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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,
I am about to acquire a 05/1999 diesel dually f350 crew cab 4x4 automatic. The truck has like 250,000 miles and a motor swap (not sure if a replacement 7.3 or another diesel, haven’t gotten a look under the hood yet). It’s been sitting for at least 6 months. One window has been slightly lowered during this time, so I am worried about water having gotten in (it’s a Cali truck though). All the tires are also flat. I’m looking for pointers about how to get this thing back up and running, trouble signs, etc.
This is my first diesel and first major automotive project, so I’m desperate for advice lol
 

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Welcome,

Well, it’s sounds like you’re in for an adventure. Without getting into specifics of the truck this is my best suggestion.

First thing I’d suggest is for you to have it towed to a good diesel shop in your area and have it looked over. Ask around, I’m sure you can find one that will help you out. Or ask them if they can come and look at it with you.

Before you lay out any cash for it. A couple hundred right now in towing and inspection could save you from buying or acquiring a very big money hole that you get half way through and can not not finish. It can happen pretty quick once you get into these trucks with diesels. $10k can evaporate under the hood.

Once It’s been looked at, you know what you have, and you have a list of what needs to be done, you can take it back home and tackle it yourself, or maybe have them take care of what is necessary to be roadworthy, and then do the things you want over time. Make it your own.

Or, maybe it had too many issues, too costly to take on right now, or simply not worth it. You can chalk it up to the learning curve and move on to find another truck that is a little better shape, and a more fun project for you!


Either way,
Have fun and enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for the reply! The truck is free to me, as long as I pay registration and fees (I’m guesstimating about $600). It’s a few hours away from my house, so I’d need to tow it via AAA. I’m wondering whether it’s smarter to tow it home and take possession, or do a cursory inspection over there prior to towing it.

The title is also missing, adding to the challenge lol.
 

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I agree with Jeff-F350, get a disinterested third party to do a bumper-to-bumper / pre-purchase inspection. This way you'll have a clearer picture of what you're getting into. Be sure the (diesel) mechanic is experienced with the make & model.

I hope it works-out for you, but if it doesn't, there's always another one...and the one after that, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I just called AAA, the vehicle was last registered in 2019 and the clean title can be replaced easily. It will need a smog check prior to registration. I am doing my due diligence to make sure the engine swap was just replacing the stock 7.3 with another compliant unit.

I will probably have it towed back home, and have an inspection once it’s closer to me. Worst case I can scrap it and recoup the registration fee, right?

It is rough cosmetically, but I just need a mechanically strong work truck. How much should an inspection cost me? Any tips for moving/transporting it?
 

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I've used Ford (twice) and Lexus (once) for bumper-to-bumper inspections in the past 10 years and they both charged $100 for an inspection done at their shops. I've always thought that was cheap for the time it takes but maybe they figure the inspections create "goodwill" and will possibly result in future business.

I don't know about your AAA policy but mine allows for 4 tows per year, so if I was in your position I would have the vehicle towed for an inspection if needed. I assume the swapped engine will run? If the current owner is basically giving the truck away for free, why would he also be swapping engines? I think I missed something there...
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I believe the original motor had an issue, so the original owner ended up putting in a new motor. The current owner (who is giving me the truck) got the truck maybe a year or two ago, and he’s not sure if the original motor was replaced with another 7.3 or swapped to a different kind of motor. It is still a diesel, though. I’m assuming that it’s still a 7.3 because it must have passed smog to be registered in CA (and the complication of a swap is a potential deterrent). I’m awaiting pictures of under the hood.

The vehicle is free to me, but it’s tough to get information about it because it’s a few hours away. I am going to run a CarFax to see what I can dig up. Hopefully it’s not water damaged, since the front windshield gasket is cracked and the rear window was left slightly open. Mysterious truck!
 

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I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff right now such as the water leaks etc. Probably not a big deal where you are. Unless water is building up and freezing and splitting things, or sits there for year after year leaking, I doubt it will be an issue for you at all.

As far as the engine etc, you’re on the right track. Best thing to do, is get it towed some where you can have it looked over by a mechanic who can identify what you have, and let you know what you need. Towing might be expensive depending on where you get it towed to.

It shouldn’t cost you too much at all to have it looked over. As someone stated above, $100 ish should do it. But if they have to start taking things apart, it could start to get more expensive. You’re on an adventure, that’s for sure.

If I can make one suggestion, treat this truck as a learning curve.

