Buying a diesel truck can be exciting, but it’s not the same as shopping or a standard passenger vehicle. Diesel engines tend to be much more complicated than their gasoline counterparts. And if you don’t know what to look for, you can easily be taken for a ride. Diesel trucks tend to be a lot more expensive, so you will need to adjust your budget accordingly. Simply upgrading to a diesel model will likely add $10,000 or more to the price tag, but diesel trucks offer unsurpassed reliability with aggressive towing power. That’s why so many drivers prefer to buy used. You can easily find a quality used diesel truck for around $10,000. The market for diesel pickups is growing fast as more drivers realize the benefits of going diesel. So, what should you look for when buying a diesel truck? Avoid these mistakes at all costs to get the most bang for your buck:
Lacking Access to Parts and Repairs
Some diesel engines will last a million miles or more when properly maintained, but their parts and components need to be replaced more often. You need to make sure you have access to a knowledgeable mechanic that specializes in your specific make and model. Some auto shops only work on gasoline vehicles. Keep the number fora diesel mechanic on hand to avoid getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. You can also buy diesel parts online to save money. Keep extra parts on hand to minimize the amount of time your vehicle is in the shop. If you bring in your own parts, you don’t have to worry about paying mark-up prices.
Spend time checking the various parts and components of the vehicle before taking it for a drive. The number of repairs needed usually depends on the make and model. Manufacturers started adding emissions reduction technology and other electrical inputs to improve performance, but this only increases the number of things that can go wrong. Diesel trucks from the 90s or early 00s usually lack this technology, which can help you keep your maintenance costs to a minimum.
For example, the Cummins 5.9 engine for the Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 HD is known as one of the most reliable engines of all time because it lacks many of the features most diesels come with today. Meanwhile, the Ford Powerstroke 6.0 uses an injection pressure regulator (IPR) valve to automatically control the amount of oil coming from the high-pressure fuel pump based on operating conditions. If the valve is off, your truck will experience a sudden loss of power or the engine could stall. The oil is considered the lifeblood of any diesel. You can replace the IPR valve to fix the issue.
Over Relying on Mileage as an Indicator of Value
Most people look at the odometer when evaluating the retail value of a used car, but that’s not how things typically work in the diesel industry. Diesel trucks are more expensive than gasoline vehicles because they are generally built to last twice as long.
If you think 200,000 miles is a lot, think again. With a few repairs, you can get another 500,000 miles or more out of used diesel truck. Set aside an extra thousand dollars for possible repairs when looking at the purchase price to make sure your new ride will last the test of time. Research the make and model to see what kinds of repairs the truck will need.
Choosing Between a Fixed and Variable Geometry Turbo
Everyone loves the idea of driving a turbocharged diesel engine. But not all turbos are created equal. Most gasoline trucks don’t have this feature, so you’ll need to get acquainted with the topic before shopping for a diesel truck. The turbo will either be fixed or variable. Fixed geometry turbos have set dimensions, so the amount of exhaust going into the combustion chamber stays constant. Variable geometry turbos come with sliding sleeves that automatically adjust the flow of the exhaust gas to give you a boost at low RPMs. This will come in handy when towing heavy loads at low speeds. The sliding sleeve makes the turbo more responsive to help you adjust your speed in real-time. However, the sleeve can also get stuck in the open or closed position. Keep the exhaust brake engaged to keep the sleeve moving.
Not Replacing the EGR Cooler
Most diesels that were manufactured after the early 00s use some form of emissions reduction technology to prevent the spread of NOx. The most common of which is what’s known as exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The engine pumps coolant near the exhaust gas to reduce the temperature before it reaches the combustion chamber.
Others may use selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which is when a special fluid gets injected into the combustion chamber, which converts NOx into gases that occur naturally in the atmosphere. Some of the parts and components are subject to fail. Without this technology, soot and carbon will start to build up in your engine. You can find replacement EGR coolers online to prevent your engine from overheating.
Diesel engines come with lots of different features and components. Make sure your diesel truck is safe to drive before hitting the road and include the cost of repairs when shopping around. These vehicles may require more maintenance than you’re used to, but the extra power and durability makes them more than worth it.