Early 90ís F350 for towing travel trailer - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums



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Early 90ís F350 for towing travel trailer

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Old 01-06-2018, 11:23 AM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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Early 90ís F350 for towing travel trailer

Iím getting started shopping for a tow vehicle in order to get a travel trailer, possibly a small fifth wheel.

I dont want to spend a fortune on the vehicle and I donít want a car payment so I am looking at older used diesel trucks.

I have found several early 90ís (91 - 94) f350ís with the 7.3idi diesel for a great prices. Most of the 7.3 PSDs I find jump up in price by a lot.

I have read a lot about the simplicity and reliability of the 7.3 idi. I know they arenít powerhouses, but I like the idea of them being easy to learn and work on and cheaper to maintain. Iím also not that concerned about them being slower. I would plan to put a turbo on it eventually if I got one.

I am aware of the cavitation issues with these years, but will deal with that if I choose to get into one of these.

My question is could a well-maintained early 90ís f350 still be a good reliable tow vehicle?

Thanks
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Old 01-06-2018, 01:21 PM
westcoasting westcoasting is offline
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Absolutely they can!
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Old 01-06-2018, 02:01 PM
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yes.
if you are not familiar with ford trucks of this era, the thing to look out for is rust ... rear leaf spring hanger rust and rad support rust. also, rocker panels and cab corners, but those will be more obvious.
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Old 01-06-2018, 11:58 PM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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Thanks for the replies.

One other question, if I were to find a 95 to 97 7.3 PSD for around the same price, would it be better to go with the powerstroke instead of the turboed idi? I know the 7.3 psd is supposed to be very reliable, but will it be as reliable as the idi?

Iíve read plenty about how expensive repairs are for a psd compared to an idi.

Im not trying to turn this into another idi vs psd thread, but just curious about your opinions.

Thanks
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:25 AM
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If all you need the truck for is to occasionally be a tow rig, I think the IDI is a better choice. The cost to own and maintain is much lower, which makes sense if you're not planning to use the vehicle every day. The turbo became standard in 1993 on the IDI by the way, if I were you I would look at those 2 years for sure.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:42 AM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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Well, it would be my only vehicle, but I work from home and rarely drive. We usually use my wifeís vehicle for errands.

So, it would mostly be for pulling a camper around. We wonít be full-timing or anything, but would be doing some long road trips with it, which is why Iím more concerned with reliability than speed.

With that said, would the idi, possibly with a turbo, still be the way to go?
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:49 AM
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I still think the IDI is the way to go in the situation you're in. If you needed a truck to haul and tow for work and needed the power and speed of the Powerstroke, it would be a different story. But the simplicity and reliability of the IDI sounds like it would suit your needs better for the money.
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Old 01-07-2018, 12:54 AM
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i like the idis allot but man them powerstrokes 7.3 are powerful machines.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:02 AM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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Thanks for the reply on this.

So, if I decided to go with an idi, I would be getting an engine thatís over 20 years old - is it still pretty easy to get parts for these?

Lastly, the biggest thing that concerns me about buying an idi is the issue with cavitation. From what Iíve read, it doesnít seem like thereís any good way to check for that other than asking the seller if theyíve used the anti cavitation coolant. Is there any other way to check this or any signs to tell whether itís an issue or not?
Iíve seen that it can be fixed by adding sleeves. Is that worth it or is it just a bust if I have that problem?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
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Old 01-07-2018, 01:14 AM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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i like the idis allot but man them powerstrokes 7.3 are powerful machines.
Yes, I am not opposed to the Powerstrokes, I would just have to find one for much much cheaper than Iíve seen in my area. I could possibly find a 250 psd around my price range, but Iíd like to get a 350 to give myself the most amount of wiggle room for towing. Even so, Iím still drawn to the idi because I keep hearing how reliable and cheap to repair they are.
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Old 01-07-2018, 03:57 AM
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Cavitation signs are about the same as a blown headgasket if the cavitation is bad enough. And in either of those cases I'd pass on the truck. There aren't that many engines out there with this problem as the internet would lead you to believe.
There are still tons of parts for both these trucks, and these engines. There are millions of trucks left out there to pull parts from, plus the parts stores still carry a ton of them.
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Old 01-07-2018, 07:03 AM
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Is there any truth to the head gaskets going out around the 180K range? I have heard of this more than once. I have seen where the idi's get dumped here in the upper mid west just be fore that number. I don't know of any truth behind it, just stories.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wharthog View Post
Is there any truth to the head gaskets going out around the 180K range? I have heard of this more than once. I have seen where the idi's get dumped here in the upper mid west just be fore that number. I don't know of any truth behind it, just stories.

