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Gas vs Diesel: Building a Rig

gas diesel camper pop up camper ford chevy limited use

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#1 A.Smith

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 01:27 AM

So we are looking to get a used 3/4 ton for a Hawk FWC.

 

The question is a gas engine or a diesel, as this truck will not be an everyday driver. We hope to go camping about once a month, with the truck sitting for the rest of the time (about 3 weeks).

 

We were looking at a 99-2000 Ford F250 with the 7.3L diesel.

 

I am concerned that a diesel sitting that much would be bad and therefore I should get a gas engine instead. All the trucks I'm seeing are 180-220k miles on the odometer. Therefore looking at diesel, but I am concerned.

 

Any advice and opinions would be greatly appreciated.


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#2 craig333

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 01:45 AM

I can't see a problem with that.


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Craig KK6AUI _________________________ 2004 2500 CTD 4X4 FWC HAWK 1960 CJ5

#3 winks

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 03:00 AM

The maintenenance and repair costs of late model diesels make them uneconomical. Older ones seem to have proven more reliable. Do some more research and let us know what happens.


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#4 Foy

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 10:50 AM

I am the happy owner of a 2002 F350 single rear wheel Crew Cab longbed 4WD 7.3 diesel.  I purchased it used after the original owner put 96,500 all highway, non towing, no camper miles on it in just 22 months (he worked as an oil field service rep in West Texas).  It now has 244,000 miles and has served as an in-town daily driver for 5 of the 10.5 years I've owned it.  Today and for the forseeable future, it serves as a rolling toolbox for trips to family vacation homes at the beach and in the mountains, a weekender off-road explorer in the southern and central Blue Ridge, Smokies, and Alleghanies, and an occasional cross-country transport to WTW trips to MT and ID.

 

I have enjoyed virtually trouble-free motoring with the Ford.  Yes, I've replaced lots of "wear parts", including sway bar bushings, u-joints, carrier bearings, front wheel bearing assemblies, HPOP O-rings, and front leaf springs and bushings.  I'm on my 3rd water pump and 3rd serpentine belt. Lightly loaded and gently driven, I still see fuel mileage in the high teens (17.5 to 19.5 mpg) and even towing my 2,500-3,000 lb popup camper I've seen only slightly lower mpg. 

 

The weak point is the automatic transmission. I wanted a 6-speed manual when I was shopping for a used one in 2004, but they're scarcer than hen's teeth here in the East. The 4R100 automatic is prone to early failure, often torque converter failure, which trashes the whole transmission.  The original owner had been hyper-vigilant about trans fluid and filter changes and I have changed it 5 times since purchasing the truck. Last week, I purchased 20 qts of Mobil 1 synthetic ATF, an internal filter, and a new in-line filter for a 6th ATF change scheduled for this Saturday. Perhaps using synthetic ATF and a Magnefine in-line filter, plus keeping a sharp eye on trans fluid temp, has allowed me to enjoy longer then normal 4R100 life.

 

As to a diesel sitting for long periods, it need not do so.  I make sure I drive mine at least around town a bit once each week.  There are fuel stabilizers, including biocides, which you can add to the fuel to keep it fresh.  Anti-gel additives should be used in winter.  Use of additives can be combined with careful selection of fuel retailers (purchasing only from high-volume sellers such as busy truck stops) to minimize fuel problems.  The only fuel problem I've had in + 10 years was driver error--I ran it out of fuel.  A diesel can be the devil to re-start after running out of fuel. 

 

So that's one guy's story of diesel pickup ownership.  My Ford is, hands down, the best truck I've ever had, and I've run nothing but 4WD pickups, Scouts, Jeeps, and Suburbans since 1973.  As to more recently manufactured diesels, they do seem to have a plethora of issues, most related to the increased level of electronic controls. Practically every guy hearing of my long-lived 2002 says "Man, I wish I'd never traded my 7.3".  Perhaps its status as a large displacement, de-tuned laborer provides a level of long-life and reliability, or perhaps I've just been lucky.

 

Foy


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#5 kmcintyre

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 12:01 PM

Talk about starting a "fire storm" :-).  I have a diesel Beetle and a gasser truck.  I so wish I had a diesel pickup.  Better torque, mileage, longevity, etc., etc.  I love the Beetle.  Almost 50mpg on the freeway at speed and can go up any grade with no issues.  My truck?  Different story.  Crappy mileage, a dog up hills, etc.  Yes, diesel costs a premium (here in Idaho at least) but right now, maybe < 5%, in the winter it's probably 15% but worth the extra you get out of it.  IMHO!


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#6 ntsqd

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 01:34 PM

I don't think either engine type has an advantage over the other when it comes to just sitting. It isn't good for any machine to just sit, they need periodic use. Like Foy, I make a point to try to drive our truck at least once every other week, and every week if I'm not making some change that won't allow that.


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Thom

Where does that road go?

#7 Foy

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 02:19 PM

Going back to the mid 1980s, when diesel fuel was cheaper then regular unleaded gas, I have yet to see numbers indicating purchase of a NEW diesel truck provides less overall purchase + operating costs than a new gasser until you get well into the upper 100s or low 200s in long-term mileage.  Now that diesel is consistently > gasoline (the lines crossed within months of my purchase in 2004!), it seems even less likely that a guy can save money, net-net-net, with a diesel, particularly with modest recreational only mileage annually.

