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Old 06-10-2019, 07:10 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2019
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Ford F550 6.7 turbo 4x4 short bus questions/concerns ~ Thanks for reading

I have never owned a diesel anything. Please weigh in...

I am thinking of buying a 2011 F550 4x4 6.7 turbo diesel shuttle bus with 220,000 miles on it. The seller is wishy washy and not very transparent at all. From my constant research the last few weeks I believe this was an oilfield rig to transport employees around from site to site. It is a factory lifted manufactured 4x4. I have no service records of any kind. So I am getting an oil sample and sending it in for analysis.

Is there a company that does a better oil analysis than the other? i was thinking of going with blackstone labs as its only $28, but are they worth it? Do they provide a good analysis?Is there a better test i should buy from them then the $28 one?

Also being a gas engine owner my whole life I am a bit nervous about spending this kind of money on something that has 220,000 miles. looking at that large number everyday will take a bit of getting used to, but I am under the impression diesels tend to run for around 400,000 miles. As long as i take car of them as well as prevantive maintenance. is that true? Can others chime in on how many miles they have or have seen on other 2011 F550?

I found one post on here about someone swapping an engine out for $17,000????!!!!

Just a simple craigslist search i have found 3 of these f550 engines for under $6,000 which i still do not want to spend that much, but for what I want to do with this rig $6,000 for half million miles of peace of mind has some appeal. Can anyone suggest a better place to search for used or new F550 engines? Can you buy a brand new f550 diesel crate engine? If this is a 2011 what year f550 diesel engines can realistically or theoretically be put in this rig?

I really do not want to do an engine swap especially when there are more than enough of these for sale on the internet with lower miles just no 4x4. Which why is it cheaper to buy an engine than it is to do a 4x4 conversion on any vehicle? Seriously some vehicles you can buy an engine for under $1000, but no matter what vehicle it is a 4x4 conversion costs $12,000-$25,000????????????

Anyways, back on topic, I really want to buy this thing to make into an RV, but are diesels a constant maintenance equation? and if so what are the costs of these maintenance requirements? I have no problem opening the hood, grabbing some tools or laying on my back in the dirt to do what needs to be done on my current vehicle. My brother seems to think only dealerships can work on diesels? And todays diesels require the entire cab to be removed to do any work on a diesel engine. thats not true is it? I don't have to remove the entire cab to replace an alternator do I? I can swap out an alternator right? its only 3 bolts and wire harness plug right?

As far as maintenance goes its just engine related stuff right? Your not cleaning turbos every week or rotating head gaskets every other weekend, correct? There is no special, unique, monthly $3,000 engine wash thing right? If warning lights come on the dash then you need to do something right, but other than that its just oil changes and fluid checks right?

Which another post I found on here triggered an alarm. They said diesel engines do not like water so you need to use a fuel additive? CM or CSM fuel additive I think they said. They also said you need to install a fuel water seperator? I'm having a hard time trying to drill down on this bit of information. What exactly is this, and why wouldn't this already be in the engine or fuel lines if it was truly required?

This rig also has a tuner (or I think thats what its called from my research) I don't know who did the tune whether it was professional or backyard mechanic bob, but the DEF or Emissions thing is deleted. I don't live in a state where they emission check and allow for lifetime registration if its an RV, and I have a 50 year drivers license so any violations while visiting another state well .....sometime in 2069 if they are still in your computer when I go to renew we can talk about paying these silly fines.

I've also come across a few posts that reference bullet proofing an engine. Is f550 have the ability to be bulletproofed? And if so what does that mean/entail?

I really want to buy this rig, but I am nervous because of the price point and the mileage number. They are offering a 2 year warranty, but warranties come with loopholes & deductibles for a false sense of security because what company wants to pay $17,000 for engine replacement from a $200 upcharge transaction at the time of sale.

I am trying to do my due diligence and not get burned here, but I just don't know why everyone thinks diesels are expensive. Is it because they don't do their own maintenance?

Because if thats the case on my tacoma i do all my own oil changes every 3,000 miles on the do with full synthetic, motor flush and filter. I know 3,000 mile oil changes are from the 70s and 80s, but thats what dad taught me when I was growing up so thats what i do. I have no issues about doing brakes, alternators and tires. I've replaced windshields, headlight casing's, installed remote start, replaced fan/heat regulator, oil sending unit blah blah. Point is when something breaks I take first shot before calling the mechanic. So unless its something to do with engine or transmission I'm sure Ill figure it out by way of forums and youtube mechanics. With that said than what would be the "expensive maintenance" stereotypes that everyone is scared of with diesels?

During the test drive there was plenty of power and response. In all the gears. he switched to all 3 or 4 different transmission programs or whatever its called. I've found numerous posts on here that say that tuning can range anywhere from $950-$3000 depending on the shop.

He shifted into 4x4 to show me it worked. Everything seems powerful, responsive, but there is oil residue on the backside of the engine or possible lower part of the engine. I don't have a lift to investigate, and the day I went to go look at this for the 3rd time it was rainning and snowing outside. There is no puddles or signs of leaking underneath it.

one post on here refers to this as spray back from the engine blower???????????? still not sure what he was saying? IS this common for diesels? For this engine? for this year? worst case scenario is what?

