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Loveland and Northern Colorado's Diesel and Automotive repair Specialists

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The 6.0 liter diesel Main problem and solution

This is an artivle we wrote back in 2011. It was an attempt to educate our customers. Over the years many repair shops have called in asking if we can help them fix a 6.0 based on just this article. While we are flattered it is kindof funny that many years later not a lot has changed in the 6.0 world. Lots of shops shotgunning parts at them with no real understanding on what causes the failures. So please enjoy this old article. 

     Over and over again we get a customer into the shop and the complaints are usually the same.

     “I am tired of this truck! I just left another shop, had $3500 worth of repairs done, and the truck still is not fixed! I have had injector after injector installed and they just keep failing! I have replaced the EGR cooler 3 times in the last year and nobody can tell me why!!! It is blowing white smoke and misfiring! It is hard to start cold, misfires until it is up to temperature and then runs fine all day!”

     The point is we get a lot of questions about 6.0L Ford Powerstroke engines. We have heard many horror stories of trucks being in and out of shop after shop and never really feeling like it is fixed. Here at Big Thompson Diesel and Automotive, we have been diagnosing, fixing and correctly repairing what is broken. We have had great success keeping the engines on the road. I’m going to share knowledge with you to help you feel confident that the repairs you have done to your 6.0L here at BTDAA are actually going to fix your problem and prevent any issues in the near future. This is not a poke at your current repair shop; this is just the cold hard facts about how this engine fails. A lot of times the symptoms are fixed without diagnosing the real cause of the failures. This leads to the same failures time and time again costing significant amounts of money. Here we share the root cause and what can be done to prevent future failures and greatly reduce the repair cost over the life of your truck.

     The 6.0L is a good engine when it is running properly. It has one main failure that is commonly overlooked and is the cause of most of the big issues this engine has. The oil is the life blood of the 6.0L diesel as the injectors are hydraulically actuated using engine oil to drive them. The oil is run through a low pressure oil pump which pushes oil to the oil filter at about 50-80 psi. Once the oil is filtered it is split. Some of the oil is sent to the rod and main bearings, cam, lifters, rocker arms and other moving parts for lubrication purposes. However, the majority of the oil is used to drive the injectors. It is sent into an oil cooler where the oil is cooled with engine coolant in a liquid to liquid heat exchanger. Than it goes into an oil reservoir that directly feeds the high pressure oil pump. The high pressure oil pump ramps the oil pressure up drastically. It will reach 550 psi on startup and varies according to load and rpm up to 3000 psi under wide open throttle full load.

Heat is created any time liquids or gases are pressurized. This is how air conditioners work. Heat is created by pressurizing a gas. It turns into a liquid where it is cooled and then evaporated back into a gas. Diesel engines also work this way. The engine takes in cold air and compresses it. As it is compressed it is heated to a point that the injected fuel ignites. Air is hot enough to ignite the atomized fuel. These are just a few examples of how pressurizing creates heat.

So as far as the 6.0L and oil goes, it has 16 quarts of oil in the sump. Oil is pressurized to 80 psi creating heat than it is supposed to be cooled by engine coolant which is typically 180 degrees or more. After that, the oil that is at about 80 psi and 180 degrees, is squeezed to over 500 psi minimum for idle and upwards of 3000 psi under severe loads. From there, the oil is fed to the back side of the injectors where it serves several purposes. It is the hydraulic force that forces fuel out of the tip of the injector, it lubricates the injector’s spool valve, and it helps cool the injector which is going to divert more heat into the oil. From there it is returned to the oil pan and starts the process all over again. The amount of oil that flows through the engine is the equivalent of 18 gallons per minute. So if you were paying attention before the system only holds 16 quarts of oil. It is flowing at a rate of 18 gal per minute and is under tremendous pressure and heat.

