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I am looking for a good used diesel pickup for under $10,000. I am looking for something with an extended or full cab. I have never bought a diesel before so I have some questions:

1) If it were you, what is the maximum number of miles on a vehicle before you would consider it being too much of a risk?
2) What are some good Makes/Models?
3) What are some things to check on when looking at a used diesel?

Ideally, I would like to find something simple but affordable and reliable. I am fine with a standard transmission, no radio, no power windows/locks, etc. I just want it to last a while and function as a good work truck. Is the $10,000 limit I have placed on myself reasonable for such goals?
 

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I just bought a 97 chevrolet k3500 with extended cab, flatbed, 4x4, 6.5 liter turbo diesel with 190k miles for $6k....I fixed the a/c, put bulbs in the dome light and floorboard lights, put a vacuum pump on it, it has been great so far...so there are deals out there to be had.

Good models, well any of the domestics within the last 15 years or so, avoid the GM 6.2 liter diesel ones, that one has some issues.

I've had a Dodge with the Cummins, my BIL has a Ford with the 7.3 Powerstroke, both have been great running and long lasting trucks.

I wouldn't get anything over 200k miles, light truck diesels are usually good up to 300k - 500k with proper maintenance.

On all diesels, excessive blow by is a sign of worn valve guides, valves or rings. Check for this by opening the oil fill and watch for a column of smoke/oil fog coming out...none at all is preferred, a little is ok, but if its gushing gray smoke and oil fog, a lot of compression is being lost and its getting close to overhaul time.

This is sometimes caused by 'dusting' which is not keeping a clean air filter on the intake at all times...diesels suck in a HUGE amount of air and need air filters replaced much more often than other engines, thats why you see the little indicator gauges to show when the air filter needs changed on diesels...

So check the air filter on any you go to look at, and look at the indicator, if its showing filter needs replacing, or the filter is dirty, walk (run) away, as that engine hasn't been cared for properly.

Diesel oil is normally black a few hundred miles after changing, so dark colored oil isn't a concern, but making sure the engine has had proper maintenance is, does the seller have records showing regular service?

A diesel engine in a light truck that has been serviced properly can go a lot of miles.....

As for the rest of the truck (transmission, trans axle if 4x4, axles, etc) thats just like a gas truck or car, so mostly try and determine if its been serviced properly and then drive it and listen for odd noises vibrations, etc.
 

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If it is an economy truck you need, I would definitely look at the VWs and Datsuns and Nissans. And look around some farms for barn finds. Just a couple months back I picked up a 1982 Datsun diesel 720 King Cab longbed that had sat in a farm shed for 2 years. Paid $500 with 88,000 actual on the clock. A bit of rust, but just surface. Interior nice. I've gotten it running good now, and will have about $900-1,000 in it when I get it like I want it (draining all fluids and replacing them, new filters, new pads/shoes, new idler arm, etc.) It gets 48-49 mpg.

The VWs are a bit more expensive in my experience, as are VW parts, but they or the Datsun/Nissan trucks are reliable. These lil trucks can haul a lot of stuff for very little fuel. They are not thbe best for heavy towing, but if an economy hauler is what you need, I'd recommend them. Mid-'90s models ought to run in the $3,000-$6,000 range in good shape, if you're not a scrounger like me. LOL..
 

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Our truck is the first diesel we've ever owned and we're never going back to gasoline for our application.

We bought a 1997 Ford F250XLTHD extended cab long bed with a 7.3-liter Powerstroke diesel. About 8 years ago with 93K miles on it - it blue booked at over $20K and I paid a few thousand less than that (probably could have gotten a better deal but we weren't great negotiators then and the local pickin's were awfully slim at the time). We needed a diesel for hauling and towing and what-have-you around the "farm" (I use that term loosely in this company, lol).

The prior owner was likely a commuter - putting about 3,000 miles per month on the vehicle. We parked it for a few years and used it around the "farm" for this and that. Then we had to sell our other vehicles and this became our only one. We commuted with it and started putting on the 3,000 miles per month. We've changed the oil religiously every 4,500 miles or sooner (usually every 3,000 miles). That is a BIG job but it still burns next to nothing and even after 4,500 miles the oil is still relatively clear.