Last thing that makes me gunshy about buying this. 2 weeks after the test drive when I went to go look at in the raining snowing conditions they needed to get a jumpbox to get it to start. To me this says either the battery is shot, alternator is shot or the entire electrical system is shot? Pretty sure its just a worthless battery cuz it started right up and stayed running. Lights and whatever came on. Had a gas engine mechanic with me (hes the one that found the oil) and he hooked up his machine to look for codes. Found nothing major. He said the ones he did find he thinks are related to the deleted DEF if I remember right, but he didn't give them much attention at all. He had no concerns about the codes that were on his screen.

I know there are people out there that follow every manufacturer spec there is. From rotating tires every time you squash a bug to transmission flushes every time a commercial comes over the radio.

I am not that guy. I currently haul a 7,000 pound 30 foot travel trailer with a toyota tacoma deep into the mountains during the winter for ski season with absolutely no issues. Over mountain passes up snow covered roads blah blah. Never checked specs, forums or asked anyone. Hooked it up in large parking lot and my vehicle moved it. Didn't realize until after 300,000 comments from random strangers at the gas station when filing up this was such an impressive feat for my toyota tough tacoma. Thats my approach to life, "Lets see what happens."

Sometimes that has burnt me, and other times that has rewarded me. I have sacraficed quite a bit to put myself into a position to buy this rig, and if I buy this its going to take a ton more work to get to where it needs to be to live out of it full time. So really can't take a burn on this one right out the gate.

Thanks for reading my lengthy ramblings and really do appreciate any help you could provide.

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Old 06-10-2019, 07:55 AM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 109
I'm not trying to be offensive here... But it sounds to me that you already assume that the whole vehicle is junk and are looking for any excuse not to buy it. I mean if you are researching engine swaps before you even own it, I personally think that you shouldn't even consider buying the thing. The 6.7s are very reliable engines. In f550 trim ford rates them as a b10 500,000 mile life span. That means that 10% of all engines in service will make it to 500,000 miles before requiring major service. But to me, it sounds like at the slightest hint of a problem you will hate yourself forever for buying the bus.
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Old 06-10-2019, 01:16 PM   #3
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Location: topeka kansas
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Year: 1954
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Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
F550 diesel

I think the all the busses and shuttles that have over 200,000 miles, the previous owners got most of the goody out of them. I have not seen, they may exist, but I have not seen a skoolie or shuttle out here that is trouble free.

I do not expect 500,000 miles out of your engine. The roller lifters break, chew up the camshaft, and leave metal in the engine and oil system used for the injectors. "installing a tune" pushes stress levels higher when driven hard. The next thing I see go is the head gasket. Too much cylinder pressure. The fix for that is head studs, like from a company called Automotive Racing Products - ARP for short.

I think you will pay a premium for the four wheel drive on a bus - this is not common, but a lot of fun if you take serious off road or slippery conditions on a regular basis.

the more complicated the system the parts there are to break.

Bought a f450 for my because I think the chassis will be durable, and the coil springs in the front end will give a softer ride than leaf springs.

You can only evaluate condition as it is now. Impossible to tell when something will break. Experience may give you insight as to expectations. I second sending off the oil to black stone. worth while to track wear, but again doubtful it will predict when a lifter will fail or piston will crack. The International 444e is a very similar engine but different, I have heard that the ford pistons crack easier than the international pistons, they are different.

My bus is not the usual for I am starting off with a rebuilt or new on everything, engine, transmission, brake system, cooling, tires, u joints, heaters, lights, blah blah blah. I do not want a bus with 200,000 miles on it when it first hits the road. I wanted a new bus that will give 200,000 with out fuss.....

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Old 06-10-2019, 01:35 PM   #4
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Old 06-10-2019, 02:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by E450Shorty View Post
I mean if you are researching engine swaps before you even own it, I personally think that you shouldn't even consider buying the thing.
Haha I did. At least as far as for knowing how hard it would be to pull the motor or replace the turbo. It was to inform my purchase more not to dissuade myself from doing it. Though I got to say people who go into the endeavor of buying an auction vehicle without being prepared to work on it are braver than me.

And I bought the bus. And I almost had to do that turbo replacement. Fortunately driving it hard through a couple tanks shook the vanes loose.
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Old 06-11-2019, 10:10 AM   #6
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Wamego Ks
Posts: 617
Year: 2007
Chassis: Collins
Engine: 6.6L LMM Duramax
I just bought a 2012 6.7 F250 truck in February. I'm hoping it will last me a few years at the least. I did some research on the 6.7 powerstroke before buying. It seems the 2011 6.7 was the first year. They had some turbo issues and some leaking egr issues that I found. Supposedly that was fixed by 2012. So far I've had one code causing my check engine light to come on. It is an excessive egr a flow. I haven't taken any actions to fix it. I've cleared the code one time. The only other things I've heard is fuel system is expensive to replace. So I'll be changing fuel filters regularly and using good filters...

As far as bullet proofing goes, I believe those are referencing actions taken to keep the 6.0 and 6.4 powerstrokes running. When I bought a bus (LMM Duramax which I've had some problems with) I stayed away from the 6.0 and 6.4 powerstrokes. Good luck with it and keep doing some research. There are some good videos on you tube about the 6.7 powerstroke engines. I would love to have a 4x4 bus!!!
2007 Collins (Chevy Express 3500)
LMM Duramax Diesel with newly rebuilt 4L85E Transmission!
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