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View Full Version : Dodge 3.9L vs. Ford 4.2L vs. Chevy 4.3L V6: Which is best?


genesis215
01-26-2009, 01:43 PM
I only have one walk-behind mower to pull so a V6 will do just fine for me. I really don't know much about these engines. What little I have heard is that alot of the Ford 4.2L's don't seem to last past 150k miles before blowing up. Again, I really don't know; it could be due to hard driving, and poor vehicle maintenance. I haven't heard anything about the Dodge 3.9L though, and have not heard very much about the Chevy 4.3L. Could anybody give their experiences? Thanks for your help.

Greg78
01-26-2009, 02:17 PM
We got a GMC van with the 4.3 just over 190,000 and no problems at all. :usflag:

South Florida Lawns
01-26-2009, 02:47 PM
I have an 03 silverado with the 4.3 V6. It pulls my 16ft enclosed with my Z and stander just fine. 200k miles on it been trouble free since I bought it new.

We had an 02 dakota nice little truck with the 3.9 but I thought that thing was a gutless dog that couldn't even get out of its own way. it got terrible millage too.

TXNSLighting
01-26-2009, 02:54 PM
The dodge gas engines are weak links unless its a hemi. Ford and GM have great gassers. So either the Ford or GM will serve you well. I dont know if youre looking new or not, cuz ford no longer makes a V6 anymore. Which is fine with me. IMO the only good 6 cylinder is an inline.

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-26-2009, 03:25 PM
The ford 4.2 is a great engine for what it is. The main problem with them is the factory intake gasket will crack at the corner and the allow water to slowly enter the cylinder. Its a pain to fix, but if you do it when you first notice your loosing water your fine. I've had 2 of these trucks, water leaked into my number 4 cylinder and when we went to start it one day, boom bent connecting rod. That truck had just over 100K on it. My current truck has over 165K and this past summer it finally started loosing water, replaced the gasket and its good to go again. The 4.2 has a little more power then the 4.3 too. Either way you'll be getting a good truck.

genesis215
01-26-2009, 03:29 PM
What fuel mileage do you get with these?

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-26-2009, 07:33 PM
I average around 13 pulling my enclosed loaded (about 5500 lbs)

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
01-26-2009, 08:01 PM
Personally I would go 5.7L Either Tundra or New Dodge Ram both with 390 HP, your only talking about a couple mpg's, so its well worth the extra power.

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-26-2009, 08:14 PM
and just spend 5 times your budget for that new truck. Some people really shouldn't give advice unless they can stay on topic.

Gravel Rat
01-26-2009, 08:28 PM
The only good V-6 Ford produced was the 4.0. The 4.3 Chevy is pretty good the highways maintenance dept used to have Chevy 1/2 tons with the 4.3 on propane they did pretty good even driven a little hard :laugh:

genesis215
01-26-2009, 09:34 PM
I am looking for a inexpensive used truck from '99 and older, NOT a new one.

South Florida Lawns
01-26-2009, 10:23 PM
I wouldn't even let my mom drive a Hemi.

LindblomRJ
01-26-2009, 10:58 PM
I am looking for a inexpensive used truck from '99 and older, NOT a new one.

Older than 99? 96 and older Ford with a 300 inline six. Rugged engine.

The 4.3 is one of the few GM engines I really like. I have no complants on the 4.2 or other Ford V6 engines.

TXNSLighting
01-26-2009, 11:07 PM
Ya know i just realized the wifes explorer has the 4.2 in it. I love that little engine. Lotsa pep, great fuel economy, and not a single problem.

4.3mudder
01-26-2009, 11:08 PM
The 4.3 V6 I have in my toyota, it is a 92 year engine. I like the engine, lots of power, but it has a slight vibration problem. It has the main crankshaft harmonic balancer, but I think the newer ones they corrected that problem. They put the balance shaft in the lifter valley. Other than that thumbs up.

Swampy
01-27-2009, 02:03 AM
I personally if I was in your shoes take a look at a older Dodge Dakota with a 5.2L. Its a underdog to most people, I had one back in high school and its tough, and built IMO heavier than other 1/4 tons. Plus you'll love the extra power from the V8.