Let me ask a very personal question, how much of a budget can you afford to get this truck going on the road? Be realistic, not how much you want to afford, but how much cash can you afford to spend right now with out getting out the credit cards?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, in a perfect world, I was hoping to spend a couple grand on the deferred maintenance and any repairs. Maybe a grand on tires. If it’s a real basket case, I think I’d be willing to pony up like $5k to get things ironed out. If the motor or tranny turn out to be problematic after the PPI, I will need to think long and hard about how to proceed. I have to keep the realistic market value in mind, as I don’t want my emotions to put me in a $10,000 hole lol
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well got an update, the title situation can be worked out in a couple weeks. However, the original motor was bad and was swapped with a replacement unit. The original unit is currently sitting in the bed.

The replacement unit is also having some issues, along with some electrical gremlins. Sounds like a basket case. Not sure if it’s even worth picking up for free. The cost of motor replacement + all the other maintenance will probably put me in a money pit.
 

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Well got an update, the title situation can be worked out in a couple weeks. However, the original motor was bad and was swapped with a replacement unit. The original unit is currently sitting in the bed.

The replacement unit is also having some issues, along with some electrical gremlins. Sounds like a basket case. Not sure if it’s even worth picking up for free. The cost of motor replacement + all the other maintenance will probably put me in a money pit.


Good thinking. Good thinking.

Imho. A free truck is rarely free.

I’m just a guy over the internet, who has a lot of experience owning and operating a lot of various equipment over the years, but take what I say with a grain of salt.

From the get go, it doesn’t sound like a good investment to me. Sounds more like a good parts truck for you, or a project for someone with a lot of experience with these trucks, with a shop and tooling etc.

An old, worn out, problematic F350 dually diesel can swallow up your funds quickly.

For $10k, you can probably find a nice older 4x4 gas truck in your area that is in decent shape and on the road ready to go.

Good luck with it. Let us know what you decide!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, I have an interesting update. Got a look at the truck yesterday and got some info. The engine was replaced by previous owner, putting in a used 7.3. However, it was still acting up, so they sold it.

Turns out the issue was related to the windshield leak and PCM getting wet. The current owner got the truck and changed the module out. The motor replacement was unnecessary, the original unit is sitting in the back of the truck. We tried to start it up, but it was being difficult. A puff of ether brought it back to life, burning off a lot of white smoke and running poorly. It stopped burning after maybe an hour of runtime.

We had an International Diesel mechanic swing by with his scan tool. No lights evident on the dash. He concluded that the injectors were sticking, and it was running on three good injectors. Truck idled like a pissed off bull. He recommended putting some mileage on the truck to hopefully free the stuck injectors. I also got some Seafoam, maybe I can add it to fuel filter and tank to clean things out. Other notable issues are seriously deferred maintenance and the 4wd light doesn’t come on. All electrics and AC/heat run fine (but it’s dirty as hell).

Current owner reported that it was “slipping” gears before it was parked, mechanic suspected it might also have to do with the injectors running poorly. It’s definitely a work truck, doesn’t look pretty, but it’ll hopefully get running with some TLC.

Including some videos for reference.
https://imgur.com/a/81snsy8
 

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Well, it looks like you have 12-14gals of diesel fuel in the tank (liquid assets). You could drain that puppy and walk away a $50 winner right now…
 

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The leaky windshield is a pretty common issue with 99-03 7.3's, and even more so if they have cab lights. Get those thing resealed. The 99.5 to early 2001 model years are fairly sought after due to them typically having forged connecting rods, and more available aftermarket parts vs an early 99.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
The leaky windshield is a pretty common issue with 99-03 7.3's, and even more so if they have cab lights. Get those thing resealed. The 99.5 to early 2001 model years are fairly sought after due to them typically having forged connecting rods, and more available aftermarket parts vs an early 99.
We’ve been having some rain, so I put some rags down to absorb the water. Is it just a matter of removing the windshield/lights and installing new gaskets? I think the GEM has been relocated to avoid future issues. There’s some rust on the components in the drivers side footwell that will need to be addressed too.

Also, any idea on how I can gain more info about the specific motor inside the truck? Number plates or pulling info from OBD, maybe?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Best to have an automotive glass company come out, remove the windshield, and they reseal it.
If there’s rust under the windshield, it’ll need to be sanded and repainted right? I’ve been reading that some people have a hard time finding someone to remove the windshield because of the rust lying underneath and other issues. Trying to devise a plan of action before opening this can of worms.
 

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If there’s rust under the windshield, it’ll need to be sanded and repainted right? I’ve been reading that some people have a hard time finding someone to remove the windshield because of the rust lying underneath and other issues. Trying to devise a plan of action before opening this can of worms.
It would be best to do that. The rubber sealant that they put on with a caulk gun will seal it up for the most part if its not rusted too bad.
 
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