Logan Coach horse trailers

Popup Hitch, gooseneck extensions SuperSprings, overloads Centramatic, tire balancers

mrtruck pickup truck reviews

As seen on

"Trailer Towing Education Starts Here"

 

Since 1999, made in USA

The Truth about Trucks

MrTruck Index

Home Page
Horse Trailer Reviews
Pickup Truck Reviews
Accessory Reviews
Towing Reviews
MrTruck.TV RFDTV Reviews

MrTruck Accessory Store Truck & Trailer Parts

Camper & RV
Glossary-Terms
MrTruck Motors-Classified
Dept of Transport.
Engines
Hay Page
Truck News
Insurance Warranties
More Power
Oil & Filters
Recalls, Rebates, MPG
Tires Batteries
SUV Vans that tow
Trailer Basics & More
Truck Basics & More
Truck Safety

MrTruck Store Super Sale

 

Seven ft. 15 lb. Panels

Travel n corrals mounted on horse trailer

Peace of mind when horse camping

 

Auto Flex air ride suspensionComplete pickup truck leaf spring replacement with air bag suspension. Self levels, improves ride, braking, steering and handling. AutoFlex Review

 

Automated Safety Hitch Help for your Rear Truck Axle, an inline dually

Safety Hitch inline dually

Dramatic Trailer Braking & Turning for Safer Towing

 

1-800-909-7071

Horse Trailer Super Store, shop open until midnight. Selling Cimarron, Logan Coach and Outlaw Conversions
 

EZ connector trailer wire connectionThis is the reliable weatherproof electrical connection for your trailer.
 

Logan Coach horse trailers

Strength of Steel Beauty of Aluminum

Whiz Proof Trailer Floors

 

BIGFOOT Hydraulic Trailer Jacks

Built to Outlast your Trailer, Steel Tank, covered leg

Big Foot steel enclosed foot trailer jack

 

Actuling electric over hydrauliic trailer brake actuator

DirecLink Trailer Brake Controller using your trucks computer with ABS brakes for your trailer from Tuson, best trailer brakes you can buy
 

Cimarron horse trailers

Cimarron Custom Aluminum Horse Trailers

 

Centramatic wheel automatic wheel balancers

Automatic Tire Balancers for Trucks and Trailers

25% to 50% longer tire life, eliminates cupping and tire vibration

 
Gander lock gooseneck lockGanderLock for Goosenecks: Protect your trailer as well as your expensive saddles, bridles, tools and flat screen TV. Goosenecks if you just lock the coupler, the thief's loosen the set bolts, slide out your adjustable coupler Read the Review
 
Express corralsExpress Corral Larger corral that goes up in 15 minutes, down in 10. For your trailer and pasture. Comes in a kit with an aluminum storage box. More.
 

Cattle and Horse Trailers, ask your neighbor

Titan stock trailer

New Polylast Floor video

 

EUREKA!

Saddlematicô

Saddlematic power saddle rackMotorized Saddle Rack, save your back and shoulders and energy for your horse ride.

 

Step Above trailer ladderThe Safe heavy-duty trailer ladder you'll use. Read the story...
 

The Flip-Over Ball gooseneck hitch converts to smooth truck bed in seconds.

 

direc

Maximum Trailer Braking Power for Serious Towing Trailer Brakes as fast as your Truck Brakes

 

Newly redesigned PopUp 2 Gooseneck Hitch. More info....

 

Weight Distributing

Weight Distributing Hitches for safe controlled trailer towing. Reviewing Equal-i-zer WDH Click.

 

Sulastic Rubber Springs are a cast hinge embedded with rubber. They greatly improve your trucks ride.
 

 Follow mrtruck on Twitter

 

Dodge Diesels & other Truck Religions in the Real World Reviewed plus Street Rumors

Twelve Reasons not to buy a Dodge Diesel

OK 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 report on.

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.

Your  Online  Pickup Truck, SUV & Trailer  Resource Magazine.

MrTruck's Top Picks, Truck, SUV & Trailer Accessory Store, ENTER

Safe, Secure Ordering, Questions on Internet orders 303-883-1300   We don't share your information

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 warranty.

 Safety, 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 option.

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.

Ford F150

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 Weight Rating.

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 obstacles off-road.

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 stance.

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 6.0L diesel.

 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.

Among the 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 manifold.

Dodge 1500

No 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. .

Duramax  HD, Surprising Contender

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 10 quarts.

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 the bottom.

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 one!

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.

Cummins 

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 wind.

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 band. 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.

Dodge since 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.
With 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..
My 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?

Two more 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 Control Module.

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 suit earlier this summer. So now you should see faster bug eradication for the 2004 6.0L PS.

 

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.

All-Wheel-Steer

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.

I had 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.

The 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 differential.

For 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.

Iíve 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.

Now 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 less whip.

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 is....

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 experience sluggish 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 upgrade.

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.

In the 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.