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Old 11-19-2020, 09:23 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Mechanic's choice between a Ford or a Chevy?

Hi y'all--
So in my search so far, I've been leaning towards the Chevy Express 3500 6.0L gas engine build for my needs-- agile handling, decent speed on highways, compact body, widely available parts and reliability all playing factor here.
Recently I saw a listing for a rather charming Ford E-350 shuttle bus with high miles but a recently swapped engine. I know this could be warning of other problems. For whatever reason, I hadn't even been considering Ford til now. So I suppose I'm wondering, for those at home who work on their rigs themselves-- which of these two engines/drivetrains do you prefer working on and why?

It seems to me that either might require an engine lift to do major repairs. I'll be living out of my bus full-time and likely won't have any kind of permanent shop space, so I'd prefer to find something I can work on with the tools I'll have aboard and not much else. I assure you that after a few head gasket rebuilds, I've got a good smattering of tools!
All opinions and favoritism considered.

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Old 11-20-2020, 12:18 AM   #2
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4.6 Ford gas - OK, underpowered, avoid 3V engines.
4.8 Chevy gas - OK, but underpowered.
5.3 Chevy gas - OK, slightly underpowered, Displacement On Demand issues, but not overly difficult to remedy - requires lifter swap.
5.4 Ford gas - OK. Avoid 3V engines.
5.7 Chevy gas - OK, slightly underpowered.
6.0 Chevy gas-- OK.
6.0 Ford diesel - RUN! AVOID AT ALL COSTS!
6.2 Chevy diesel - So-so, heads / blocks crack at high mileage.
6.5 Chevy diesel - So-so, heads / blocks crack at high mileage.
6.6 Chevy diesel - So-so. Occasional injector / transmission issues.
6.8 Ford gas - OK. Avoid 3V engines.
7.3 Ford diesel - OK.
7.4 Chevy gas - OK.
8.1 Chevy gas - OK.

Class dismissed.
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Old 11-20-2020, 07:16 AM   #3
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I would take the 6.0 Chevy over any Ford gas engine anyday.
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Old 11-20-2020, 10:49 AM   #4
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The oldish' GM gas 5.7's are hard to beat for ease of work, reliability and long service life.
I've heard their 6.0 gas is about the same.

Ford's diesel 7.3 early models seem pretty reliable from all I've heard, never having owned one. But diesel power?
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Old 11-20-2020, 11:23 AM   #5
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The Ford 4.6 and 5.4 Triton engines have lasted me for more than 500k in my service vans and personal cars. I have owned 3 of the Econoline vans with the 5.4 that I use for service work and I put a lot of miles on them in a year, sold one because of rust issues at 502,000 miles and it still ran and drove well.

Currently own two more service vans, both 2003 models with the 5.4, one is at 385k and the other has 335k. I have two cars with the 4.6, one with 245k and the other has 191k. Another car from 1998 with the 4.6 was sold because I went deer hunting with it and got a doe at 60 mph, still drove the car for another year before I sold it.

I have had very good luck with Ford since I switched from GM in 2008 after the GM and Chrysler stole all of those billions of our tax money and have been very pleased with the power trains. The only issues I have had was a blown out spark plug on the 98 Crown vic 4.6, two blown out on the first 5.4 Econoline I had and have replaced the intake manifold on both of my current cars with the 4.6. Both of the cars needed the intakes replaced when I bought them.

Not to be a fan boy here but I have had a lot of luck with the Ford power trains from the mid 90's up to the mid 2000's. Like CHEESE WAGON said above stay away from the 3 valve Triton engines as they have phaser problems on the valve timing but are solid engines otherwise. I do not have any experience with any GM product since the mid 90's so I cannot speak on those.

This is only my opinion and others will have different ones I am sure but my experience has proven to me to stay away from anything newer than 2011 when Ford stopped making the panther platform cars (Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car). As far as I know those were the last cars made with the Triton engine and the last rear wheel drive sedans made. As far as the Econoline vans with the 5.4 Triton engines go they were made between 1997 and 2016, the 4.6 they used in the sedans were produced between 1997 to 2014. There also exists the v10 6.8 Triton but I have no experience with those but they were produced and used in pickups and vans from 1997 to 2019.

Personally I have made the decision to not buy anything newer than 2011 for my personal vehicles and 2016 for the service vans, I am close enough to retirement that I can do that and not be driving around in a "classic" vehicle performing service work. I will keep my two personal cars in good enough shape to enjoy them until I can no longer drive so I should be able to avoid all of the over complicated, over priced plastic crap they are pushing on us now. Ok, this is turning into a rant so I'll stop now.
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Old 11-20-2020, 06:00 PM   #6
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The 5.4 and 6.8 are 96+ Windsor block OHC modular.
5.4 Triton V8 = 80% (4/5) of a 6.8 Triton V10.
1996+ 4.6 Windsor is same design as 5.4 Triton.
1991-1995 4.6s were Romeo blocks, nothing in common with each other.

