Dodge Diesels & other Truck Religions in the Real World Reviewed
plus Street Rumors
Twelve Reasons not to buy
a Dodge Diesel
would you believe six reasons not to buy a Dodge Cummins? What if I could
come up with three really good reasons to buy a Duramax or Power Stroke? Before you folks start knotting the rope and looking for ammunition, I come
in peace. But I do review and compare trucks for a living. A fresh view of
the facts can be a good thing to back up your emotional connection to your
truck. 32 years on the farm
wearing out trucks and 10 years selling them opened my eyes to the strengths
and weakness of brand loyalty.
Iíve met many Dodge loyalists over the years. Now that Cummins has produced
over 1,000,000 diesels for Dodge trucks, the ďcultĒ is an awesome group. I
grew up with John Deere, International and Massey Ferguson groupies along
with truck fans. Itís our nature to want to cheer for our favorite
brands. One thing I notice about the Dodge Cummins fans though, is how many
have older trucks in the group. More so than the other diesel groups I
Back on the Henry homestead south of Akron Colorado where I grew up in a
1914 Sears and Roebuck two story house, I learned about comfort zones and
brand loyalty. My dad had a Massy Ferguson model 92 combine. My uncles had
John Deere model 95 combines. Dad was sure that his Massey was the best
combine, so of course I was certain of it also. Then one summer I helped one
of my uncle harvest wheat with his John Deere model 95. It was so different
with the John Deere engine on top of the combine where you could get to it,
(the Massey engine was buried under the platform behind the drive wheel and even
changing spark plugs was difficult.) The John Deereís belts including
the engine drive belt where on the outside, (the Masseyís belts where once again
buried in the middle of the combine.) But do you think I could convince my
dad of the superior qualities of the John Deere combine? And then the next
summer I drove an Allis Chalmers combine. Did you know that the early Allis Chalmers
combines only had two bearing sizes? The other brands have at least a hundred
different bearings. Do you get the picture? If you could afford to buy a new
truck each time a brand came out with the ďnew modelĒ you would get the
impression that that truck brand was the catís meow.
Nothing to be alarmed about, quite powerful diesels such as the Dodge HD
came to be because of competition. Who would have thought 10 years ago when
the all-new 1994 Dodge HD Ram was turning heads with the bold aggressive look, that
Daimler-Mercedes would join Chrysler later in the decade giving the new
company, Daimler-Chrysler a large presence in the big truck market? Now as
it stands Daimler-Chrysler owns Mercedes Diesel and Detroit Diesel
controlling which diesel goes in its Freightliner and Sterling trucks. This may be a clue
to the future plans for Dodge diesel trucks.
Don't get me wrong, I'll list the my favorite qualities of the Dodge with a
Cummins diesel later in this report, but I want to point out other good
idea's in the truck world. And when you get a chance to be in a truck
manufacture focus group, bring up the features from other brands that would
improve your truck. Truck manufactures all use focus groups to test truck
development ideas. TDR members are by far the largest Dodge Cummins voice. So you can make a
difference in the direction your future trucks turn. Focus groups brought you
quieter diesels, common rail injection, heated seats, softer riding longer
rear leaf springs, power pedals, 4-wheel disc brakes etc. Nissan I think will be
successful using what they learned from American truck owners in focus
groups around the country that where implemented in their newest full-size
truck model, the Titan which will start it's career in December.
New Kid on the Block: 1/2 tons
This is something that Nissan studied when they decided to enter the full
size truck market. They new how brand loyal American truck buyers are. So
they decided to target a specific younger recreational buyer with a powerful
5.6L all aluminum V-8. This truck which only comes with the V-8 and a
5-speed automatic that will squeal tires at will. Something here to be
learned by the other truck makers, the gated slot shifting 5-speed can be
up shifted and more purposefully down shifted manually holding each gear for
the speed control useful to a diesel. Nissan has big plans if they gain
their targeted market share. Nissan Diesel is developing a medium diesel
engine which could fit the HD ĺ ton pickup truck market.
I remember looking at
the first Datsun King Cab many decades ago, and it seemed like a
good idea. My uncle Jerry had a Nissan diesel pickup truck in the eighties
that was well built. Actually Nissans have been around the longest in
mini-trucks in this country. Ford had a Courier mini-truck made my Mazda,
Chevy had a LUV made by Isuzu and Dodge had a Ram 50 by Mitsubishi. Those
mini-trucks were kind of handy, like a motorized wheelbarrow. I even had a
few of those mini-trucks, but don't tell anyone.
Double hinge doors make
the Nissan King Cab truly accessible opening almost 180 degrees. The rear seats
fold up, allowing incredible interior space. The King Cab comes
only with a 6' 7" bed.