MC Handy Man
01-27-2009, 06:41 PM
I have a 2007 dodge dakota that has a 3.9L V6 in it, it is a nice truck. manual shift fun to drive, pretty good low end power. it doesnt go to fast but it is very efficient, i am getting 28mpg right now. you would def. want to upgrade the shocks though, she starts to squat with bout 250 pounds. And remember, if you cant Dodge it, RAM it!

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-27-2009, 08:16 PM
28 MPG????? Someone might need to learn how to really calculate gas mileage.

Advanced Lawn Care, Inc.
01-27-2009, 09:24 PM
I have a 98 ford f-150 with the 4.2 in it and 204,000 miles on it. I have had no major problems other than routine maintenance and it still gets 16-17 mpg without trailer. It still has great power.

South Florida Lawns
01-27-2009, 11:43 PM
I have a 2007 dodge dakota that has a 3.9L V6 in it, it is a nice truck. manual shift fun to drive, pretty good low end power. it doesnt go to fast but it is very efficient, i am getting 28mpg right now. you would def. want to upgrade the shocks though, she starts to squat with bout 250 pounds. And remember, if you cant Dodge it, RAM it!

28mpg? No way man. Not trying to start an argument here, but I had the same engine in my Dakota and that thing would never see those miles even on the highway. It got just a little better millage then the v8 Dakota.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 10:08 AM
Slight correction, the 2007 Dakota has the 3.7L PowerTech V6, not the 3.9L Magnum V6. I think they are fairly similar, and they are both rated to get 22 MPG highway. I didn't know that the Dakota came with an 8 ft. bed on the long-wheelbase models. That's really nice, and is exactly what I'm looking for. A lighter weight truck, that will get very good fuel mileage, but still have the 8 ft. bed. I am hoping for lower 20's for fuel mileage. And I think I can expect that because I don't accelerate to more than 1500-2000 rpm, and ease down on the gas when going up hills. The Chevy full-size 1500 with 4.3 and 5-speed gets 22 MPG. I think from what you are saying both would be good, but I'm wondering if the Dakota will get better because of the lighter weight.

TXNSLighting
01-28-2009, 01:01 PM
You cant get a dakota with an 8 ft bed...Who said that? at least around here you cant.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 01:38 PM
Dodge manufactured long-wheelbase models with a full-size 8 ft. bed at least through '96. Look it up on Consumer Guide's Auto review of the '90-'96 Dodge Dakota. That was their big selling point. I do like the Chevy with the 4.3 because the automatic transmission isn't junk like the Dodge transmission. If I went with the Dodge it would have to be a 5-speed, unless someone has info demonstrating the Dodge automatic transmissions to be long-lasting (which I HIGHLY doubt).

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-28-2009, 02:05 PM
Why in the heck are you even considering a small/midsize truck for this business? Yes they will get better mpg empty but can't haul or tow any weight, and aren't made for this type of work. Dont throw your money away.

gandk06
01-28-2009, 02:28 PM
I have a 2000 dakota with the 3.9l in it. The best mileage I can get out of it is about 16mpg. If you want the dakota look for the V8. You get the same milage plus the extra power. Mine has 130000 miles and it runs strong. It is all the little stuff (power windows, locks... s**t) that breaks on the truck that drives me crazy.

I pull a 6.5 x 12 trailer with a z and wb just fine. You won't win any races with it but I am ok with that.

fool32696
01-28-2009, 03:47 PM
Gravel Rat, the 4.0 is a gas hog. My buddy had one in his ranger and was lucky to get 14 or 15 mpg. I'd stick to the GM or Ford.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 03:52 PM
Again, as I said earlier, I only need to pull a small 5x13 trailer with one 52" walk-behind and some leaves in the truck bed, so I don't need a workhorse to pull it. For what I'm doing, I think the full-size 1/2-ton Chevy with the 4.3L will serve me the best, and be the most reliable, long lasting, and hard working truck out of these options. Thanks for your help.

Gravel Rat
01-28-2009, 03:54 PM
The 4.0 was piggy but it was a good engine. I never owned a V6 always been a V8 drinker :laugh:

If I was buying a 1/2 ton it would be a v8 powered one.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 05:43 PM
What do you think of an F150 with the small 4.6L Triton V8? It is rated to get 21 MPG ('97-'99), and the GM 4.3L is rated to get 22 MPG with a 5-speed, 21 with automatic. Hardly any difference in mileage, but big difference in power (200 HP vs. 240 HP). I had a 4.6L that was badly abused before I got it, and it still got about 18-20 in town. I do like the transmission on the '97 and newer F150's better than Chevy. They have much smoother shifting, and they seem to last significantly longer due to being a newer transmission. What do you think?

