Diesel pickup trucks - school me

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by mrbreeze, Jul 22, 2014.

  1. mrbreeze

    mrbreeze I keep blowing down the road

    Jan 13, 2007
    my son in law wants to buy a diesel pick up truck. He's only got about $12k to spend. I have no experience with diesels, but I have been prowling CL to see what is out there. It seems to me that everything he can afford has got big miles on it. I think the lowest number I saw was 170,000. I also saw a truck with 330,000. Son in law says diesels last longer, but I am thinking gas engines are also going 300,000 + miles, and the only part of the truck that is diesel is the motor. Having a diesel doesn't mean your tranny will last longer, etc. I also noticed that several of the ads I saw had a long list of items that had been repaired or replaced.

    He doesn't have a boat or camper that he wants to tow, so no advantage there.

    What should he look out for when shopping for a diesel pickup in his price range? <$12,000

  2. McNeal

    McNeal Long timer

    Dec 4, 2005
    I think you've got all the information you need. Yes diesel engines can last longer than gas, but the rest of the vehicle wears out not matter what.

    Diesels win in two areas. With small cars they can achieve great fuel economy compared with gas engines. Though with the direct injection that's being used for gas that's not as true any more. The second area that diesels win is torque, especially with the diesels found in the 3/4 and 1ton trucks.

    With your son-in-law not towing the torque is pointless.

    At the price point I would steer him towards a gas vehicle. There's a premium added for most diesel engines found in trucks and it doesn't seem justified for his needs.
  3. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

    Aug 12, 2005
    Turning expensive metal into scrap
    I had a duramax. Was sweet. Tons of power I put 75k on it sold it with 200k.

    Diesels have big expensive components that lasta long time. But when they break, it ain't cheap.

    If he just wants to look like a tough guy buy some truck nutz.

    I have a tundra now. It's much nicer nothing goes wrong and when it does it's normal car pricing stuff.

    I fell for the false diesel economy driving it as a commuter business truck.

    Buy a gas truck and move on. And don't catch it on fire this time:deal
  4. rob feature

    rob feature Domain Ranger

    May 12, 2005
    I have a buddy who has a full-size Dodge diesel & has owned other diesels in the past. He pulls a large toy hauler so he needs it.

    I mentioned one time to him that I'd like to have a diesel for the range & mileage. He went on to tell me he gets about 18 MPG in mixed driving...not exactly saving coin there as diesel is more expensive. He's also constantly complaining about crap going wrong & in no uncertain terms told me I'd be an idiot for buying a diesel truck unless I'd be towing something large.

    I've probably ridden in that truck 10 times. Once it left us stranded at about 10,500 feet in the snow due to a block heater malfunction. Another time the turbo was acting funny & I later learned it was a 4-figure problem. He had to add a computer to get the motor to cooperate with towing. On and on with that thing.
  5. CPORet

    CPORet I Am Kirok!

    Oct 11, 2011
    Eastern Panhandle, West Virginia
    I've got an '03 F350, with just over 230,000 mi on it. It's been pretty good, only had 4 real problems
    with the engine, but considering it was a 1st year 6.0L that ain't too shabby.


    Like others have noted here, it's not so much the engine you worry about, but the rest of it you do.
    One thing you need to know & pass on to your son-in-law is that a diesel engine is heavy. It has to be.
    With all that weight up front, you're going to be replacing front end components much more often.
    I don't drive heavily, tow, or do off-roading with it, and I'm lucky to get 60 - 70 k on a set of ball joints.
    Also, because it's a heavier truck overall, its going to be harder on the brakes too. Last time I had
    a complete brake job done it was $1800.00 - needed brand new rotors, pads, etc.. (4 wheel disc

    Plus, the cost of diesel is now higher than regular gas. I consider myself lucky I can get diesel for
    $3.79/gal. Also, if it's a newer model truck, it'll have more electronics on it. The last time my truck
    died, it cost me over a grand for a rebuilt Fuel Injector Control Module.

    So why did I buy one? My original intent was to get a slide-in camper. Though it is fun to tow a car
    uphill on an interstate at 70mph.

    When/if it finally dies, I'm just going to replace it with a used 1/2 ton gasser. Unless Ford/GM/Fiat pulls
    their collective heads out and starts building a small 4x4 pickup again.
  6. Dismount

    Dismount Boring bastard

    Feb 6, 2007
    Beckley wv
    If you aren't going to put it to work, it makes no sense specifically seeking out a diesel. It's like using a 2 stroke 250 as your grocery getter. You'll get the job done, but you're ignoring what makes it good.

    Tell him to get a diesel And a boat. Then you can make him take you fishing.
  7. Ritalin Boy

    Ritalin Boy Petroconsumptivitius

    Sep 16, 2003
    Rhode Island
    Kid *wants* a diesel

    I say go completely old school meaning a Gen 1 Dodge or a OBS Ford with the 7.3 Powerstroke. You can find either with under 150k miles at the budget. While there are plenty of reasons to avoid mileage I run a sprinter with close to 400k, the Dodge has 150 and I ran an 01 F350 to 140 or so before getting bored with it. Truck was fine when I traded it. It's amazing what a weekly bath will do to preserve a vehicle.