It's going to be
different with the new full-size Nissan truck, called Titan, I guess so you
don't think small this time. And it's certainly not small, the dimensions
put it in the same size cateragory as the GM 1500's and Dodge 1500 and the
old Ford F150. As the 2004 Ford F150 has grown. Most modern trucks computers
control the throttle by wire. And with that manufactures don't usually give
you all the juice at the start. Nissan recognized the marketing value of
having full throttle at the get go. It's fun squealing the tires at will,
and with the gated shifter, you can up shift and down shift like a manual
tranny. This can be valuable, leading a trailer down hill. Even the column
shifter can be manually shifted through all 5 gears with a toggle switch on
the shifter stem. When you use the low range of the transfer case with
optional 4x4, the computer maps a different throttle setting so you don't do
too much headrest ping pong flying down the road.
Gaited shifting was fun
with great control for manually going through the gears up and down to
control that trailer following you. The control knobs on the dash are
big for your gloves, it will be winter again.
Oh yeah, the Nissan Titan bed, well it starts with a
standard bedside tool/storage box on the drivers side behind the rear wheel
of the bed. It has a movable shelf and comes in handy for a hitch drawbar or
all the tie down straps you can use with the Utili-track bed. My dad's 72
GMC had a toolbox in the bottom below the bed floor. We had our tire chains
it. Who had 4x4 in 72? The optional Utili-track bed will start a new wave in
truck beds. I can tell Nissan has been visiting SEMA looking at aftermarket
options. This bed comes with a factory sprayed in bedliner with a full
factory warranty. Then there are 5 C-channel tracks that allow any option
you can think of to be tied to them. We were shown adjustable cleats that
could tie down motorcycles or feed bags. Another option is a bed divider
that slides in the floor and bed rail channels to lock in place where you
need it. Even a tonneau cover will clamp to the tracks. I should have
thought of some of this stuff. Nissan must have talked to farmers. They
had a crossover toolbox attached to the side rails, that was nice, it would
slide out to the back. It looks to me like the new bed slides where a tray
will slide out the back of the truck bed for easy access is going to be one
of the more popular aftermarket products you will see more of. The Nissan
bed also comes with a 12-volt outlet near the rear and when you open the
tailgate with the headlights on, you have a light on each side of the rear
bed frame. What a tailgate party with 12 volt for the ice box and lights to
see who you are setting next to.
The bed of the Utili-track
System. 5 channels to attach to. Securing cargo properly is another
safety feature I appreciate. We've all seen what happens when things
blow out of the truck we're following and exciting evasive maneuvers
test our set belts.
With 5 C-channels on the
sides, floor and bed front, the options are endless. It's cargo
management 101. A sprayed-in factory bedliner, complete with factory
another truck first is Vehicle Dynamic Control option. Yeah I'm talking
about YAW and Gyro's, the same things that guide cruise missiles. Continental makes the Electronic Stability
Control System for the Titan that detects if the truck is going in a
direction different from the steering direction. Now talk about safety! The
truck, through it's ABS brakes, traction control, and throttle decelerator
can correct over and understeer providing safe control on slick, loose
surfaces as well as curves. This is exceptional considering how a empty
truck can fishtail easier than a car without efficient cargo weight to
balance the distribution of the load on each axle. VDC is included in the
Tow Package. The Titan also has Electronic Brake force Distribution to
adjust braking force based on where the load the truck is carrying is
located. Rounding out the safety features is the standard Tire Pressure
Monitor System, telling you when your tires are over or under inflated. I
think all trucks and trailers should have this system. Knowing of a low tire
before it gets hot enough to blow would save lives, tires and those
stressful moments when you hear the noise then fell the vibration in the
steering wheel as you try to get over to the shoulder of the road. The 2004
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland model I had for a week, was equipped with the
tire pressure monitoring display in the overhead console. The option was
only $150 retail and it was accurate when I tested it against a professional
truck air pressure gauge. The monitor display showed a difference from morning to night as the heat increased
tire pressure by 5 psi. Since Jeep has it, I hope Dodge trucks will have the
But you know the new
Nissan's truck has not gone through it's first year of use yet, so we are
waiting to see what weakness shows up. For service, I'm not sure I like pulling off an engine guard to
change the oil filter unless you order the off-road package which gives you
an oil filter door. And though the starter may last more than 100,000 miles,
you have to take the intake manifold of to even see it sitting on top of the
block between the heads.
