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Old 09-22-2020, 04:36 PM   #1
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How important is it to buy pre-2004?

We have been told numerous times on other forums that it is really important to buy a bus that is pre-2004. Something to do maybe with the emissions change that happened in the buses in 2004? And that the buses had a hard time with the change for a few years so they weren't as well made.

Is this true? And is it true that even after they were better made it is still good to stay away from them because they are more expensive to work on?

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!
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Old 09-22-2020, 05:48 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by WalterNY View Post
We have been told numerous times on other forums that it is really important to buy a bus that is pre-2004. Something to do maybe with the emissions change that happened in the buses in 2004? And that the buses had a hard time with the change for a few years so they weren't as well made.

Is this true? And is it true that even after they were better made it is still good to stay away from them because they are more expensive to work on?

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!
My personal feeling (emphasis on feeling, this is not a well sourced objective position) is that pre-03 is nice, but not as important as folks here make it out to be. Its not uncommon to hear people here calling anything 04+ trash or junk. While I share the bias of preferring simpler more reliable systems, I think this preference is often exaggerated and oversimplified.

On another forum I belong to (non-skoolie), people make much more of a distinction between pre and post 07/08 diesels than they do between pre and post 03/04 diesels.

Seems to me there are three main stepping stones along the path of simple to complex.
1. Whatever year the line of engine in question moved away from all mechanical
2. 2004: EGR?
3. 2008: DPF + DEF + ULSD

* Also, I believe the first round of diesel emissions regulation was in 1988, but this doesn't get talked about and I don't know anything about it.

I would like to hear from anyone more informed on the topic (I know we have one or two diesel mechanics here) or anyone with some more objective source material to look at. My impression is very much still subject to change and evolution.

I think there are a number of tradeoffs to consider, and how good or bad a newer or older vehicle will be depends a lot on your specific situation and specific preferences and capabilities.
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:11 PM   #3
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2004 most manufacturers added EGR.. on some engines it became problematic if ill maintained.. on navistar poor coolant maintenance resulted in clogged up EGR coolers which caused issues


2007 / 2008 brought about DPF on most.. i kn ow navistar didnt add DEF right then.. they tried to auto-regen with heat by burning extra fuel in the tailpipe.. I think CAT did a similar trick.. and in about 2010 most had succumbed to DEF systems to help with keeping the DPF clean..
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:14 PM   #4
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Depends on what you're buying. Year model is fairly inconsequential if gasoline powered. As Dzl mentioned, diesel emission equipment gets more complex and troublesome from 04 on. There are certain diesel engines you do not want as well. Diesel 6.0 Ford / MaxxForce and VT365 NaviStar engines, mostly.
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Old 09-22-2020, 07:30 PM   #5
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I share the same opinion expressed by DZL.
1. There is more to consider on a bus than simply the year. I wouldn't avoid a newer bus simply because it is newer. I have a 2007 IC (not maxxforce) and it has the EGR. The EGR cooler was replaced prior to my purchase. The cost to replace it is comparable to a set of tires. Point being, a 2007 IC with a faulty EGR is really no different repair wise than a 2003 IC with bald tires.
Rust, body style, tires, transmission, history of maintenance, etc.... all these items are of equal importance as a model year and should be weighed in any decision.

2. There are different stages to EPA induced engines. I was the transportation supervisor of a school and we ran IC buses. Based on what I've seen, I would avoid MaxxForce engines which I believe are 2008 and above. With so many other used options still available to buy right now, I think it wouldn't be too difficult to find something else.

Enjoy the hunt!
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Old 09-22-2020, 08:38 PM   #6
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There is a slight advantage to buying 2004+ Engines usually have more power, guaranteed to have a good transmission (Allison 2000 series or better) and way easier to find high roof models.
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Old 09-22-2020, 09:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
I'd rather walk then drive a diesel powered vehicle.
Drive a 2004-2007+ diesel and chances are you WILL be walking.
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:20 AM   #8
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I'd rather walk then drive a diesel powered vehicle.
Not very helpful but thanks for your input just the same.
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:54 AM   #9
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Does anyone have any good resources or data on the effects of the 03 to 04 and and 07 to 08 changes?
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Old 09-23-2020, 03:20 AM   #10
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Does anyone have any good resources or data on the effects of the 03 to 04 and and 07 to 08 changes?
Does 400,000 miles driving 18-wheelers over-the-road count?
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Does 400,000 miles driving 18-wheelers over-the-road count?

