'99 - '03.....Which is Best? - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

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'99 - '03.....Which is Best?

 
  #1  
Old 12-22-2018, 03:31 PM
Country Bumpkin
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'99 - '03.....Which is Best?

Just a couple quick questions (or opinions).
I am about convinced as I learn more, and shop around, that a later model 7.3 would be the way to go for me.
I got a little scared off by the 6.0's. The 6.7's are out of reach financially. I've been coming across some CHERRY 99-03 7.3's.
What would be the main differences in the model years? I know there was a change late in the 99 model.
But, would an '03 be the best one? Or is it pretty much the same as an '00?
I saw some of them has the 4WD manual shifter on the floor. Some is push button shift on the fly.
(Mine must be 4WD & Dually).
Lastly, what does the designation FX4 & Off Road necessarily mean? I read somewhere that off road means it has skid plates on the under carriage - that would seem like a plus. What is FX4? Sometimes, it will just say 4X4 on the rear, and not FX4 or Off Road. Opinions?
I realize that these are real newbie questions. But this will be a heckuva investment for our farm - probably the last truck we ever buy. I really want to spend my dollar wisely, and end up with a solid beast, that if maintained properly, will perform well for a long time.
 
  #2  
Old 12-22-2018, 04:00 PM
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Excellant questions, standyby!!!!
 
  #3  
Old 12-22-2018, 04:08 PM
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"The best" is all subject to the buyer or owner. When I had the same realizations that you did about the 6.0 and the 6.7, I too started looking for a 7.3. I was looking for a 2000 model year though because they have forged rods instead of powdered metal rods (PMR). This is not a concern to anyone that plans to stay at stock or near stock HP levels, but I knew I would want to be around the 375-400 HP range.

I believe the 2003 has a slight bump in HP from the factory, but it is only around 20 HP or so if I remember correctly.

The most important thing to me for the 7.3 I was in search of was that it had a ZF6 transmission, 4x4 and it was rust free.

Skid plates can be had quite easily and looking for a truck that has them already will narrow your search results down quite a bit.
 
  #4  
Old 12-22-2018, 04:15 PM
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First let me state that I am no expert. One big difference (to many anyway) is that the earlier models of the 7.3 engine up to part of the '01 YM have forged connecting rods. If you plan on going with a lot of extra power it is something to consider. The later years - not sure of exact date have coil spring suspension in the front end and are a little more refined in creature comforts. They all have the 7.3 Powerstroke and a couple of different transmission options. Just a couple of first things to decide on.
 
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Old 12-22-2018, 04:36 PM
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Thanks guys. This is exactly the type of info I'm looking for. Appreciate it!

-Bob
 
  #6  
Old 12-22-2018, 04:43 PM
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I have 2003 7.3 and its golden.. don't eliminate the 6.0L especially the 06-07 year as they had addressed a lot of the issues with the newer 03-04 models. THey ride better, have a 5 speed trans which is stronger and the HP stock is higher than the 7.3. If you find one that has been bulletproofed even better.
 
  #7  
Old 12-22-2018, 07:26 PM
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6.0s that have the "bulletproof" upgrades are great trucks. Without those upgrades it's downtime and ha$$les.

When I was looking I decided to start with the super reliable 7.3 platform and mod a little to get the desired power level. I decided on 02 or 03 to get the nifty adjustable pedal option so my little wife with her Mr. Krabs-esque nubs can reach them. Yeah, she's reading this over my shoulder.

I'd stay away from the early 99s just to keep life simple. Late 99 thru 03 is pretty much all the same with wear parts, early 99s you have to triple check you're getting the right brake (etc) parts. Really no performance difference tho, and if an early 99 is the best truck you find, go for it.

Take a hard look at the oil pan for rust, especially in your neck of the woods. To properly replace it you need to pull the engine. It might even be worth exploring southern trucks to avoid rust. Post up your CL finds, we love looking them over for you.