There is a lot riding on this new truck being
the best selling vehicle in America for 21 years. A whole lot of
different confirmation models for the all new F150. Each model of cab and bed length has it's own Gross Vehicle
I've driven the F150 through potholes I
thought would bottom out the springs and bend the rims, but they didn't. Tthe
truck cornered and hugged the road like a Baja racer. The new frame is boxed
with the front section hydro-formed. The frame is stronger and I noticed how
little flex the frame has. This gives you more control and better feedback
from what should be flexing, the springs not the frame. Driving the
new F150 now has less bounce and wheel hop from the new wider longer rear
leaf springs with an exclusive new feature of shocks on the outside of
the rear leaf springs. This gives you more stable wheel travel for clearing
Rear axle of the 2004 Ford F150 has
shocks outside the 3" leaf springs. You'll see this on Ford F250 next, big
improvement in handling with more controlled wheel travel and a wider
The all new F150 has a new 3-valve
over-head-cam, variable-cam-timing engine with electronic throttle control
in the revised 5.4L V-8. Variable-cam-timing is the future you will see in
all trucks eventually. It's an efficient way to gain more power from the
same displacement engine, a Ford first in trucks. Still the only large truck V-8 with overhead cam technology starting with
the 1997 F150. Dodge has it in the smaller 4.7L V-8 now. The new Ford
5.4L cranked up to 300 horsepower and 365 ft. pounds of torque which
delivers 80% of it's torque at 1000rpm, this engine is smooth and very
response with or without a trailer. The new electronic throttle control
along with the variable-cam-timing, work with the improved 4R75E auto
transmissions to expand the response and feed back from the gas pedal.
2004 Ford F150 variable cam timing, 50
degree range, expect to see it in all trucks. Cheap power without
changing engine displacement. It's in several small car brands now.
The improved 4R75E automatic transmission has
some improvements over the previous 4R75 but is still a 4-speed. Though I thought it odd that the 2003 Dodge 1500 has a 5-speed auto
option and the new Nissan Titan full size will have a 5-speed auto as the
standard tranny and yet the all new 2004 F150 will still have 4-gears in a
family of Ford trucks with 5-speed auto's, like Ranger, Explorer and the new
The new frame is totally boxed, with
the front section being hydro-formed as is Dodge and the front section of
the GM frame. I was told that bed type hitches can be drilled to attach to
this new frame. This new frame we're told is 9 times stiffer than the
previous C-channel frame. I'm sure the 1.7 inches wider wheel track
front and rear is part of the over all equation for the improved stability.
Part of the better feedback you get from this truck is the all new rack and
pinion steering that replaces the recirculating ball system.
Above The overhead movable console
by Johnson Controls in the 2004 Ford F150.
You will be hearing a lot about the top
moveable and removable console. Put it where you want or add some
compartments. Below Nice dash which comes in two flavors. I
like the engine gauges in the middle like this one. Then I only have to
look in one place to see how everything is running instead of looking at
both sides of the dash to read all four gauges.
other improvement in this all new F150, is a tailgate assist spring inside
the 2 inch taller tailgate that matches the 2 inch deeper bed, a power down
window in the 6 inch longer Super Cab, and the optional floor shifter for the auto transmission. Last
years torsion bar front suspension in 4x4 went away to be replaced by a
"shock in coil" like a strut. The giant 13 inch front and 13.7 inch rear
vented disc brakes second only to Dodge 1500 brakes. 18 inch wheels for the
F150 are a new option for 2004.
Ford 2004 F150 slide out air filter. No
snorkel hose from intake to air box to vibrate and crack and loosen hose
clamps. New air filter sits on top of
the intake manifold again, with a slide out the front filter tray. When
there is room I like having this kind of direct filter mount without the
snorkels and hoses that usually connect the air filter box to the intake
surprises here, you know this body well as the same one as the 2500/3500 in
2003. Dodge was smart to introduce the new body style in 2002 as the
1500 first to get everyone use to it before it was home to the new
common rail Cummins diesel in 2003. New 545 RFE 5-speed auto, well
made, but it has two overdrive's, with 3rd gear being direct drive. For
towing a trailer it works best to lock out the overdrive. I think this
tranny would well with the torquey Cummins. Maybe we'll see a HD version
with the diesel later. Hemi
gas engine was the talk of the town for 2003. The hemispherical design
of the Hemi heads and domed pistons is very efficient proving it by
producing a horsepower for each cubic inch of engine. Rack and pinion on
all models of 1500. I think Dodge Hemi trucks will have a following of fans
similar to the Dodge Cummins. I'm not going to waist your time with facts
you already know about Dodge trucks as the 1500 and 2500/3500 share cabs
and beds. Both have a boxed frame with hydro formed sections. .
Continuing on with our
balanced view of the truck world. Open minds and American competition
founded our country. Fresh ideas, fresh farm ground with limitless
opportunities is what brought my grandparents over from Sweden and Germany.
Making mistakes is how we get great ideas. Just ask GM. For some reason,
they had to make a 5.7L diesel that almost eliminated diesels from pickup
trucks for good, ( Dodge Cummins diesel is a big part of why diesels are so
popular in pickups today) despite the damage the GM 5.7L "almost a diesel"
caused. The 6.2L GM diesel was an improvement, as was the 6.5L turbo diesel.