TXNSLighting
01-28-2009, 07:00 PM
Cant go wrong with a Ford IMO. 4.6 is a very good engine. I wouldnt expect 18-20 mpg in town.

fool32696
01-28-2009, 07:12 PM
I have a 2001 F150 reg cab long bed with the 4.6 and an automatic. 21mpg on highway unloaded doing 70mph. I'm guessing 15-16 around town and 10-11 pulling my 14 ft enclosed loaded up pretty good. I was shopping for a V6 F150 and they were all more $ than the V8. Ford got rid of the 4.2 because the 4.6 got almost the same mileage and has way more power.

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-28-2009, 07:18 PM
not to burst your bubble but the 4.6 only has like 20 more horses.fuel mileage is worse, and the 4.6 really isn't a good durable engine, ask the guys at the ford shop. Parts on a 4.6 are crazy expensive. Up until the new 5.4 3 valve motor, the V6 was the better choice as the V8's didn't have that much more power to justify the added costs and mpg loss.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 07:35 PM
To say the 4.6L Triton isn't a durable engine simply is NOT true. My E150 was beaten to death for it's first 160,000 miles, and it still ran like new, and I always got 18-20 MPG in town with it. Wish I still had it. I have heard of 4.6's that have 400k miles on the original motor.

Albery's Lawn & Tractor
01-28-2009, 07:54 PM
I have heard of more 4.6's not making it to 100K miles more so then any other engine. If you like it great, but I'll never own one. Just my opinion.

gorrell
01-28-2009, 07:54 PM
The 4.3 V-6 is simply a 5.7 gm V-8 less two cylinders. This V-8 is the standard which all other V-8's copied over the years. It began as a 265 c.i., then progressed from that point to the most popular V-8 engine ever produced. That bodes well for the 4.3......................Lynn

genesis215
01-28-2009, 08:16 PM
100K miles on a 4.6L? Maybe they overheated it and cracked the block. Not surprising. The Tritons do have an aluminum block and head (the GM 4.3L V6 and many other large engines are all-cast iron engines), and are thus much more prone to catastrophic engine failure if they overheat. That wont keep me away, just watching the temperature gauge will pervent any problems. Gorrell, you are correct about the 4.3 being a 5.7L V8 with two less cylinders. And we all know the 5.7L GM V8 is the very best V8 anybody has ever made. I have seen plenty of 4.3L's up at 350k miles and running great.

LindblomRJ
01-28-2009, 09:22 PM
4.6 is an excellent engine. My folks and brother have had several cars with that very engine and all have had well over 100K on them before they were traded. My bother has a 95 Crown Vic that has clsoe to 200K on it and engine is still strong.

And the GM5.7 being the best engine? Sheer number of 5.7's hardly indicates quality. Flood the market with that engine... I have yet to drive a pickup with a 350 that I have ever been remotely impressed with. I owned a 96 Chevrolet K2500 for 5 years and didn't care for it.

genesis215
01-28-2009, 10:37 PM
Yah, the big thing I don't care for is the exhaust sound on the 350 (and all overhead-valve engines for that matter). The Ford OHC Tritons are alot quieter. I have had a Ford with the 351 Windsor, and it is pretty close to the GM 350 in quality, but was terrible on gas compared to the 350.

fool32696
01-29-2009, 12:06 AM
I know of a number of 4.6s that have been over 200k miles. Mine is at 113k and runs great and uses no oil. In all of my research I found that a 4.6 would get the same mileage hauling a trailer and being used around town. The only benefit would be 1 mpg better on the highway. I know the 4.6 doesn't have a lot more horsepower but the torque of the V8 makes a difference when towing 4000 lbs. I read a number of articles on why Ford dropped the 4.2 V6. The newest 4.6 has more power and is more fuel efficient than the 4.2 (effectively making the 4.2 V6 obsolete). I've heard great things about the 4.3 and 4.2, I ended up with the 4.6 and am happy with it. This is coming from a 4.6 owner, not "I heard this" or "I heard that".