    Most of the comments in this thread are from folks that have DPF, pee tanks and all sorts of electronic bullshit. Granted they're being rational which when we're talking a kid and his truck it is already an irrational. Kid wants to be rational tell him to get an old jetta and save gas.

    Love my gen 1.

  8. 1greenmachine

    1greenmachine Long timer

    Aug 28, 2010
    green bay, wi
    He can't afford or needs one so tell him to think different because any truck in that price range will be beat and have a ton load of miles on it. There once was a time that you could have found one in good shape, not all modifed and decent miles on it but those days are long gone and now they are the "in thing" so prices are jacked up.
  9. Ritalin Boy

    Ritalin Boy Petroconsumptivitius

    Sep 16, 2003
    Rhode Island
    I don't know what you consider to be jacked up but there's a nice Gen II dodge about to sell on E-Bay for under 9k. Fully loaded (SLT) and around 150k miles.
  10. trailer Rails

    trailer Rails Washes hands before going to the bathroom

    Jun 13, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA
    The EPA ruined diesel vehicles.

    The old ones get shitty milage on the new fuel. The fuel is getting more expensive and is not worth the trouble.

    Unless he is towing, buy a gas truck.
  11. DomEOD

    DomEOD 'murica

    Apr 10, 2013
    Ft Carson, CO and SoCal

    170k miles? That truck isn't even broken-in yet! :lol3
  12. bmw318tech

    bmw318tech Been here awhile

    Dec 20, 2006
    South west PA
    But the rest of the truck IS truly broken in. What good is a 500k motor if your frame is rusted out, doors sagging, every front end joint loose, and on and on.
  13. TwilightZone

    TwilightZone Long timer

    Dec 2, 2008
    Behind the Redwood Curtain
    >"The EPA ruined diesel vehicles."

    I'm getting 22+ mpg on my new Dodge (long run).
    18 mpg in and around town. The tail pipe is completely clean.

    All that said... I dunno how the EGR stuff or other environmental
    equip will hold up in the long term.

    Wait and see I guess.

    >"But the rest of the truck IS truly broken in."

    Yup. I sold my old Ford Powerstroke (from 1994-1/2). 20 years old.
    Sigh, great truck, the old Powerstroke was a lovely engine.
    Needed a trans rebuild, clutch, other mechanical stuff... and body work
    was starting to deteriorate. Age takes it all.
  14. 1greenmachine

    1greenmachine Long timer

    Aug 28, 2010
    green bay, wi
    I'm sure if you do your homework you could find a decent one but around here in that price range if the truck is in good condition it will probaly get snapped up then have some smoke mods or tuner box thrown on it and beaten up and down.

    I'd love to find a dodge crewcab with the 24 valve in it and do a couple things to it for fuel pump life but i wouldn't pay some of the crazy prices guys are is all.
  15. shores

    shores ElBandido

    Jun 19, 2010
    You are bitching about gas at 3.79 a gallon?
    In canada its 1.35 a litre, or 5.40 ish for an imperial gallon of regular
    A gallon of premium is around 7 dollars
    Diesel is 1.19 a litre
  16. Bandit240

    Bandit240 Been here awhile

    Sep 14, 2009
    Charleston SC USA
    Who says older diesels don't gave good fuel mileage on the new fuels? I drove a 1991 D-250 with the 6BT turbo inter cooled engine hooked up to a 5sp and got an average of 23mpg all last year. Was an awesome truck, wish I could have rounded up the cash to buy it from my dad.
  17. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

    May 13, 2004
    NoVA for now...
    That right there is pure truck pron. :nod


    The 88 D100 in the yard is OK, but its a regular cab with a 318. It gets slightly less than 13mpg in all-round driving. :puke1

  18. CodeMonkee

    CodeMonkee Geek Adventurer

    Jul 26, 2001
    If he isn't going to tow or haul, then the older diesels that are in his price range are probably not going to be what he needs.

    I own a '97 Dodge Ram 3500 with a diesel, and I recommend the Cummins diesel in the Dodges over the Ford, even though the Ford is a better truck, the Cummins is the better engine. I would want it for just driving around.

    But some people get it in their head they want something and there isn't anyway to convince them otherwise.

    Some of the newer smaller lighter trucks are coming out with diesels that are better, but way out of his price range.

    You are correct, all else being equal, while the diesel engines last longer, the rest of the truck has the same lifetime.

    You don't buy a diesel anything on the basis of fuel savings unless you are going to be driving a lot of miles - a LOT of miles.

    You buy a diesel for the performance, and only then for towing or hauling heavy loads.
  19. bullittman281

    bullittman281 Been here awhile

    Dec 22, 2007
    4 corners-ish
    OK, Here's the deal....
    First off there's something that even the early mid 90's diesel truck have and can do that a similar era gas cant; That is POWER. You couldn't give me a sick dog 90's gasser. EVER. BaWaa!! That and you have some kind of hope fore fuel mileage. I'd like to see a gasser get any kind of decent fuel mileage. 13 ain't decent. The point here is you don't have to haul to *need* a diesel. Near as I can tell there is no reason to not buy a diesel. They do everything a gasser does but way better(we are not talking about the brand new failure prone diesels).

