Pre-Emission Full-sized Trucks

Dalko43

Explorer
As the title hints at, I'm on the hunt for a pre-emissions full-sized truck, preferably diesel and manual transmission. I'm looking to turn this thing into a multi-use overlanding, hunting, camping, towing rig.

I've ruled out the Ford offerings due to the infamous issues with the 6.0L powerstroke and also the difficulty associated with servicing the engine.

My focus has turned to the 2006-2007 Chevy 2500 with the LBZ Duramax V8 and the 2005-2007.5 Ram 2500 with the 5.9L Cummins.

The Pro's I see with the LBZ Chevy: Stout and reliable Allison transmission and optional manual; great horsepower/torque figures in stock form (360HP, 650lb-ft); decent mpg and the Duramax is somewhat lighter (at ~800-900lbs) than comparable diesels.
The Chevy's Con's: Duramax avoided most of the emissions devices but does come with an EGR system (which as I understand it puts exhaust gases back into the engine and lead to reliability issues in the long run); IFS (supposedly very strong but still might be a limitation for some of the roads I'll want to explore); supposedly Chevy's of that generation had rust issues.

The Pro's I see with the 5.9L Ram: 2 solid axles (front and rear); 5.9L avoided most of the hampering emissions devices (no EGR, DPF, DEF); fairly reliable manual transmission if power levels are kept stock.
The Con's: The 5.9L is a heavy beast (~1,100lbs); front end of these 3rd gen Ram 2500's are known for having issues (some amount of upgrade and rework would likely be required); auto transmissions were problematic even at stock HP levels.

So I'd like to hear from the heavy duty diesel crowd here. Which one makes more sense for my given purpose? I'm not trying to start a brand debate. I've heard the Ram referred to as a Cummins engine wrapped in a turd, but having spent some amount of time in both Ram and Chevy products, I honestly think they are both at the same level of quality overall, so I anticipate there needing to be some work on my part to make either rig reliable for extended travel.

My gut tells me to go with the Ram, mostly because it has a solid front axle and its 5.9L, while not without problems, seems a lot easier to make reliable versus the LBZ Duramax V8 and its EGR system. I know there are EGR delete systems (for offroad use) and I've heard of solid axle swaps for the Chevy, but it seems for that amount of $ and effort spent, I'd be better off going with the 5.9L Cummins.

Thoughts?
 

Trophycummins

Adventurer
Drive both, see which you like more.

I don't think ifs is as much of a hinderance as you think it is, but it all depends on the terrain you're planning to traverse.

I've had both, I now own a 2015 ram with no emissions equipment. The Cummins can't be beat, but you'll eventually want a built trans. Unless you get the manual, then you'll want a nice aftermarket clutch.


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Darwin

Explorer
People want an arm and a leg for a 5.9 and apparently gold too. I don't see much wrong with just removing the emissions components if you are able to do that, it's not that hard. The newer Rams with DEF don't seem to have as many problems with the emissions equipment, they run a lot less EGR too.

I don't know anything about the Chevy, I prefer a straight six motor.

There is a member on here selling a low milage manual trans 06 Cummins with XP flat bed, I think he wants like 35K for it.
 

Regcabguy

Expedition Leader
I'm biased but my 2007 5.9 G-56 has been very reliable. Carli and Thuren offer suspension upgrades from leveling coils and upgraded shocks to the full Monte.
As stated a clutch upgrade will be necessary if you plan on towing heavy,run bigger tires,tuner or combination thereof. Except for very late model G-56's(built after 11/06),the G-56 has a final drive ratio of 0.79 yielding the equivalent of an auto with 4.10's. This lessens the load on the engine/transmission.
My friend's '07 with aluminum utility bed and Phoenix camper weighs 10,300# wet. It's still on it's original stock clutch. Stock power and 285-75-17's.
He's beaten on it offroad in northwestern in Baja for hundreds of miles. His power steering pump loosened up last trip understandably after being beaten to death down there.
I've replaced my front suspension with Synergy's bombproof linkage,but my Mopar upgraded linkage was still in good shape.
Lots of room to service these.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
Great feedback thus far!