FX4 and 4X4 is exactly the same package of parts, just a nomenclature change by Ford. Off road on the flank means skid plates in addition to the 4X4 package.

The Electronic Shift On the Fly (ESOF vs floor shift) system is robust for the transfer case, but not so much with the front hub activation. It works on vacuum and typically the rubber hoses degrade. Not a hard fix at all, and if you use it regularly it's great. For me using it only a few times a year it made more sense to switch to manual locking hubs. Cross something off the PM list and no furrowed brow if it's gonna work when I really need it.

When looking at trucks don't let high miles worry you. It's all about condition and maintenance. Enjoy the hunt!
 
  #8  
Old 12-22-2018, 08:14 PM
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be sure to check out powerstrokehelp.com for video on how to make sure you are buying a good truck and more importantly a good engine in the truck. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQz...m-WGKf6g-pz9DA
 
  #9  
Old 12-22-2018, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by carl2591 View Post
be sure to check out powerstrokehelp.com for video on how to make sure you are buying a good truck and more importantly a good engine in the truck. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQz...m-WGKf6g-pz9DA
Take what Bill at Powerstrokehelp.com says with a grain of salt. Sometimes he is right on the money and other times he is so far off in left field it us just dead wrong.
 
  #10  
Old 12-22-2018, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sous View Post
Take what Bill at Powerstrokehelp.com says with a grain of salt. Sometimes he is right on the money and other times he is so far off in left field it us just dead wrong.
Yeah that dude can be way wrong sometimes. I'd stick with late 99 or all of 2000 to avoid the powdered metal rods.
 
  #11  
Old 12-23-2018, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by hydro man 17 View Post
The later years - not sure of exact date have coil spring suspension in the front end and are a little more refined in creature comforts. They all have the 7.3 Powerstroke and a couple of different transmission options.
No 4x4 truck with a 7.3L had coil suspension as originally equipped, no matter how late the year. Ford did not release the coil suspended 4x4 front ends until 2005, which by that time was well into the 6.0L territory. A 6.0L is an entirely different maintenance and repair game than a 7.3L. If you want a 7.3L 4x4, it will have leaf front suspension, and it will not have the death wobble that many coil sprung front ends with lack of caster end up having, to go along with that softer ride.

As for transmissions, there are only two choices with a late '99-'03 7.3L: The 4R100 automatic, and the ZF 6 speed manual. The final drive ratio of both transmissions is the same, so there is no taller over drive benefit to the 6 speed manual over the 4 speed automatic. The automatic has a torque converter that provides torque multiplication for granny low. The ZF 6 speed has a folkloric "when men were men" aura, but frankly, I've been following Ford truck forums for 20 years, and for the installed base of 6 speed owners (ratio of units sold in Ford trucks versus 4R100 autos), the problems with the ZF6 (clutch, throw out bearing, pilot bearing, input shaft, od gear, etc) are on par, per capita built, with the problems with the 4R100. Even when Sous, who earlier responded to this thread, finally picked up the perfect forged rod 2000 model year 4x4 with the ZF 6 speed that he spent a couple years looking for, he ended up having to take it to another FTE member (SkySkiJason) to have the 6 speed fixed and a new clutch put in at the same time.

Another example... Kenny (aka psychostroker, a diesel drag racer and puller who was one of the first to fit a T4 turbo in a 99 up Super Duty some 18 years ago, almost 2 decades before the relatively recent SXE craze existed) had a 6 speed in his late 99, which he swapped out for a 4R100 automatic, like many other Ford diesel drag racers have done, because the ZF6 slows down their track times. And these 4R100's are running behind nitrous, propane, meth, twin turbos, sequential turbos, big oil, no oil at all (P pumped with an injection unit from vintage Mack 8 cylinder diesels), the entire gamut. So all that is to say that either transmission can have problems, and either transmission can be fixed to not have problems. Pick which ever transmission you want to drive everyday, and recognize that there is about a 10 to 1 ratio of available 6 speeds to automatics in the narrow range of model years you are looking for.