    Here's the break down on what I know:

    Ford 7.3:
    The OBS ones are tough but a touch down on power compared to the new stuff. They run good and will go a lot of miles. Depending on maintenance most are likely due for a new set of injectors unless its a low mileage cream puff (good luck). The super duties are all around a better truck with better power. The injector issue hold true here as well. The OBS trucks interiors are junk IMO and all fell apart. Any auto trany behind a 7.3 is also very weak. Ford never did get this right. The 5sp manual behind the OBS 7.3 was ok. Its rebuild-able in your bathtub however. The 6 speed in the super duty is probably the best gear box to ever go in a pick up truck. Its slow shifting. It absolutely takes a GOOD trany shop to fix. Early ones had weak clutch forks that were failure prone. The new replacement one is much stronger. I'd imagine that most of the weak ones have already failed. The super duty interiors were a vast improvement over anything before them. As was the rest of the truck. Either way all of the 7.3's a trained monkey can fix. There is NO magic in side of them. Injectors are easy enough to change and can be rebuilt for less that $100 each if they aren't too fraged.

    The 6.0hhh :(
    I would avoid one of these at all cost. The later ones are better but none are great. The early ones had a failure prone high pressure oil pump with external oil lines. The later ones have a better pump but a far more complicated oil system with lots of failure prone O rings. The injectors seem some what short lived and are a bit more complicated to change. The electronics as a whole are much more complicated. The EGR is failure prone and causes more trouble than its worth. Really the only plus side to the 6.0 is when it does run and the head gaskets haven't blown it does make A LOT of power. Much more than the 7.3. You can also get a better deal on a 6.0hhh for obvious reasons. AVOID!!!

    The 6.4: The cab has to come off to work on the engine. Failure prone because of emissions equipment and very poor fuel mileage. I would never touch one. Likely WAY beyond budget any ways.

    The 5.9 Dodge.
    Early ones were tough, though they didn't make anything close to decent power. They are some what limited by the injection pump. The only old dodges still going have the 5.9. The truck itself was crap IMO. The mid 90's ones got a much better Bosch pump and an intercooler and made better power. It was still down on power compared to the ford. There are no glaring issues with the 12V 5.9. Again I'm not so impressed with the rest of the truck. Good luck finding a semi stock one that isn't totally hammered. The later 24V trucks got better but weren't great. The VP44 pump was electronically controlled and somewhat failure prone. The after market has fixed this but its expensive and changing the pump may or may not be a diy project. The Common rail stuff makes a lot more power but is very expensive and not as reliable as the 12v. Very likely out of budget. All of the dodges seem to suffer junk lift pumps. A lift pump failure may precipitate an injection pump failure. The dodge auto trannies are crap just like Fords. The manuals are a mixed bag. The 5 speed was stout enough. The 6 speed came with factory gremlins the made it die for no good reason. For all intent and purpose there are no parts available for these gear boxes. I think the aftermarket is catching up but its not pretty.

    Forget anything that isn't a duramax. The old 6.5 never was a decent engine. Always down on power and failure prone, though I do here them rattling occasionally. I believe the larger mail truck still use this boat anchor. The early duramaxes had short lived injectors and they are expensive. I don't know a whole lot more about them. The later trucks have other issues. Most or all of these are likely out of budget. The chevy was the first diesel to offer an auto trany the held up better than a grenade with the pin pulled. I think the trucks and especially the front ends are crap. There's not a chevy truck in this world or any other that I would willingly drive, but to each their own I suppose....

    If I were looking I would look for a good Ford. I'd try really hard to find a late 99 or newer 7.3 super duty with the manual gear box. This is the best choice. The early 99's had a small intercooler and smaller turbo that are like nothing before or after it. Not a deal breaker but not ideal either.

  20. C Squared

    C Squared Now with TURBO!

    Mar 27, 2008
    FDL WI.
    Diesels are cool. I've go t two 02 TDI's and a 97 350 Power Stroke.
    If I start a vehicle it tends to drive 10 miles or more. If I lived in town and was starting and driving 3 miles then stopping..... I would own a gas vehicle. What type of driving is he doing? Diesels do not like short hops. They never get to max efficiency if they are not fully warmed up.
    If he isn't going to tow or haul significant weight then his wants are not needs and it doesn't sound like he is in a place in life yet to afford things "just because". I have the TDI's for MPG and longevity and like them. The 350 was a daily driver years ago (bought it new) It is now around for hauling and plowing duty. It gets used for what it was made for. I teach H.S. Automotive Tech. 1/2 my students want a diesel so they can "roll coal". And they can drive to Mac Donalds. Some put a 4 wheeler in the back. I can tow 3 motorcycles on a trailer behind my VW. Convince him to get what he needs. He will get way more truck (if he needs a truck). If he needs diesel, get one.

    All of mine are somewhat performance modified.... So, I am not always rational. But, I can afford this.