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  1. #1
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    Default High Milage Diesel Truck - Would you buy?

    So, I'm looking for a truck to pull a two or three horse gooseneck with. Oh course, my budget is very limited, given that my horse expects to be fed and my next purchase will be a trailer. I have a lead on a 2002 F250 4wd 7.3 Diesel that sounds promising and would be well within budget and 9-10k (my tops would be 16-17k, but I'd like to be well below that if possible; the more I save, the more i have to put into a trailer and show fees, which is, after all, the point of getting the truck). But the vehicle has 220000 miles on it.

    Assuming (and I know that this is a big assumption) that it is in good condition and checks off all my boxes, would it be smart to buy something with that high a mileage to tow with? I've been told that with diesels, you have to worry about the tranny going before you do the engine.

    What questions should I ask or ask my mechanic to look for?
    Honestly, I've never bought/owned a truck before, so besides research, I have no firsthand knowledge of what to expect or ask. This wouldn't be my everyday vehicle - I'd only use it for picking up hay/feed, hauling and the occasional jaunt around town in the rain (my everyday car is a leaky z3 beamer that I love to drive so long as it is dry and I'm not going on an extended road trip.)

    Thanks for any advice you can give!



  2. #2
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    Apr. 8, 2005
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    I've got one('96 F250 with the 7.3 PSD) sitting in my driveway with about 230K miles- and needs a transmission. To have it rebuilt is in the $1800 range, complete. Once that tranny's fixed, I wouldn't hesitate to drive it and haul horses anywhere. It should sell for 7-8000 when repaired. The engine is strong, and this particular truck hasn't worked hard- we know it's life history as it's lived within 30 miles of here it's whole life. I'd buy a higher mileage truck (that truck had 170k when I bought it), at least for the amount of hauling I do, if I had an idea of it's history. I would not want a high mileage truck that's been hauling a bulldozer on a steel flatbed or huge trailerloads of cattle on a very regular basis.



  3. #3
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    Thanks, Shakeytails. I think the transmission would be my major worry. Although, I guess if I bought it and it conked out, I'd be enough under budget to get it fixed.

    I'm just not used to the whole truck world where 200k+ miles is not considered end of life. LOL!



  4. #4
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    Remember that $1800 is my local price. Their are two transmission shops with excellent reputations around here where you get the truck to them, they pull and rebuild the tranny, and a few days later you pick up the truck with a re-built tranny with a warranty. There are lots of other transmission crooks that like to feed you a line of BS and tell you it's $4000+, so check out what it would cost in your aea. FWIW, I'm never buying another automatic transmission- car or truck- ever again!



  5. #5
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    Aug. 25, 2007
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    If everything else checks out then yes, I might. But I'd have a "full monty" checkout by a well qualified mechanic (with Ford experience) and the money in the bank to rebuild the tranny and overhaul the engine.

    There's a myth that light diesels have the longevity that you'll find in a Freightliner or Petebilt. It IS a myth. By the time you get to 200,000++ miles you've probably got a 50% chance of a major engine component failure. Of course you also have a 50% chance that you won't have major engine component failure. Thing is that as you drive those numbers begin to change for the worse. If you're prepared then you're OK. If not, you could be well and truly screwed.

    You also have 200,000++ miles on the engine accessories (alternator, power steering pump, air conditioner, etc.). Then there's the brakes and tires to consider. Not to mention rust and corrosion.

    A good mechanical inspection can help, but you're still buying a truck with a LOT of miles on it. Prodeed with care.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  6. #6
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    I think $9K is too high for the truck as described.

    First, how large of a 2-3 horse trailer are you talking about? Some kind of BP stock trailer? Or a heavy gooseneck with dressing room and all? If the latter, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for an F-350. For this one (and a 7.3 in general that you'll use for a heavy trailer, ask about the gear ratio in back. That will tell you about how much power it delivers).

    You need a good diesel mechanic to do Guilherme's Full Monty PPE for you. I like the guys who work on big trucks-- fire engines, dump trucks, tree trucks, school busses. Find someone who keeps professionals' vehicles on the road.

    Yes, ask about the tranny. Then you want to know about other things-- ball joints, rust and such. In general, if the truck is cosmetically clean and it has had few owners, it will have been maintained mechanically as well. It would be great to see maintenance records. If you find a one owner guy who works on his own, don't worry so much about that part. If he can tell you what has been done and when, that's all good.

