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Search Advice (engine & yrs)


Tom Walker

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I've been searching truckpaper for about 6 months, and reading as much as I can here, but I think it's time to post my first question : )

 

I'm looking for a Volvo 780 and I'm pretty convinced I'd like a manual transmission, so I'm finding that the 13 speed seems to be the most common in my search results.

 

My two biggest questions are 1) which years should I look for, or conversely avoid, and 2) should I consider Volvo and Cummins to be roughly similar quality engines, or is one generally preferred over the other?

 

My ideal price range for the purchase is $30-$40k. Within that price range, I'm finding a lot 2007-2009 models, but after reading about DPF without DEF, I thought I should consider something pre-DPF, like 2006 or 2007. Is that good thinking?

 

Regarding the engine choice - I've read nice things about both power plants, but I'm wondering if you feel there is an appreciable difference. In other words, If I find an older truck that I like, should I rule it out if it has one engine vs. the other? Going one step further, is there a pariticular size of Volvo or Cummins that you would recommend?

 

I've tried to find threads to answer both of my questions. If I've missed them, it's probably due to my searching skills. I have googled these questions and I've read a lot of posts by professional drivers, but a lot of these posts seem to be based more on personal bias than fact.

 

So, I'm hoping to find some good advice from the good folks here.

 

Thank you,

Tom

 

 

 

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Hi Tom. In your price range I'd lean toward the older trucks without DPF. For sure. Wanting a manual will make that pretty easy. And the 13 speed would be a top choice - at least for me. I also like the Super 10, but a lot of people prefer the 13. If you are not familiar with heavy truck transmissions the learning experience will be just that - an "experience". You might consider a Gearmaster - it will for sure make learning far easier and IMO safer.

 

Either brand engine will work well for you. I like them both and would look for the "right" truck and would not eliminate a truck for either engine. But that is just me. For engine size, I'd be more inclined to look at the hp/torque not just the engine size. Personally - having had owned an ISM at 400/1450 for ten+ years in RV service - I would not buy a truck with less than 1650 torque. But that is just MY opinion.

 

Good luck in your hunt. And consider coming to the HDT Rally this fall.

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Welcome aboard, Tom.

 

The manual trans choices seem to be dictated bu geographic region. The 15 speed is also common, while the 18 speed is almost all you'll find in my area. A 13 or 15 is a reasonable choice, depending on the weights you're planning for. An 18 borders on overkill, but it is being used.

 

As far as engine years, a friend of mine relates the issues with gas engines in the early 70's. Emission controls weren't trusted when they first came out, they hurt fuel economy and they were awkward and complicated to work on. Given time, people came around, and the systems evolved. Now relate it to the used truck market. The first real year with emission controls was '07, and the crying started almost immediately. The next generation came out with '10 model year trucks. If I were buying today, I'd like to buy newer, but would probably limit my search to '06 or earlier, due to pricing. If I were to buy a '07-'09 truck, it'd have to be cheap enough to afford a full rebuild of any emissions equipment. It's not worth trying to do any deletes, as the "Man" is working hard to put an end to delete kits, and those running them.

 

I prefer a Cummins, Detroit, Cat, then Volvo. In that order. With the last 2 in a real tight race for last place. The nice things with the first three, is the availability of parts. All 3 supplied engines to most body manufacturers, and I can get parts for my Cummins at the local International, Freightliner, Peterbuilt, Kenworth dealer, or a multitude of parts houses.

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Hey Tom,

 

Welcome to the forum!

 

As said before, if you are going the manual transmission route, the 13 speed is a great choice. Basically the 13 speed is a 9 speed transmission with a splitter. The 9 speed was and still is popular in the manual world for specing out fleet trucks because of its durability. The 13 speed splitter is a bit more fragile when you are in the splitter range.

 

That is not something that should scare you since you will hopefully be taking more care with your own truck than a new driver might....lol

 

The big advantage o the 13 speed is the wide variety of gears, that can make a big difference in the hilly parts of wherever you may roam, though obviously not as critical for the typical RV load.

 

Depending on the load you will be pulling, you may be able to run the transmission in direct until you get used to the fun of running through gears.

 

Good luck in your search,

 

John

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Hi Tom

Engine choices are equivalent to the chevy/ford arguments.

Personally, i have put 100s of thousands of miles on Cat engines and wouldn't trade my Kitty for any of the others.

Having said that, Cat engines do tend to be a little more pricey to work on. But that's just my preference and my preferences don't always jive with the majority in this group

And on a side note... An 18 speed is just a 13 speed with a split on the bottom gears which you never have to use....especially if you are running a Cat ?

Mike

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The 9-speed is a 5-speed with a 2-range (Hi/Lo) behind it, and first gear is disabled in Hi range. (First is a low gear, and it wouldn't make sense to use a low gear through high range.)

