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Old 02-06-2023, 08:22 PM   #1
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2004 low miles t444e

I am considering a low miles, 75k, 2004 ce200. Works out to be about 3700 miles a year. I am not sure if it was a spare or what, but they claim the miles are accurate. I know lightly used vehicles can some times be problematic. Due to the age and low miles, what should I be on the look out for if I check out the bus?

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Old 02-07-2023, 09:03 AM   #2
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Just to clarify, I am not asking how to check out a school bus in general.
I am asking if there are any specific things to look out for on an old low mileage bus.
Maybe know areas where seals may go bad.
Maybe expensive/problematic parts that most buses have had replaced but a low mileage bus may still have that will soon need attention.
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Old 02-07-2023, 01:28 PM   #3
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For the engine I would definitely be checking the coolant on an 18 year old bus with such low miles. The T444E and 7.3 PowerStroke are both susceptible to issues due to lack of coolant maintenance. Extended Life Coolant (ELC) largely eliminates the main issue but so does proper maintenance of non ELC coolants. Non ELC coolants must be monitored for proper levels of SCA's (test strips can do this).


As for the rest of the bus, seals may begin leaking prematurely due to long periods of sitting.
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Old 02-07-2023, 08:39 PM   #4
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I had a 2002 international amtran with the 7.3. It was also low mileage, around 88k. Check the oil pan carefully for leaks. They're prone to leaking due to a horrible seal design and a pain to fix (like yank the radiator and lift the engine off its mounts just to reseal oil pan pain). My mechanic friend and I had other words to describe that process that aren't family friendly haha

Good news is they now make an aftermarket oil pan gasket that works much better than the oem rtv method!!

I'd also recommend you check for rust in the brake systems.

Personally, I'd pass on the 7.3 and look for a 7.6 dt466. I'm biased, but in my opinion after 6 years of running a converted school bus fleet, the 7.3 is underpowered in a full size bus. The oil pan configuration is annoying, and the 7.3 is rather loud in general which I'm not a fan of. And even though it's a close cousin to the Ford powerstroke, not all parts are interchangeable which makes part hunting another pain. My two cents, you do you.
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Old 02-08-2023, 11:02 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.
I was on the fence about this one since we are going out west where we will hit the big mountains.
It is also 2 feet longer than will be comfortable in our drive way.
It is amazing how few bus ads have the bus length. I can't be the only one with pre-defined storage limitations.
I also realized I need to calculate if my driveway slope is too great for overhang. Is there an bus angle calculator out there?
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Old 02-08-2023, 01:24 PM   #6
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the 444E isnt a bad engine in a big bus.. *BUT* you'll have to hop it up to get good power out of it.. an inline 6 like a Cummins 8.3 or DT466 will be better.. the CAT3126 / C7 arent bad but seem a bit anemic compared to the others..


the 5.9 cummins and DT360 IH are kind of dogs in a big bus in the mountains..
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Old 03-05-2023, 02:02 PM   #7
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I have a t444e. They stopped using it in 2003, i do believe....so make sure it isn't the vt365....which is the industrial version of the 6.0L...a total grenade engine. I might be wrong, but be leary.
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Old 03-05-2023, 02:48 PM   #8
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04 was the switchover year to the 6.0 vt365. I had one of those too. Damn thing spent more time parked at the side of our yard broke down or in the shop costing me five figures each time than on the road. Not worth it's weight in scrap metal!!
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Old 03-05-2023, 05:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dbacks2k4 View Post
04 was the switchover year to the 6.0 vt365. I had one of those too. Damn thing spent more time parked at the side of our yard broke down or in the shop costing me five figures each time than on the road. Not worth it's weight in scrap metal!!
there are lots of 2004 3800 series busses running the T-444E.. 05 was the first year of VT365 in the conventional school bus chassis as far as i know.. unless there were some very late 2004s that got it.. but 04 was generally the end of the 3800 chassis in the USA (even though the IC CE busses of 05 were essentially on a 3800 it was no longer called that)..
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Old 03-10-2023, 12:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jimmy649 View Post
I have a t444e. They stopped using it in 2003, i do believe....so make sure it isn't the vt365....which is the industrial version of the 6.0L...a total grenade engine. I might be wrong, but be leary.
I myself own a VT365 in mine, a 2006 model year. But I’ve also driven buses as a job so I’ve dealt with the CE series quite a bit (before they were withdrawn from service). Regardless the VT365 isn’t a bad engine, and it runs very well although it does feel a bit underpowered for a bus. I saw one 2007 CE200 with 225,000 miles on the clock and on the original engine as well. Keeping up on maintenance however is a must, and ether usage is not advised on this engine.

The real troublesome one to watch out for is the Maxxforce 7. It’s a good engine when it’s all in running order but it is a maintenance nightmare.
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Old 03-10-2023, 06:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Flying I 365 View Post
I myself own a VT365 in mine, a 2006 model year. But Iíve also driven buses as a job so Iíve dealt with the CE series quite a bit (before they were withdrawn from service). Regardless the VT365 isnít a bad engine, and it runs very well although it does feel a bit underpowered for a bus. I saw one 2007 CE200 with 225,000 miles on the clock and on the original engine as well. Keeping up on maintenance however is a must, and ether usage is not advised on this engine.

