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  #1  
Old 08-11-2003, 12:06 AM
123c
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Question Which Diesel Truck is better?

I am starting to look for a Diesel truck of some kind, and have narrowed my choice to either a Dodge Ram 2500 or a Ford F-250. Today I took a 1992 Ram 250 for a test drive today, and it was very fun to drive. Next week I am going to try and take a F-250 for a test drive, probally will have the 6.9 or 7.3 liter engine (I can't afford one with a Powerstroke)...

Now my question, which one is a better truck? The reason I am asking this is that it looks like I might be needing a larger truck for a future job that I might be getting, oh, and it needs to be a 4x4.

btw, I will probally be keeping my 300CD for a while. Having a job has been helpful in making a few of those repairs that I have been neglecting, which were way cheaper than I expected
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Old 08-11-2003, 02:26 AM
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123c,

I drove both. I didn't like the Dodge/Cummins Diesel because of the limited RPM range of the 6 cylinder engine. It only turns about 2600 RPM and seemed to run out of revs too soon.

The Ford IH V8 engine turns 3500 RPM and didn't seem to run out of revs like the Dodge did.

The trucks I tested both had manual transmissions. Possibly with an automatic transmission the Dodge would be OK.

I would prefer the Ford/IH to the Dodge/Cummins. To me an engine with a wider RPM range is more flexible.

Consumer Reports said the Ford was a more refined truck than the Dodge.

P E H

Last edited by P.E.Haiges; 08-13-2003 at 08:42 AM.
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2003, 02:38 AM
123c
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Eventhough the Dodge didn't have a tach, I did notice the limited RPM Range in the Cummins Engine. However I did like the the sound of the turbo

When I test the Ford I will be sure to notice the RPM of the IH engine. There are a few dealerships here that have some older Fords that I can test drive (they are all less $$$ than the Dodge I test drove today).

The most important thing I am looking for is something that has a manual transmission (I don't really want to mess with Automatic transmissions anymore)...
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  #4  
Old 08-11-2003, 05:57 AM
The Warden's Avatar
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Cool

Boy oh boy...

BTW, you probably know this, but Dodge started putting the Cummins in their truck in the 1989 model year. The "First Generation" was around until '93. In '94, they changed to the newer bodystyle, and also made some engine improvements (inline injector pump instead of rotary, a bit more horsepower, etc). '89 and some '90 trucks did not have intercoolers, and some early trucks were equipped with 3 speed automatics, which were bulletproof but offer no overdrive gear.

Ford started putting the 6.9l Navistar engine in their truck in '83. Halfway through the '87 model year, they started using the 7.3l instead. They kept the IDI 7.3l until halfway through the '94 model year when they switched to the Powerstroke. Some '94 IDI's have factory turbo's; otherwise, every engine came from the factory naturally aspirated. Note that, except for the turbo'ed IDI's, the 6.9l and the 7.3l put out almost the exact same power numbers (the 6.9l puts out 175 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque; the 7.3l puts out 185 horsepower and about 325 ft-lbs of torque).

Dodge:

Good:
  • The 6BT Cummins is nearly indestructible if you treat it right; I would put it on par with the OM616 as far as reliability goes (more than one example has made it past 1 million miles)
  • Except for the '89 and some '90 trucks, every version is available with an overdrive gear
  • Excellent fuel mileage; if you drive easy and have 3.54 gears, some people have seen almost 20mpg
  • They just plain sound mean, especially if you straight-pipe it (since it's turbo'ed, doing so is probably legal too )
  • The inline-6 design makes for a relatively uncluttered engine compartment
  • If you decide you don't have enough power, the engine isn't too difficult to modify
  • Solid front axle on all 4x4 models; easier to keep aligned and more rugged