Now the GM Duramax diesel has proved itself despite aluminum heads, only a
one quart oil filter, the smallest oil capacity diesel in pickup trucks at
The Duramax has some good
qualities also. It uses a manifold heater like the Cummins in the Dodge and
glow plugs like the Power Stroke in the Ford which makes starting superb.
You've always heard it said that you have to cool down a diesel. This is
because the turbo is pressure fed oil to lubricate and cool the bearings in
the turbo. When the engine is shut down, no more oil for the turbo. The
turbo on the Duramax has a water-cooled center section to cool it down
after a hot shut-down. The water is circulated by the different temperatures
of water in the engine cooling down. Now we finally have all of the "Big
Three" manufactures offering diesels with turbo's
and intercoolers, just like the big rigs were 20 years ago!
Duramax fuel filter with hand
primer pump on the top, drain at
Isuzu has designed and
built this new engine with GM. Isuzu is one
of the oldest truck companies in the world. They are the oldest in Japan. If
you've ever seen the World War ll film footage of the buses driving on the
Great Wall of China, those are 1918 Isuzu school buses. I think Isuzu makes a good
medium truck. Though I never understood why all these decades GM never had
Detroit Diesel, the #1 selling over the road truck engine, make an engine
for their truck. Well now it doesn't matter, they sold Detroit Diesel to
Daimler-Chrysler. Now they will know what to do with a truck
engine. Now what GM did right
was to use the Allison Automatic! They've had Allison for decades too. Now
there is nothing bad to say about this transmission. They have been the
first choice in buses and RV's for decades. I hope all the truck
manufactures can get this transmission. The Allison is a
five speed and as we all know the more the better. Coming downhill it will
shift down when you brake. It has a spin on oil filter. I was trying to think of who else
has an aluminum head on a diesel engine. VW had one in the Rabbit diesel and Duetz had them in tractors and combines, both of Germany. Diesels run on
heat and high compression. They have to be built heavy duty. Most of them
are 17 to 1 compression or higher. It takes a lot of bolts just to hold the heads on a
diesel and then there is the heat. The reps. from GM that I talked too said
they knew the heads would expand and contract, "float" being aluminum and
all. To combat that, they use a three-piece head gasket. It has ceramic on
the top and bottom. The bottom of the engine is aluminum too. It's a
cast iron block though. The crank is cross-bolted, which is good. But
sometime when you see a Duramax in a parking lot, look at the cross member
that supports the Allison Automatic. My belly won't fit under it, so what
else will drag under it?
GM has figured out quick headlight bulb
replacement. Just pull out one pin and the whole headlight assembly
tilts forward as shown on the SS Silverado. Slick
Future focus groups will
influence decisions on cam less engines, hydrogen cell fuel, and hybrids.
Can you imagine a crew cab dually running on the hydrogen extracted from
water in your fuel tank? It's such an interesting time in the truck world.
Six brands to chose from, the closest diesel competition ever in pickup
trucks. I borrow a
lot of trailers to use in my truck reviews and in Colorado, the trucks I see
the most of pulling trailers and being modified for more power pulling
trailers has been pretty well divided between Dodge and Ford.
I'm usually a big fan of tilting hoods
for better access to the engine compartment. But with the Hummer H2 you
still can't reach much. The fender skirts need to flip out as well.
Hummer 2, you either hate it or love it. I've
never driven such a controversial vehicle. When I pulled into a gas station,
(which was often at 12 MPG) people would flock around the Hummer 2 asking
questions. On the way back from pulling a 3 horse slant bumper trailer to
Estes Park, I was driving through Longmont when a VW van pulled up besides
me, started honking and showing me how they count to one with their fingers.
Then on I-76 a couple of semi-trucks boxed me in and wouldn't let me pass
for several miles. It feels strange to have people judge you by the truck
you drive. I had mixed feelings at first also. I turned down my first turn
at the Hummer 2 not thinking it fit my readers. But when ever I talked about
it, folks got excited, so I thought I better investigate. I see Hummer 2's
everywhere and was surprised how well they are selling. My first day behind
the wheel, didn't impress me, the visibility isn't good and you feel boxed
in with the small windows and low hanging roof mounted center console. By
the third day I was having so much fun, I was wondering how soon I could buy
The shorter wheelbase has to be part of the
reason why the H2 is rated to pull less than a 2500 Suburban along with a
6400# curb weight, 604#'s more than a 4x4 2500 Suburban. Actually a closer
comparison is with a Tahoe/Yukon. The ride is even similar. The H2 has a
longer wheel base than Tahoe/Yukon and is 2 inches wider and taller. They
seem to share the same frame, floor, seats and rear axle, giving you
dramatically more room than the Hummer 1. Even though the H2 has been called
the baby Hummer, H2 is actually taller and longer than the original Hummer
1. Hummer 1 is wider, only comes in a diesel with the drive train boxed in
between the seats at a base price of over $113,000 in a wagon. Seems
strange to refer to a H1 as a "wagon." The base price of the H2 is $48,800.