So you ask, what fails? First of all the oil filter tends to only last 3-5k miles, then it can go into bypass mode. This means it is not filtering the oil. That is instantly a recipe for disaster but that is just the start. The main issue becomes the oil cooler. It is a very small cooler that is trying to flow 18 gal per minute of oil and on the other side of it, it has to flow enough antifreeze to keep the EGR cooler cool. The problem just became 2 problems even though it is one component failing. The big failure is caused from the coolant side of the oil cooler plugging. Typically this happens from dirty coolant, improper cooling system maintenance, and some sand left in the block from the factory that washes out of the block into the oil cooler. When the coolant side of the oil cooler plugs, it quits cooling the oil and it flows little or no coolant into the EGR cooler. The EGR cooler will quickly fail because now there is 500-1400 degree exhaust flowing through a cooler that is not being cooled. The cooler bakes from the inside out and eventually ruptures causing hot exhaust gasses to enter the cooling system and coolant to enter the exhaust stream. If caught early enough, it will not cause much damage but if it is run too long the coolant level can drop and start to overheat the engine which puts a hurting on an already weak head gasket design. On the other side now, the oil is not getting cooled so it is becoming excessively hot if the oil filter has too many miles it can stop filtering. Now there is over heated, unfiltered oil being compressed to thousands of psi and shoved through the delicate injectors. This can cause rubber seals in the system to bake and come apart, oil pump seals to bake and leak, scoring of injector pintles, scoring and damage to the oil pressure regulator and baking of the oil pressure sensor. As you can see this one component just caused thousands of dollars in damage and you had no indication that it was failing. In severe cases it can turn a check engine light on for oil to coolant temperature excessive variation but usually there is a lot of damage done before the engine light comes on.

Can you test the oil cooler?

Yes. There is a simple test for the oil cooler. It usually takes about an hour to test the oil cooler.

If I replace the oil cooler will it save my injectors?

It will keep new injectors from having issues but if you have injectors in the truck that have been running with a bad oil cooler, there may already be damage done to the injectors. So no, it will not necessarily save an injector that is already damaged but it can prolong the failure of a damaged injector as there will be no new damage occurring to it. How long the old injectors will last is dependent on how bad the cooler was and how much damage there is to the injectors.

Should I just delete the EGR cooler?

No!!! First of all, the emissions laws will cause an immediate visual emissions failure. Secondly the EGR valve is basically acting as the wastegate for the turbo. So you can cause over pressurization in the cylinders causing head gasket failures. It is best to put a good quality aftermarket EGR cooler in as they are built a lot more durable.

How can I cure the problem?

We offer 2 solutions for the oil cooler problem.

The first option is a factory replacement oil cooler. This works well for the customer who does not pull big trailers and who does not work the truck really hard. It is more cost effective but is not for everyone. If you are frequently towing heavy loads, mountain driving on hot summer days, or in general working the truck hard, our second option might be a better choice for you.
The second option is an aftermarket oil cooler which eliminates the factory oil cooler and relocates an oil to air cooler in front of the radiator. This allows the oil to be cooled by cold air instead of 180 degree+ coolant, thus keeping the oil temperatures a lot cooler and safer for the delicate injectors. There is also no possibility of the oil cooler causing EGR cooler failures since now the EGR cooler gets direct coolant flow. The aftermarket EGR cooler is a stronger than stock design and it gives proper coolant flow.
Regardless of which option you choose, we strongly suggest running a high quality synthetic oil. We use Amsoil 5w40 oil. The oil flows better but still offers all the protection for all of the bearings. This has proven time and time again to help keep the injectors alive a lot longer than conventional oils.

Can I just replace 1 injector?

If we find the oil cooler is the cause of the injector failure it is obviously your choice. We will replace one injector at a time but knowing the injector has been damaged from overheating there is a possibility the rest of the injectors are not far from failing either. Our suggestion at that time would be to replace all 8 to save you labor money in the long run and keep your wheels spinning instead of having the truck back in the shop.

About me

Erik Rud has been prominent in the Diesel and Auto repair industry for over 30 years. He graduated from American Diesel and Automotive College with the highest distinctions and honors available. He is an ASE certified master mechanic in both diesel and automotive. He is current on all technologies in the industry and frequently takes available advance level diagnostic classes whenever available. In 2011, Erik opened Big Thompson Diesel and Automotive in Loveland, Colorado.