There is a ZF5 five speed manual that lived behind a 7.3L, but that was in the old body style, up to 1997. Not applicable to this genre. And there is a five speed automatic, the 5R110W, but that transmission was only available in the 6.0L diesel engine, not the 7.3L. The confusion between these automatics lies in the fact that model year 2003 offered both transmissions... however, it also offered both engines, the 7.3L and the 6.0L (I'm ignoring all gas engines for purposes of this discussion). Here's what happened: The 6.0L was originally scheduled to make it's debut at the beginning of model year 2003, which would have been in late summer of 2002. But by the summer of 2001, the problems that International was having with EGR in both the 4.5L and the 6.0L engines, along with the digital valve control of the injection system, were so great that it was known then that the production deadline would be missed. So Ford and IH came to an agreement to keep building the 7.3L for another 6 months, and postpone the new 4.5L "baby powerstroke", focus solely on the 6.0L for the time being, and get it out by mid model year in 2003. There is no 5R110w that was ever fitted to a 7.3L.

The turn of the century 2000 model year is well liked in particular because of having all the latest engine updates along with the traditionally forged rods. The 2000 model year is also well liked because Ford fitted a newer design but defective mechanical diode to the 2001 automatic transmissions (that later was changed again). By this time though, many of the transmissions that had the faulty diode have been pulled out, torn down, and fixed, so that may not really be an issue with any given 2001 you might find today. But there is still the forged rod issue, and for that, the late 99 through 2000 is the goldilocks window of what some consider to be the most desirable 7.3L to have. Yet there are many more people who believe that ANY year 7.3L is a more reliable choice than a 6.0L or 6.4L. And I suppose that is why you are here. Welcome to the 99-03 corner of FTE!
 
  #12  
Old 12-23-2018, 10:41 AM
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Everything this man (Y2KW57) is accurate and should be taken into consideration.

I did take a long time to find my truck which is a short bed, ZF6, super cab, 4x4, 2000 (forged rods), no rust truck. The ratio of ZF6 to 4R100 is a real struggle, but can be overcome if you are patient and willing to wait. I was willing to wait and get "my truck", and that is what we did and I could not be happier with it. Yes, it is a 20 year old truck, but it gets the job done just fine.

The rate of failures in parts between the ZF6 and 4R100 is also about the same as Y2KW57 has mentioned. I had a bad clutch and hot spots on the flywheel in my truck when I bought it from the previous owner, but my lack of knowledge on how to even drive a ZF6 truck did not allow for me to point that out. It took me quite a while to see what was causing the problem, then another member here installed a new South Bend clutch and all has been well with it since.

I wanted the ZF6 because of the ability to control the transmission and each gear as I saw fit. I also thought it would be fun to have a hurst style shift handle in my 7.3 diesel truck, and I was right. Each of the transmissions has their benefits and shortfalls, choose whichever fits your needs and goals better.

The most important advice I can offer you:

- Be patient and get what you want
- Be specific about what you want
- Don't get too excited and settle for something that is not right for you
- Pay what you feel comfortable with, not what someone else paid in another part of the country and at another time
- Know what you are looking at and for when looking
- Ask as many questions as you can, then ask more here and when looking at the truck

Your truck is out there, you just have to find it. So, bring on the questions!
 
  #13  
Old 12-23-2018, 10:56 AM
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Everybody disecting, seems the 01 was the red headed step child with pmr's and the diode
 
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Old 12-23-2018, 11:21 AM
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The best years where the late 99 and 00 models because they had the forged rods instead of the PMR rods on the 01 and later, and they had the bigger turbo, 17* HPOP, larger intercooler piping, and injectors of the late 99 and up trucks.
 
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Old 12-23-2018, 01:30 PM
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I have an 01 and it has forged rods. I think you just have to confirm either by serial number or through inspection hole. Brian at BTS confirmed my forged rods. My truck was made June 01.
 

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