The one I drove had leather, heated seats all the way around, 6 disc CD,
tubular steps, and a lot of chrome called the 1SC LUX Series for a retail
price of $51,990. New this year to loaded GM trucks is express down windows
on both front side windows. This came in handy for answering all the
questions I got at gas stations. Maybe they thought I was from Hollywood
with the California factory license plates and the fact that the average
Hummer 2 buyer makes over $150,000/year, but not automotive journalists.
If you like clearance lights, the H2 is
covered in them. Comes in handy if you are several floors up in a hotel and
can click your clicker to find where you parked. I need a Hummer for this
years trip to SEMA in Vegas. The windshield sets ahead of you at least 6
inches farther than most trucks and is almost flat. This gives you more
shade from the sun but makes seeing traffic lights at a stop, a neck
twisting event. The H2 had 9 speakers with great stereo. When we were out in
the sand hills trying to bury the H2 in a blowout, the quiet interior and
stereo made it hard to believe we were going straight up and down sagebrush
covered hills. But the 7 interior grab handles came in handy for loading the
6 CD's at an 40 degree angle. Did I mention how much fun the H2 was? But I
couldn't get it over 12 mpg, no matter have fast I drove it. The H2 seemed
solid, with the stiffer hydro formed frame on this SUV that makes since.
Even the running boards were attached better than what you see on trucks
OK this is a test, in which truck did I
get 18 mpg and which truck got 11mpg? Clue one had a diesel.
Being a student of truck history and
spending over 3 decades on a farm, I remember how exciting the first Dodge
Cummins pickup truck was! A real medium duty diesel in a pickup,
after surviving the GM gas engine-diesels of the seventies and early
eighties, we now didn't have to put combine and tractor dieses in trucks to
get better fuel economy. It was a fad for while back then to take a
Massy Ferguson inline six Perkins diesel and coble it up in a pickup.
But farmers could do anything mechanically and they did. Every now and then
I'll see one of those trucks at a farm sale, last year I even saw a 77 Ford
F350 with a Detroit Diesel V-6 two stroke added to it. The first fuel crisis
came in the seventies with manufactures scrambling for economy, Ford came
out with a diesel powered Escort, mini-trucks had diesels from Isuzu, Toyota
and Nissan, cars went from V-8's to V-6's to I-4's with turbo's. The early
eighties were dark years for pickup trucks, Ford punched a bunch of extra
holes in their frames to save gas, I've seen some of those trucks with the
rear bumper broke off through the holes in the frame. GM had metric
automatic transmissions that would average 30,000 miles and Dodge had beds
that needed the tailgate closed to keep the side walls from flapping in the
The Ford Navistar V-8 diesels out in the eighties didn't have turbo's
or much power. But you had to have one to be fashionable. The diesels in
tractors and combines where mostly in-line sixes, were the natural torquey
long stroke diesels would pull forever. Earlier V-8 diesels in tractors
required education, to up shift sooner to avoid lugging them to certain
death. So when the Cummins became a factory option in the Dodge HD pickup,
it was a much awaited event and reversed Dodge's declining truck sales. Wow
a 300,000 mile diesel in a pickup truck! Look how long it's taken to become
the close race we have today in pickup truck diesels. Think about it Cummins
is still 5.9L as from the start while GM evolved from 5.7L, 6.2L, 6.5L to
6.6L today. Ford started with 6.9L, to 7.3L to today's 6.0L.
Pulling a 3
horse Featherlite trailer up Poudre Canyon's curves with the Dodge 2500
diesel 6-speed manual was effortless. The clutch was very smooth as was the
shifting. I only had to think about shifting from 6th to 5th. Not all
diesels are easy to shift and this is an improvement, I think because of the
wider power band of this models diesel. You have more room in RPM's to
hit the next gear without jerking. This has been my complaint with the
in-line 6-cylinder diesel is it's always had a narrower RPM band than the
V-8 diesels. So it always felt like you needed to shift again. Now the RPM
torque power band starts lower than Ford 7.3L Power Stroke. Starting in
second was smooth. The natural torque of an inline six cylinder along with
the new improved power band makes it a joy pulling a trailer. The max.
torque is at 1400 RPM's right off idle! The horsepower max. is at 2900
RPM's. Cummins added those 400 rpm's at the beginning of the torque
Now with torque at 1400 RPM's instead of 1800, the power band
range equals those of the V-8 diesels that didn't have to shift as often. I
was glad to see the 3.73 axle ratio become the standard ratio with optional
4.10 in the 2500/3500. The 3.55 felt a little high pulling a trailer.