Intake problems are 96-99 car engines. Truck intakes are different and didn’t have the cracking issue. Not sure if vans got the truck intake or car intake.
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Intake problems are 96-99 car engines. Truck intakes are different and didn’t have the cracking issue.
/\...100% right on.
Ask me how I know, (96 Crown Vic PI, and 97 Merc Grand Marquis, both 4.6 powered).

I foolishly pushed the Crown Vic about 10 miles too far after the intake blew on the local hiway, lost the engine on that ride.

A few years later same thing happened on my Grand Marq, only this time I pulled over in time to save it.

Was hoping Ford would do a recall on the faulty plastic intake, but they turned their backs on those unlucky souls who bought their inferior products. Dirty Baztidz.

They eventually redesigned the thermostat housing mount on the all plastic intake manifold, from all plastic to mostly plastic with a simple metal insert that kept the thermostat housing from cracking in the 2K + up model years.

I guess I'm a sucker for those large rear wheel drive sedans, and back in 2011 after the 97 G/Marq disintegrated from years of road salt exposure, went out and bought an 03 Grand Marq with the 4.6 and only 3,000 miles that had sat garaged all its life.
This one that I'm still running, came with the reinforced intake by then.
It was the first thing I checked the day I bought that car, you betcha!

Sorry for the post hijack, OP, now back to our regular scheduled posting...
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Old 11-20-2020, 09:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
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/\...100% right on.
Ask me how I know, (96 Crown Vic PI, and 97 Merc Grand Marquis, both 4.6 powered). *snip* Was hoping Ford would do a recall on the faulty plastic intake, but they turned their backs on those unlucky souls who bought their inferior products. Dirty Baztidz.
Actually, I believe there was a limited recall, but they didn't advertise it and most folks didn't find out there was one until it was too late to get it. Dirty Baztidz.
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
I would take the 6.0 Chevy over any Ford gas engine anyday.

Exactly what I was hoping to hear. Taking a strong liking to Chevy, but it was more an intuition than personal experience. All my wrenching prior to this has been mostly focused on Toyotas and 3-cyl Geo's.
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shamoke View Post
The Ford 4.6 and 5.4 Triton engines have lasted me for more than 500k in my service vans and personal cars. I have owned 3 of the Econoline vans with the 5.4 that I use for service work and I put a lot of miles on them in a year, sold one because of rust issues at 502,000 miles and it still ran and drove well.

Currently own two more service vans, both 2003 models with the 5.4, one is at 385k and the other has 335k. I have two cars with the 4.6, one with 245k and the other has 191k. Another car from 1998 with the 4.6 was sold because I went deer hunting with it and got a doe at 60 mph, still drove the car for another year before I sold it.

Thanks for sharing your experience! I had no ideas Ford's could last so long. I've heard so many variations on the name as acronym-- "found on road dead" and "fixing on the road daily" that I've always been a bit wary, but I feel a lot less daunted hearing such a glowing review!
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:27 AM   #11
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Also a plastic manifold sounds like a little bit of an unreliable nightmare!



I'm definitely all for having an older rig that's easier to work on. I, again, truly appreciate all the input so far!
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novice View Post
Thanks for sharing your experience! I had no ideas Ford's could last so long. I've heard so many variations on the name as acronym-- "found on road dead" and "fixing on the road daily" that I've always been a bit wary, but I feel a lot less daunted hearing such a glowing review!
Don't forget the F&%ked Over Rebuilt Dodge, my favorite and your welcome. All vehicles no matter who makes them have their good and their bad and each manufacturer has eras where they seem to get things mostly right and times when they can't seem to find their asses with both hands but I find the panther series and econolines between 1998 and 2011 to be mostly reliable and they tend to last as long as your address their issues mentioned above. I know the Triton 2 valve engines and the 7.3 IDI diesel I have in my 88 F-350 very well and would take any of them across the country without hesitation even with their high mileage. I cannot say that for my 1986 F-150 with the 351 Windsor though, because it's in need of a carburetor and an overhaul.
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novice View Post
Also a plastic manifold sounds like a little bit of an unreliable nightmare!



I'm definitely all for having an older rig that's easier to work on. I, again, truly appreciate all the input so far!
Only the first two or three years were they a problem, that is as long as you do not over heat the engine. They even fixed the plug blowout problem after 2002 I believe, that turned out to be too few threads in the aluminum head.
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Old 11-21-2020, 06:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Don't forget the F&%ked Over Rebuilt Dodge, my favorite and your welcome.
I have to say the 2V Windsor modulars are quite good, despite having been a GM diehard and a recent Toyota convert. Even though the Panther sedans held up quite well as taxicabs in my 13-year tenure, it wasn't enough to make me "drive a Ford, 'cos it's part of my name" (yuk-yuk-yuk in a pick-me-up truck). Local yahoo actually said that, verbatim. Myself, I actually punked Vanilla Ice's 5.0 schtick by parodying "Ice Ice Baby", bagging on Ford. A sample for those interested (and apologies to OP for the hijack).