Bad:
  • '89-'93 used a Getrag manual transmission, which has a limited lifespan (it's not difficult to swap an NV4500 in, though, and the NV4500 is indestructible {note that '94+ trucks use the NV4500 instead})
  • On '94-'98 12 valves, there is a dowel pin in the timing gear housing cover that can fall out into the gears, causing severe damage. This problem is acknowledged by Cummins (and was corrected on later engines), and a permanent fix is not difficult to do. I don't know if '89-'93 trucks have this issue.
  • Fewer of them were built, so they're harder to find, and for that reason (and due to their longevity), the price for one is typically a couple of thousand higher than for a Ford of the same model year

Ford:

Good:
  • Easier to find; Ford's been making diesels since '83 while Dodge started in '89; for the same reason, there's more of them and they typically come cheaper.
  • The Borg-Warner T-19 4 speed manual transmission (used from '83 to '87) is just about indestructible
  • The Ford C-6 3 speed automatic (used between '83 and '88) is also just about indestrucible
  • The bottom end is very stout

Bad:
  • CAVITATION!!! This mainly pertains to the 7.3l IDI. There is a coolant additive that needs to be properly maintained in the antifreeze. The good news is that, with the additive, you're pretty much home free. The bad news is that nearly no one knows about it. To make a long story short, if the additive is not used, pinholes develop between the cooling jacket and the rearmost two cylinders, eventually (usually in 200K to 250K miles, but it has been known to happen sooner) hydrolocking the engine and requiring you to resleeve the whole thing. If you look at a 7.3l IDI, ask the owner if they've been using FW-16. If they look at you blankly, don't buy the truck unless it has less than 100,000 miles on it. The chances of doing a rebuild (or a short block replacement) are just too high.
  • Injector pumps. There's a nylon gear in the Stanadyne rotary pump that has a tendency to start dissolving, rendering the pump useless. The pumps typically last about 100,000 miles, and the cheapest replacement costs about $300. Also, the fuel injectors are not of excellent quality; you almost never hear of people replacing injectors on M-B's, but doing so on either Ford IDI is not all that uncommon.
  • Block cracking; on engines built prior to midway through '85, sometimes a crack forms in the block near the block heater. Using the heater makes this worse. This is an admitted problem, and blocks made after a certain serial number (I don't remember the exact number but it's roughly midway through the '85 model year), this part was redesigned and no longer poses a problem. If the block cracks, you'll be losing coolant out the side but engine operation won't be affected otherwise.
  • The E4OD (4 speed overdrive auto used from '89 on up) is a piece of junk!!!!! If you find a good rebuild shop, they can be rebuilt to be stronger (better clutch packings, firmer shifts so the clutches aren't put under so much stress), but unless the truck's going to be running around empty all the time, I would plan on rebuilding it at least once, unless it's a fresh rebuild.
  • No overdrive available with a 6.9l unless you get very lucky (a very few 6.9l's were equipped with 5 speeds in '87) or an auxiliary transmission was installed. With 4.10 rear end gears, this means that the engine'll be screaming on the freeways.
  • Independent front suspension used on all F-series trucks up to '85, and on all F-250's up to...actually, '97. This axle is prone to alignment problems, and can often eat up the tire on one side without doing much to the tire on the other side. But, if you know a good alignment shop and if the front suspension has been taken care of, it shouldn't be a big issue.
  • Glow Plugs. This is an annoyance more than anything else, but on '83-'86 trucks, the electronic controller for the plugs has a tendency to go out. It's best to bypass the controller entirely and mount a switch in the cab to trigger the power relay that actually gives the plugs juice. The controller often fails "On", and Ford in their infinite wisdom uses 6 volt plugs with 12 volts applied to them, so they burn out if left on longer than 10 seconds or so.

I think I got everything...if you can afford it, my vote goes to Dodge. I actually want to put a 12 valve Cummins in my truck someday. However, in spite of that list I wouldn't call the Ford a bad truck. There are some engine issues, but if taken care of, they can last a while. I've got 215K miles on my F-250, and while that may not be that high by MB diesel standards, that's still amazing compared to an '84 Ford 460-powered truck. I also get 15mpg.