On the one hand hell yes, on the other hand not exactly.


400k miles is a hell of a lot of experience to draw from! So I, and I'm sure others, would be very appreciative of any wisdom, observations, takeaways, and/or lessons you've learned on the topic. Its something I don't know a ton about.


At the same time any single experience or single person's experience is just a single data point (or a couple data points) that often isn't representative of the big picture. That's where data in aggregate proves useful.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:03 AM   #12
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Here’s the deal. I have quite a few friends and acquaintances in the school bus business.. the comments and issues and results run the gamut,

Some engines are problematic on their own. An example would be the Maxxforce 7..

But even these got their piston issue resolved by 3rd year.

Other engines are problematic unless you are a stickler for maintenance. A couple of those would be the CAT C7 and the IH VT365

On the 2004-2007 range of cat and navistar engines the EGR and EGT cooler were the most likely spot to break.. it’s a 1000-1500 repair if you fix them yourself and they aren’t hard..

The IH 2004 DT466E had some cavitation issues mainly fixed by 06

BUT both of the above issues I mentioned for cat and IH came down a lot to lax maintenance on oil and coolant or failure to properly warm up the engines.. northern climates and cheap districts that won’t buy webasto units so out on the route your temp gauge lays over on the C as all the heaters zap the engine heat. It’s gonna clog up the EGR and wash out the rings / cause blowby.

Cheap poor quality fuel is going to eat up injectors on modern engines
Poor oil maintenance and bad or incorrect coolant is going to cause cavitation and ruin delicate oil coolers on IH and CAT engines ..

Choose your newer bus wisely or get the maint records and you can get a really good runner dirt cheap because everyone is afraid of them.

If you are mechanical and have a computer then you can fix most of the issues that may happen..

Now a poorly maintained newer engine will be much more expensive and much more problematic than a poorly maintained older engine..

If I ruin a 2010 MaxxForce DT the in frame is a lot more expensive and complex than if I ruin a 1999 DT466E

That said, driving a 2005 Bluebird All American rear engine with an MD3060 all 6 gears and a C7 is like a Cadillac. Coach-like.. driving a 1997 with a 5.9 and an MT643 is like an old Chevy ..

For me the newer stuff doesn’t scare me but I’m going to want to know a lot more about its history than when I’m buying an older bus..

Not knowing the history can cost far more..

Or it builds in the cost of a complete mechanic analysis right after you buy a newer one so they can tell you of the right coolant and oil and trans fluid are in it . a
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:35 AM   #13
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Quote:
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The IH 2004 DT466E had some cavitation issues mainly fixed by 06
I thought the DT466E cavitation issues started in 2000, when they switched over to using coolant with silicates.
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Old 09-23-2020, 06:58 AM   #14
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with really bad coolant maintenance any wet sleeve engine would cavitate but the big ones was the timking cover issues which didnt seem to show up until the 04 plus engines.. im not sure if the materials in the metal changed or what but just talking to people running these engines if they werent compoletely on top of their coolant maintenance or didnt use exactly what navistar Spec'd then they had a good chance of a leak.. navistar TSBs seem to only cover thse 04-06 years for adding a sealant to the coolant.. a separate TSB came out for an oil related issue related to the timing cover and resulted in a complete new set of timing covers that were to be installed if the issue occured..



most of the damage occured to the outer timing cover, so if you replaced the oiuter one 98% of the time your issue was resolved and then going forward you use the right coolants.. however it meant using the older style timing cover which from what i understand navistar discontinued..



that said, I know of many many 466E's that never ruined a single timing cover or cylinder liner and are still out there trooping away.. with well over 200,000 miles.

there were a **LOT** of these engines made..



while the V8's went through several changes, the 466E was always there.. and as a mechanical prior.. it dates back to at least the 70s i believe in mchanical variant.. and was built as the Maxxforce DT up through what? 2015? 2016? something like that..
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:16 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalterNY View Post
We have been told numerous times on other forums that it is really important to buy a bus that is pre-2004. Something to do maybe with the emissions change that happened in the buses in 2004? And that the buses had a hard time with the change for a few years so they weren't as well made.