"Yo, EXP... Let's kick it! *BANG*

Alright, stop... pushin' the Ford and listen...
Henry's back with a brand-new edition...
Of somethin', rusty, old, unsightly...
Drips like a faucet daily and nightly...
Every time I stop, yo, it won't go...
Turn on the lights, and they blow...
It's blowin' steam, with a broken door handle...
Only good thing, it won't attract the vandals...
Damn! Hit a Pinto and BOOM!
Nobody wants to be in the same room...
(It's deadly)
When it gets rear-ended
I'll thank God, it can never be mended...
Knockin'? Believe it, you'd best get away...
I wish like HELL it was a Chevrolet...
A FORD with a problem? Who'd WANNA solve it?
Just turn the key and PRAY it revolves it...
MIGHT... RUN... MAYBE...
IT MIGHT... RUN... MAYBE..."

Yes, I did the whole song, and no, that wasn't the only parody I ever did. "Cos I'm... wasted and seeing things on LSD again." (Not really, I suffer from natural nuttiness and an insatiable creative streak).
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:42 PM   #15
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Exactly what I was hoping to hear. Taking a strong liking to Chevy, but it was more an intuition than personal experience. All my wrenching prior to this has been mostly focused on Toyotas and 3-cyl Geo's.
I happen to be the owner and administrator of GeoMetroForum.com
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Old 11-21-2020, 01:50 PM   #16
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I happen to be the owner and administrator of GeoMetroForum.com
LOL, maybe you have heard of my MGeo, mg midget with geo metro engine.

Suzuki made a bus I think..

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Old 11-21-2020, 02:31 PM   #17
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I happen to be the owner and administrator of GeoMetroForum.com

HAHAHA! I'm GeoffMetro over there!
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:35 PM   #18
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Cheese, I'm truly honored this thread could play ampitheater to such a clever remix. No worries at all.
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Old 11-21-2020, 02:57 PM   #19
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At the end of the day your wallet will determine what you buy based on what bus is available, within your budget, at the time you buy.
I am biased for Fords having owned several over the years and currently I just purchased a 2003 E450 shuttle with the 2V 6.8 V10. I will post about it in a separate thread.
You will find the V10 a very common engine in the E250/350/450/550/650 (van front end) and F250/350/450/550/650 (pickup/truck front end) as bus platforms. Full disclosure, I also have a 2000 F250 pickup for over a decade and right now it has about 253K miles on it. Trouble free? Nope, but I have been able to fix what broke and 99% of the time my pickup does its job just fine. I am based in California and my pickup has made several repeat cross country trips as far north as Oregon and as far east as Texas. Over the years I have had a transmission go out and a spark plug blow out as the 2 major issues. The transmission is the 4R100 also used in bus platforms and they were known to have issues up to about the 2005 MY, for that generation, when Ford got tired of recall work and improved the design and transmissions had less issues after that. I was able to drive the truck home that day but the symptom was the transmission would hold first gear longer than it should and the light on the shifter (later years moved to the instrument cluster) flashes indicating a transmission issue. Don't keep driving with the transmission light flashing, get it looked at and fixed.
For all Ford owners and potential owners with Modular engines (1997-2010ish): the spark plug blowing out is a known issue and can be fixed by most any general automotive repair shop. All generations of the early Ford modular engine (1997 - 2010ish) are susceptible to the spark plug blowout issue. It won't happen to every engine but mine got to 240K miles before it happened. This was after a full spark plug change by me at 200K and I installed the new plugs by feel instead of using a torque wrench as I should have, so theres that.The symptoms are a loud popping from the engine while underway that rises with throttle input and goes almost quiet when you let off the throttle. Stop immediately as soon as it safe to do so, forcing the bus to continue down the road with the loud steady popping is causing more damage to the engine which could result in permanent damage.
I got my Ford bus anyway because 1. Opportunity fell in my lap, and 2. Ford is the devil I know.
Chevy makes some good stuf too so I won't return the 'good natured' jabs in this thread.
Lastly for anyone still reading: if you want a shuttle bus, don't just jump at the first one with issues you don't need, there are a LOT of them out there. Wait for the right one! You will know when you find the one.
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Old 11-21-2020, 03:06 PM   #20
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Thanks for your share, UFO.

I'm less likely to buy a bus budget-dependent alone, which is why I'm trying to get feelers for what engines have been easiest working on/which ones require a lot of extra special attention/time/tools/lifts.
I've seen both Ford and Chevy selling for comparable costs and an abundance of Ford's specifically, so I was hoping to get over my phobia hearing some personal accounts. Seems like there are a good number in both camps.


So that said, has anyone personally worked on both? And if so, which was a bigger PITA? I've heard that Chevys in particular usually require engine removal for certain jobs like an alternator, and that sounds like a difficult thing to come by on the road, being that I'd want to make the repair. But it also seems like folks have run into fewer mechanical issues over big miles with Chevys that have been well-maintained.
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