 

What is the best Diesel Truck out there

This is a serious question I get asked over and over. Usually it is when a customer is faced with an expensive repair on their current vehicle. This is a very difficult question to answer. So from a very experienced diesel mechanics point of view I am going to try to educate everyone the best I can and help you answer: What is the best diesel truck for you? So while reading this please keep in mind your own personal needs and wants from your vehicle as well as how long you want to keep your truck.  Most of the time when I get asked this it is a hard question because I have to guess the customers financial status and judge what they are comfortable spending on their current vehicle and what is a comfortable price for them to pay on their next vehicle. Can they afford a brand new truck or are they on a tight budget? Do they just want a truck to do odd jobs or do they need to rely on it for work every day? I am going to try to break it down into common age groups of Diesel powered trucks. Usually GM, Ford and Dodge make major changes about the same time. So the breakdown is going to be full size trucks only which are half ton and heavier pickups from 1994 thru present.
Everything up to 1994

These vehicles are definitely getting older and most people will not be looking for a vehicle in this age group so I will keep it short.
Ford

These started out in the early 80′s with an international 6.9L V8 International Diesel engine. This engine was increased to 7.3 liters in 1987. The engines were reliable and had very few mechanical issues. They did have some glow plug system problems and some fuel system issues if it was poorly maintained. The fuel systems are fairly simple to diagnose and fix but the parts are starting to get hard to find and as they are getting very high in miles the cost of repairs can easily exceed the cost of the vehicle. These trucks, as a whole, were fairly solid trucks.
GM / Chevy

1978 to 1985

They had a modified Oldsmobile V8 gas engine that was fitted with slight modifications and a diesel fuel system. These engines made very little power and were smoky and smelly. This engine was in cars, trucks, and Blazers.

1982-1993 6.2L

This engine had a bit more power but lacked the power and reliability of the Ford but, overall, still had very few issues.
Dodge

1988 ½ to 1994

Dodge entered the diesel market later than the others but almost immediately took over when they put a B series Cummins engine in their trucks. The 5.9 engine is still basically the same block, crank, cam, and rods used in the Ram trucks today. There have been changes to the heads, fuel system and even displacement but is it the same base design. The Cummins started life in the trucks with 160hp and 400ft/lb. torque and had an optional 190hp and 425ft/lb. engine available. This was over 100 ft. /lb. of torque more than the competitor’s engines. The engine and fuel system were extremely reliable but the Dodge truck was fairly clunky and had a lot of body rattles and rode like a lumber wagon. It had brake issues as well but overall, was an extremely durable truck.
1994-2002
These trucks brought many changes to the diesel truck world. This was the beginning of a horsepower war that is still going on today. These trucks are still a bit old for most people but are the last of the “old school reliable diesels”. All of the trucks were changing year to year.  Technology was changing fast and electronics and computer controls started making a big impact in this era of trucks.

Ford 1994 ½ – 2002

Ford introduced the Powerstroke engine. It was the same International block as the previous 7.3L engine with massive changes to the cylinder heads and fuel system. It now had a HEUI fuel injection system which is a Caterpillar fuel system that they bolted into an International engine. The HEUI (Hydraulically driven Electronic controlled Unit Injector) means the injector is driven by hydraulic pressure that is created from the engine oil and controlled by a computer. This was a very complex system for its day but when maintained properly was extremely durable as well. There are few issues with the injectors but they do start to get weak internally and around 200000 miles usually need to be replaced. The rest of the engine had some fuel and oil leaks and the complex valve cover gaskets could burn out and cause a dead cylinder or more. However, the mechanical side of the engine is extremely reliable. It is not unheard of to have an engine with over 500000 miles on it with no issues as long as it was properly maintained. In 1999 Ford changed the truck body to the newer body style and with the change, they upgraded the 7.3L with a larger turbo, different valve cover gaskets, and an intercooler to cool the air after the turbo going into the engine. The trucks were very solid. The brakes are exceptional, the transmission is very strong, the cab and chassis are good, and they have good suspension. The weak spot of the truck was the ball joints, engine oil leaks, and valve cover gaskets.
Chevy/GM 1994-2002

GM tried upgrading the 6.5 to keep up with Ford and Dodge. They added a turbo to it and added an electronic controlled mechanical fuel injection pump. The system was plagued with issues. The injection pump control module as well as the control wires were buried under the intake manifold where lots of heat baked the wires and the module. This was a source of repeated failures and many peoples anguish with no starts and stalling. As far as the injection pump went, they had several internal issues as well. If you pulled a trailer and pushed the engine hard it would crack the cylinder heads. If this was caught early enough it could be fixed without complete engine replacement but it usually hurt the engine before the driver even knew anything was wrong. Overall this was a poor diesel engine. They were loud at idle, smoked a lot, had low power while pulling, and if pushed hard like a diesel, they would get hot.  The rest of the truck was ok but the engine kind of ruined the whole package.