A few things to bring up:

- The Chevy's IFS is not a dealbreaker for me, though I would prefer a solid front axle. I've spent enough time in IFS trucks/SUV's (my current rig is a 5th gen 4runner) to know that, when properly set up, IFS rigs can be very reliable and capable. That said, I plan on on putting a winch and bumper on the front of my next rig as well as bigger than stock tires (at least 35's). And I really do intend to explore some hard-to-reach areas. I know IFS rigs can be made to handle such abuse (the exploits of the Expedition Overland crew in their IFS Landcruisers, Tacomas and 4runners should be proof enough of that). But it in my mind, it seems like the Ram's solid axle is just extra insurance for the type of stuff I intend to do with it. I'm not looking for a rig to do daily rockcrawls of MOAB-like terrain, but I do want my rig to be capable of handling such terrain should I need it to...if that makes sense.
- I've heard a lot of bad things about the newer emissions systems on all the newer diesels. The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) recirculates exhaust gases into the intake valves (I think), which degrades engine performance over time. The DPF (diesel particulate filter) requires fuel injection to burn off the accumulated soot (which causes fuel contamination of the engine oil over time). The DEF (Diesel exhaust fluid) seems to be the less intrusive of all 3 systems and its only noticeable side effect seems to be that it robs the engine of power and fuel efficiency and constricts the exhaust flow. I have heard however that the DEF can be finicky depending on the brand of DEF you use and that it costs a lot of $ to replace when it breaks down. Am I off on how any of this stuff works? Am I wrong to try and avoid this stuff like the plague? In my mind, all this complication just opens the owner up to more $ lost and more hassle for when things break down.
- I agree the 2005-2007.5 Cummins seem to be fetching an arm and a leg in the aftermarket. Emission systems aside, I do like the newer versions of both the Ram and the Chevy. Ram supposedly solved a lot of the transmission issues and really beefed up its front end in the 4th gen platform. Chevy's newer truck likewise seems more reliable (emissions issues aside). Theoretically speaking, how hard is it to get rid of all that emissions stuff and get one of these newer vehicles tuned and running properly?

I'm biased but my 2007 5.9 G-56 has been very reliable. Carli and Thuren offer suspension upgrades from leveling coils and upgraded shocks to the full Monte.
As stated a clutch upgrade will be necessary if you plan on towing heavy,run bigger tires,tuner or combination thereof. Except for very late model G-56's(built after 11/06),the G-56 has a final drive ratio of 0.79 yielding the equivalent of an auto with 4.10's. This lessens the load on the engine/transmission.
I wasn't aware of that in regards to the G56 transmission. I had read through the Turbo Diesel's buyer's guide for the Ram Cummins and saw that the G56 gearing was changed for 2007.5 on (coinciding with the engine change).

My friend's '07 with aluminum utility bed and Phoenix camper weighs 10,300# wet. It's still on it's original stock clutch. Stock power and 285-75-17's.
He's beaten on it offroad in northwestern in Baja for hundreds of miles. His power steering pump loosened up last trip understandably after being beaten to death down there.
I've replaced my front suspension with Synergy's bombproof linkage,but my Mopar upgraded linkage was still in good shape.
Lots of room to service these.
So would you say that upgraded steering linkage, upgraded clutch, upgraded shocks and leveling kits are a must for making a 5.9L Ram Cummins offroad worthy? If so what would you ballpark the cost of all that at?
 
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Trophycummins

Adventurer
You don't have to buy an older truck to be emissions free. Just delete.

You need to give a definition of "offroad" worthy. Because everyone's is different.

When I first got my ram, a 3" thuren leveling kit with fox shocks was all I had, with 37s. It went places, just very slowly. For me a big diesel isn't offroad worthy till you've got big shocks to control the weight.