    But a great, independent Diesel Dude will be your best asset. And look up the car on NADA-- a more complete version of Kelly Bluebook used by the industry. That will tell you what that truck is worth in your area.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakeytails View Post
    Remember that $1800 is my local price. Their are two transmission shops with excellent reputations around here where you get the truck to them, they pull and rebuild the tranny, and a few days later you pick up the truck with a re-built tranny with a warranty. There are lots of other transmission crooks that like to feed you a line of BS and tell you it's $4000+, so check out what it would cost in your aea. FWIW, I'm never buying another automatic transmission- car or truck- ever again!
    So, you recommend a manual. That is what I've driven since I was 17 and lobe it in my little cars but hate the one in my suv. Thought it would be even more of a PITA in a truck.



  8. #8
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    Mar. 10, 2007
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    Yeah I'd buy it if it checked out on the machine and on the lift with a GOOD diesel mechanic. I'd run the specs of this truck past the guys on the Ford Enthusiasts website also, they are a good help.

    I had a mechanic tell me once that my Ford Expedition was only going to make it another 5K or so... I bought it anyway for practically nothing and promptly put nearly 50K on it, it was still running when I sold it with 250K on it.

    Just be smart about it, beware of unexplained noises and check out that tranny.



  9. #9
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    the diesel thing depends on how it's driven.
    Highway miles over city miles, long runs over shorter trips.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    I think $9K is too high for the truck as described.

    First, how large of a 2-3 horse trailer are you talking about? Some kind of BP stock trailer? Or a heavy gooseneck with dressing room and all? If the latter, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for an F-350. For this one (and a 7.3 in general that you'll use for a heavy trailer, ask about the gear ratio in back. That will tell you about how much power u
    My goal is an aluminum gooseneck. A small dressing room would be nice. I'll need a wb sized one because my boy is a 17h monster.

    What sort of gear ratio should I be looking for?



  11. #11
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    FWIW-we have a 7.3 with an automatic and one with a manual.

    The manual is the older rig and it did finally go out but it was understandable since we use it so hard.

    The automatic functions but it just has a mind of its own which I don't like and it doesn't have near the power and jump that the older truck does. It is SO much easier to drive but it doesn't feel as strong to me. It isn't a deal breaker to me but all things equal I would go with a manual when I buy another one.



  12. #12
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    May. 2, 2011
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    I agree with the consensus that before buying the truck, it should be thoroughly vetted by an experienced Ford diesel mechanic. We have a dear friend that has been a pro Ford diesel mechanic for 35 years and he told me that the 7.3 is the best diesel ever built for p/u's and that it's not even broken in until 200,000 miles.
    I bought my F350 7.3 dually new in 1996 and it has 195,000 miles on it. I'll never sell it, lol. As far as value, I have been advised by experts not to sell it for less than $12k. We have a collision shop and have a great working relationship with the ins. companies and local dealerships, including Ford.
    IMO, if you've 'known' this truck over it's lifetime and are familiar with the upkeep it's been given, have it checked out and buy it if it's sound.

    The F250's used to have a 3.55 rear end however, some came equipped with the 4.10 (1 ton rear end), just FYI. I don't know if the same hold true for today's Fords though. Hope this helps and good luck truck shopping.
    "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" Julian Lennon



  13. #13
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    Here's an ad just posted today in our local horse chat forum:

    My husband is selling his F-250 7.3 diesel 2WD if anyone's interested and doesn't mind camo . It's a 2002 with 115k miles and he's asking $13k. Any offers considered.

    He's selling because we're selling our land and his parents' RV with it, so he doesn't need to haul anything big anymore.



    http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale ... 8934&Log=0



    Low miles but it's a 2wd, not 4wd.
    "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" Julian Lennon



  14. #14
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    Dec. 28, 2009
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    Thanks Kathy, but I'm in FL, so TX is a little bit of a drive.

    How does one go about finding a Ford Diesel mechanic?

    I had a friend in town who sold her 98 350 Lariat Diesel Dually earlier in the year. It had similar miles on it. She listed it and instantly had a sale for 11k - the guy drove 3 hours to get it, paid cash and didnt even flinch when the battery was dead when he got there to pick it up.



  15. #15
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    Feb. 28, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoohLP View Post
    . . .
    How does one go about finding a Ford Diesel mechanic?

    I had a friend in town who sold her 98 350 Lariat Diesel Dually earlier in the year . . .
    Well, who did your friend's mechanic work? That's your place to start.

    We have a high mileage Ford also and so far DH has done all the work - but some of his method has consisted of collaring other men driving the same year class and asking them where they go for their parts. For a tranny I'd probably go down the line at work and ask each of the guys where they'd take theirs, or ask my trainer who she uses (but I know she is unhappy with them, so . . .)
    The one thing I can add about the higher mileage vehicles is that they don't sit well. Like your friend - the battery was dead. As the proud owner of a succession of cheap old trucks I could tell you about the bizarre things that went wrong with each of them, your best line of defense is consistent maintenance by the same guy, and expect to have to fork out repair expenses - much less than a new car payment but your paid for truck will still require "extra" money budgeted every year.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
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  16. #16
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    Feb. 4, 2004
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    I might buy a higher mileage vehicle if everything else checked out, though that sounds like a lot of money.

