Help me buy a diesel pickup truck with 200,000+ miles.
June 23, 2014 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Looking at 2002 Chevy 2500 HD 4x4 Diesel, 220,000 miles. I'm told truck diesel engines like this last 500,000 miles. I'm new to diesel and buying a truck with that much mileage on it. What warning signs should I be looking for with either the engine or the chassis?

Feel free to answer here or point me to a specific thread on a truck forum that will answer my question. Truck will be used for hauling boats, some landscaping trees and various small construction site jobs. Getting better gas mileage is a concern as well. Thanks for your help.

Also, are there makes from that era known to have better diesel engines?
posted by caveatz to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Make sure you check out the leaf springs that hold the body over the wheels. They will be a stack of metal plates curved into an arc, right over the wheels. You want to make sure that none of the individual pieces in the arc are broken - all should be contiguous from end to end. The truck will drive fine with a few broken, but the carrying capacity will be substantially reduced and you run the risk of the bed collapsing on to the wheels. It's a pretty labor intensive repair, and the parts aren't cheap - even aftermarket.
posted by true at 9:25 AM on June 23, 2014

I'd suggest taking the truck to a mechanic you trust and paying for an hour of labor for them to give it a good inspection. Then armed with their report, you can negotiate knowing what immediate expenses you might have for repair, and what the long term prospects are.
posted by COD at 9:42 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, are there makes from that era known to have better diesel engines?

The Cummins diesel used in the Dodge trucks is a great engine, as are specific Ford engines/years. We've had pretty bad luck with the GM/Chevy diesels at work, so I wouldn't buy one personally but ymmv. (We've had so many failures on one that if it was my own vehicle I would have sold it or set it on fire long ago. The engine itself is ok, though with some pricey repairs, but everything else is falling apart.)

I'd get it looked at by a diesel specialist; things like injectors can be crazy expensive and you don't want a surprise. Ideally you want someone who knows the diesel quirks, not just a generic mechanic.

And as noted above, parts for a 3/4 or one ton truck are big and expensive. Ball joints, brakes, etc will all cost more and be a bigger pain in the ass if you do your own work.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:43 AM on June 23, 2014

Where is the truck from? Here in the Northeast, where winter is dealt with by copious amounts of road salt, rust and corrosion can kill a vehicle long before the engine is worn out. Make sure your mechanic gives it a good look underneath at things like the brake lines, electrical items and the like.
posted by tommasz at 10:50 AM on June 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

The truck would be from Florida. Gulf coast. Thanks for recs on years/makes Dip Flash.
posted by caveatz at 10:58 AM on June 23, 2014

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