One last suggestion would be to get a truck with 3.54 differential gearing. I've owned both, and especially 'cause these diesels don't really care for high RPM's (the 6.9l and 7.3l hit the governor at 3400 RPM, and the Cummins even lower), IMHO the trucks are more flexible with 3.54 gearing. With my 4.10's and 4 speed, I"m in top gear by 35 mph.

Hope that helps some...you might also want to check out www.thedieselstop.com (Ford) and www.dieseltruckresource.com (Dodge). If I can be of any further help, let me know. Good luck with your decision!
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2001 VW Jetta TDI, 5 speed, daily driver
1991 Ford F-350, work in progress
1984 Ford F-250 4x4, 6.9l turbo diesel, 5 speed manual
Previous oilburners: 1980 IH Scout, 1984 E-350, 1985 M-B 300D, 1979 M-B 300SD, 1983 M-B 300D
Spark-free since 1999
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  #5  
Old 08-11-2003, 06:12 AM
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Pay attention to what WARDEN says. He is a frequent contributor to thedieselstop.com. In fact when I was looking for MB diesel, I posted on that board and he told me anout mercedesshop.com. His summary hits all the high points.
My '86 F250 6.9 auto has just passed 325,000 miles and I rebuilt the engine--After completeing the rebuild, by assessment is that it really only needed a valve job as the original hone marks were still visible in the cylinders--not real deep, but visible. I love my truck. Oh, and even with the non turbo 6.9 auto it is still faster than my 240D. In fact when I'm pulling my 6000lb 5th wheel I think its about as "fast" as the 240D.
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Old 08-11-2003, 08:26 AM
LarryBible
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I have owned a Dodge with a 6BT and loved it. The problem was the Dodge truck that was attached to the engine, but the drivetrain was fabulous. Mine was a '91 so it was the earlier body design that was almost 20 years old. Maybe the newer trucks are better.

I have driven Ford's and the truck itself is far superior minus the engine. The V8 appears that it would be MUCH more difficult to work on.

My ideal truck would be the Ford truck with the Cummins 6BT.

My $0.02,
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:25 PM
Diesel Power
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I have the Dodge/Cummins combo. You would have to pry my cold dead hands from the steering wheel of that truck. Go with the Cummins, and keep the truck simple (IE, no automatic or power crap), and the truck will outlive the old 240D. Ford in comparison cannot hold a candle to the Cummins. They just aren't in the same league.

As for the old mechanical diesels limited RPM. I really don't notice the wider range of my ISB engine as I still run it primarily between 1600 and 2100 RPM. The 5.9B engine is a medium duty engine, and it acts like one. The 2600 RPM redline just comes with the territory.
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Old 08-11-2003, 12:32 PM
123c
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Thanks for the great information so far

I have been leaning more towards the Dodge since the very begining. I think I can afford one, just the one I was testing was about $4,000 over priced . The doors didn't seem to want to close all the way, and the door handle on the outside were way loose, does anyone if the is common on these older models? I might be able to afford a 1994 when the time comes around for me to get one, which still might be a while away...

Today I will try and test drive a Ford, and see how I like it...

If I had the money, I would rather buy a 606/616 Unimog , but for some reason prices start above my current price range for a truck
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:38 PM
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There is a good reason the Dodge/Cummins truck is more expensive that a comparable Ford/Navistar - the Cummins engine is far and away better than the Navistar.

In general the Cummins is not as refined as the Navistar but it is more fuel efficient, has fewer moving parts and is way tougher. The lower end of a 6BT is astonishing - the pistons, connecting rods and crank are two orders of magnitude overbuilt. Its quite obvious these things were made to tow heavy loads hundreds of thousands of miles. The Navistar, by contrast, seems to be built with an eye towards costs....

I have over 100K miles experience with the Dodge/Cummins combo (both old and new body styles) and I'm 100% satisfied with my choice.