Expect to drop about $800 on a good steering setup, 1k on a clutch/flywheel, and shocks could vary from $600 to $6000 depending on what route you take. Depending on how you wheel the truck, you'll want a front axle truss as well.


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Jomax

Observer
You can find a 6.0 ford for next to nothing if the motor has issues. Then make it bullet proof.


Fords hands down have the best body/ drivetrain. The trans are strong. Even stronger then the Allison.. steering is strong unlike the dodge..

If you're going newer. The ford 6.7 trumps the Cummins 6.7 IMHO.


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Trophycummins

Adventurer
If you're going newer. The ford 6.7 trumps the Cummins 6.7 IMHO.


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My company is owned by the biggest ford dealer in the world, I drive around in new super duties on a regular basis. I'd take a Cummins over a scorpion diesel any day of the week.


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Jomax

Observer
My company is owned by the biggest ford dealer in the world, I drive around in new super duties on a regular basis. I'd take a Cummins over a scorpion diesel any day of the week.


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To each his own really. I've driven both as well. Lol


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Dalko43

Explorer
You can find a 6.0 ford for next to nothing if the motor has issues. Then make it bullet proof.


Fords hands down have the best body/ drivetrain. The trans are strong. Even stronger then the Allison.. steering is strong unlike the dodge..

If you're going newer. The ford 6.7 trumps the Cummins 6.7 IMHO.


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Yeah, I've read about the bullet proofing for the 6.0. I'd just rather not have to deal with that. And I've heard that servicing the Ford Engine is a royal PITA since the cab needs to come off for certain types of repairs.


You need to give a definition of "offroad" worthy. Because everyone's is different.

When I first got my ram, a 3" thuren leveling kit with fox shocks was all I had, with 37s. It went places, just very slowly. For me a big diesel isn't offroad worthy till you've got big shocks to control the weight.
"Offroad" worthy to me means being able to traverse long stretches of open highway or tame forestry roads but still be capable of getting over obstacles and rough, unmaintained roads and tracks. I realize a full-size's weight and size alone is big limiting factor...basically if the truck can fit on the road, I want it to be able to drive it.


Expect to drop about $800 on a good steering setup, 1k on a clutch/flywheel, and shocks could vary from $600 to $6000 depending on what route you take. Depending on how you wheel the truck, you'll want a front axle truss as well.
Is all that $ I'll need to spend for a 5.9L Cummins or a 6.7L or both?
 

Darwin

Explorer
For a nice clean low milage 5.9 you are looking in the 25-30K range, add in aftermarket stuff probably 40K thousand dollars. You can buy a brand new one for that with zero miles. You could delete it and lose your powertrain warranty, or keep it stock and have a warranty. Many people have had hundreds of thousand of trouble free miles on the newer emission trucks.

There are not many places in the USA where I see reliability of emission components a problem. It's not like you will be driving in central or south america.
 

Trophycummins

Adventurer
"Offroad" worthy to me means being able to traverse long stretches of open highway or tame forestry roads but still be capable of getting over obstacles and rough, unmaintained roads and tracks. I realize a full-size's weight and size alone is big limiting factor...basically if the truck can fit on the road, I want it to be able to drive it.




Is all that $ I'll need to spend for a 5.9L Cummins or a 6.7L or both?

If that's your definition of offroad worthy, you'll want lockers front and rear as well, an axle truss if you get a ram, and sliders.

Those things would be needed for any 3rd gen ram. 13+ doesn't have steering issues.



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Trophycummins

Adventurer
For a nice clean low milage 5.9 you are looking in the 25-30K range, add in aftermarket stuff probably 40K thousand dollars. You can buy a brand new one for that with zero miles. You could delete it and lose your powertrain warranty, or keep it stock and have a warranty. Many people have had hundreds of thousand of trouble free miles on the newer emission trucks.

There are not many places in the USA where I see reliability of emission components a problem. It's not like you will be driving in central or south america.
He's still going to need to dump the same amount of money into a new one. So your 40k just turned into 55k.





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