The best Diesel trucks are prized for their rugged power. These trucks will last for hundreds of thousands of miles and work hard for each one. Some are hesitant to buy one of these beastly pickups because they can be pricey. There are older options on the market that won’t break the bank but still deliver on power.
’01-’04 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD/LB7 Duramax (190,000-300,000 miles)
The LB7 is one of the best models of Silverado from this year’s range. Except for models sold in California, the LB7 was the only Duramax truck built before sweeping emissions reform. This truck is the last to be built without selective catalytic reduction, exhaust gas recirculation, and diesel particulate filter that caused owners of subsequent models headaches. This window of reliable trucks can be found for a great price.
The equivalent GMC Sierra offers the same balance of price and value. These trucks are lighter than the typical heavy-duty option. A six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission coupled with an independent front suspension gain this efficient truck decent fuel economy. The 3/4 ton ’01-’04 GMC Sierra or Chevy Silverado can get 22 mpg without payload. Towing is a breeze in this powerful truck, making it an affordable work option.
Used shoppers should look for a model that has its factory fuel injectors replaced. The factory parts are prone to failure. These trucks have a few other pain points that used shoppers should know about. Any issue with the Bosch common-rail system will be expensive to repair and should be checked for. Consumer Reports calls this truck’s ride stiff but acknowledges its durability.
’03-‘07 Dodge 2500/5.9L Cummins (215,000-400,000 miles)
The 2003-2007 Dodge 2500 is a well-rounded truck that doesn’t back down from hard work. These years saw marked improvement from the previous years’ models. These trucks have a few pain points and quirks to navigate, but they offer a well-appointed and quiet workhorse at a great price.
This rugged pickup was built to tow and can pull up to 9,400 pounds depending on the configuration. Its Chrysler 48RE four-speed transmission can take a beating from towing at gross combined tow rating. If used to tow responsibly and well-maintained, this truck can easily last well over 500,000 miles. Buyers shouldn’t be scared off of high-mileage options.
It’s hard to find a better bargain than a 5.9L inline-six Cummins for $10,000 or less. High-mileage trucks will need expected regular parts replacements such as ball joints and water pumps. A careful review of any Dodge 2500’s history will tell buyers what they need to know before committing to a transmission that could be on the way out.
’99-’03 Ford Super Duty/7.3L Power Stroke (150,000-250,000 miles)
The 1999 Ford Super Duty set a new standard for trucks 3/4 ton and up. It blew previous years’ models out of the water and gave competitors a run for their money. The 1999-2003 models are beginning to show their age, but this truck can still tackle most chores with confidence.
The F series are the best-selling trucks on earth for a good reason. These rugged workhorses stand up to the test of time. Even dated models with high mileage can be reliable choices. The 7.3L International Powerstroke is considered to be a bulletproof engine. They regularly make it beyond 500,000 miles. Some owners have seen just shy of 1,000,000 without an engine overhaul. This 275 hp powertrain can go the distance.
The 7.3L Power Stroke has a major weakness. An easily replaced camshaft sensor is prone to failure in this year span of Ford Super Duty. This sensor is easy to replace and takes just a few simple tools. Keeping a replacement at hand could save many headaches as this issue can cause the engine to hiccup or even stall out.
Buying a diesel truck doesn’t have to be a massive investment. Choosing an older model saves cash but it can also save a lot of headaches. A well-maintained used diesel truck can often be more reliable than a brand-new model. These tried and true workhorses get better with time so buying a high-mileage used option means getting a truck with all the bugs worked out.