Looking at an EX as a tow vehicle. 7.3L or 6.0L - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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Old 10-09-2013, 10:03 AM
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Looking at an EX as a tow vehicle. 7.3L or 6.0L

Love the site everyone! I've been lurking for a few months reading up on the different powerstroke engines as I'm in the market for a different tow vehicle.

I have a 33' travel trailer that weighs in about 7500 +/- lbs when loaded up, 7K unloaded. Currently I use an 04 Nissan Armada as my tow vehicle and it does an ok job, especially for a gas vehicle. Problem is that it has a hard time maintaining 60-65 and on slight inclines I have to downshift and keep the RPM's in the 3K-4K range so my trans temps dont spike. And with the small 25 gallon fuel tank I need to stop every 200 miles to refuel, as I'm only getting about 8mpg.

I've been going back and forth between getting an excursion diesel or a diesel truck. We have 3 kids so a crew cab is a must. We take the camper out as much as possible, usually 10-12 times a year. This past year, on our first trip with it and first time towing with the Armada we took it from PA to Maine. LONG trip but we made it there and back with only one issue, I blew the muffler out.

Question is, for towing, winter driving (I have a corvette I drive/track in the spring/summer/fall months) and when we don't feel like cramming the kids in the back of my wife's STI we'll be driving the Ex, what would be a better model to get, the 6.0l or 7.3l? Most of the 03's to 05's are stock with little to no maintenance records so that scares me off a bit. The thought of blowing a head gasket while towing our camper scares me a LOT.

Thanks,
Zak
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:49 PM
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I am bias towards the 7.3 but realistically both engines will do what you want. The weak link in the 7.3 combo is the transmission. A bullet proof version is around $5500 with basic rebuilds starting around $3000. If you do end up with the 7.3, invest in a good transmission cooler, the stock one is way too small. With either engine, get the basic 3 gauges; boost, pyrometer, trans temp.
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by JSchuricht View Post
I am bias towards the 7.3 but realistically both engines will do what you want. The weak link in the 7.3 combo is the transmission. A bullet proof version is around $5500 with basic rebuilds starting around $3000. If you do end up with the 7.3, invest in a good transmission cooler, the stock one is way too small. With either engine, get the basic 3 gauges; boost, pyrometer, trans temp.
Thanks for the reply and I'll add those items to my list if I get a 7.3. A neighbor of mine has a 2000 excursion with the 7.3 and we were talking about it a few months ago as he was thinking of selling it this winter. I saw him yesterday saying I'd give him a check right then but he wants to wait now until spring before he sells it. Truck has 178K on it. Overall seems to be in good shape, just the paint/clear coat fading in spots.

There are a number of 6.0's near me but I'm a bit concerned as most do not have any maintenance records. If I test drive a 6.0, what do I look for under the hood?
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:33 AM
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Similar convo happening here:

Some research done, more guidance: 7.3 or 6.0
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:00 AM
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Hands down a 7.3..
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Old 10-10-2013, 07:26 AM
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I went through the exact same process last year. We ended up with an 03 with the 6.0. We have been nothing but extremely happy with our decision. No problems at all, I feel that if you find one that has never had a tuner put on it and general care taken of it you will be happy. We pull a 8500 pound travel trailer all around up and down through the mountains of Montana and Yellowstone park, usually at least 2 weekends a month from early spring through late fall. In the last year I have put on just short of 26000 miles, now have 175000 on the clock. When we bought the Ex I added a SGII, a coolant filter, changed all fluids and I religiously change the oil at, or just before 5k miles. Stick with motorcraft filters, fuel and oil, and we run Rotella T6 and Archoil 9100. I use Stanadyne or Power Service in every drop of fuel. Like was said earlier either engine will do the job, and I guess you can look at having to put $5000 into the 7.3 tranny or $4-5k into the engine on the 6.0 if it's abused. Just my opinion, but we're extremely happy with the 03-04.5 Ex 6,0. Either way have fun and enjoy the adventure.


