Skip to main content

Yes, you heard that right. For diesel pickup long-term dependability, buying a five-year or older truck is better than buying new. The new crop of diesel engines from Ford, GM, and Ram, are some of the best ever made. But some of the older diesel pickups, though not as powerful as new ones, are still legitimate alternatives to buying new simply on the basis of availability, maintenance costs, options, and price. 

There isn’t one new diesel engine from any of the American truck makers that can be considered the best in the industry. They all boast similar numbers, with unique features to help fuel passionate fans. And looking at the long list of new pickup truck engines available now, you can see that they’re actually getting smaller, yet as powerful or more than earlier designs. Do you really need that for the cost of entry?

Which older diesel engines are better?

2010 6.7-liter Cummins
2010 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six | Cummins

A 1999 to 2000 7.3-liter Ford Power Stroke V8 is hard to complain about for what it can still do. A 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six found in 2010 to 2013 Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks, is as competitive as new versions. And GM’s 6.6-liter Duramax LBZ engine in 2006 to 2007 Chevy and GMC pickups rates high for dependability, but it is also a great start for aftermarket upgrades. 

The point is that for everyday service, used trucks over five years old offer great engines that can offer long-term durability. Sure, some may show a few battle scars, and don’t offer all of the luxuries and safety technology of new ones. But lower prices and the ability to handle anything a new truck can do are enticing draws. Let’s look at some of the best of the best.

2010 to 2013 Ram with 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine

2011 Ram
2011 Ram 3500 Cummins engine | Stellantis

Ram got everyone’s attention when it turned to Cummins for its first diesel offering in years. The 2010 to 2013 2500 and 3500 Ram trucks are every bit as competitive as new trucks. You have your choice between a six-speed automatic or manual transmission, with a 17,500 lb towing capacity and 5,000 lb payload. 

And there are quite a few aftermarket options that, because the 6.7 is a simpler engine to wrench on, can offer even more hidden performance. Even the cabins boast similar amenities to current new trucks. 

2006 to 2007 Chevy/GMC 6.6-liter Duramax LBZ diesel engine

2007 GMC
2007 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax | GM

Available in each brand’s HD lines, the Duramax hit the streets in 2001. There are options galore like both manual and automatic transmissions. And the Duramax Bosch common-rail injection makes for a highly dependable diesel engine. 

In this era, Duramax reigned over Ford and Ram with 360 hp and 670 lb-ft of torque. They feature great ride quality, with the help of their independent front suspension. All of this greatness means Duramax-optioned GMC and Chevy trucks have higher asking prices, according to GoDieselTrucks. But you’re buying a 15-year-old diesel pickup that holds up well to new ones costing tens of thousands more. 

Late 1999 to 2000 Ford 7.3-liter Power Stroke Super Duty

2000 Ford F-250
2000 Ford F-250 Power Stroke V8 | Ford

These Power Stroke Super Duty trucks are not on par with new pickups, not at 23 years old. But many feel that, in spite of its age, the 7.3-liter is one of the best diesel engines ever made. Both the engine and chassis were almost bulletproof. With proper care, they can easily live past 500,000 miles of push and pull. So a Super Duty used truck can do as much as a new one for a lot less money.


The Chevy Silverado 2500HD Is 1 of Chevy’s Most Reliable Models