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Old 03-06-2020, 01:48 PM   #1
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Newer vs older truck

Talked to a long-time Airstreamer the other day. He tows with an older truck and claims he is better off with a pre-DEF truck than a newer one that uses DEF. Obviously the older truck will be cheaper to buy, but probably more expensive to operate. At some point, even those who drive older trucks will be either forced to buy a truck that uses DEF or spend the money on restoring the old truck with no chance of recouping the money.


I have several people interested in our Foretravel, so it is likely that sooner rather than later I'll be shopping for a truck. What do you think? Should I stick to 2013 and newer, or look for a pre-DEF truck?
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Old 03-06-2020, 02:44 PM   #2
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I think you should not buy a diesel truck that does not use DEF. DEF is the best way to meet the emission standards. It’s use is widespread. Dodge really had problems (2007-2012) until they incorporated DEF. I personally know people who had problems in those years. New trucks are better than old trucks. I drive a 13 year old truck but cost to replace is the main thing that keeps it in use. The new trucks get close to the same fuel consumption and have a lot more power available than mine.
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Old 03-06-2020, 02:53 PM   #3
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We are towing with a 2003 Dodge. Way before DEF. I spend far, far less in annual maintenance and preventive maintenance than I would spend on depreciation of a newer truck.

Properly maintained, a Cummins should be good to for 500,000 plus miles so mine should be good for another 10-20 years.
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Old 03-06-2020, 04:13 PM   #4
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The 2012 Ram 3500 we had ran well and never gave us any trouble at all. I got about 10 mpg driving it around town as well as when towing on the open road. It got about 14-15 on the highway running solo.

I recently traded it in on a new 2018 Ram 3500 and it also runs well but gets about 4-5 mpg better running solo (haven’t towed with it yet).

New trucks are expensive but you don’t have to load them up with options in order to be comfortable. I bought mine (SLT model) off the lot and the only options were the HO Cummins, Aisin transmission, fog lights, and the Patriot Blue paint. (I would have opted for the Bighorn package if I had the choice but otherwise this was exactly the truck I wanted.) All those options add weight to the truck and lighten your wallet.

It has satellite radio, power windows, backup camera, a/c, etc. (all things I’ve towed without in the distant past).

The dealer knocked $10,000 off the window sticker (and I’ve heard better deals are out there). While no vehicle I know of is a good investment, at least (most) diesel pickups hold their value better than most other vehicles.

I didn’t even buy the extended warranty as I never needed it in the past on either of the other Rams I’ve owned.
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Old 03-06-2020, 04:31 PM   #5
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I travel with a pre DEF 2006 Dodge Ram. If I were going to by a new truck to tow an Airstream it would no doubt be a gas rig. I bought my truck new and have right at 215K miles on the clock. It's always been dependable although I am a stickler for preventative maintenance. I just completed a 6,500 mile trip and averaged 14.25 mpg which has been pretty consistent with past trips. I think certain of the older diesel trucks are excellent values if you are above average mechanically inclined or are fortunate to live in an area with one of the better shops specializing in your brand of truck. I do all my own repairs but if I lived in the vicinity of one of the better quality mechanics I'd be willing to shell out the money to have them do the required repairs. I think afa best bang for the buck a good used diesel truck maintained by a quality mechanic beats a new diesel truck hands down.
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Old 03-06-2020, 04:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokeboater View Post
I travel with a pre DEF 2006 Dodge Ram. If I were going to by a new truck to tow an Airstream it would no doubt be a gas rig.
Brokeboater, thanks for sharing your experience with your pre DEF 2006 RAM. It’s a testament to their simplicity and durability. That said, I am curious why you’d go with a gas truck today. Is it because the new diesels have gotten more complex?

Full disclosure: I did choose a new gas over a diesel - the 6.4 Hemi and ZF 8 speed trans have proven to be a great towing combo for our 27’ GT.
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Old 03-06-2020, 05:01 PM   #7
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I’m limiting my comments to the big three 3/4T and up pickups with diesel.

Take any of these as an older truck side by side with its newer model. Then open the hoods for both. Take a good look.

My 2005 Cummins 5.9L looks almost lonely in that engine bay.

Over 200K on my common rail.
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Old 03-06-2020, 05:49 PM   #8
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I am curious why you’d go with a gas truck today.

A modern diesel truck, and all the baggage they bring along, simply isn't necessary for towing anything like an Airstream.
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:24 PM   #9
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I’m limiting my comments to the big three 3/4T and up pickups with diesel.

Take any of these as an older truck side by side with its newer model. Then open the hoods for both. Take a good look.

My 2005 Cummins 5.9L looks almost lonely in that engine bay...

True. The 6.7 CTD in my Ram pretty much fills up the engine bay,
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:28 PM   #10
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:55 PM   #11
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I like our 17 2500 ram..6.7.does a good job..no problems..
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Old 03-06-2020, 06:57 PM   #12
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I have a post DEF Ram. I buy the DEF at the truck stop for $2.75 a gallon. I Really like the soot trap and burner too, And haven't had any trouble with any of it. Totally happy with it and really like how much cleaner it is for the people who have to wallow in my exhaust.

