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Old 10-15-2007, 11:20 PM   #1
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Diesel 6.5L Suburbans?

Ok, I'm trying to see if a diesel may make fill ups less painful for us. I currently have a 1 ton Dodge Van B350 with the 5.9L engine. Although it fits us fine now (we need to seat 9 for girl scouts), it does have some issues...

I don't like not having headrests for the kids in back.
My wife's not happy with the lack of legroom in the front because of the doghouse.
Mpg - I get 13 in the city, 14 on the highway, and 8(!!) towing.

Pluses - well, it's paid for, in great mechanical condition (knock on wood here), and really has never let us down. Tows our 25ft Argosy VERY well - stable, doesn't get pushed around, and plenty of power.

I've seen a couple of diesel 94 - 95 K2500's for sale locally anywhere from 4000 - 7000 dollars. Seems to be a reasonable price.

I saw that Saablover just got a gasser.

Any mechanical issues with the 6.5L diesel that you guys know about? Anybody have a guess on mpg that they get?

Is it really worth it? $5000 would buy me SOME gas I suppose....
I didn't have much luck mechanically with my last two Chevy Astros, and am a bit gunshy with Chevy products for this reason - am I being nuts?
I'd love your 2 cents!
Marc
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Old 10-16-2007, 12:21 AM   #2
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I think diesel is the way to go, but, the 6.2s had a variety of issues. Some years were better than others. In the end, it all depends on how much you tow and drive. Clearly Diesel gets better MPG than comp gassers.

It all boils down to how much you want to spend up front and in maint, vs gas. At some point the two converge and one over time puts some bucks back in yer pocket, but how quickly depends on how many repairs, how much you travel and the cost of energy.
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Old 10-16-2007, 05:53 AM   #3
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the turbo 6.5L engines are very stout and will provide good milage.

i have one in my '98 silverado i primarily use for commuting and plowing snow.

they have one weak point, there is an electrical driver on the back of the injector pump under the intake manafold.

just make sure the one you choose has had this module replaced with a current trouble free unit.

it is about a 175 dollar part that costs about 5/600 bucks to replace by a dealer.

not to worry though, most of them that are still on the road have probably had it replaced.

once repaired they are a mighty fine truck for the money. mine gets 20 to 22 mpg empty and 15 to 17 towing if i keep my foot out of it and avoid blowing black smoke on people i pass!

john
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Old 10-16-2007, 08:57 AM   #4
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My friend here at work had one in his work truck. It is a light duty diesel engine but well up to the task of pulling your trailer - not a power house but it will work. (a different turbo or injectors could help the power situation).
I think around 1994 GM changed to electronic injection. The mechanical injection motors were supposed to be more reliable as the other ones had the electronic issues as John mentioned. They are ok if you move the fuel injection electronics from the fuel injector pump to the fender to keep the electronics cooler.
Also watch out for cracked cylinder heads on the later models.
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:40 AM   #5
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Marc,

My former TV was a 1994 Chevy K1500 truck with the 6.5 turbo diesel. Basically, I liked the truck and it towed my 25 foot trailer very well. (Empty about 20 mpg, towing 16 -17 on flat land) As has been pointed out, the electronic injection pumps have problems. Mine was on its 4th pump when I traded it at 77,000 miles in 2003. (I don't use my truck except for towing and lumber runs hence the low milage.) It had been towed into the dealer for the second time in 10 days - when I was offered 6800 trade it I got a new truck. (GM picked up most of the repair costs under the 11 year 110k emission warranty.)

Not sure this helps all that much - do check out the electronic issues. (There are a few GM diesel sites that might be helpful.) I heard somewhere that they can be retrofitted with a mechanical pump. I'd probably still be driving it if it had a more reliable fuel system.

Good luck whatever you decide.

Whit Nash
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:45 AM   #6
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Get A Sprinter van!

I run mine at 8000lb. and tow my 19CCD (4500lb) and still get 14-17 mpg. Witout the trailer, but still at 8000lb, I get 20-22 on a regular basis. 2.7l Mercedes turbo-diesel don't ya know.......... Small but mighty!