J&R Landscaping
01-29-2009, 10:20 AM
I'd have to say the 3.9L was a pretty good engine IMO. I had one in a 89 dakota. It ran untill 244,000 miles when she bit the dust. Pretty good fuel economy and good power. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
Also, like lindblom said, that Ford 4.9L 300 straight 6 is a wonderfull engine as well. I had one of those in an f-150 and it was a great pulling engine. You won't win a race with the truck because it wasn't all that fast but it was a strong motor and they have a history of running for a long time!

genesis215
01-29-2009, 05:38 PM
What fuel mileage have you gotten with the 300 inline-6? I have heard they last 500k miles easily. But I don't know if they get more or less than the 4.6L Triton.

MC Handy Man
01-30-2009, 03:25 AM
I know how to calculate my MPG, not that hard! If you have family members that are all machanics and are brainy when it comes to programming and getting the most out of a vehicle, your sure to have what I got...Plus i dont got that big ego you folks have that lay the pedel down and waste all those preciose gallons. Yes i have a 3.9L V-6 dakota...2003, Manual, programed and taken well care of. 110,000 and it has given me no problems. I can pull a trailer loaded and throw some debri in the bed....I think thats all he was looking for, not a pissing match between chevy, ford and dodge owners. Ohh and i must say, Dodge whoops them all...handsdown. now be nice! come on up to mn and i will give you a ull tank and let you run it till it runs out of fumes. give you a pencil and some paper and prolly a calculator... then i will let you figure it out.

gandk06
01-30-2009, 08:43 AM
I know how to calculate my MPG, not that hard! If you have family members that are all machanics and are brainy when it comes to programming and getting the most out of a vehicle, your sure to have what I got...Plus i dont got that big ego you folks have that lay the pedel down and waste all those preciose gallons. Yes i have a 3.9L V-6 dakota...2003, Manual, programed and taken well care of. 110,000 and it has given me no problems. I can pull a trailer loaded and throw some debri in the bed....I think thats all he was looking for, not a pissing match between chevy, ford and dodge owners. Ohh and i must say, Dodge whoops them all...handsdown. now be nice! come on up to mn and i will give you a ull tank and let you run it till it runs out of fumes. give you a pencil and some paper and prolly a calculator... then i will let you figure it out.


I would love to see how you are getting 28mpg from that engine. Do a search and everyone says the mileage sucks on these. I don't beat on my truck and am lucky to get 16mpg. You sure your not multiplying your mileage by 2?

genesis215
01-30-2009, 08:55 AM
OK. If it's a 2003, then that would be the 3.9L. I can definately believe you getting 28 mpg, but it's pretty amazing getting 6 MPG better than what they rate the vehicle to get. Sounds like me, I always hand calculate my fuel mileage (don't have any vehicles with a fuel mileage computer), always top the gas off until it is just about spilling out, and because of my driving style get 3-5 MPG better than what fuel economy's website says I will get, and always get the rated highway fuel mileage in town because i don't accelerate fast. And yes, a truck that will pull one 52" WB, a 21", handhelds, and some debris in the bed is all that I want (or need).

genesis215
01-30-2009, 08:59 AM
AMEN!!! to the comment about not swooping the pedal to the floor, and wasting GALLONS and GALLONS of expensive fuel. I have saved $$$$ by not doing that. It's hard on vehicles, and hard on the pocketbook. Just ease your pedals down REALLLY SLOWWW, and you will go far!

mag360
01-30-2009, 10:01 AM
The 3.9 is a 318 v8 with two cylinders chopped off. It is a long lasting engine with decent torque but the chevy 4.3 should be noticeably more powerful and last just as long. If it were me I'd take the dakota with 3.9 or a full size chevy with 4.3. A full size dodge with the 3.9 is likely to get poor fuel economy empty simply because of the weight and wind resistance of the truck.