Is this true? And is it true that even after they were better made it is still good to stay away from them because they are more expensive to work on?

Any advice is appreciated! Thank you!
If buying a 2004+ bus was my only option I'd not be as into buses. I probably wouldn't mess with one. My 2003 and its ten thousand dollar timing cover were enough to scare me off. Especially navistar stuff.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:23 AM   #16
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Here is a timeline of the major epa regulation changes for exhaust emissions. https://www.epa.gov/transportation-a...sportation-air

You'll have to read through that, because they include all exhaust emissions, like on/off road, marine, small engines, etc.

However, in order to best understand the timeline, and the what/why of the oem's actions to meet it, it helps to understand what each emission device is and does.

- Exhaust gas recirculation(EGR) is intended to lower combustion temperatures to reduce NOx production. NOx is produced when excess Nitrogen and Oxygen atoms during the combustion process. It happens in diesel engines more so then gas engines because diesel engines run constantly lean because they aren't air metered like a gas engine. So there is always excess oxygen present during combustion in a diesel engine.

- Particulate filters(DPF) are intended to trap particulate matter(PM) which is the black smoke or "rollin' coal" you see diesel engines create.

- Diesel exhaust fluid(DEF) is a chemical injected into the exhaust stream and combined with a catalyst(SCR) to take NOx and convert it to N2 and H2O

The government never mandated how the OEM's should meet emissions, just the emissions they have to meet. So each company was at it's own liberty to decide what it would do.

That's why you have a split in 2008 between which companies who went to using SCR and DEF, vs those that tried to use more EGR. Those that went the more egr route like CAT and Navistar paid a heavy financial toll and either quit the business or went nearly bankrupt.

As far as why to avoid post 2004 buses. That was really the start of complications of trying to meet emissions standards and was the introduction of EGR. And as with everything else in this world, the more components you add to a system, the more complicated it gets, and the chance for failure goes up exponentially.
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Old 09-23-2020, 10:57 AM   #17
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Thanks Booyah, so basically a gasoline engine, the newer the better.
To clarify, the newer the bus, the better off you are with a gas engine, yes. Pre-07 diesels are certainly better.
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Old 09-23-2020, 02:02 PM   #18
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Everyone has a lot to say about this and that possibility of breaking. The way I see it is it’s always something. That’s not to say there aren’t specific engines that are time bombs.

On my duramax 6.6 liter it’s apparently the turbo that’s the weak spot and well, crap, even when I do the work myself it’s going to be expensive.

I think the best and cheapest engine to have is the one you can work on yourself.
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Old 09-23-2020, 04:33 PM   #19
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This is turning into a good discussion!
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Old 09-23-2020, 05:16 PM   #20
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From watching some videos by a CAT dealer tech (Adapt Ape on YouTube), it seems the pre07 C7 is actually a decent engine that was overshadowed by its much larger, problematic brothers. Right up to 07 the C7 actually has next to no emissions controls, not even EGR. It's still retained the same block and cylinder head as the 3126, just with different injectors.

After 07 is a very different story as the entire fuel system was replaced with a common rail and the engine got a DPF and a different form of EGR that CAT dubbed CGI. Unlike other EGR systems that draw from the exhaust manifold or close to the turbo, CGI draws from the back of the DPF. This clean exhaust gas, free of soot that is prone to clogging EGR systems, is then carried back to the engine by a parallel exhaust pipe about half the size of the one going to the DPF.

Long story short the only reliable thing on that engine was the oddball CGI system. I had the wonderful experience last week of replacing an injector in a 2008 Topkick 4x4, former dump truck turned into generator truck. It probably says something when the reman injector looks very different to the original injector because the design has been revised several times.
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