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6.5 GM Turbo


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In 1995 when I was with the telephone company before retirement they bought Chevy 4500 HD chassis and cab with 6.5, then putting utility beds and buckets on them. What a fiasco. Number one item was head gaskets, leaking coolant down in to the crankcase. The "Low Coolant" light would come on in the dash. The driver would then call the company mechanic on the radio. Here is basically what the conversation would be " Hey Don, the "Low Coolant" light just came on". Then Don's reply, " shut it down, wait about 10 minutes, very carefully undo the radiator cap, then call me back". 10 minutes later drivers reply, "Don, I don't see any coolant in the radiator". Don's reply "pull the dipstick, let me know what you see". Drivers reply, "yep I see the coolant on the dipstick". Dons reply " just wait there, I'll call the hook". Well the tow truck would then take it to the local Chevy dealership since these issues would usually crop up at about 18,000 to 20,000 miles and they were under warranty. As usually it was the head gaskets. Penn Dot, the road people in Penna. also bought the same truck minus the bucket. Same issues! Penn Dot had so many of these that GM sent the rebuild kits directly to the Penn Dot shop and their wrenches installed the kits because there was way too many yellow Penn Dot trucks sitting at anytime behind the dealership, waiting on repairs. The telephone co. fleet manager contacted GM about the situation. He was told "they idle too much and the coolant isn't getting circulated". Of course Penn Dot trucks idled just like ours pulling safety lights, PTO's etc. Remember this GM answer as I'll refer back to it shortly. Another problem we had at the Telco was our trucks had automatic transmissions in them. Back to radio conversations! Driver to Don, "this truck won't shift out of first gear to second". Don's comeback "did you have to grind to get it to start"? Driver, "yep". Don's reply, "OK, shut it off wait about 5 minutes and try to start again, if it starts quickly the tranny will shift". If you have to grind it again repeat the process until it starts quickly". Bottom line what was happening was the injector pump was letting the prime bleed back into the tank, thus while grinding to start, the voltage went below either 11.4 or 11.6 volts DC. This voltage was too low for the command module of the tranny, thus it would lose it's memory and would take several minutes to restore itself. Another problem that the telco and power company had was rivets pulling thru cross members from the frame rails. This is a whole different story but probably wouldn't affect the motorhome chassis. The reason the telco and Penn Dot ended up with these POS was both outfits had been running Ford 350 and 450 chassis sine 1988 with the International "Thrasher Diesels" as we called them, but Ford was giving fleet users a 50,000 mile warranty. I had one of these until I retired in 2002. And it idled for HOURS during the time I had it and no problem. When GM came out in 1995 with the POS, they offered fleet users a 100,000 mile warranty to get them on the road, since until that time GM had nothing to offer in 450-4500 series vehicles. Well bean counters being what thy are were seduced by the extra 50,000 miles of warranty. They never mentioned to the people above them the down time of these gems. Personally, if it were me, I wouldn't walk away from this I'd run. Now if you are mechanically able sort of like me, maybe I'd bite but probably not. There is still some of the 6.5's out there that guys swear by, I'd be swearing at!

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6.5 GM diesel engine has a well-earned bad reputation. Many military Humvee's were built with that engine. Many more were built with a turbo mod, and many were modified in the deserts of the middle east thanks to the Banks Power kits.

My opinion is that whatever vehicle that engine is in is unpowered, no matter what forum it is in. There are people that have done head mods, intake and exhaust upgrades, and have had some success. But I'd run away myself.

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Just a thought, most of the older class C motorhomes were either on a Ford or Chevy chassis, Any of the old big blocks- 460, 454, 396 or even the Chrysler 440 were actually dependable engines. Gas-sucking, but very rarely did they quit. The small block versions ran/run forever just like their cousins that were installed in heavier trucks- older grain trucks, u-haul's, etc. Just because a motorhome may have years on it, doesn't mean miles are high.

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A 94 is an update for me .Driving a 90 now .The 6.5 diesel sounds like a high MPG engine ,but extremely high (even for a diesel) upkeep .

The 34 ft 94 Fleetwood class A I was looking at only has 77K miles ,so it's barely broke in .

My decision to exclude this particular rig is based solely on probable upkeep costs .

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