What is the Most Reliable Diesel Truck?
January 6, 2021

What is the Most Reliable Diesel Truck?

Written By: ProSource Diesel

If you need a truck that gets respectable fuel economy as a daily driver, while also towing or hauling just about anything you can hitch to it, then a diesel truck is really your only option. Diesel trucks are also known to last for a long time when properly maintained, and they can be easily modified with aftermarket diesel truck parts to get the most out of your rig.

However, brand new diesel trucks don’t just come with a hefty price tag, they also don’t come with any solid reliability history. If you’re looking for a reliable truck, it’s often better to go back in time and find trucks with a well-known history of being reliable thanks to the reviews and input of their owners.

The three main diesel truck makers are Ford (Powerstroke), General Motors (Duramax), and Dodge (Cummins). All three have proven, reliable diesel truck models that have stood the test of time.

ProSource Diesel is here to show you the pros and cons of some of the best choices for a reliable diesel pickup.

Ford 1999 – 2003 Super Duty with 7.3-liter Powerstroke

The 7.3L Powerstroke is still considered one of the most reliable diesel engines ever made. It also has plenty of power for most applications, with 500 pound-feet of torque and 235 horsepower. It was built for the long haul, too with an air-to-air intercooler, oil-based fueling, and durable internal hard parts. The 1999-2003 Super Duty can make it well beyond 500,000 miles when properly maintained. If you’re looking for a used 7.3L Powerstroke, you can buy one with between 150,000 and 250,000 miles with good peace of mind.

 Pros:

  • Very durable internals
  • Tons of widely available Powerstroke parts
  • No complicated emissions control systems

Cons:

  • Camshaft position sensor commonly fails
  • Oil pans are prone to rust
  • Under valve cover harnesses are prone to failing

Ford 2008 – 2010 F-250 and F-350 with 6.4-liter Powerstroke

Perhaps the biggest claim to fame for the 6.4L Powerstroke is how easy it is to tweak and modify. Add a few aftermarket diesel truck parts like a new intake and exhaust, plus a tuner, and this truck can go from 350 stock horsepower to 600 RWHP. The standard engine makes 650 pound-feet of torque, which makes it great for towing heavy equipment or hauling a large load. The trucks themselves were built durably with bigger everything, but the engine did have some problems that were mainly apparent in the 2008 model year before being ironed out for 2009 and 2010.

Pros:

  • Easy to modify
  • Wide variety of trims to choose from
  • Quiet cabin thanks to the Quiet Steel firewall

Cons:

  • Emissions control problems
  • Head gasket failure
  • Oil dilution

Chevy 2001 – 2004 Silverado 2500 HD with LB7 Duramax

It’s fairly common knowledge among diesel enthusiasts that pre-emissions diesel trucks were more reliable overall. The LB7 Duramax is one of those. It doesn’t have EGR, DPF or SCR emissions control systems. For an HD pickup, this truck was fairly lightweight, which allowed it to get up to 22mpg as long as it wasn’t towing or hauling. It also came with a heavy-duty Allison transmission option to improve towing capability.

 Pros:

  • Gets high mileage at 200,000+
  • No complex emissions systems
  • Durable internals

Cons:

  • Low curb weight makes it less stable in towing
  • premature injector failure
  • Prone to head gasket failure if tuned for most of its life

Chevy/GMC 2006 – 2007 2500 HD and 3500 HD with 6.6-liter Duramax LBZ

The 2500 and 3500 HD in this model year range featured the 6.6L Duramax V8 with Bosch common-rail injection, which wasn’t compromised by emission systems that were installed later. These trucks are known to be solid and durable workhorses that can be programmed to get up to 450 horsepower.

Pros:

  • Choice of Allison six-speed auto or ZF-6 six-speed manual for plenty of towing power
  • Quiet ride thanks to IFS suspension
  • Easy to modify with aftermarket Duramax parts as it’s a pre-emissions diesel

Cons:

  • No factory lift pump
  • High price tag as a used rig
  • Glow plug failure issues

Dodge 2003 – 2007 2500 with 5.9-liter Cummins

This model year range of Dodge Ram trucks was one of the most reliable, both in terms of the 5.9L Cummins and the truck built around it. This truck was born to tow and haul heavy loads. Aside from the problematic automatic transmission, everything else about this Ram was strong and durable.

Pros:

  • Gets high miles at 200,000+
  • Stock ride height and wheels/tires gets 20-22 mpg empty
  • No complex emissions systems

Cons:

  • Automatic transmission not durable, doesn’t hold up to power tweaks
  • Death wobble issues
  • Bosch common-rail system parts aren’t cheap

Dodge 1991 ½ – 1993 with 5.9-liter 12-Valve Cummins

This older version of the 5.9L Cummins was virtually indestructible. The trucks themselves also proved capable of sticking around for a few decades and counting. They remain very popular among diesel truck enthusiasts and the trucks take well to aftermarket mods for increasing power and performance.

Pros:

  • Cool vintage look
  • Time-tested “bulletproof” engine
  • Aftermarket Cummins parts upgrades can push it over 300 horsepower

Cons:

  • Surprisingly high price tag for 4×4 models
  • Can be hard to find clean ones
  • Won’t have modern creature comforts

Verdict:

Some of the most reliable diesel trucks were designed and built before emissions control systems became mandatory. Diesel parts in these engines were made tough and ready for the long haul. In our opinion, if you want a reliable, high-mileage diesel, the pre-emissions era is the way to go.

Whether you need parts for your old or new Ford, Chevy, or Ram truck, ProSource Diesel offers a huge selection of aftermarket diesel parts. ProSource is where repair shops shop for reliable and hard to find diesel truck parts and kits.

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