 

Dodge 1994-2002

The Dodge truck engine went through some major changes but the rest of the truck was virtually unchanged other than minor cosmetic and interior changes. Cummins added a more robust P7100 injection pump in 94. This allowed them to boost the horsepower, add more adjustability, and offer higher injection pressures. This made it quieter and had more power while holding a tighter emission standard. This engine design had very few issues and would usually outlast the rest of the truck several times. The worst issue with this engine was the killer dowel pin. This was an alignment dowel inside the timing cover that could work its way out and fall onto the cam gear and break out the cam gear housing and that was all if the customer was lucky. Sometimes it could break the teeth on the cam gear and the crank teeth but this was rare. In 1998 1/2 Cummins came out with the 24 valve engine. This was still the same base engine but had an upgraded cylinder head and 4 valves per cylinder. It had a new computer controlled rotary injection pump. The engine design made a combination that was very durable and powerful. They fixed the killer dowel pin issue and had very few oil leaks or mechanical issues of any kind.  The downfall of this engine was the injection pump. It was a good pump unless you starved it for proper fuel.  It became delicate very fast. The primary cause of fuel starvation was the poor quality fuel lift pump. When the fuel pump was starved for fuel it could overheat and hurt the rpm sensor, bake the injection control module which was a non-replaceable part of the pump, and could score the timing piston. All of which would result in injection pump replacement. This issue was easily remedied by installing a good quality aftermarket fuel lift pump and usually installing a fuel pressure gauge or a dummy light to come on when the fuel pressure dipped too low.  The rest of the truck is decent. It has a good transfer case, good brakes, and a sound, but still a bit rough, suspension and frame. The one weak link of the truck was the automatic transmission. The engine now made enough horsepower and torque that the transmission was now at the extent of its abilities. It could be modified to hold the power but it was a little costly to fix. The other weak link was the trac bar. Replacement trac bars usually did not stay good for long but there are aftermarket solutions that all but permanently fix the issue. All in all this is one of the most powerful and reliable diesel powered trucks on the market!!

Of all of the 94-02 diesels you can’t go wrong with the Dodge or the Ford. The one downfall of all of the trucks is they are now over a decade old and are probably nearing or over the 200000 mile mark and have had several owners. If you are lucky you can still find one with low miles on it. These trucks are probably in need of some maintenance to get them back to a reliable state but parts are still readily available and they are fairly inexpensive to fix compared to their predecessors.

03 – Present Diesels

The 03 to present trucks are probably where most people looking for a diesel truck are going to be looking.  Major engine designs across the board happened in 03 and have been continually changing since then.  The problem with this generation of diesels is most of the changes are to clean up the exhaust and the result has been a decrease in reliability and increase in the cost of repairs.  Most of these trucks can be repaired and even upgraded to not fail as easily.

 

Ford

2003 – 2007

Ford dropped the 7.3 engine because it could not make more power and pass the stricter emissions standards.  The introduction of the 6.0L still stayed with the HEUI injection system although the caterpillar injectors are now out and Siemens injectors are in.  This engine also had a variable geometry turbocharger, EGR valve and cooler, catalytic converter and was a very clean running engine that runs good “when it is running good”.  The problem is, early on in the engines run, it got a bad reputation for being in the shop over and over and over again.  Usually it would have numerous EGR coolers, injectors and head gaskets replaced, as well as variable geometry turbo failures.  As the engines fell out of warranty and the trucks started going to shops other than the dealer, mechanics and aftermarket parts suppliers were forced to figure out why the repeated failures.  Once the root cause of all of these failures were figured out, this engine could actually be made to be very reliable and, because of its reputation, can usually be purchased for a good price compared to the GM and Dodge in these years.  However, if you plan on buying one, plan on just upgrading the whole thing.  Spend the money and have a reliable diesel.