    I actually bought an F250 gas with 175K (for 3500 tho) and it went 30K/5 years of hauling before expensive problems came up.

    As others pointed out, even if diesels "lasted forever" (I wish!), you still have a 10 year old high mileage truck which likely has a lot of wear and tear on other parts and associated maintenance.


    My (possibly naive) take on this particular model is that I sense that the Ford 7.3s are acquiring a cult-like following and associated pricing structure, mostly because of the failures of later model Fords.

    I bought my current truck (1999 F350 7.3 diesel, 80K miles, 2wd, manual) in 2005 for 7K. Obviously the manual and the 2WD drove the price down some, but when they were widely available that engine was not such a big deal. Now everywhere I go people (mechanics, horse people) go crazy about how great a truck it is, worth so much, and it is definitely older and in worse shape than when I got it.

    I believe people that they are good trucks, and that later Fords are not, but I wonder if they are worth the seemingly crazy prices they seem to command. For example, the KBB on the 2002 F250 w/ 220K is <5K (give or take, depending on options and condition), but I'm sure it will sell for way, way more than that due to the popularity of that engine. Not sure if other makes offer better bargains? Someone on here might know.



  17. #17
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    Aug. 25, 2007
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    It's not just the newer Ford trucks that are getting a negative "vote" from the market.

    I've got a 3500HD '08 Duramax (CC, DRW, 4WD, LB). It's got 45,000 miles on it. I just checked valuation and, for the first time since I bought it in Nov., '08, the loan value is less than I paid for it (by $400). I've been told that there's a LOT of consumer resistance to the "pee tanks" on the newer Fords and GMs. This had benefited Dodge (which doesn't have one yet) and late model, low milage, used trucks with dates prior to '10 (model year '11 was the first with the urea tank).

    If you're going with a used truck then have some "reserve" to take care of stuff that will break. Older trucks will break more than newer one (all things being equal). As long as a buyer knows this and plans for it then they can benefit.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  18. #18
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    Nov. 5, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoohLP View Post
    So, I'm looking for a truck to pull a two or three horse gooseneck with. Oh course, my budget is very limited, given that my horse expects to be fed and my next purchase will be a trailer. I have a lead on a 2002 F250 4wd 7.3 Diesel that sounds promising and would be well within budget and 9-10k (my tops would be 16-17k, but I'd like to be well below that if possible; the more I save, the more i have to put into a trailer and show fees, which is, after all, the point of getting the truck). But the vehicle has 220000 miles on it.
    For that particular model truck, anything under 250K miles is good. That exact model truck is what we were looking for in our area, but the sellers wanted incredibly high prices for anything under 250K miles (like $18K-19K because they knew they were rare.)

    Beam Me Up hit the nail on the head: the 1999 - 2003 7.3L F-250 4x4s have a "cult-like following."

    We decided on a 2004 2500HD that was $6K under NADA...because the seller didn't want his ex wife to be able to use the truck as part of their divorce settlement

    As far as higher mileage trucks or even trucks that are known to the horse and hauling world as "hauling trucks," there are some things to inspect:

    1. 4WD hi and lo in forward and reverse
    If it makes a chugging/clicking/grinding noise, it may need a new transfer case: you're looking at $600+ for a used one and $1200 for a new one + labor to put it in.

    2. Is it a "Northern" truck?
    Is it a truck that has been driven up north often? Check for sale corrosion on the undercarriage.

    3. Has it ever been used as a "hauling" / commercial truck?

    4. Ball joints

    ETA: Hubby said there is a YouTube video on things to look out for with those particular trucks.
    Last edited by HydroPHILE; Jun. 7, 2012 at 02:26 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Sep. 24, 2009
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    I just bought a 350 Dually with the 7.3L engine for the reason that they are known to run to 500k miles or more. I did tons of research and shopped around and found one with 147k miles. I bought through eBay motors at North Texas Truck Stop, check out their inventory online. They specialize in used diesels and have a large selection. I am in Ga but it was worth it to look wider to find the right one. Good luck.
    Fernhill Warmbloods
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by shjhorses View Post
    I am in Ga but it was worth it to look wider to find the right one. Good luck.
    ^ This...especially if you want a good deal.
    If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
    DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
    Quote Originally Posted by talkofthetown View Post
    As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.



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