last year in the Heavy Duties has the largest (13.9") 4-wheel disc brakes in
the class. With more power, pulling bigger trailers, better brakes makes
sense doesn't it? The rear leaf springs are 3 inches longer on this model. I
could tell the difference in the ride. It's the smoothest so far for a 3/4
ton Dodge. What you will need to watch here is with longer springs comes
longer spring travel. So with the heavy overhead campers you may need to ad
air bags to the rear axle to lessen the Elvis hip action in side winds. This
happed also in the 99 Model Ford Super Duties when they stretched the rear
springs for a better ride.
Dodge advantage: Hydro formed
boxed frame. The first place I've seen a hydro formed frame was the Corvette.
Japanese trucks have been totally box for decades. GM has used it in the
front section of their trucks and throughout their SUV line. Ford now uses
it on the front section of the 2004 F150 with the rest of the frame boxed.
Dodge stayed with the mono-beam
front 4x4 axle. What are suspension bushings GM? Twin I-Beam what?
First Intercooler and turbo in
American pickup truck diesels. It caught on.
Manifold heater for starting
warm-ups. Be glad you don't have to replace glow plugs.
New Tracking bar (drag link)
mounts to the frame under the shock tower and the front axle, has eyelets on
each end. This should prove to last longer that the previous tracking bar.
the boxed frame the receiver hitch attaches differently. Because of the
boxed frame, attachment bolt holes have to go through pipe welded to the
inside of the boxed frame to keep the frame from collapsing when you tighten
the bolts to attach the receiver hitch or hitch receiver..
concern with the new Dodge cab is the A pillar shown here with the
handle in it, is closer to my head than the old larger cab. How can the
rodeo truck not have room for a cowboy hat? My hope is Dodge will see
the value of a full size crew cab. Ford and GM sell an increasing number
of crew cabs each year with a decreasing number of extended and super
cabs. Kids are growing taller and the truck is replacing more cars.
Maybe next model, I know DC is thinking about it.
I have an Insider Club at
www.MrTruck.com where I give specific
truck recommendations. I've been able to recommend the new 2003 Dodge diesel
to members on it's first year. This is rare that a first year truck with
this many new components. Think about what's new, new frame, common rail
diesel engine, 48RE auto tranny, American axles, different NW transfer case,
live front 4x4 axle, 17" wheels, improved steering, new tracking bar, new
rear springs, front driveshaft, bed, 3.73 axle ratio, etc. All in one model year and it
works! Ford's new Super Duty series for the 1999 model year had several
problems in the first 1/2 of 99. Ford skipped the 98 model and came out with
the 99 early. GM introduced the Duramax diesel in 2001 with it's share of
first year blues. And now Ford's new 6.0L Power Stroke is up to it's latest
R16 upgrade trying to get the bugs out of it's electronic controls.
2003 Ford Power Stroke 6.0L ICP sensor,
one of the replacement part of the computer controls the 6.0L is bugged
with. For 2004 this sensor has been moved from the rear of the engine to
the front of the engine.
Power Stroke 6.0L
SD What happened?
valves per cylinder have been added to this all-new cast iron Power Stroke
diesel for improved breathing and a new efficient digitally controlled
hydraulic injector cranks out 26,000 psi of pressure to atomize the fuel for
a cleaner more powerful combustion that is quieter, do to pilot injection and
more powerful than the 7.3L Power Stroke it replaces. The engine's new
hydraulically actuated G2.8SV injectors will be sourced from a new U.S.
joint venture with Siemens AG. The digital actuators, were developed by
Navistar in a joint venture with the Colorado-based Sturman Engine Systems.
The digital valve actuator, without the spring that a conventional solenoid
actuator has, is faster using residual magnetism. This new digital valve
accounts for some of the improvement in NOx emissions, and quieter pilot
fuel injection timing.
Cut out of
Fordís new Electronic Variable Response Turbocharger, notice the movable
vanes to control air flow out the compressor. I pulled a 3 horse trailer
over Trail Ridge, 12,000 ft and the response was great at altitude. Semi
truck manufactures are starting to use the variable vane air management
turbo's. It will be in all trucks someday.
Cut out above of 6.0L Power Stroke is
the oil filter (yellow top) and secondary fuel filter (red top) located
where the only fuel tilter on past 7.3L Ford diesels, with a water drain
was located in the past. Ford didn't want to drain water from the top
fuel filter any more because of the moisture sensitive new complicated
computer controlled 6.0L diesel. #2 Fuel filter on the Ford 6.0L Power
Stroke below is the primary one and you have to use a hex nut to drain
the water, daily?
