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Hey y'all, I'm new to diesel trucks and would like some info, help, and insight into buying a truck. I did at one time have a 2007 6.7 cummins with a manual trans. Was gonna use it to get into the diesel world and learn more about em. Sadly I got screwed by the previous owner who said it had a "brand new trans" and less than 3 weeks later it was in the shop needing new hydraulics, clutch, pressure plate, and trans in general. They wanted 3500 to fix it and I just didnt have the money to do so. So I had to sell the truck. Long story short I went back to a gas truck and am looking to get back into a diesel. I've heard lots about cummins, powertroke, duramax, but nothing specific. Like why is the 6.0 so bad? And the 6.4? Why does the 7.3 have so little power? What about the 6.7 powerstroke? What about all the different duramax engines? And the different cummins engines? Reliability and power are the two biggest things I'm after. (not 1200 hp daily driver I'm not stupid) But I'd like a manual trans again. And 4x4 is a need. Any insight info and help would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for legit answers, not "DoDgE iS bEtTeR tHaN fOrD 'cAuSe CuMmInS" I want legit answers on why. This is gonna take money I know and want info to make my own decisions. Thanks in advance!!
 

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I don't know about any brand of diesel but the Dodge, and I can only speak to my own experience. In 2004, I was working for a tree service and bought myself a used Dodge diesel as a work truck. My first diesel. It was a 1998.5, 24 valve-6 cylinder turbo-diesel 5-Speed Club Cab 4x4 Dually with 110,000 miles on it. I asked the dealer about the 98 1/2 year model designation, and apparently for buying parts and whatnot, that was an accurate description. It did have a tuner and some exhaust modifications, and I was absolutely thrilled with the power it made. An excellent truck, I drove it daily for 10 years and many miles. I loved that truck, and learned some very valuable lessons.

The first major one was that I would never ever own a diesel truck without 4 wheel drive. My boss had bought a 2004 Dodge Crew Cab 2 wheel drive with the 24 Valve and a 6 speed. It seemed that every time his front tires left the pavement on anything but hard packed dry dirt he got stuck and I had to pull him out. The front end was just too heavy with the diesel, and his rear wheels (single, not duals) would break loose...

The second was learning the importance of having manual gauges, including fuel pressure! Not understanding how the injector pump worked in conjunction with the lift pump was a very expensive lesson. A fuel pressure gauge could have saved me a LOT of money. There were quite a few little lessons over the years, most of which were not breakdown related.

The transmission did have a factory defect which I also discovered. The retaining nut which held the gears in place on the transmission mainshaft would loosen and the truck would pop out of 5th gear giving me a false neutral there. The dealer was well acquainted with this issue and had a repair kit with a new nut on the shelf. It was a common problem with this generation 5 speed, though the factory never issued a recall for it. The first time it happened I was in Fort Worth pulling a 38 foot fifth wheel trailer, and the trip to San Antonio in 4th gear was a very long one… After 3 repairs... The dealership mechanic forgot to "peen" the nut onto the shaft as per the repair bulletin on the first two, I had no additional problems with the transmission.

It was a very reliable truck overall, and it did everything I asked of it, even when I asked too much! I sold the truck in 2014 as I no longer needed it as a work truck. I bought a new GMC Z-71 4x4 1/2 ton with a gas engine and automatic transmission. After 2 years of transmission shifting issues (It would smack "hard" into 2nd gear when idling forward in rush hour traffic) I decided that I hated that Z-71, and I missed my dually. Poof… Sold…

I bought a new 2016 Tradesman Crew Cab 4x4 Dually with the 8 foot bed, the 6.7 diesel, and a six speed manual transmission. I had to special order the truck because I wanted the manual transmission, and the buying experience was less than stellar. What a shocker... After literally "months" of waiting and much gnashing of teeth with the dealership, I "finally" took delivery of the new truck (At 2k less than the original purchase price for my troubles) and then very quickly learned that it was NOT my 1998.5... The new truck was severely underpowered, and I was one unhappy camper. I had bought a toy hauler and after my first trip across Texas while pulling the camper, I was quite hot under the collar. I had to keep my foot to the floor on the throttle just to stay with traffic... "Gutless Wonder" became the trucks name, and I damn near sold it... What a "dog"... Now I'm not a hot-rodder by any stretch of the imagination, but the truck just would not "go". Empty it did alright I guess, but when pulling the trailer and starting out from a red light I instantly became a "traffic hazard". I felt like I was driving an Amish horse and buggy with a very tired three legged mule pulling it. I figured that I needed to add a little reflective slow vehicle warning triangle on the rear of the camper!!!

After much discussion with the wife, I decided that because the only thing I really despised about the new truck was the low power, I’d try and fix that rather than sell it. After learning that Dodge actually de-tuned” the motor on all manual transmission trucks because the clutch setup was inherently weak, I did a full delete and added an EZ-Lynk tuner with a +250 horsepower tune, a FASS Fuel system, a cold air intake and a turbo back 4 inch exhaust with a small muffler. That setup allowed me to keep the factory Jake Brake, allows me to have a conversation in the truck as it’s not obnoxiously loud, and the tune does not create that “Rolling Smoke” thing that’s popular with the kids. The stock clutch setup could not “even” handle the additional power, so I replaced it with a high performance South Bend dual disc clutch kit, a new pressure plate and throw-out bearing plus new hydraulics for actuation. The clutch is extremely “Chatty” but I’ve learned to live with the rattle. I also added a triple A-Pillar gauge setup with a fuel pressure gauge, turbo boost gauge and pyrometer gauge. The tuner has a 5 position switch I mounted on the dash which allows me 5 different levels of power that I can change at any time. The levels are basically stock power at Level 1 all the way up to “remove the skin from your face” at Level 5. I’ve found that I just leave it at position 3, even when pulling, and it gives me all I need. I do have to be careful in slippery road conditions, as it’ll easily break traction! I’ve had flawless performance and no issues at all with this setup, and I now am absolutely in love with my truck!!!
 
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