View Full Version : Chevy Diesel Pre-Duramax, Whose Got One?

01-09-2011, 01:10 AM
So I'm kind of truck shopping right now. My truck is still doing ok, but miles are climbing and I'm looking at maybe getting a second truck anyways, little bigger engine would be nice. Lately I've seen a fair number of late 90s-2000 Chevy Diesels with the 6.5 Turbo for sale on Craigslist. They've got relatively low miles, but seem to be selling for rather cheap. Too cheap... I've heard some not so good things about Chevy diesels before they got the Duramax line going. I was just wondering if anyone has/had one and can comment? Thanks!

Impressions Landscaping
01-09-2011, 01:54 AM
I have one in a 1999 C3500HD. I like the motor personally, its relativley cheap to work on. The one I have wasn't abused at all prior to my purchasing it, and also since I've had it, it's been well taken care of. However, a few problems I've had and they seem to be common:

1. Stalling issues, the PMD which is the pump mount driver, is known to overheat and cause hard starting/stalling issues. There is a simple fix for this that involves using an extension cable and a new PMD and moving it outside the engine bay.

2. Lift pumps, I've replaced two of mine in my truck. However, the original ones had 200,000 miles on them.

3. The truck developed a "thumping" out of the blue one day, coming straight out of the intake, and also low power. Not a huge drop but enough to notice. The thumping didn't get worse, however the turbo also started puking oil at the same time. Come to find out, these trucks are known to collapse lifters, and mine did, on the exhaust valve, and the "thumping" was actually air being pushed back out the intake because it could not escape out the exhaust valve. This job was not a simple day job, since the heads must be removed to replace all the lifters. The turbo also was junk because all the air being pushed out the turbo also pushed the oil out with it, causing the turbine bearings to wear. However, the entire job cost me about a grand which isn't to bad considering I replaced the glow plugs, head gaskets, intake gaskets, 16 lifters, and other misc. things such as anti freeze and oil.

4. Injectors are known to spray streams of fuel burning holes into the top of the pistons.

All in all though, my truck has 210,000 on it now, and it has been a great truck with decent power. It needs to be taken care of and doesn't like to be abused, and also doesn't like huge power upgrades. I'm real familier with these diesels so any questions you have please feel free to ask!

Impressions Landscaping
01-09-2011, 01:58 AM
Also, as an extension to the PMD issues, these trucks are known to have weak injector pumps, however sometimes the PMD stalling/low power/no start issues could also be confused with a failing injector pump OR lift pump. Another note, these trucks have HORRIBLE exhaust systems from the factory. The downpipe is pounded with a hammer and mine was actually 3/4 inch at one point in the pipe. I put a 4 inch downpipe into the stock muffler and removed the soot trap(looks like a catalytic converter), and the truck woke up some and seemed to have a little more power. I wasn't looking for a race truck here, just something with decent power that isn't being choked to death with a crappy stock exhaust system.

01-09-2011, 01:00 PM
Junk had two. I repeat JUNK
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01-09-2011, 01:50 PM
I just bought a 2000 chevy diesel. The PMD was out and the truck was stalling out. Make sure to buy the extention you can get off ebay to remote mount the PMD. Otherwise it will get hot and go out agaiin. Just do a google search and you will find a lot of information about this problem with the chevy.

You will get good mileage with the truck but it is not for hauling huge loads. I use it to haul a skid sprayer or my open mowing trailer and it does great for that.

Gravel Rat
01-09-2011, 02:08 PM
The 6.5s are not a good engine too many problems, they don't last very long. A few of them around here didn't make it past 200,000 kilometers (124,000 miles).

Some people may have had good luck with the 6.5 but most of them are JUNK.

01-09-2011, 03:08 PM
My 98 C2500 has provided good service to me. I had the PMD issue and replaced it with a D-Tech unit that I purchased from Pensacola Diesel. I mounted mine in the grill with the 6 foot extension that came with it. The dealers often insist on replacing the injector pump along with the PMD even though the PMD is the only problem. The 98, 99, and 2000 models have the better blocks. Overall, it's been a good reliable truck. 230,000 miles and still going strong. We use ours on the farm and it handles just about anything we throw at it. We have a Ford F350 dually for the really heavy stuff. I bought the C2500 in 2005 for $1500.00. It needed a transmission and a few other small items, but I got a deal on rebuilding the transmission, so I only have about $3000.00 in it alltogether. I would buy another one. They're fairly inexpensive to work on, compared to the Fords. They're not as heavy duty as the Ford or Dodge, but they'll do well for a lawn care business. Mine gets 19 mpg too. My Ford gets 16-17.

01-10-2011, 04:25 AM
Thanks guys for some great replies, I really appreciate it. Some mixed answers definitely. Doing a bit of googling and reading on some misc truck forums the general opinion of this engine seems to be pretty low, but I do prefer to hear the responses of a few trusted folks on Lawnsite.

There are over 5 of these trucks for sale on Craigslist in my area from various people and the majority of them have 100K miles or less on them and are going for 3-5 grand. At least 2 I saw said that the engine had recently been rebuilt or replaced. Rebuilding a 10 year old diesel with 80,000 miles on it...? I know that a comparable Ford or Dodge diesel of the year would be listed around 10 grand or more.