Service is also a highlight of the 2003 Ford Super Duty. The oil filter
is on top of the engine next to the #2 fuel filter and with the new
automatic transmission filter below the engine along the frame, you
donít have to go deep for much of maintenance on the truck. The all-new
air filter is still disposable, but itís much larger to accommodate the
increased air needs of this more powerful diesel and increased air
volume turbo. The air filter is made of a composite material and is
permanently attached to the plastic casing. So you donít have to take a
filter out of the air box, you replace the whole air box.
6.0L PS and Computers
I'm sure you've heard of the problems with the new Ford 6.0L Power Stroke.
Many of these vehicles have reduced power and rough idle due to a faulty
Injection Control Pressure sensor. Problems seemed to first show up in
cold weather due to a mismatch in the Fuel Injection Control Module and the Powertrain
And after all that, many of the folks that Ford did buyouts on their trucks
went back and bought another Ford 6.0L Power Stroke. Now that's brand
loyalty! My theory is Ford and Navistar (whom builds diesel engines
for Ford) have a strained relationship ever since Ford backed out on the
4.5L V-6 diesel for F150 and Expedition, costing Navistar a couple hundred
million dollars. Navistar has for a couple years equip some of medium duty
trucks with their VT-365 diesel, the equivalent of the Ford 6.0L Power
Stroke with few problems. The Ford 6.0L Power Stroke uses Fords proprietary
electronics and there lies the problems. Ford and Navistar settled on the
this summer. So now you should see faster bug eradication for the 2004 6.0L
Besides the nice mountainous scenery
here in Colorado as background for my truck pictures, the altitude also
will test power, brakes and torque towing trailers above treeline in the
bald mountain tops.
Quadrasteer trucks and
SUV's. When I first crawled under the 2002 "All-Wheel-Steer" Denali GMC
to see the latest technology, I was thinking who can afford a $46,000
Extended cab 1/2 ton with a gas engine? Now in the 2003 model year with GM
HD 1500 crew cabs, Suburban and Yukon XL 2500ís are available with Quadrasteer.
Itís starting to make sense with higher people and trailer capacity.
these Quadrasteerís for a couple of weeks to pull trailers on dirt roads,
winding mountain roads and a blizzard. They both have the 6.0L engine,
all-wheel drive 4x4, 10-ply E rated tires, automatic transmission, rear
defrost, dual zone temp control, running boards, four doors, Quadrasteer,
8600# GVWR and HD towing.
Suburban, (just shy of 18 ft. long), has the same beautiful lines as last
year. The GMC HD 1500 crew cab (close to 19 1/2 ft.
long) has well defined lines with a bolder grill not as exotic as the Chevy
cousin. I suspect GMC has a plan to increase their truck numbers in the GM
family. The 8600 GVWR puts both of these trucks in the Heavy Duty class, not
getting a fuel mileage rating by the EPA because of this commercial rating.
The Delphi rear steer and Dana axle of a Quadrasteer, to have steering
capability canít be a full floating axle. So you have CV joints on both
ends. The Quadrasteer unit looks similar to rack and pinion steering. It
does have a skid plate under it attaching it to the back of the rear
an extreme test I hooked the Suburban to a car trailer, with three big round bales. I loaded it on purpose heavy to
the rear for the test to provide some sway action. I also used a Weight
Distributing hitch for more testing. So somewhere close to 5000#ís of
trailer cruising down the old highways of Eastern Colorado at near 80 MPH. I
performed evasive maneuvers, (you know swerving between the white dashes in
the middle of the road). I couldnít get the trailer to move, sway, buck, or
even give a little! It was like the trailer and truck were one unit. The
trailer realigned itself behind the Suburban quickly as the Quadrasteer
walked sideways as I swerved back and forth trying to find a weakness.
never seen anything like it. I did this on loose gravel
roads also and it handled more than superbly. My test with the Quadrasteer
turned off, scared me to death on pavement and gravel! It reminded me of my
safe driving speeches to my sons, which came before the drugs, sex and
alcohol speeches. I donít suggest you pull a trailer 80 mph, but I know with
75 mph speed limits on Colorado primary highways, there are some of you that
do pull this speed and I want to be able to report on this trucks ability to
pull in the real world.
for the GMC HD 1500 Quadrasteer truck, I pulled a 16 foot steel stock
trailer from Parker Trailers of Parker Colorado. We learned how much faster
the Quadrasteer moved while trying to backup to a trailer in the mud. It
takes some practice. And backing up in general has a whole new meaning. You
can get into trouble by jack knifing faster with Quadrasteer but when you
get adjusted to it you can correct faster, then itís as easy as a gooseneck
to back up or easier. Turning corners is cool, instead of pivoting on the
rear axle; the trucks rear wheels turn more of a square corner pulling the
trailer farther ahead before turning. This tighter corner lets you turn
circles with a closer track of the trailer to the truck. You could barrel
race or sort cattle with Quadrasteer! In tow mode, the all wheel steer
turning angle lessens under 25 mph as to not turn too sharply and bump your
trailer on a turn.
