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Old 09-08-2020, 01:40 PM   #1
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Thinking about a diesel and need advice

I am new to the forum and to Airstream so I have a million questions. We just picked up a new to us 2013 Airstream International Serenity 30RB. It was located in Colorado so we drove up there and brought it back to Texas. My current tow vehicle is a 2015 Chevy Silverardo 2500HD with the 6.0L gas engine.

This trailer is definitely heavier than our previous Forest River travel trailer.
While the truck did okay it definitely struggled in the mountains a little and I got killed on gas mileage even in the flat parts of Texas. I'm considering pulling the trigger on a diesel truck but definitely can't afford a new one so was looking at used options. I'm leaning towards another Chevy but I've driven Fords in the past so considering them as well. Dodge is a distant third but only because I've never owned one and don't know anyone that does in my family or group of friends/coworkers.

With that said curious if anyone can give me their thoughts on purchasing a used diesel. What should I look for or try to avoid? And how many miles is too many for a used one? Thanks in advance for your advice and I'm really looking forward to learning more and more about our Airstream and this great community.
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Old 09-08-2020, 02:43 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us. We used to tow our Airstream with a 3/4 ton Suburban with the 6.0 liter gasoline engine. It did OK, but not great with about 9 mpg. In 2011 we went to a Duramax and never looked back. The Duramax does the job very well, period.

Used Diesel pick-ups in good condition are like hen's teeth. There are very few and always expensive. Mileage is not usually a big factor. The engines run for ever. What you have to be careful of is all the other stuff. Remember that all of the other components are the same as the gas truck and wear out.

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Old 09-08-2020, 02:58 PM   #3
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I would find yourself a diesel mechanic that you can trust then start to look. Have the mechanic get into the truck and give you the rundown. When diesel parts go, it gets pricey.

As for brands each has its pro and cons. That is why having a good mechanic will understand the good and bad by brand and by year of manufacture. Good luck.
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Old 09-08-2020, 04:35 PM   #4
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Do you have a year and or price range in mind?
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Old 09-08-2020, 04:44 PM   #5
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"I got killed on gas mileage, even in the flat parts of Texas"
Can you quantify this statement? What was your MPG?
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Old 09-08-2020, 04:52 PM   #6
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If you can find an individual selling a used diesel , that is often the best to buy from. I was lucky and found one private and it had all of the work history and mileage written in the book. Often there are older people that have quit RV'ing and selling their truck. These usually have been well maintained, not fleet operated, and have had good maintenance performed by dealerships. You will have to pay top dollar for a good diesel, but it will last a long time if looked after. They also have a much better resale value than comparable gas trucks. Diesel is not for everyone, but I have driven diesel trucks since the mid 1980's, with almost no problems. I would NOT go back to pulling a trailer with a gas engine unless the trailer was 23' or less. This is just my opinion, and others will disagree. If you find a good used, not well used, diesel you will be happy.
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Old 09-08-2020, 04:55 PM   #7
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Before you pull that trigger, figure out how many gallons of $2.20 a gallon gas you can be buy for what it will cost you to upgrade. A gas truck will also have a larger payload so you can carry more fun stuff.

In fairness, I tow with a diesel and I get 30% better mileage than I did with my last gas truck. This is certainly understandable given the higher energy density of diesel. I do have to add DEF now and then and an oil change is twice as pricey, even though I do them myself. I am definitely in the minority in that, if I had to replace my truck tomorrow, Id buy the same thing with a gasser. Cheap fuel everywhere, far more likely to find someone who can fix it if it breaks, lower routine maintenance...

I wont lie, the big torque is nice on those long climbs, though, and considering where you live, it may well be the best choice.

Shop carefully, enjoy the journey with your new Airstream!
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Old 09-08-2020, 07:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokeboater View Post
Do you have a year and or price range in mind?
Looking at 2017 or newer and would love to stay under $55K and preferably under 80K miles.
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Old 09-08-2020, 08:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblin View Post
"I got killed on gas mileage, even in the flat parts of Texas"
Can you quantify this statement? What was your MPG?
I started the trip getting about 13 mpg on the way to Colorado with no trailer and driving 75 mph for the most part depending on what state we were in. Once we headed home with with the trailer I drove 65 mph and we saw between 5 mpg at it's lowest and around 8 mpg at it's highest.
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Old 09-08-2020, 09:05 PM   #10
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Diesel towing or not?