If you want clean exhaust go newer, if you don't care what the people in back of you have to breath go older. We all have to live our own life.
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Old 03-06-2020, 07:15 PM   #13
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Pre DEF

You may want to consider a gasser. With the arrival of the 7.3 gas engine available in the Super Duty Fords, why get a diesel?

Check the box for a diesel and the price jumps approx. $10k. The payload/cargo capacity goes down 600/700/800 LBS. Maintenance costs are way more for a diesel. Fuel is more costly. DEF cost $$ also. When it breaks, and it will, it will cost more to repair.

This is just food for thought. If you absolutely have to have a diesel, have at it.

I have almost 2 million miles in Class 8 diesel trucks. Moving 80,000 LBS down the highway requires a diesel. A modern gasser properly equipped can tow just about any RV down the road in a safe manner. Happy travels.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:28 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
You may want to consider a gasser. With the arrival of the 7.3 gas engine available in the Super Duty Fords, why get a diesel?

Check the box for a diesel and the price jumps approx. $10k. The payload/cargo capacity goes down 600/700/800 LBS. Maintenance costs are way more for a diesel. Fuel is more costly. DEF cost $$ also. When it breaks, and it will, it will cost more to repair.

This is just food for thought. If you absolutely have to have a diesel, have at it.

I have almost 2 million miles in Class 8 diesel trucks. Moving 80,000 LBS down the highway requires a diesel. A modern gasser properly equipped can tow just about any RV down the road in a safe manner. Happy travels.

This is one of the most concise and well-reasoned analyses of one of the most talked about issues on this forum that I have ever read!

A tip of my cap to you, Uraljohn!

Full disclosure: I tow a 27' AS with a loaded 2015 6.2L Silverado 1500 gasser and love it.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:34 AM   #15
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Older trucks are much lower and the bed is accessible without a ladder.
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Old 03-07-2020, 09:55 AM   #16
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Purchased one of the last new 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins in January 2013 and has about 46,000 miles now. It had every option I would have ordered and then some. At that model year time, the Ram 3500 dually chassis only came with the DEF issue. DEF is great until the plastic storage tank freezes in cold weather, or you run out in a remote area. DEF was the reason I chose the 2012 non-DEF model.

Had a turbo issue and stopped at an independent shop in 2018. Their lot was fall of big rigs getting ready to drop $5,000 to get the engine working again because of DEF. They said they had great cash flow....

Our Ram's job is to tow our Airstreams. We have a 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel (197,000 miles) and a 2009 Mercedes E320 diesel sedan (67,000 miles) for my wife. They both are pre-def and get 30% better miieage than their same displacement gasoline powered siblings. We still use the ML to tow our 2015 23D International Serenity (6,062 pounds).

Out here in the Phoenix area, diesel is cheaper than regular gasoline. I avoid the "Big 3" truck stops as they all have "up to 20%" bio-diesel. My Ram manual says up to 5% bio-diesel and Mercedes says ZERO % bio-diesel for our model years.

I can smell many of the gasoline car's exhausts at gas stations and they are out of adjustment and often smell of sulfuric acid.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:16 AM   #17
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Our 2004 Dodge Ram 2500 has 260,000 miles on it and runs/looks quite new. Cummins diesel. We get 18.5 MPG without our 30' Airstream Sovereign in tow (4500 lbs). But we get 15 to 17 towing it. No rust in body. Before any problem can develop, we replace anything that squeaks or burps. Just rebuilt the transmission. I can't see dropping $75K for a new Ram with similar features.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:06 PM   #18
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Seriously though. Would you go out and buy a 15 to 20 year old diesel truck if you needed a TV? Sure, I drive it because I already have it and know the history. But in a used car lot I would not even look at it.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:27 PM   #19
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Seriously though. Would you go out and buy a 15 to 20 year old diesel truck if you needed a TV?

Yes. It may take a little time and patience but there are good used trucks out there. Different strokes for different folks. By the looks of things on kbb it would take just north of $40K to buy a decent equipped new gas pu. If I had to buy new I'd buy gas but if I just needed/wanted a tow vehicle I'd more than likely find another late model 5.9 Cummins truck and expect to pay $20 to $25k for the right prospect. But I do know those trucks very well, what to expect and what to look out for. I like what they are and how they tow. The guy that bought my last Airstream ended up buying a really old 12v Cummins rig to tow it with. I'm not much prone to envy but I do say I had a steak of it when he sent me a photo.


A good old diesel truck is not much different that a good old travel trailer, say something like an '88 25' Excella.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:42 PM   #20
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With the government continually screwing around with diesels, I would go gasoline instead. I have my 3rd diesel and it works fine. As I understand, several of the legislated modifications will shorten the life of the engine.
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