In tow mode and in 4-wheel
steer, it turns more at highway speeds. So when you turn to switch lanes or
avoid the deer, instead of the truck and trailer articulating, (bending in
middle) they move sideways, with less pivot between truck and trailer thus
GM trucks have a small
windshield compared to a Ford or Dodge and the bigger than usual rearview
mirror because of the On Star buttons under it, making intersections a little
more cautious looking to the right. Iíve got broad shoulders; actually
everythingís pretty broad now, so I didnít fit very well in the leather
bucket seats in the GMC 1500. The folding arm rest fits in the inside
bolster that is bigger than the outside bolster. With the armrest folded,
the seat makes you twist sideways. The Suburban had cloth buckets and the
armrest bolster wasnít as big so the seat was more comfortable. The HD 1500
and Suburban interior was very quiet. The large rubber door gasket takes a
little more shove to close but the quiet is worth the effort.
Now where do you suppose this hood idea came
from on the Ford F150 for 2004? Maybe ten years ago?
My last "other brand"
good idea. 2003 Lincoln Aviator.
All hoods should have a do-hicky lever like this. You don't have to
look for the hood latch, it pops out for you complete with an arrow
incase you forgot which way the hood opens.
Blended Truck Street Rumors
You know what rumors are, truck manufactures and
others hint at possibilities to get a reaction before they decide to launch
an idea. It's unofficial speculation with everyone having an opinion. This
is what you get after interviews when there are no witnesses to the
information. Some of it turns out to be a braking story, while some of it
If you see my feet sticking out from under a truck at an auto show, don't
step on me. It's hard on me in my camouflage suite climbing over fences and
running from Dobermans just to get a rumor and a couple of pictures.
Computer controls on the Ford 6.0L can be reset
such as the ICP sensor by reflashing the ignition 3 times. When you
performance, shutting off the engine and turning off and on the ignition
switch at least 3 times before restarting resets codes and the power
returns. This worked for this reporter as well as some Blue Diamond reps
touring the country Ford Dealerships to explain the 6.0L PS fixes up to the R16
New Dodge 545 RFE 5-speed automatic that's mated
to the Hemi 5.7 and 4.7 V-8 in Dodge trucks, and Jeep SUV's has a
similar computer controlling reset. When the 545 isn't shifting properly
shut it of and recycle the ignition. Welcome to the world of computers!
Freightliner to build 4500 and 5500 cab and
chassis for Dodge possibly with 7.3L Mercedes diesel. .
Delphi in talks with Ford, Dodge and some
Japanese truck makers to provide Quadrasteer option as GM optional
Quadrasteer drops to $1995 for 2004.
Ford to only build Harley Davidson truck in F250
for 2004 model year. A diesel Harley?
Navistar will use Apollo retro rocket technology
for camless technology using residual magnetism to actuate valves and
injectors, eliminating the need for camshafts, pushrods, rocker arms and
timing gears. Could also be used for engine braking with exhaust valves.
I love my job, driving a Quadrasteer
2500 Suburban herding elk in Estes Park. CO. If I knew being an
automotive journalist was this much fun I would have gone broke farming
10 years earlier.
almost 20 trucks I've owned since the seventies, it's hard to imagine we
used to use big block gas engines to pull stock trailer getting 4 MPG and a
quart of oil every 1000 miles. AC was a luxury, and who wanted power
windows? My "77" dually was like riding a basket ball without a load. I
pulled 20,000#'s plus trailers with my 3/4 tons and 1 ton, of course way above the
GVWR. Kind of like a lot of diesel pickup's doing today. My trucks had to pay
for themselves and produce just like the cattle and wheat fields. I
was surprised when I moved straight from the farm to the city in the early
nineties selling trucks in Denver, where they had used trucks that were 3
years old and not a scratch in the bed. On the farm, I was just glad to see a used truck
with camper mirrors still attached. And now we have power pedals to move the
brake pedal closer to your foot and air conditioned seats. It's hard to buy
a truck without power door locks and windows today. But I've grateful for
today's quiet diesels, tight cabs without air leaks and road noise,
one-handed tailgates, voice activated phones, and lumbar seats. Keep an eye
on the other truck brands for ideas on future features. Dodge may be asking
your opinion on future Ram options. Maybe Mr. Patton would build a wish list
here for the top ten future options TDR members long for. Safe Truck'N in the diesel
lane, H. Kent Sundling
Come by and visit me on the web at
www.MrTruck.com stay awhile and we'll
stimulate the economy together.