Check out the new Ford F250/F350 XL/XLT with the new 7.3 Gas engine. It may be just the ticket for you. Lower initial cost, no DEF, higher payload, lower maintenance cost, lower repair bills when they come (and they will if you keep it for a long time). Should be less than $55k if you do not load it up with tons of not needed options. Just sayin......
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Stryk View Post
Looking at 2017 or newer and would love to stay under $55K and preferably under 80K miles.
I was lucky. I found a 2017 Ram 2500 Limited Cummins diesel last year with only 23K miles at a local dealer in about your price range. Although expensive I knew there are not that many used ones out there and even though I wasn't specifically looking for a Ram I jumped on it. I have not regretted my decision at all. Great truck. Keep looking and good luck. You will find one eventually.
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Old 09-09-2020, 12:58 PM   #12
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Tow Vehicle

Joey, I was at the GMC dealer this morning. I saw a new (maybe last year's model, but new) duramax for $55K I didn't look at the options, but it is a new one. Master GMC in Aiken SC.


I was there as I just had my 2002 Duramax engine replaced. I didn't want to put out $55K or more and could find no used ones. I got out for under $13K and have a truck with a new engine - 238K miles on everything else, but I am used to the seat. I had blown the head gasket and didn't want to put $6K in an engine with 236K miles.
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Old 09-09-2020, 01:20 PM   #13
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Diesel

We have owned since 2008, 2 diesel powered Jeep Grand Cherokees , a 2008 with the Mercedes 3.0 diesel, and currently a 2015 with the Fiat 3.0 diesel. We tow a 2018 Airstream International Signature 23 FB.

We have faced the Appalachians, Rockies, Tetons, and Other mountains, without issues. The low end torque & 8 speed trans work very well together.

Mileage varies between 14-18 mpg depending upon the terrain. Unhitched near 30 mph.

My overall experience with this combo has been excellent. I feel diesels are a definite upgrade in performance over gas. As others have mentioned, service costs are higher, as well as initial costs , but resale is also much better.

Although our experience with the Grand Cherokee Diesel as a TV has been excellent, we are going to be looking for a diesel truck TV, mainly because we boondock in National Parks, & the Jeep is limited in cargo capacity when you need to take along the Honda gen, and the big blue grey water dump dolly. We want a truck with a full sized 8ft. Bed.

Steve & Gail
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Old 09-09-2020, 01:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Stryk View Post
I am new to the forum and to Airstream so I have a million questions. We just picked up a new to us 2013 Airstream International Serenity 30RB. It was located in Colorado so we drove up there and brought it back to Texas. My current tow vehicle is a 2015 Chevy Silverardo 2500HD with the 6.0L gas engine.

This trailer is definitely heavier than our previous Forest River travel trailer.
While the truck did okay it definitely struggled in the mountains a little and I got killed on gas mileage even in the flat parts of Texas. I'm considering pulling the trigger on a diesel truck but definitely can't afford a new one so was looking at used options. I'm leaning towards another Chevy but I've driven Fords in the past so considering them as well. Dodge is a distant third but only because I've never owned one and don't know anyone that does in my family or group of friends/coworkers.


With that said curious if anyone can give me their thoughts on purchasing a used diesel. What should I look for or try to avoid? And how many miles is too many for a used one? Thanks in advance for your advice and I'm really looking forward to learning more and more about our Airstream and this great community.
Joey, I am new here. We are expecting delivery of our new Airstream in Dec
As soon as they are available I plan to order a 2021 Chevy 2500 Duramax and will be selling my 2015 Chevy LTZ Duramax. It presently has 46,000 miles and is in excellent condition. I occasionally pull my three horse Living Quarters trailer with the truck. Im very partial to diesel trucks. Im located in Greenville, SC. If you would like to discuss further, get in touch. Henry
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Old 09-09-2020, 02:23 PM   #15
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Gasser v diesel

Quote:
Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
Check out the new Ford F250/F350 XL/XLT with the new 7.3 Gas engine. It may be just the ticket for you. Lower initial cost, no DEF, higher payload, lower maintenance cost, lower repair bills when they come (and they will if you keep it for a long time). Should be less than $55k if you do not load it up with tons of not needed options. Just sayin......
^x2! Got the F-250 7.3 gasser for all of the above reasons. VERY PLEASED so far pulling FC25FBT
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Old 09-09-2020, 02:44 PM   #16
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You are doing Just Fine...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey Stryk View Post
I started the trip getting about 13 mpg on the way to Colorado with no trailer and driving 75 mph for the most part depending on what state we were in. Once we headed home with with the trailer I drove 65 mph and we saw between 5 mpg at it's lowest and around 8 mpg at it's highest.
*****
Joey... you are doing just fine towing a 30 foot Airstream with your 2500HD.

Towing at 60mph and at 75mph will give a difference in mpg depending on conditions of wind direction and load. Mountain or Flat Land. Diesel or Gasoline. The sweet spot is the RPM of the engine... not the speed. Often stuck in a 300 to 400 range no matter... of low and high RPM trying to get the mileage per gallon UP.

