3 Diesel Trucks to Consider For Your Next Truck Restoration Project


Buying a used diesel truck can be a great investment, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. New diesel trucks can run as high as $60,000 or more, so unless you can afford a steep car monthly payment, it’s best to buy used instead. You can score a reliable heavy-duty truck for just $10,000 or less, but you might need to replace your diesel parts before hitting the road. The good news is that diesel engines tend to last 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 miles, so you’re sure to get a healthy return on your investment. Everyone loves a good restoration story. With a few repairs, you can restore these classic diesel trucks to their former glory:

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’03 – ’08 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 HD

Dodge has been a leader in the heavy-duty truck industry for a while, but some models have aged better than others. If you’re looking for a reliable Dodge RAM to restore, we recommend going with any 2500 or 3500 from 2003 to 2008. They still pack a punch all these years later with 305 hp, and 555 lb-ft in 2002 and 325 hp/610 lb-ft in 2004. They come with a Cummins 5.9L engine that’s known for its reliability. The company upgraded this line in 2002 to include an exhaust gas recirculation system. The EGR cooler lowers the temperature of the exhaust gas to reduce NOx emissions. But the EGR cooler will likely fail long before the engine. You can buy used EGR coolers to fix the issue.

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 Avoid any Dodge model from 2012 or 2013. These trucks had notorious suspension and stability issues that made drivers feel unsafe, also known as the “death wobble.” Thankfully, Dodge fixed the issue by 2016. If you’re looking for an older Dodge model to restore, consider going back to the ‘94/’95 Dodge 3500. They also use a 5.9 Cummins engine, but this was before the company was required to reduce emission standards. These engines are known for their simplicity and reliability.

However, any Dodge with more than 200,000 miles is sure to need some repairs. You will likely need to replace the ball joints and water pumps over time.

’99 – ’03 Ford Super Duty F-250 and F-350

The Ford Super Duty is still turning heads nearly 25 years after it first hit the market in 1999. It became the new industry standard for trucks ¾ tons and up. Any model from ’99 to ’03 is sure to be a good investment. They come with the International Powerstroke 7.3L, an engine that’s designed to pass any test you throw at it. The Ford F-Series has been breaking sales records for years and these trucks helped cement the company’s legacy. It gets around 235 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, and the engine should last beyond 1,000,000 miles if properly maintained. It uses a well-lubricated oil system to reduce wear and tear. The company’ signature front-end suspension system makes it one of the most comfortable trucks on this list. Perfect for off-road hauling and daily commuting, the original Super Duty will serve you well in just about any condition.

That’s not to say these F-250s and F-350s are infallible. The most common issue tends to be the camshaft sensor, which will start to drive you nuts after a while. If the sensor is off or not in the right place, the engine could suddenly lose power. Watch out for the error code P0340 or P0344. You can replace the camshaft sensor to get around this issue. Fixing the sensor should only take a few minutes if you have the right equipment. Keep a 10mm socket, 3/8-inch or ¼-inch ratchet and a flathead screwdriver in case the issue pops up when you least expect it.

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’05 – ’07 Ford F-Series

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, consider restoring a F-250 or F-350 from the company’s more controversial years. These trucks have a lot going for them, but they rarely get the credit they deserve due to various mechanical issues. Let’s start with the good. The 6.0 Powerstroke uses a variable geometry turbo that automatically adjusts exhaust flow based on driving conditions. This makes the truck much more responsive than earlier diesel models.

The EGR cooler has been known to cause problems. The seal can leak coolant into the engine system, forcing the engine to run hot, but swapping out the cooler should resolve the issue. The truck’s high pressure oil pump (HPOP) will also need some attention. You need to make sure oil is flowing properly in the engine to prevent wear and tear. You may need to replace the pump outright to keep your diesel parts in good condition. The engine also uses a complex fuel delivery system. The injection control pressure sensor automatically adjusts the amount of fuel based on driving conditions. You can find replacement ICP sensors 6.0 online to maintain fuel efficiency.

The ’05 – ’07 models tend to be the best among the 6.0 Powerstroke crowd. You might also be able to buy one of these trucks for cheap, considering their mixed reputation. If you’re willing to spend another $2,000 to $8,000 fixing it up, you can avoid these common issues and drive your F-2500 or F-350 for years to come.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to drive a reliable, heavy-duty truck. Restore yesterday’s makes and models to save a few bucks and put your mechanical skills to the test.

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