2008 – 2009 6.4 Powerstroke

Off all the diesel trucks this one had one of the nicest cabs, great chassis, good tranny but the engine is completely horrible.  Though it makes good power, it gets horrible fuel mileage.  It has weak head gaskets; the new common rail fuel system was suspect to multiple failures including hydro locking the engine when the injectors fail.  This could cause catastrophic engine failure.  They also have been known for turbo failure; the front cover corrodes and slowly weeps coolant into the crankcase oil.  This can cause the oil to loose lubricity and quickly destroy the crank and rod bearings, wipe out turbo bearings and in general quickly destroy the engine.  Most repairs on this engine are extremely expensive and because it only ran for 2 years, there really are no real aftermarket upgrades so repairs on this are so fare just patch jobs until the next catastrophic failure.  It is all repairable but home much is too much?

2010 – Present 6.7L Powerstroke

Thus far, the engine has proven to be more reliable compared to the previous 6.4L but they have not come out of warranty on a large scale yet so, as an independent repair shop, we have yet to see the failures this engine will have once warranty is up.  Some of the oddities of this engine is the 2 radiator system is very complex and the thermostats are an integral part of the radiators.  This system also takes 2 water pumps so this doubles the amount of wearable parts.  Plus, if you need thermostats you must replace the radiator.  Another oddity is the amount of plastic on the engine and the plastic intake manifold holding 40x PSI of pressure, plastic oil pan (it’s reliable as long as you don’t hit anything).

 

Chevy – GMC

2003 – 2004 ½

Chevy finally caught up in the diesel world in 03 with the Duramax diesel engine.  The truck is one of the smoothest trucks to drive and has lots of creature comforts.  GM has a lot of state of the art electronics and are fairly durable.  One of the major issues GM has is the instrument clusters tend to lock up but it is easily repaired.  The Allison transmission is a very durable and sought after transmission.  This same basic transmission is used in medium duty trucks so imagine how durable it can be in your 3/4 or 1 ton truck.  They have had very few problems.  As for the engine, the 03-04 ½ engine had a sever injector problem.  So bad that GM went ahead and warrantied the fuel system to 10 years or 200,000 miles.  This was above and beyond what they had to do but it was respectable.  As they went through years of injector warranty issues, the manufacturer of the injectors found some issues and updated the injectors.  So once they are out of warranty (which these all are now), most people can expect to replace the injectors.  The good news is the injectors usually do not ruin the engine by melting pistons or hydro locking cylinders, but they could leak fuel in to the oil and wash out engine bearings, turbos, and cam bearings.  This was usually few and far between so if you want a very durable truck, this is a decent truck if you can get over the sticker shock of 13 hours of work and the price of injectors.  Once you fix the injectors and do some small fuel system upgrades, the injectors can last 100,000 miles with no issues.

2004 ½ – 2011

The Duramax engine got a major upgrade in 2004 ½ model year.  The very difficult to get to injectors of the previous Duramax got remodeled and re positioned outside of the valve covers.  Now injectors failures could not ruin the engine by dumping fuel in to the lube oil and when they moved the injectors they also become a lot more durable.  It is not uncommon for these injectors to go 200k before having issues.  So what issues does it have?  The previously very durable fuel injection pump and fuel filter housings now tend to wear out causing continuous fuel filter lights to be set and sends the engine in to limp mode and limits power.  The filter housing is easy to fix but when the injection pump dies it can be expensive to fix.  Other changes were the introduction of the variable geometry turbo, EGR systems and, in the later models, DPF and VREA exhaust systems.  Compared to Ford and Dodge, Chevy did not have a lot of issues with the exhaust after treatment systems.  It has been a fairly robust system for GM, but could be the cause of some failure down the road.  These engines in whole have proven to be extremely durable and have good power.  The trucks suspension is a bit softer than the Ford and Dodge which is nice on a long drive.

The next major engine change came in 2012 when the whole V8 design got flipped around.  For the Duramax engine’s run up until now the typical V8 layout where the intake manifold is between the cylinder heads in the engines valley and the exhaust manifolds are outside the cylinder heads.  Then, hot pipes are looped around the engine up the back and into the turbo which then sits in the valley.  This created a lot of heat.  The 2012 Duramax basically flipped the cylinder heads over so now the hot exhaust exits the top of the head and straight into the turbo, than cool intake manifolds and piping run around the bottom and outside the engine.  This design drastically reduced under hood temperatures which helps keep all of the delicate electronics alive.  So far these are all still under warranty but we have heard nothing bad of this engine yet.

