January 6

Ford Diesel Trucks, How Reliable Are They?



Mark: Hi it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, Vancouver’s favourite auto service experience. How’re you doing today Bernie?

Bernie: I’m doing very well Mark.

Mark: So our first hangout of 2017 and we’re going to talk about Ford Diesel Trucks and how reliable they are. Let’s start with older to newer, were the good old days really the good old days?

Bernie: Well in this case, yes to some degree. So we’ll go back as far as the 7.3 litre Ford diesel which came out in the 1990’s, so that’s going back a long ways now, we’re looking back 20 years which is getting pretty old for a vehicle. Yes, the 7.3 litre diesel built by International was a very reliable engine, we still work on them, we still see them, not a lot of problems still. I mean, the actual basic engine, the valves, the pistons, timing components, all very reliable. there’s a few sensor issues with these things, fuel injectors go bad from time to time, but I mean, these are getting to be old vehicles now, so they’re really generally, pretty good. They are a dirty running engine, the emissions systems are not sophisticated and they’re noisy, but they get good fuel economy for the size of truck and they are very reliable.

Mark: So what about some of the other models, they had quite a few different sizes of engines through the years, how were they?

Bernie: Well, let’s get into the 6 litre, this is the legendary engine that has, I was thinking about when we were doing this hangout, it’s probably easier for me to talk about what doesn’t go wrong with this engine that what does because there are so many things, if you look on the internet you’d probably be scared to ever own one of these vehicles. But there are, a positive thing about the 6 litre, we’ll start with that, it’s got descent fuel economy, good power, a little noisy by modern diesel standards but there’s a lot that goes wrong with it. The base engine itself, like the bottom of the engine is really solid, the pistons, the block, crankshaft, there are very few problems ever occur with that part of it, but everything else, there’s a lot of things; head gaskets, EGR coolers, fuel injectors, turbo chargers, fuel injector control modules, a variety of sensors, the list just goes on and on and on. So Ford, well this is an International engine but there was many revisions made over the years this engine was made from 2003 right up into 2010, they were still used in vans, but not used in trucks after 2007, I think. So a lot of things, the list goes on, I would say this is not a, if you’re wanting to buy a vehicle that’s reliable, the 6 litre engine is definitely not the best. However, that being said, we have clients with them that have well over 200 thousand kilometres and have almost nothing go wrong with them but that’s usually the exception more than the rule. So after the 6 litre, Ford changed to a 6.4 litre and again another International made engine.

Mark: So we don’t hear a lot about those, how are they?

Bernie: Well they are definitely better in many or respects over the 6 litre. A lot of the reliability issues that happened with the 6 litre had blown head gaskets, injectors, all of those sort of things don’t seem to occur with the 6.4 litre engine. What we’ve seen in our shop mostly with the 6.4 is a lot of cooling system leaks and they’re expensive to fix because they’re diesels, the radiators are enormous and expensive. Also the other issues are a lot around the ignition system, these are the first engines that used a particulate filter and a system to burn it off and what happened with these engines is they get horrendously bad fuel economy and it’s always hard for me to reconcile how an engine can burn more fuel and be cleaner at the tailpipe. It just does not make any sense but for some reason that’s what they do. But there’s a lot of issues that happen with these, I mean people do eliminate the emission systems, it’s not legal, possibly not ethical but people are free to do what they want. It’s not like there’s a cop on every corner checking. So definitely more reliable but they’re not a great engine from the fuel economy standpoint. So after a few years of using this engine, Ford decided to go into building their own diesel because their reputation had suffered for so many years from these two, the 6 litre and the 6.4 litre, they built a 6.7 litre diesel. That’s their latest model.

Mark: So the latest, is it the greatest, how are these?

Bernie: Well so far so good, we do a lot of maintenance service on customers with these trucks, we haven’t had one problem yet, haven’t seen anything but we are in the greater scheme of things, a small shop. I did do a little reading on the internet, there’s a few little issues here and there but really overall compared to previous generation, last two diesel models, these things are great. Very few problems and Ford has now, for this model year brought out a new version of this engine with a larger turbo charger and a few other features to address whatever concerns they had with it. So I would say that this is definitely a good engine, it’s definitely a good way to go. If I was going to buy a Ford truck, this is the one I’d buy. But of course being newer, you’re going to be spending a lot more money.

Mark: So we spent a lot more time on engines, what about the rest of the truck?

Bernie: Well that’s an excellent question. So the rest of the truck, so these engines would be found in the F250 and F350 models and actually up to larger 450’s and 550’s, overall the trucks are pretty good. The transmissions don’t have a lot of problems, drivetrain wise, the differentials are solid, a lot of these are in four wheel drive trucks and so as time goes by, things do wear out, ball joints and the universal joints and the front end and when they do wear out, they are very expensive to fix. Brakes are large, so you do spend a lot more money on brakes and I will say Ford brakes do seem to be more expensive to fix than a lot of other vehicles for some reason the calipers, the caliper dust seals tend to break on Fords at a very early age and frequently. So a lot of times you’re doing a brake job with pads, rotors and calipers which can be substantially more expensive than a lot of other trucks where just the pads and rotors need to be replaced. But I think the rest of the truck itself is pretty good. They’re pretty solid and they’re certainly a nice truck to drive, they feel good, they operate well so that’s definitely a positive. But they are, it’s a big truck, it’s a big vehicle. it’s complicated so that adds to the expense and you need to know that before you get into it.

Mark: So any further thoughts on Ford diesel pickups?

Bernie: Well, as I’ve said earlier, I mean if I was going to buy a diesel Ford, I’d definitely be looking at a 6.7 litre model. They seem to be the most reliable unless you want to go really low budget and get something old, the 7.3 still does work well if you can find one that’s got some descent mileage, low mileage on it, that could be a way to go too. Depends on your budget, but overall they’re good trucks but just know what you’re getting in to.

Mark: Alright, so if you’re looking to get service on your Ford diesel pickup in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. They’re experts in this, they’ve done thousands. Give them a call 604-327-7112 or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, we’ve got two or three years worth of hangouts on there, tons of information on almost every kind of car there is. Check it out. Thanks Bernie

Bernie: Thanks Mark

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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