NEW CITY LAWN CARE LLC
01-30-2009, 10:07 AM
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySidePopUp.jsp?column=1&id=18852

genesis215
01-30-2009, 11:00 AM
1992-2003 Dodge Dakota w. 3.9L
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySidePopUp.jsp?column=1&id=12981

1994-2001 Dodge Ram w. 3.9L
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySidePopUp.jsp?column=1&id=14491

1997-2004 Ford F150 w. 4.2L
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySidePopUp.jsp?column=1&id=13726

1993-1998 Chevrolet/GMC 1500 w. 4.3L
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/calculatorCompareSideBySidePopUp.jsp?column=1&id=13706

LindblomRJ
01-30-2009, 01:27 PM
What fuel mileage have you gotten with the 300 inline-6? I have heard they last 500k miles easily. But I don't know if they get more or less than the 4.6L Triton.


I have a 79 F150 4x4 that at 55 MPH will get right at 15 MPG when everything is tuned just right.

I also have a 92 F250 with a 5 speed and a 300 that will get 17 on the highway and 13 in town or pulling.

MC Handy Man
01-30-2009, 05:33 PM
OK. If it's a 2003, then that would be the 3.9L. I can definately believe you getting 28 mpg, but it's pretty amazing getting 6 MPG better than what they rate the vehicle to get. Sounds like me, I always hand calculate my fuel mileage (don't have any vehicles with a fuel mileage computer), always top the gas off until it is just about spilling out, and because of my driving style get 3-5 MPG better than what fuel economy's website says I will get, and always get the rated highway fuel mileage in town because i don't accelerate fast. And yes, a truck that will pull one 52" WB, a 21", handhelds, and some debris in the bed is all that I want (or need).

yes thats a good point about topping it off all the way...I am curiose of how much more you actually put in the neck of the tank. I calculated my MPG based off highway miles, no over reving so that may be consistent with my resaults. Starting slow and not slamming the pedel def gives you that extra range. Just drive efficiantly and treat her good and she will keep your pocket book healthy. It would be nice however to have that extra power in the future for towing and hauling if you get more equipment, that would be the only reason i would consider running a beast of an engine.

packey
01-30-2009, 10:34 PM
I am a dodge guy and I would go with the chevy 4.3 it is the best of the three engines. The dodge 3.9 is ok and will last but the 4.3 has better power and fuel economy. As far as the ford 4.2 I really can't say much good or bad

genesis215
01-31-2009, 12:14 AM
I think I'm happy with one mower, although I do have the room for two on my trailer (it's a 5x13). I do have a 7.3L Powerstroke diesel 12-passenger van right now, and it tows like nothing else, and gets about 17-19 MPG while doing it, but I would like to downsize and get a smaller-engine truck so that I have a bed to put stuff in, and still get good fuel mileage.

LindblomRJ
01-31-2009, 11:47 AM
I think I'm happy with one mower, although I do have the room for two on my trailer (it's a 5x13). I do have a 7.3L Powerstroke diesel 12-passenger van right now, and it tows like nothing else, and gets about 17-19 MPG while doing it, but I would like to downsize and get a smaller-engine truck so that I have a bed to put stuff in, and still get good fuel mileage.

Honestly I think I would keep the van. Clear out seats. You would have ample storge room for tools. Secure to boot. Trailer for the hauling.

tyler_mott85
02-07-2009, 11:40 PM
I have a 93 chevy 1/2 ton reg cab long bed 2wd with the 4.3 and auto. it is just now getting to the 110k mark. It is lifted 4inches and has 32's on it (i know i know..a lifted 2wd...blah blah blah) I am going to use it to pull a 6 ft wide enclosed. I have pulled a car trailer and a 1 ton truck on the back and it was a dog on the highway. I have no complaints about it over all. it has 3.42 gears and I get about 18 mpg on the highway but thats with the lift and tires. I'm going to put add-a-leaves in it and put 4.10 gears. Only things I've heard about them is people trying to use them like a v8. just remember what you have. I'm planning on an oil cooler for the motor and an external tranny cooler. Maybe some gauges to monitor things closer. Why spend so much on a $2000 truck? I'd rather spend $1000 on a $2000 truck then $10000 plus on a new one...

AI Inc
02-08-2009, 07:56 AM
28mpg? No way man. Not trying to start an argument here, but I had the same engine in my Dakota and that thing would never see those miles even on the highway. It got just a little better millage then the v8 Dakota.

Abrand new ranger with a 4 cylider is only rated at 28, 28 out of a v6 just dosnt sound right.