 

Dodge

2003 – 2007

The Cummins engine had a fuel system make over which made it quieter and more powerful.  Unfortunately the fuel system was less durable than previous models.  The injectors had a lot of issues which caused everything from misfires to no start issues.  The injectors were eventually updated so now all of the replacement injectors from Bosh are updated with stainless steel inner parts that do not fail as quickly as the old ones did.  The injectors in the 2004 ½ to 2007 models, if they fail, could quickly melt the pistons, so as soon as you saw the first sign of injector issues you better shut it down and get it to the shop because $3000 worth of injectors can quickly turn in to a $15,000 engine.  The rest of the Dodge truck in these years is very durable with very few transmission problems.  They have weak factory ball joints but can easily be upgraded to a very durable ball joint and eliminate most front end issues.  The differentials and transfer case are strong.  The engines make a ton of horsepower and torque and are still more durable these years than the Ford and Chevy engines.

2007 – Present

The Cummins B series got a face lift in 2007.  It went from 5.9 liters to 6.7 liters.  It got a newer, very durable injector design and a variable geometry turbo which doubles as an exhaust brake.  It also got an EGR valve and a DPF exhaust filtration system.  Dodge had a lot of software issues with how they controlled the DPF system but software upgrades made the delicate system a lot more durable.  The variable geometry turbo has had a few issues but the most of the issues come from the heavily modified vehicles.  Stock trucks have very few variable geometry issues.  The engine is back to the most durable diesel truck engine on the market.  The transmission was also drastically updated in 2007.  The cab was modernized and they put in lots of creature comforts.  If there is a weak spot in this truck it is the weak ball joints still and the DPF system but both are easily upgraded and fixed.

 

So when you are looking to buy a used truck, there is a lot to consider.  First is your budget to buy the truck.  How much do you want to pay for the truck and how much do you want to spend to fix the truck after you purchase it?  What are your needs?  Do you want a comfortable quiet ride or can you sacrifice comfort for outright durability?  Everybody’s needs are different so when you are in the market for a used truck, hopefully this helps but if you have more questions or would like us to look at your truck before you purchase it, please call of email us.  We would be happy to answer any other question.  We always recommend you do a prebuy before purchasing any type of vehicle.  It might cost you some money up from but it could potentially safes you thousands of dollars down the road.

Our relationship with AMSOIL

     Our relationship with Amsoil came around in a personal manner. Erik Rud, the owner of Big Thompson Diesel and Automotive, used to race motocross professionally in Colorado. The sport would have him out riding his dirt bike every single weekend for several years. Needless to say this type of riding was very hard on his bike and he constantly had to replace the engine. One year, he actually had to replace the engine 7 different times.

     Looking for answers, he began paying very close attention to the oil in his bike after a hard riding weekend. He could tell that the oil looked and smelled burnt regardless of what type he tried. He tried many different kinds of oils from the cheap OEM oils to expensive oils costing up to $22 per quart. He experimented with changing oil change intervals and even had it down to the number of hours of engine run time the oil was good for. 

     One day at the track, an Amsoil dealer caught his attention and gave him 2 free quarts of oil to try in his dirt bike. He changed his oil and used the Amsoil instead and noticed the tarnished burnt look did not occur. After 2 rides, he changed the oil again and after 5 weekends, the oil still did not look burnt. After his free supply ran out, he used the other oil he was using before and immediately blew up the engine his next ride.

     He immediately signed up to be an Amsoil preferred customer at that time and put only Amsoil products in the bike and hasn’t had to put a new engine in it since. That was in 2004 and that engine lasted until 2008 and won a few state championships. He decided to tear it down in disbeliefe the engine had lasted that long. He has replaced bad gaskets on the engine so has had it completely apart and has noticed that the piston looked like new, the clutches were not worn and the gears looked great.

Needless to say, Erik was completely sold on the quality of Amsoil at that point and has since signed up to be a dealer.

     Fast foreward to starting BTDAA. We knew immediatley amsoil would be the oil of choice in the shop for all customer vehicles. Over the years we have seen Amsoil cure many issues that tend to plague engines. For example V10 fords tend to dring a lot of oil. When er changed a fleet of vehicles over to Amsoil within 2 oil changes every v10 engine in the fleet quit burning oil. 

     More proof. We have a government fleet that has a lot of 6.7 powerstroke engines. since the trucks were new they had extreme turbo failures repeatedly. Having turbos replaced up to 6 times under factory warranty before we had the chance to replace them. This particular fleet believed in cheap oil and changing it at 8000 mi intervals. on a couple vehicles we decided to convert them to Amsoil and see if it was the difference. These 2 trucks are still on he road years later andhave had no new turbo failures. 