Tim
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Old 08-11-2003, 01:52 PM
LarryBible
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One other thing. If you buy a brand new Ford V8 diesel it is the 6.0. They are having lots of problems with them. To learn more about this, read the discussion forum at www.thedieselstop.com

I did not even go into the toughness of the 6BT. As far as I'm concerned if it says "Cummins" on it, there's nothing else that needs to be said.

Have a great day,
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Old 08-11-2003, 03:36 PM
123c
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Quote:
Originally posted by LarryBible
One other thing. If you buy a brand new Ford V8 diesel it is the 6.0. They are having lots of problems with them. To learn more about this, read the discussion forum at www.thedieselstop.com
My friend's Dad just bought one about a months ago, and he searched for several months to find it, because he wanted a few of the rare factory options. I am sure he won't be that happy if and when he has any problems...
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  #12  
Old 08-11-2003, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by LarryBible
One other thing. If you buy a brand new Ford V8 diesel it is the 6.0. They are having lots of problems with them. To learn more about this, read the discussion forum at www.thedieselstop.com
I didn't even go into that...mainly 'cause he was saying that a PSD would be out of his price range. That said, you're absolutely right...the 6.0l is having more than its share of problems. If Ford doesn't get things right PDQ, they're going to run into some serious problems with people jumping ship.

The 7.3l PSD has its own sets of problems (cackle, crank position sensor going out, rough-running engine if the oil's old, etc)...also, if the injectors ever need to be replaced, it costs more to buy ONE injector for a PSD than it costs to buy a set of 6 for a Cummins (or a set of 8 for an IDI, for that matter). They're fun to drive, but then again, so is the Cummins.

Quote:
I did not even go into the toughness of the 6BT. As far as I'm concerned if it says "Cummins" on it, there's nothing else that needs to be said.
Absolutely. One of the two Scout boats that I work on has two 1710ci Cummins V-12 dual-turbo engines tha have been completely flawless in the 5 years that we've had the boat. Cummins is just as good as Caterpillar (it could be argued that they're even better ) without the super-high cost of parts.



BTW, I have my F-250 because it has a lot of sentimental value (an inheritance from one of my favorite people in the world)...if it weren't for that, I'd have a Dodge right now. In fact, I came within a couple of days of replacing my old E-series van with a '92 D-250 Cummins instead of my 300D.
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  #13  
Old 08-12-2003, 12:52 AM
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If you want a 4x4 AND a decent riding truck, then the Dodge ain't your rig, at least the first generation ('89-'93). My '93 4x4 w/extended cab has a leaf spring solid axle front end and is a real kidney buster to drive. The truck itself is junk in my mind, as the hardware and body integrity are sub-subpar.

The Cummins engine is a wonder to behold though! I get better fuel mileage than my old '88 VW Vanagon, and it's virtually indestructible. I really like that the Cummins is a 6 cyl. with just one head, requiring fewer parts, and taking up less engine compartment space too.

When I was searching for a rig I kept coming accross Fords and Chevys in the Autotrader and on Ebay with long lists of replaced parts (injectors, inj. pumps, heads, engine rebuilds, etc.), but the Dodges just listed general maintenance items.

I love the engine and drivetrain, but I'm pretty ambivalent about the rest of the truck. If I had to purchase a work truck that didn't need much of my time to maintain, then the Dodge is the only rational choice out there IMHO. I think a Cummins 6BT/OM617 comparison is very appropriate.

Good luck
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Old 08-12-2003, 08:43 AM
LarryBible
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The way I used to describe a Chrysler body was that "your first inclination after slamming the door is to roll down the window to look out and see what fell off."

As I said earlier in this thread, the Dodge body is clunky and the chassis marginal, but the drivetrain is Sweeeettt!!!

Have a great day,
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Old 08-12-2003, 06:18 PM
123c
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Does anyone know if it is a common thing for the doors to not shut all the way on a Dodge, because both doors did the same thing . I sort of have a feeling it may have something to do with something the previous owner did
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