It is nice to hear of some people having a good reliable truck of it and at least you guys have said it's fairly cheap to work on when needed, but picking one up definitely seems like a gamble. Anyone else wants to weigh in, feel free. I enjoy the truck discussions :drinkup:

Jason Rose
01-10-2011, 08:15 AM
About 5 or 7 years back I was looking for a different work truck to put a dump bed. Found a '95 Chevy 6.5 diesel with a flat bed. Test drive it, kinda liked the truck, but after doing some research and having my dad talk to a couple guys that are big diesel heads I was advised, highly, to NOT waste my money on that truck. Besides just being weak engines, all of the above stories were relayed to me as well. The fact that they usually blow at around 80K miles on average. It was winter at the time so I wasn't able to hook onto my trailer for a good test, but I was told they were basically NOT pulling trucks...

Of course now I don't know if I went in the right direction again. My current '95 1 ton HD has a big block, gets 5 to 6 mpg and probably cranks out a whopping 150 horsepower! Has to be the weakest big block ever made. Only thing it has going for it is that it actually doesn't burn oil! If I had any common sence I'd have that thing in a shop right now getting new heads, cam, and lifters put on.

Impressions Landscaping
01-10-2011, 09:53 AM
The biggest thing you have to remember is everyone treats their trucks differently. My truck was always cared for, oil changes and any and I mean ANY thing that came up was fixed immediateley. Some people do let their stuff go to the point of no return, then blame the truck because something happened to it, however it is 99 percent their fault. These motors aren't bad motors, they just need a few updates to make sure they run a long time. Mine pulls around a skidsteer, plus its own wieght, which the empty wieght of the truck is around 9k. It does fine and gets decent mileage.

01-10-2011, 10:49 AM
I owned a '98 6.5 diesel in a 2500 truck. I bought it used in 2006 and for the first two years of me owning it, it was pretty good. Not too many huge repairs or anything. But then the 3rd and 4th year of ownership was more of a nightmare. I spent almost $5k in repairs one year and $3k in repairs the other. About every 3 months I had something go wrong on the truck. I sold the truck in August 2010.

The good thing about the 6.5 diesels is that they are relatively cheap to work on when you compare them to duramax, cummins or powerstroke engines.

It definately doesn't have tons of power. It is slow but does tow okay. Even with a fairly light load, maybe 5000#, I'd really have to get into the throttle to get up to speed. When I compare it to my new 6.0L gas truck, it is blown out of the water, the 6.0 vortec has way more power and tows better.

I didn't see the fuel economy that others have posted. I seemed to get 14 mpg pretty consistantly, and that was with a mix of city and highway driving. If I did all highway, I would maybe see 16, but that would be a stretch.

If you plan on doing any type of performance mods to this truck, I'd move on and get a different diesel. The 6.5's have a very limited selection of performance parts really. The best place to get performance parts is from Heath diesel, but it will cost a pretty penny to gain any amount of noticable power. Performance parts just aren't out there like they are for other diesels.

I had the PMD and injector pump problems, had both replaced in 2009. I had most of the typical problems that these trucks were known for. I ended up selling the truck when it had transmission problems. Mine had maybe 140k miles on it when I sold it.

01-10-2011, 01:06 PM
I had a 93 3500 with the 6.5 that I bought it 03. This truck ran flawlessly for me for about 4 years. My guys towed with it daily. It was no race car but seemed to have the same ecceleration whether towing or not. In 08 when it started pouring out white smoke at start up... stalling at red lights and had weird electrical problems I quickly dumped it instead of pouring thousands into a 15 year old truck.

The guy I bought the truck from replaced the engine at 138,000 miles which is pretty pitiful for a diesel motor. This is a guy who preformed maintenance on it to a "T".

I see no advantage to the 6.5 diesel over a gasser.

Gravel Rat
01-10-2011, 03:01 PM
The trucks with 454 engines out lasted the 6.5 by a long shot.

The 6.5 engines the crank shaft is noted to break in half, then they have problems with their timing chains, injection pumps. The 6.5 was no improvement over the old 6.2 it replaced which was more reliable than the 6.5.

All in all the 6.5 was the worst POS created, the first time I drove one it was a 1 ton dually flatdeck. My old 351 Ford in my 1 ton dually flatdeck had more b*lls.

01-10-2011, 09:28 PM
I had a 1995, Chevy 3500HD with the 6.5 turbo diesel. It was originally owned by a towing company whose owner is a mechanic. I bought it with 170,000 on it. Put another 50,000 on it myself, and sold it to a guy who had a contract to tow and set up FEMA mobile homes after the New Orleans hurricane. Saw him at a fast food rest. the other day, and he still has the truck. It now has about 400,000 miles on it and he says it still runs good. I never had to do any repairs to it, and he said he has done nothing major either. So, go figure.
I know the original owner had to replace rthe troublesome fuel system components, but other than that, it seems to be a solid truck.
Oh, lousy fuel mileage compared to the 7.3 Powerstroke, and kind of gutless when towing a heavy trailer.
However, all in all, was a good truck for all 3 of it's owners so far.

01-11-2011, 04:20 AM
Better off going with something else...if a duramax is out of your price range I would look in to a 7.3 powerstroke or a cummins if you can find one that the rest of the truck hasn't fallen off of.

01-11-2011, 10:36 AM
I'm a Chevy guy, and will NEVER own one. We had one at a previous job. It was the "new" truck. It sat most of the time.
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