     Fuel treatments. One thing Erik had often overlooked was regular diesel fuel treatments.  Having tried every sort of snake oil the industy had to offer he had never seen a difference in his personel vehicles. No matter the brand or the vehicle no fuel treatments seemed to do as advertised. One day Amsoil came out with their new Diesel fuel treatment. He threw the recommended amount in his truck and forgot about it. About a week later when pulling a campre trailer over the mountains he noticed the engine was running very smooth. It was not smoking like it usually did, Overall it felt like a different vehicle. Having forgot about the additive he put in the tank he stopped and filled up with fuel. About 20 miles down the road the truck started sounding like its old self. Smoky, clattery and sluggish. Now he was intrigued and days later whil sitting on the side of a mountain it came to him. He had put fuel treatment from Amsoil in his truck and still has the rest of the bottle under the seat. So driving back home he stopped at the same fuel station to eliminate any uncertainties in fuel quality, added the Amsoil fuel treatment and headed home. Wow!!!. 20 miles later the truck was once again smooth, quiet, responsive and powerful. Sold. Now amsoil fuel treatment is in every tankful of his vehicles and highly recommended in your diesel vehicle

     More fuel treatment testimony. One really cold winter day -15* Erik started his truck and had not thought much about the cold weather. Sure diesels should not start when cold, Sure diesel fuel gels up, No worries. Amsoil had it working perfectly. Erik stopped in a local parts store and there were 10 people standing in front of him. Each with the same story. The parts house brand Diesel fuel anti gel had failed. All of these trucks were gelled up. Got to the shop that day and the phones were on fire. Every truck that did not have amsoil winter blend with antigel was gelled up. Oddly all of our customers that had Amsoil in their trucks were fine thast day. Coincidence?  No. This happens year after year. 

     After all of the success stories Amsoil has been a part of over the years and many more success stories not listed here, Why do you not have Amsoil in your vehicle yet. We encourage all customers to use Amsoil in their vehicles and we use it in evey one of ours. Generally Amsoil has a significantly longer life than other products so while the initial cost may be more than a standard oil change, you will generally only need to change your oil 1/3 as often so it is a huge cost savings.

If we trust Amsoil to keep our motocross bikes, cars, trucks, and even yard equipment running as hard as they do, imagine what it could do for you and for your vehicle.

 

Buying a used vehicle and the aftermarket warranty

I am buying a used vehicle what should I do?
Many people come into our shop that have already bought a vehicle and find it is having problems once they get it home. These problems can sometimes cost a considerable amount of money to fix. Fortunately this is usually avoidable. I think many people that are trying to buy a used vehicle get overwhelmed easily and tend to make hasty decisions that they will usually come to regret later on. So what does Big Thompson Diesel and Automotive think is the best approach to buying a used vehicle?

Step one is to do research. If you are one of the lucky few that already knows the exact year, make, and model of the vehicle you want than you can skip this step. If you are not sure which one is right for you then the best thing you can do is spend some time researching the vehicles you are interested in. Make sure the vehicle you are looking at is going to do what you need and want. Look for things like consumer reports, ratings, complaints, recalls, and technical service bulletins for the vehicles you are interested in. You may find out here that the vehicle you were interested in is overall a really bad investment but one of the similar vehicles in its class has a lot better consumer ratings and overall customer satisfaction. Now that you have narrowed it down to a few models you like, ask a mechanic their opinion of them. They will have a good input on what is really failing and a general cost of the typical repairs that particular type of vehicle needs. This may help you narrow your search even more. Go for several test drives. Drive the vehicles objectively. Too often I do a pre buy inspection on a vehicle and when I get in the vehicle the radio is cranked all the way up and the ac is blasting at full speed. This is good to know if the ac works but it won’t help you to hear anything that may be wrong with the vehicle. Turn the radio off and pay attention to the vehicle. Does it feel like a car you can see yourself in, does it handle like you like it to, or does it feel too big or too small? Is it cramped feeling or is the storage adequate for your needs. So now that you have driven a vehicle, do not buy it yet!! This is where the customer usually feels overwhelmed because you have the pressure of the dealer trying to make the sale. You just fell in love with the car and your emotions are on a high. Take a step back and do not forget the rest of these important steps.