Towing INTO a headwind will drop your mileage in proportion to the wind. A tailwind will do just the opposite. We watch the flags, bushes and trash blowing along the highways to figure out wind direction...

My towing on a Mountain Forest Service Road in 4x4 towing the 27 foot... 6 mpg under 25mph.

My towing on the Interstate at 70/75mph, 7.2 mpg to 13.5 mpg. I travel with full water tank, two 6 gallon water jugs, food, equipment for rock hunting, two Blue Heelers, pet porters... loaded for Off the Grid and can survive for four weeks... kind of camping.

What MANY should be concerned with, that most ignore is the 3/4 and 1 ton tow vehicles are a heavy tow vehicle towing heavy trailers. You are perfectly within my expectations of my 2016 F350 6.7L Diesel 4x4. Not for great mileage.

The Diesel has excessive power when needed. Engine braking going down Mountain Passes in the Rocky Mountains is convenient... but NOT the exactly what some describe as making it... easy. You still need to be on the brakes when necessary, taking the Diesel Braking off and when slowed down, back on. It is a Dance you learn by experience.

We do it for WEEKS at a time. Not all Steep Grades are the same. Utah likes to toss in some curves on I-70 and I-15 getting near Nevada. Good practice for Colorado with 'Dive Bomber' drops to keep the passenger awake.

Fuel price can be lower, the same or higher when traveling for Diesel. $1.99 this Summer was common. The Truck Stops along Highways are always HIGHER than in town. Maverick Stations can be 15% lower... we look for them. They also have more services like water, air and some with Dump Stations. The BEST Maverick is in Cortez, Colorado.

You are doing just perfect in my opinion. There is a 'sweet spot' in engine RPM and Speed. Then... then no better.
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Old 09-09-2020, 03:00 PM   #17
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I pull my 7500 TT with my 2019 Duramax and routinely get 15+ MPG towing, 18 MPG not towing. We just drove to Tenn. from California to pick up a 1963 Overlander 26'. Going we got nearly 20MPG on cruise at 75ish. Coming back towing we got 17ish. The engine/exhaust brake and tow haul works great. Love the diesel power and tow load available in the truck.
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Old 09-09-2020, 03:14 PM   #18
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OK... I must have a 'diesel foot'.

- Springerville, Arizona I had 16.8mpg.
- Williams, Arizona I had 12.8mpg.
- Moorcroft, Wyoming I had 15.2mpg.
- Tonopah, Nevada I had 16.5mpg.

Added: Boulder City, Nevada I had 21.2mpg towing on October 1, 2019.

But I do not pick out the Highs, but mitigate what MY 'normal expectations' are. We keep a log book on fuel price, gallons and mpg, towing the trailer and not towing the trailer... in two ink colors. Red when the Airstream is attached. Blue when not.

I use the MPG on the F350 instrument panel. The volume of Fuel I put into the tank... is ALWAYS LESS than what the instrument panel says. So my mileage is HIGHER... but I am not known to blow hot air into anyone's expectations.

Call me... practical and dull.

Without trailer. 19.4mpg in town this week. Not trying to impress anyone on the Forum. Although when I get up to RPM and want to impress kicking in the Twin Turbo... I will blow any gasser away towing or not and make them... cry. Yaaaa Hoooo

Eat dust. Poor MPG.
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:36 PM   #19
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I tow with an older Dodge Cummins. I feel the diesel makes for a much better tow vehicle. Two good choices: Dodge 6.7 with the AISIN transmission. GM Duramax with the Allison transmission. I would be cautious of trucks that have been deleted. Make sure the truck has the engine brake and tow/haul features. These features are usually there but make sure.

Good Luck on the TV hunt
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Old 09-13-2020, 09:44 AM   #20
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I have owned a Duramax diesel dually for 10 years. And, without a doubt it has been the best vehicle that I have ever owned.


As it pertains to the used market here are my thoughts:
1. Ask for maintenance records. Diesel engines either last forever or die prematurely as dictated by proper maintenance. Without maintenance records, I would walk.


2. Never buy a diesel truck where any portion of the power train has been modded (others may disagree with this statement). There is a significant risk that with a modded truck also brings abuse of the truck into play.


3. If you are looking at GM products for towing a camper, getting a truck with the engine brake will make towing and going down steep hills less exciting. Sorry but I don' remember what year the engine brakes were first introduced in the GM trucks.

4. Buying directly from a private seller is always better than buying a used truck off the lot where the seller can show and tell you the history of the truck and how it has been used.


5. Stay away from any truck that has been used in a commercial venture.


Hope this helps. Happy shopping
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