 

So, we pay some premium or another to run a diesel.  I rationalize mine with suitability for heavy work, notwithstanding the infrequent need for high torque work, overall reliability, and to a material degree, driveability.  Having had every gasser I owned before 2004 being such a dog on mountain grades, especially when towing, I was totally tired of gassers. Since 2004, I've by and large held cruising speed even up long grades, and I can accelerate uphill when desired.  Other nominal driveability benefits are very low fuel consumption at idle and very low consumption at slow speeds.  I can bop around in the NC or MT mountains on county or Forest Service roads, running 30-45 mph, and see an honest 18-19 mpg.  That's cool since the fuel economy + a 38 gallon tank gives me exceptional range.

 

Foy


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#8 CALIcamperdad

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 07:57 PM

The wanderer types value range capability which case regardless of cost comparisons diesel is the clear choice in this regard.

As for fuel vs sitting diesel is far far FAR more stable sitting for long periods of time than gas ask any boater that has a diesel boat and gas powered outboards etc.

 

Its really a moot point and comes down to preference and desire for range capability.


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#9 idahoron

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 11:05 PM

I am the happy owner of a 2002 F350 single rear wheel Crew Cab longbed 4WD 7.3 diesel.  I purchased it used after the original owner put 96,500 all highway, non towing, no camper miles on it in just 22 months (he worked as an oil field service rep in West Texas).  It now has 244,000 miles and has served as an in-town daily driver for 5 of the 10.5 years I've owned it.  Today and for the forseeable future, it serves as a rolling toolbox for trips to family vacation homes at the beach and in the mountains, a weekender off-road explorer in the southern and central Blue Ridge, Smokies, and Alleghanies, and an occasional cross-country transport to WTW trips to MT and ID.

 

I have enjoyed virtually trouble-free motoring with the Ford.  Yes, I've replaced lots of "wear parts", including sway bar bushings, u-joints, carrier bearings, front wheel bearing assemblies, HPOP O-rings, and front leaf springs and bushings.  I'm on my 3rd water pump and 3rd serpentine belt. Lightly loaded and gently driven, I still see fuel mileage in the high teens (17.5 to 19.5 mpg) and even towing my 2,500-3,000 lb popup camper I've seen only slightly lower mpg. 

 

The weak point is the automatic transmission. I wanted a 6-speed manual when I was shopping for a used one in 2004, but they're scarcer than hen's teeth here in the East. The 4R100 automatic is prone to early failure, often torque converter failure, which trashes the whole transmission.  The original owner had been hyper-vigilant about trans fluid and filter changes and I have changed it 5 times since purchasing the truck. Last week, I purchased 20 qts of Mobil 1 synthetic ATF, an internal filter, and a new in-line filter for a 6th ATF change scheduled for this Saturday. Perhaps using synthetic ATF and a Magnefine in-line filter, plus keeping a sharp eye on trans fluid temp, has allowed me to enjoy longer then normal 4R100 life.

 

As to a diesel sitting for long periods, it need not do so.  I make sure I drive mine at least around town a bit once each week.  There are fuel stabilizers, including biocides, which you can add to the fuel to keep it fresh.  Anti-gel additives should be used in winter.  Use of additives can be combined with careful selection of fuel retailers (purchasing only from high-volume sellers such as busy truck stops) to minimize fuel problems.  The only fuel problem I've had in + 10 years was driver error--I ran it out of fuel.  A diesel can be the devil to re-start after running out of fuel. 

 

So that's one guy's story of diesel pickup ownership.  My Ford is, hands down, the best truck I've ever had, and I've run nothing but 4WD pickups, Scouts, Jeeps, and Suburbans since 1973.  As to more recently manufactured diesels, they do seem to have a plethora of issues, most related to the increased level of electronic controls. Practically every guy hearing of my long-lived 2002 says "Man, I wish I'd never traded my 7.3".  Perhaps its status as a large displacement, de-tuned laborer provides a level of long-life and reliability, or perhaps I've just been lucky.

 

Foy

 

 

 

I have a 1988 toyota xtra cab with 300,000 miles on it. The list of "wear parts" you have replaced would have made me get rid of it years ago. I have replaced one water pump. I took the starter off and had it worked over. It was working I just wanted to make sure it didn't leave me stranded. I had one alternator replaced. I had the timing chain replaced, and while they had it down that far I had new valves put in it. I had the breaks changed once, and the clutch done once.  It is my daily driver. 


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#10 CALIcamperdad

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Posted 18 September 2014 - 11:11 PM

I have a 1988 toyota xtra cab with 300,000 miles on it. The list of "wear parts" you have replaced would have made me get rid of it years ago. I have replaced one water pump. I took the starter off and had it worked over. It was working I just wanted to make sure it didn't leave me stranded. I had one alternator replaced. I had the timing chain replaced, and while they had it down that far I had new valves put in it. I had the breaks changed once, and the clutch done once.  It is my daily driver. 

Sadly Toyota doesn't make em like that anymore. My 07 Sequoia is a nice machine but nothing to write home about regarding typical running costs of stuff that needs to be done. At this point in time I'm not biased to any brand given they all have their weaknesses and advantages. Chevy Colorado 4dr off road package, 2.8L Diesel seems like an ideal wanderer rig to me. Not to big, big enough and should provide wandering range unlike anything we have ever had an option to own in the US. For sure has my interest.


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