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Diesel Talk: The Search for the Right Truck

I’m sure there are some gearheads in here somewhere (I am unfortunately not one of those) that have some input. I am currently in the market for a 3/4 ton diesel pick up and am simply looking for opinions and experiences with different engines. I have heard lots of good stuff about the 5.9L and 6.0L Cummins engines, as well as the Duramax, Ford seems to have some black out years (in the sense that you want to avoid them due to a plethora of problems).

  1. What is your diesel engine of choice? Why?

  2. What’s a “good” mileage to have on/buy a diesel with? (Have been told anywhere around 100k on a used one is well within reasonable.)

  3. Do you own a diesel? If so what kind, what issues (if any) have you had with it, if you have had issues is it due to extras? (Chipped it for more power and the tranny couldn’t take it, etc.)

I am personally a huge fan of the 5.9 cummins. My buddy owns a 6.0 powerstroke, and has rebuilt it 5 times now. That being said, the 6.7 Powerstroke is not a bad engine…I still, however, feel the cummins is the best option…

  1. 5.9 Cummins, 12 or 24 valve, doesn’t matter. They are by far the best diesel engine, there are plenty out there that have got a million miles or more on them. Unless you are looking for 700+ HP, they are very reliable engines, and even stock they have power. Plus, they sound awesome!
  2. It really depends on your budget honestly. A 2nd gen Cummins with 100k is hard to find, and if you do find it, it will be expensive, even if it’s all stock. Personally, I wouldn’t be afraid to buy a Cummins with 300-400k on the clock, (unless its a 6.7, which in my opinion don’t last quite as long), its the dodge truck that I would be worried about. Dodge quality is infamously crappy, and any stock parts over 150k miles would need to be replaced. You also have to take into account drivers - if it is a completely stock truck with 185k miles, and the owner was an old man who used it to get groceries, it would be in far better condition than if a truck that some kid has put a tuner on it, put big tires on it and done burnouts everywhere. IN general, the more modified the truck, the more wary you need to be when buying.
  3. I own a 2003 Dodge 2500 (3rd gen). Its the 24 valve, and is the first year they went form injection pump to fuel rail. I bought it about a year ago with 189k on the clock, from a guy about 8 hours north of me, and I LOVE it. I specifically wanted a truck that had all the crappy dodge parts redone - steering, suspension were the two biggest. I also wanted a truck with a relatively stock engine. I found one. It has a smarty tuner, but its a manual, so tranny issues dont really happen. I drive it like a granny for the most part, except when a ford owner thinks hes going to beat me lol. Since I have had it, I’ve replaced the power steering pump, and the back brakes. Thats it. BUT, with 195k on it now, and stock injectors and turbo, it is starting to have white smoke instead of black (injectors are dying), the turbo blade edges are scuffed (shaft play) and I’m a little worried about the head gasket. To replace, and upgrade the injectors and turbo is going to be around 6k. I don’t have 6k. So thats an issue.

Final word; Cummins is the way to go, but they can be EXPENSIVE. Choose your truck wisely.

Dude, nice!

All of those points pretty much line up with what I have heard about the 5.9, I have a very good friend that has been mechanic-ing for pretty much all his life and that’s kind of what he has told me, the cleaner (less extras) on the engine, the better. Although I’ve heard the front end (rods, bearings, etc) go out (the dodge body quality you were talking about) due simply to the weight of the motor.

Appreciate the thorough write up!

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  1. Ford 2003 or older with a 7.3 powerstroke. These will go back to around 93. Pre 93 will be naturally aspirated IH motors which are solid, but slow and underpowered comparatively. Dodges go better for a while longer, but you’ve got to check transmissions on those. They had some bad years. I wouldn’t touch a Duramax. With the Fords you’ll want to stay away from automatics for those years if you’re doing some hauling.

2.) Really depends on what you want to spend. A 7.3 and a 5.9 will last a long time if properly cared for. I’ve got almost a quarter million on mine and no signs of weakening. The name of the game with diesel is preventative maintenance. If something does go out, you will not get out of the mechanic shop for cheap. Really understand cost of ownership on a diesel before making the jump. Full synthetic oil changes on a diesel (which you’ll want to do especially if you have an older truck) are $100+ for instance.

3.) I’ve owned two. The first was a naturally aspirated 7.3 IH in a Ford and I own a 7.3 Powerstroke now. I’ve never used a chip. No issues to report really. I have to replace two batteries every two years. I run full synthetic oil. Transmission sucks for hauling because it’s an automatic. If I wasn’t in flat land, I’d have probably smoked it by now. Both are great trucks and will last a long time.

this is the most American thread imaginable

So have been reading up on the 6.4 powerstrokes as I’ve found multiple for good prices with good mileage (20k w/ sub 100k miles)

-add lots of horsepower with minimal cost (comparatively)
-much more reliable than the 6.0
-once DPF/EGR deletes are done it eliminates a large amount of the failure points
-don’t need to be “bulletproofed” like the 6.0

-expensive (cab off design) repairs
-“need” to do the deletes ($$) to increase MPG and longevity of this engine
-needs to have certain areas addressed to make it as dependable as some others, this costs money, not as much as the bullet proofing, but some

Thoughts on the 6.4L?

I have a friend that has one he uses to do some substantial towing and he likes it. As you mentioned, the deletes were pretty non-negotiable. I’m not a fan personally, but it is a step up from a 6.0. A lot of it is based on what you’re using it for. If price is any indicator, the fact that 5.9’s and 7.3’s still sell for as much or more than a 6.4 with comparable mileage should tell you something.

Had the 6.4 in 15 passenger vans I used to drive in college. They had the absolute worst maintenance program possible. We still got 450k out of the vans before the trannies would die. Engines worked fine.

Had an idiot employee fill a tank with 87 octane. Had a minor fire… drained the fuel tanks, filled it up with diesel and GTG.

Don’t know about hotrodding them. Just keeping them boring and alive.

Pulled the trigger on a very nice Duramax it is a 2006 LBZ, completely stock (so I can build it how I want it) ended up going with this truck as opposed to comparable years in Dodge and Ford due to reviews, appreciate the feedback from all! Now I’m going to slowly build it into the truck I want, excited for the process, although it will be slow (turns out training doesn’t earn dump truck loads of money…weird!)