C). That's without using the block heater (no grid-tied electricity in the forest), but with properly working glow plugs.
I had a hard time one winter. It turned out that the glow plug relay wasn't working. I was still able to start it by tying the house batteries to the starter battery to boost it. A glow plug relay costs $40. An affordable fix
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:11 PM   #17
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ASSUME you found a '96 T444E. What would you look for when checking out the last 9yr. service records?
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:18 PM   #18
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in a school bus, the T-444E is fairly easy to take apart... injectors and the IDM are probably the most expensive parts of it ..
injectors can go bad or be destroyed by bad oil... however most schools are pretty good about oil-changes as they want their busses to last and run well while they have them..

the year in question here should have already had the AE injector made standard in the #8 cylinder which was the source of a harmless but annoying "knocking noise"...

glow plugs are easily accessible under the valve covers, and the glow plug relay is pretty easy to get to also...

there are lots of T-444E's sill in service in IHC straight trucks and school busses.. I see them all over ..

the one to stay away from for the average non-mechanical joe is the IHC VT-365 aka the Maxxforce 7 aka the Ford Powerstroke 6.0. thats found on newer busses than most of us are looking at.. but they arecreeping up now and then as those busses begin to age out...

-Christopher
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:21 PM   #19
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ASSUME you found a '96 T444E. What would you look for when checking out the last 9yr. service records?
oil changes , coolant flushes would be the BIG one... any mention of over-heating issues.. as that can cause damage...

fuel filter, water seperator changes...

those normal items should be on a regular routine...

injectors, IDM's glow plugs, etc would be other things.. if they have been replaced you will have the updated units typically.. and also know thet theres likely longevity left...

also repeated items.. did a driver log report a bus was repeatedly brought in for something that doesnt ever get resolved.. or is something that kept happening indicating either the service dept ignored it or had big trouble resolving...

-Christopher
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Old 09-30-2016, 04:35 PM   #20
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ASSUME you found a '96 T444E. What would you look for when checking out the last 9yr. service records?
(1) Regular oil changes. Includes transmission fluid once every few years.
(2) Belts - replaced at any point?
(3) Filters - oil filters are typically replaced at every oil change. Same goes for fuel filters. Air filter - as needed.
(4) Brakes - last replacement and/or inspection.
(5) Tires - pressure and tread depth.
(6) Any major work done recently? Injectors replaced? Major problems diagnosed and fixed (or determined "Not worth repair"?)
(7) DVIR's (Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports), filled out by the drivers. Perhaps *THE BEST* indicator of not only vehicle maintenance, but also how well the driver cared for the equipment. DVIR's filled out daily (with issues documented) indicate a driver that had a tendency to take good care of their equipment, watched for problems, reported issues and saw to it they were fixed, also likely to watch the gauges and not allow it to run hot or low of oil.
( Follow up on DVIR's - how many different drivers drove this vehicle? One driver over the course of many years indicates it was very likely well maintained, the driver "learned" the bus and could sense when something wasn't right. Multiple drivers would not be a deal breaker for me, but it could indicate the vehicle might have been a spare, to be issued to whoever needed it that day.
(9) All this is in addition to an actual physical inspection of the bus with your own eyes. At the very least, you'll want to check the oil level, coolant level, transmission fluid level, steering fluid level, brake fluid level (if equipped with hydraulic brakes), belts, coolant hoses (both radiator and heater hoses), tire pressure, tread depth, and condition (full size tires may run 100 PSI, and even cutaway style buses may run 60 PSI or more), brake lining thickness (if visible), air pressure system (if equipped with air brakes), checking underneath the body for rust, check the suspension for loose, missing, broken items, check steering for "play" and ease of movement (it should not bind, or take much effort to turn). Air systems (if equipped) should run between 90-120 PSI, typically turning on around 90, and off around 120.
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