You can get them configured as a passender van that can carry up to 12 people, and the passenger room and ergernomics are excellent!
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:48 AM   #7
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ah.... good advise here! I am a bit gunshy about the injection pump electronics. I'll have to read up any fixes for the problems. Maybe I'll just check out the gas versions, but I do like the mpg others have gotten.
Any other input?
Thanks again!
Marc
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Old 10-16-2007, 09:51 AM   #8
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Lewster - If I could AFFORD a Sprinter van, I'd have one! My only beef with it is that it's so TALL. Parking around here is tight with my current van at just under 7 feet (6'11" is about all I push it for garages). Local parking garages are very limited in height. Right now, I look eye to eye with youngings in their jacked up 4x4's.... kind of deflates them to have POPS up there with them in - a - VAN!. Although, I do have some meaty tires on it too!

My ideal Sprinter is the short wheelbase, dually, 10 passenger, low roof. Not made yet : (
Marc
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:01 AM   #9
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Additional thoughts

Marc,

I don't know how you use your rig or where you travel. The 6.5 had plenty of torque for getting 25 foot around Michigan on backroads and rural freeways. My 2003 3/4 ton has more power than I normally need - except when on the East Coast on urban freeways. The extra pull is definitely nice.

However, the 3/4 ton truck is heavier and some 3/4 ton units are really heavy. I do like the diesel fuel economy though - better than some of the gas cars from the 1960's.

If you have time ask around various places and see what others say. I was forced to make a relatively quick decision - which I don't regret - becasuse my wife did not trust the truck anymore. Probably would have been more economical to have kept it and talked to the mechanics at the diesel repair place. You can buy alot of upgrades/chnges for the price of a new truck.

Whit Nash
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:17 AM   #10
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Thanks Whit! This TV is mostly limited to either infrequent short runs around town (say, 200mile / month) in city, and bimonthly tows out to the OR coast, with one BIG summer trip with the trailer. We do have some good sized hills around here... say I 90 or Hwy 2 to the east, I5 around Shasta down south... and then down to CA with the Grapevine.

Again, I'd really love a rocket ship that handles like a fighter, and gets mileage like a Honda..... I haven't found it yet! Sure wish the Dodge Magnum could tow us, but again, mileage isn't that hot either... nor can it haul the troop.

Actually, I really like the full sized van... they just haven't been updated in the past 20 years (save the Sprinter... which is .. well... see above). Look at those passenger seats - awful for kids or adults.
Marc
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Old 10-16-2007, 10:33 AM   #11
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Have the 2007 6.7L Turbo Diesel Quadcab. Get 15 mpg towing average. No problems so far. Love it.

I've told others on various threads to check out CarsDirect.com -- America's #1 way to buy cars online! I bought my truck for $34,059 (listed$41,499). You can build one and see what cost is. Or, they also have used vehicles. check it out you might get what you want and save $$ at the same time.
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Old 10-16-2007, 12:42 PM   #12
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oops...

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3Ms75Argosy
Actually, I really like the full sized van... they just haven't been updated in the past 20 years (save the Sprinter... which is .. well... see above). Look at those passenger seats - awful for kids or adults.
Marc
I meant the seats in the current Chevy's and Ford vans w/o headrests. Those in the Sprinters are quite nice!

I'll check out carsdirect... I just don't think I can swing a new truck right now.

But back to the Subs... other than the injector pump electrics, any issues?
Marc
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Old 10-16-2007, 12:59 PM   #13
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hi marc!

the late 90s e-250s have better leg room than the dodges or the other guy and can be found with 7.3l diesels...

LOTS of churches and retirement villages and high schools have these.

i agree the head rests are a plus, but there are bench seat upgrades available used/aftermarket with headrests...

there is also a 6 wheel dually version which is pretty cool looking...

but not for king county traffic...

cheers
2air'

the steering in the subs from that vintage is godawfulslow-stiffandmyarmsarefriggin' tiredwillimakethiscornertuff!
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crispyboy
My friend here at work had one in his work truck. It is a light duty diesel engine but well up to the task of pulling your trailer - not a power house but it will work. (a different turbo or injectors could help the power situation).
I think around 1994 GM changed to electronic injection. The mechanical injection motors were supposed to be more reliable as the other ones had the electronic issues as John mentioned. They are ok if you move the fuel injection electronics from the fuel injector pump to the fender to keep the electronics cooler.
Also watch out for cracked cylinder heads on the later models.
there are about 3 variants of the 6.5 with 3 different HP ratings, the half ton being the lowest.

for the price you are talking compared to new you would get a lot of truck for the buck.

john
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