We have used the HECK out of that truck and it just keeps going and going. We've had to do ball & U-joint work, just now brakes & shock work & the tranny is getting up there but the truck is about 10 years old now and has 230K miles on it. It's in the shop now for all the work but the tranny. Once we get that routine maintenance done, it will be like a new truck--except for a few dings here and there, a tailgate we've destroyed (by unloading 1,100-pound roundbales the hard way (no forklift here), hauling lots of oversized lumber with the tailgate up), and the tranny. I've been told by several people that have owned this exact year, make & model that the trannies are crap and four people I know with this truck have had to put in a new tranny at just 70K miles. We think our tranny is original and we're at 230K. It is definitely going but we are going to drive it until it dies and then tow it in to have it reworked or replaced. THEN it will be like a new truck.

So I guess miles aren't the issue. We've finally purchased a used commuter car (yea! we saved enough to actually DO something helpful!) and now that it's running well we have parked the truck except for hauling needs or days when both of us need to go somewhere. If we use it this way only it will probably last another 15 years! If we start commuting with it again, we expect it to go for many thousands more miles.

Our mechanic expects us to get over 350,000 miles easily on this engine but can't really say beyond that. He does say he sees lots of these trucks going and going and going as long as they get regular & timely maintenance. We think that if we keep taking care of it we'll probably get to about 500,000 miles before the engine needs serious work. And the blue book right now is still over $9,000 but the local market would probably pay a premium for it if we would part with it. Not bad.

When you find a truck you like, ask for all the records on it and if it's a dealer, ask for their safety point inspection results. Then take it to your favorite trusted mechanic and have him do a solid once-over on everything. A good mechanic can tell you where problem areas are for that particular vehicle.

I don't think they've ever rated them otherwise I'd say check Conumer Reports too. Bummer.

Biodiesel & SVO are also great options for the diesel engine. If I ever get some spare time & money I'll figure out how to do that some day. Right now in my area diesel is expensive but still cheaper by the gallon than gasoline but the truck only gets about 20mpg at best so not great. Our little 1992 used Subaru commuter car gets 26mpg!!!

Sure miss our Saturn and Honda that got over 30mpg though. *sigh*
 

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I've owned an old Ford 6.9, A newer Ford 7.3 & 2 Dodges (93 & the 2005 I have now). The Dodges have much more power (pulling a trailer especially) & both have gotten far better fuel mileage than the Fords. My current 3/4 ton automatic gets bout 23 mpg on the highway; 26-27 if I set the cruise on 60.

Lew in TX
 

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I dont really know what you are planning to use the pickup for, but I will share my experience with. A couple of years ago I found that I needed a farm truck 3/4 ton+ to haul cattle, hay, building materials, etc. I really wanted a diesel truck and I looked and looked for a decent used truck. Most trucks I found were either totally worn out or out of my budget. I happened to find a really nice 80K mile 1ton dually ext cab gas 454ci for $6000. Not exactly what I had in mind but it will pull just about anything you can hook up to it and cost about half what a comparable diesel would. What really makes it work for me is I only drive it a few thousand miles a year. Yes it only gets 8-10 miles per gallon, but even the interest $6000 a year more than pays for the gas I use.
Not that I wouldnt love to have a diesel, it just didnt make sense for me to pay the price no more than I need it. good luck, hope you find a good deal.
 

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...............I'm currently driving a 1999 powerstroke ford diesel . Bought it new with a 7.3 turbo diesel , I've added a full 4 inch exhaust , a DP tuner , and a boost limiter that keepsw the boost below 25 psi which prevents the computer for setting a code limiting performance . This truck has almost 110,000 miles on it and at 100k I spent about 5 k on all new ujoints , ball joints cooling system hoses and other parts i can't remember at the moment . I use a tuner to increase torque\HP so I can pull my 15,000 pound 5th.wheel . I'm hoping that it will last too 300k miles if I take care of it with regular maintenance and oil changes every 5k miles .
..............Were I you , I'd look for a 95 , 96 , or 1997 dodge , 5.9 Cummins with a 5 speed manual . In 98 they computerized the engine controls as well as added 4 valves per piston and also quietened the engine noise down considerably . I say this because the old , total mechanically , injectored Pump engines are much simpler to work on and their performance can be be improved just like the later models with computerized controls . ONe downside on the injected engines is that the new , ULSD fuel will cause the o-rings in these older fuel injection system too leak I've been told . Each truck would\should be evaluated on its own mechanical merits . , fordy
 
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