 

The 13-speed is a 5-speed with a 2-range (Hi/Lo) and a micro-2-range (split/direct) behind it. First gear is disabled in Hi range, and the splitter is disabled in Lo range.

 

The 18-speed is a 5-speed with a 2-range (Hi/Lo) and a micro-2-range (split/direct) behind it. First gear is disabled in Hi range.

 

The Super 10 is a 5-speed (evenly and widely spaced) with a micro-2-range (split/direct) behind it. The expectation is that you'd split every gear, or that skip shifting is done by moving the shifter to the NEXT gear every time (skipping the split).

 

I think the 15-speeds are a 5-speed with a 3-range (Hi/Lo/SuperLo) behind it.

 

The i-Shift is a 3-speed with a 2-range (Hi/Lo) and a micro-2-range (split/direct) behind it. All 12 gears are enabled.

 

Volvo's pitch on the i-Shift is the ratios have been chosen explicitly for a 12-speed: they're even 28% increases (almost exactly) for every gear, and they can "invert" the splitter to turn it into an overdrive transmission (i.e. some models are direct-drive in 12th, while others are direct-drive in 11th and overdrive in 12th). The 9/13/18 ends up being a compromise (in Volvo's eyes): if the ratios are correct for a 9, they're broad at the bottom yet narrow at the top for a 13, and they're narrow across the board for an 18. [i've never driven any of these enough to truly know real-world.]

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My thanks to all of you for the great information. I'm a little nervous because my 8 month search may be nearing a new twist. I have found 2 trucks, one on each coast, that have been driven by owner/operators most of their lives. One is being sold privately/directly, and the other is at an independent truck lot. I talked with someone at the truck lot today and he has passed my information to the former owner, who has already called me. Unfortunately, I missed his call, but maybe that's a good thing because it is giving me a chance to post a question here.

 

I have downloaded and reviewed the pre-purchase list, and because I know so little about this material, I'm committed to getting a dyno and paying a professional to review the machine before making a purchase decision. However, I'm a little nervous about this initial call because I'm not sure what to ask. My fear is that my questions might be so naive that when the former owner circles back with the salesman, the salesman will realize I'm a fish out of water and take advantage of that situation. Ex: His asking price is already a little high based on the hundreds of other equivalent trucks I've seen on truckpaper. My hope was that I could work that number down. But once he realizes I'm not a professional driver, my fear is he won't budge on that number.

 

I guess what I'm seeking is a little advice on what kinds of questions I could ask the former owner to get some useful information about his truck and how he cared for it while not sounding like a complete novice.

For example, would it be natural to ask him if he has ever had the truck on a dyno in the past? My guess is that a dyno test could be expensive and most owners wouldn't have a reason to do that, so even asking the question might sound odd to the former owner. I know he installed a special oil system and did complete drains every 70-80k, according to the salesman, and requested an oil analysis with every change.

 

What kinds of things would that oil analysis show? What kinds of questions would you like to ask to learn more about a truck with 850k+ miles that you were interested in?

 

My thanks again,

Tom

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Ask to see any documentation he as, Oil analysis, service records, anything he has. He may even share his fuel receipts, to give you an idea of the mileage he was getting. A an O/O, he'll have enough paperwork to choke an accountant. The fuel receipts won't do much for your fuel mileage expectations, but look at the locations he was fueling. Lots of flat-land fuel vs. fueling in the Rockies. They can give you confirmation of his usage claims. He'll even have all his billing info, containing loaded weights and locations.

 

Don't worry about the salesman being upset you're new to the truck world. His commission is only dependent on the final selling price. It's his job to put as much $$$ in the sellers pock, thus his own. It's your job to get a truck at a price you're happy with, and more importantly, one your Significant Other is happy with. Try your hardest to remove all emotion from the dealing. It'll be hard.

 

Re the oil analysis: It will show a reading for % fuel in oil, % antifreeze in oil, copper and a bunch of other metals, as well as any changes since the last analysis preformed by the same company. Fuel in the oil indicates issues with rings sealing to cylinder walls, or over-fueling issues from injector(s) failing. Antifreeze checks for EGR health, as well as head gaskets. The metals are bearing wear indicators.

 

 

Edit to add: An O/O will have paperwork going back at minimum 7 years, containing paperwork for everything. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Food, maintenance, parts, service. The more he shares, the better his case for higher asking price. Especially if it jibes with the usage story he gives you.

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like others have said... you want to see the Maintenance records, dyno, Vis, recent Oil analysis report.

 

mileage. if its 750K or greater , you NEED to know about if its had a In-frame done to the motor , who did it etc.

condition of brakes, percentage of tire tread left , Unusual tire wear anywhere.

 

if its a 13 speed , need to know who made it. Eaton are easier and LESS finicky to shift than the meritor transmissions.

ive driven both.