The real troublesome one to watch out for is the Maxxforce 7. Itís a good engine when itís all in running order but it is a maintenance nightmare.

the biggest issues with the maxxforce 7 were the pistons, esp in the early years.. they seemed to get it together on those after the 2010 year (enough so that the ford guys stuck with 6.4s would rebuild using Maxxforce pistons).. the compound turbos were another big failure point and costly.. lesser were injector pump issues that would take out the expensive piezo injectors.. (ther maxxforce 7 was no longer a HEUI engine like the predecessor V8s)... of course the emission systems were an issue on these as well as other IH emission diesels



I cant say ive never seen a long lasting MF7 but there were more issues with them than even the maxxforce DT..


the biggest physical issue with the MF7 was if you cracked a piston it was a death sentence.. throw the expensive engine in the trash.. ive personally seen several and each time the cylinder walls were scored beyond reasonable repair...



for reference a long block 7.3 fully reman by a reputable comoany can be had for 10k or even a couple grand less..



a 6.0 can be had long block in the 10-12k range(studded)


a 6.4 long block sets you back 15-20k on average..


drop-in a 7.3 is in the 12-15k range (thats turbo to oil pan)
drop-in a 6.0 is in the 15-20k range (studded)
drop-in a MF7 is in the 25-30k range....


yes the 6.4 makes good power but i could totally screw up tuning and grenade a T444E, go buy a new one and still be at or less cost than an MF7...


-Christopher
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Old 03-10-2023, 10:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
the biggest issues with the maxxforce 7 were the pistons, esp in the early years.. they seemed to get it together on those after the 2010 year (enough so that the ford guys stuck with 6.4s would rebuild using Maxxforce pistons).. the compound turbos were another big failure point and costly.. lesser were injector pump issues that would take out the expensive piezo injectors.. (ther maxxforce 7 was no longer a HEUI engine like the predecessor V8s)... of course the emission systems were an issue on these as well as other IH emission diesels



I cant say ive never seen a long lasting MF7 but there were more issues with them than even the maxxforce DT..


the biggest physical issue with the MF7 was if you cracked a piston it was a death sentence.. throw the expensive engine in the trash.. ive personally seen several and each time the cylinder walls were scored beyond reasonable repair...



for reference a long block 7.3 fully reman by a reputable comoany can be had for 10k or even a couple grand less..



a 6.0 can be had long block in the 10-12k range(studded)


a 6.4 long block sets you back 15-20k on average..


drop-in a 7.3 is in the 12-15k range (thats turbo to oil pan)
drop-in a 6.0 is in the 15-20k range (studded)
drop-in a MF7 is in the 25-30k range....


yes the 6.4 makes good power but i could totally screw up tuning and grenade a T444E, go buy a new one and still be at or less cost than an MF7...


-Christopher
I haven’t seen a long lasting Maxxforce 7 either, at least not a real long one. I have seen some that have gone past 100k miles. That engine (if I’m not mistaken) was commonrail injection instead of HEUI injection. I have heard of the compound turbo failures and the expense that comes with, as well as the headaches the emissions systems would cause for these engines. I think there was even a news story published on the Maxxforce 7.

In comparison to the MF7, the VT365 seemed to hold up better in comparison. Though the VT365 is not without its faults either, from compression blowby to bad EGRs and in some cases, dropped compression (sometimes, dropped compression on an entire bank of cylinders which necessitated a full rebuild)
Most of the issues however stemmed from age and hard running (in regular service) but the 6.0 could be bulletproofed for reliable service.
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Old 03-10-2023, 10:23 AM   #13
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yeah the MF7 was common rail, i think it was the first IH to be commonrail with that pump.. and if the pumped nuked (which sometimes they did) it ate all your peizo injectors.. big $$$$.



IH was sued over Maxxforce failures in general.. although I think a lot of it was related to their HD engines.. id have to read the docs on it again, its been awhile, but its ultimately why IH quit making on-road engines.


id buy a good running VT365 in a heartbeat.. do a top-ender on it including studs, tune it, and call it a day...



any engine can lose compression or drop a rod.. heck a local school district just had a 2019 6.7 with 60k miles punch a new vent hole in the side of its block.. the rod looks pretty intact but one bolt is missing and the other is of course busted off but.. OOPs backed out bolt is my guess on why that failed..
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Old 03-10-2023, 11:34 AM   #14
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IH was sued over Maxxforce failures in general.. although I think a lot of it was related to their HD engines.. id have to read the docs on it again, its been awhile, but its ultimately why IH quit making on-road engines.
Yeah the big class action suit was over the larger variants mainly used for semis, etc. There may have been some smaller one-off suits for the 7 and dt but nothing as damaging as the class action.
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Old 03-10-2023, 11:50 AM   #15
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Yeah. The 6.7 with the 60k miles on it sounds like backed out rod bolt. And I have heard of the major costs associated with injector replacement, even for older engines like the VT365. I never saw an injector pump failure on a Maxxforce 7 but I have heard of that happening before.

This was one news story I heard about the Maxxforce 7 engine.
https://youtu.be/8KQJh3Y0BIs
Granted the story was from a few years ago.
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Old 03-10-2023, 12:11 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Flying I 365 View Post
Yeah. The 6.7 with the 60k miles on it sounds like backed out rod bolt. And I have heard of the major costs associated with injector replacement, even for older engines like the VT365. I never saw an injector pump failure on a Maxxforce 7 but I have heard of that happening before.

This was one news story I heard about the Maxxforce 7 engine.
https://youtu.be/8KQJh3Y0BIs
Granted the story was from a few years ago.



I replaced the injectors in my 444E, mine were starting to get tired it was a couple grand for a nice high quality set.. made a huge difference...

I went with 15% nozzles.. also upgraded my HPOP, lines and of course new OEM glowplugs and UVC harnesses.



Next will be a turbo that has a wastegate (the year 2000 444E had no wastegate)
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