Concerning choosing between 7.3L PSD and 7.3L IDI -

I own four of these trucks.
One immaculately maintained IDI, and three PSD trucks with varying maintenance from previous owners. I grew up in a PSD. What you need to do, is get out, and actually drive these trucks. A slap worn out PSD wont run nearly as well as a decent IDI - but a PSD in good shape will smoke a turbo IDI, day-in, day-out, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Nothing against the turbo IDI trucks though - they are no slouch, just don't expect to win any races with them.

1992 F250 - 301K (daily driver) - 7.3L IDI
1995 F350 - 357K (restoration) - 7.3L PSD
1997 F350 - 290K (daily driver) - 7.3L PSD
2002 F250 - 280K (daily driver) - 7.3L PSD


The Turbo IDI made 190HP/388 Ft-lbs of torque, 1993-1994 model years (Only years with factory turbo)
The PSD made 210HP/425 Ft-lbs of torque, 1994-1997 model years.

The early 7.3 PSD is about as a difficult to work on as an IDI - but they are entirely different disciplines of design. About the only similarity they share is the oil cooler in design. Ultimately, parts prices are the contrast between the two, and that gap has closed in recent years.
Example:

You can purchase a whole set of injectors for an IDI for the cost of ONE injector for a PSD - that's the nature of the beast. But, a well-maintained PSD set of injectors can last 300k+ miles - the service life of the IDI injector was roughly 100k miles, and the same could be said for the injection pump.

The injection pump runs roughly the same price was as a HPOP for a 7.3L PSD - between 500-1000$ for a rebuilt, decent quality unit. The biggest disparity between the two will be labor to install - most shops have long since forgone their abilities to properly install and time this style of injection pump. The HPOP in a 7.3L PSD doesn't require that type of tooling (ferret meter) to install.

The turbochargers are *close* in price but both can be rebuilt for similar ranges of money.

The rest of the vehicle - interior, trim, body, suspension, driveline (including transmission) - you are buying the same truck between the two engines.

You had three options of transmission in your described time period - C6 (rare - only available as a delete option. Don't plan on finding one of these.), E4OD (most plentiful, ALL of my trucks have this transmission.) and the ZF5 (probably the most sought after).

I would highly advise driving a few of each kind of engine, to get a taste for what YOU like. They are both GREAT engines - good power, decent economy, and massively reliable. None of these vehicle have left me stranded.

I would highly suggest reading through the first two "coffee table" books on this page, one for the Turbo IDI and the other for the 94-97 PSD 7.3L to get a better idea of both engines are their respective design disciplines, as well as a feel of how to work on both engines.

Coffee Table Books - Diesel Technician Society
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Old 01-07-2018, 10:06 AM
DrCharles DrCharles is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wharthog View Post
Is there any truth to the head gaskets going out around the 180K range? I have heard of this more than once. I have seen where the idi's get dumped here in the upper mid west just be fore that number. I don't know of any truth behind it, just stories.
I know that a single data point doesn't provide much useful statistical information, but my recently-purchased IDI with 186K is leaking coolant from the head gaskets to the outside. Fortunately not into the cylinders or oil. Still 13 hrs labor on the books here in the lower Midwest
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Old 01-07-2018, 11:03 AM
williet34 williet34 is offline
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Thanks for that explanation. That was very helpful.

In your experience, which of the two require more ongoing maintenance? For instance, adding additives, interval for oil changes?

I've seen that the PSD's can be a bit more "needy", but, admittedly, this all just from different forums I've read. What has been your experience?

Also, will a factory turboed IDI (93 -94) have close to the same performance as an earlier model that has had a turbo added? I have seen some in the 90 - 92 range that have had an aftermarket turbo added?

Thank you all for the great information and for bearing with my newbie questions.
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