 

nothing wrong with a 18 speed as said above its just got the split on the low half of the gearbox you will never use.

but dont let that stop you from looking at those trucks.

 

also look out for Recap tires on the drives. rubber not cheap to replace and one tread coming off the drives can do a

PILE of damage to the front of a 5th wheel.

 

if they start getting weird or doesnt want to answer one of the questions , Run the other way...

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mileage. if its 750K or greater , you NEED to know about if its had a In-frame done to the motor , who did it etc.

condition of brakes, percentage of tire tread left , Unusual tire wear anywhere.

 

 

 

Both trucks are over 750k (850k & 925k). If they haven't had an in-frame rebuild, can you give me sense of what that might cost?

 

Will an in-frame rebuild give me peace of mind that I won't have a lot of issues down the road, or are there still plenty of things that could go wrong with an 8 year old truck with 850-925k miles.

 

That is probably a loaded a question. What I'm wondering is, should I bite the bullet and pay more now for a truck with 750k, or even 600k.

 

Thanks again,

Tom

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Re the oil analysis: It will show a reading for % fuel in oil, % antifreeze in oil, copper and a bunch of other metals, as well as any changes since the last analysis preformed by the same company. Fuel in the oil indicates issues with rings sealing to cylinder walls, or over-fueling issues from injector(s) failing. Antifreeze checks for EGR health, as well as head gaskets. The metals are bearing wear indicators.

 

 

Edit to add: An O/O will have paperwork going back at minimum 7 years, containing paperwork for everything. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Food, maintenance, parts, service. The more he shares, the better his case for higher asking price. Especially if it jibes with the usage story he gives you.

 

Hi Daryl, Thank you for pointing out what to look for on the oil analysis. I know he had those done with every oil change. If it's all right, I'll try to post those reports here to get some feedback since I won't know what I'm looking at ; )

 

Thanks as well for the good advice on trying to remove the emotion from the sale. That is an easy trap for me to fall into.

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Are you saying he did oil changes every 70-80k? Typical oil changes are around 15k and when we do ours we get 10 gallons plus 2 large oil filters. Not sure how much more oil there would be in the system. Or do you mean all other fluids were changed at that 70-80k?

Dave

 

Hi Dave,

 

I must have misunderstood. He definitely said 70-80k miles (I recorded the call on my iPhone because I knew I would likely miss something and wish I could replay it). He was talking about those special oil filters at the time, but maybe he was referring to the other fluids. I'll ask the O/O to confirm. Thanks!

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You might also request a VIS inspection. If done right gives you a good idea on condition of tires, brakes, front end alignment and other "running" areas.

 

Hi Scott, I googled VIS and now know a little more about it. Will most truck shops have this equipment? Just curious if you or anyone else could chime in on how much a VIS report and dyno test might cost. And is VIS pronounced like the credit card Visa, or do you spell it out with each letter, like "v eye s" report. Thank you!

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I have always referred to it as "VIS" and most salespersons should know what this inspection is. As far as cost I'm sure it varies by location. I would get the dealer to cover these costs as well as a "Dyno" as part of the sale. Getting a "younger" truck with lower miles doesn't really guarantee anything it's still in how well you know it's prior use and history. Most O/O trucks are usually better maintained with better record keeping. Some folks have had real good luck using a "truck inspection" service to verify condition of the truck. Buying one of these trucks when you don't have experience with large trucks can be an expensive and scary situation! I like to do lots of "stuff" myself but sometimes I need to defer to the "experts" to save face in the end.

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At the some dealers a VIS inspection can be done at no additional cost if doing a preventive maintenance (oil, oil filters, fuel filters) at the same time which runs around $300. Not all shops can do a VIS check or have a dyno or can do automatics on their dyno if truck has one (I know the ones you were looking at didn't)

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Both trucks are over 750k (850k & 925k). If they haven't had an in-frame rebuild, can you give me sense of what that might cost?

 

Will an in-frame rebuild give me peace of mind that I won't have a lot of issues down the road, or are there still plenty of things that could go wrong with an 8 year old truck with 850-925k miles.

 

That is probably a loaded a question. What I'm wondering is, should I bite the bullet and pay more now for a truck with 750k, or even 600k.

 

Thanks again,

Tom

in reality they are probably close to needing a in-frame with greater than 750k on EGR and DEF motors. most fleets these days are unloading trucks

rather than in-framing and keeping them. just doesnt make sense for them

 

both DPF and DEF in-frames are Expensive. it all boils down to which engine it is , whether you use OEM parts on the in-frame and whether you use a Certified

shop for whichever engine it is. Volvo motors will be the highest cost to in-frame as there are less part supply chain than cummins ISX.

 

$15k-25k for the in-frame.

 

theres nothing wrong with a in-framed motor. they SHOULD last another 750k PROVIDED the maintenance has been kept up. but there are NO guarantees.

 

expect to pay $200-$300 for the dyno

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