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Old 10-10-2013, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by nytfr8 View Post
I went through the exact same process last year. We ended up with an 03 with the 6.0. We have been nothing but extremely happy with our decision. No problems at all, I feel that if you find one that has never had a tuner put on it and general care taken of it you will be happy. We pull a 8500 pound travel trailer all around up and down through the mountains of Montana and Yellowstone park, usually at least 2 weekends a month from early spring through late fall. In the last year I have put on just short of 26000 miles, now have 175000 on the clock. When we bought the Ex I added a SGII, a coolant filter, changed all fluids and I religiously change the oil at, or just before 5k miles. Stick with motorcraft filters, fuel and oil, and we run Rotella T6 and Archoil 9100. I use Stanadyne or Power Service in every drop of fuel. Like was said earlier either engine will do the job, and I guess you can look at having to put $5000 into the 7.3 tranny or $4-5k into the engine on the 6.0 if it's abused. Just my opinion, but we're extremely happy with the 03-04.5 Ex 6,0. Either way have fun and enjoy the adventure.


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Thank you very much, that's exactly more great information. I could only imagine driving around that part of the country! Quite jealous. We've talked about taking our camper out west but we'd need to take off for a couple of weeks as it takes a good 3 days to get to yellowstone towing the camper and with the kids in the car.

And thanks Heavy_GD for the link to the other thread. I never would have thought to bring a scanner to test drive the X's.

With my budget being only about 15K it's getting hard to find one in that range. I did find a 2003 for 9K at a used car dealer not far from me but it has 230K. Not sure how long that would last before some major work would need to be done to it. Dealer just kept telling me how great it runs and no issues but had no clue when I started asking about the 6.0L issues.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:09 AM
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I've seen to many posts of 6.0 bullet proofed then shortly after have major issues, so IMO play it safe and get a 7.3...besides its a better towing engine with a few mods.

I sold my Perfect '04 with 80k miles for this reason to get a '03 7.3 with 150k miles on it..took the $ difference and built the motor and trans etc.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:17 PM
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It's really amazing, the more I research the 6.0 Vs 7.3 the more confused I get.

I won't be modding it, only to get better fuel mileage/towing ability. Maybe exhaust, tune, intake IF that helps. I have a corvette for my HP addiction, plus I take it to road racing tracks a lot as that is my hobby/passion. And bbq competitions.

I did find a stunning 2003 6.0L. dealer sent me a bunch of very high resolution pics and the car fax. Car fax shows a lot of maintenance records. Oil changes, AC replacement, ball joints, tie rods. Says cooling clutch fan replaced, alternator, new fuel filter. Says fuel injector system flushed/serviced. Wonder if that was new injectors or just cleaning them? Lastly it says camshaft position sensor. So looks like a decent service history. Wonder if I can call my local ford dealer and see if they can get an Oasis report on it? Price is pretty good, at $13k and 145K miles. Its a limited. Looks to have new rims/tires as well. Goodyear Durtracs. I had those on my jeep and loved them. Interior looks like you could eat off of it and frame/body is in good shape. They state no rust as it was a Texas car until about a year ago when the owner moved to Florida.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:41 PM
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That sounds pretty dang good. I like the 03-04.5 due to the EGR system being a good bit more reliable. Another thing to do with the 6.0 is make sure you get rid of the Ford coolant and go with Cat ELC along with the coolant filter. When I flushed mine I chose not to use any of the vc chemicals. Really was excited about possibly plugging oil cooler. I drained the system, even pulling the block drains and filled system with water from the hose for the first flush and used ONLY distiller water for the next flushes. I bought 20 gallons of distilled and that was plenty.
If you ever do get out this way camping make sure you check out Glacier National Park along with Yellowstone. GNP is north of Kalispell, MT. In the northwest corner of the state. We enjoy Yellowstone, but Glacier is still our all time favorite. Good luck in the adventure of choosing an EX. We absolutely love ours.


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