The Aftermarket warranty

Should you purchase an aftermarket warranty or not? I can only give you my opinion and the rest is up to you to decide. In my 20+ years of auto repair experience as a mechanic, shop foreman, and shop owner I have seen many more negatives than positives with aftermarket warranties. I believe, in theory, they are a good idea but in reality they never work the way they are promised to. In the hundreds of aftermarket warranty repair claims I have been part of submitting over the years there are only about 10-15% of the submissions actually get covered. They are not always as good as they sound. The dealer selling the car is going to try to pressure you into one. In my opinion you should not purchase one even though they will make it sound like you need one. If the aftermarket warranty company actually does pay for any repairs than it is a good deal. However, more often than not, it ends with the customer being disappointed that they bought the warranty and wishing they had saved their money.

So what is the next step and how can I assure I am getting a good deal? Do not buy the car yet! Make an appointment to get your car checked out by a professional. The best method for us to look at a vehicle is when it has sat overnight. This especially important for a diesel powered vehicle as they have a lot that has to be exactly right to start a cold engine but with all vehicles it can show things you may not have seen during you test drive. If you can let it sit overnight with us we test the vehicle at the coldest part of the day so we can catch any faults that may not occur when the engine is warm. We do understand if you can’t leave the vehicle overnight with us and we can still provide a very comprehensive test. When we start the vehicle cold, we are checking its cold start ability, batteries, injectors, how does the engine sound cold (does it knock or misfire). Then while it is still cold we drive the vehicle to check engine and transmission cold performance. We drive it through a complete warm up cycle to check the thermostat performance and cooling system performance. We are also checking to see how it feels on the road. Does it wander? How do the shocks and struts feel? We check brake and abs brake performance, heater and ac operation, drivetrain operation, 4×4 if applicable, lights horns and etc. We bring the vehicle into the shop and thoroughly check it over from top to bottom. We check belts, hoses, all fluids, see if anything is leaking, brakes, suspension, frame(for evidence of a crash or flood damage) and all visible aspects of the vehicle. We strive to provide a very thorough check of the vehicle as if it were our own. That being said, we only have the vehicle for about an hour or two. It can be difficult to find everything that could go wrong. However we can give you an impartial assumption of the vehicles previous life. We can assess what it will take to get the vehicle back to 100% by letting you know of repairs needed and any maintenance it has been missing out on. I will also give you my personal opinion as to if I would purchase the vehicle myself or not. Now you have a complete detailed comprehensive list of needed repairs with an estimate of the costs to fix what is needed so you can use this as a bargaining tool to take back to the seller.

Once you are serious about a particular vehicle you should do a Carfax on the vehicle. I do think Carfax is a good idea. Because of my experience, I suggest you purchase your own car fax or let us do it for you. I have my concerns about the Carfax reports that dealers tend to print for you. I’m not sure how they do it but they always seem to have a clean car fax. When you get one yourself or we get it for you than you know it is not doctored. With all Carfax reports the key is “what has been reported”. If accidents are not reported they will not be recorded. Usually what is reported is title changes, and insurance claims. It can be argued that not all flood damaged or crashed vehicles get reported. Also not all mechanical repairs are reported. There is really no system for mechanics to report to car fax what they have repaired. My advice for reading the Carfax is to look for frequent title changes or a one that has seen many dealers or auction sales with long gaps in owner registrations. These can be a BIG RED FLAG! This can mean there is something critically wrong with the vehicle. It may be due to an issue that is extremely expensive to fix, an issue that is random and very difficult to diagnose or someone is simply trying to cover something up. It bounces from dealer to dealer until someone purchases it as is. So be careful when analyzing the Carfax report. If anything looks unusual it probably is.

The bottom line is buying a car or truck can be a big purchase. In my opinion a small investment like a pre buy inspection and a Carfax report can shed a lot of light on a vehicles previous history. In many cases we can save you from inheriting someone else’s nightmare vehicle and potentially hundreds if not thousands of dollars on repairs on something you may not have seen in all of the excitement of looking for a vehicle. You should always proceed with skepticism, if something sounds too good to be true it more than likely is. We will offer a non-biased opinion and help you keep the emotions out of the process and get the most bang for your buck when purchasing a used vehicle.

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