Is My Truck Worth Keeping? - Dodge Cummins Diesel Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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So here's my issue, I'm in college on a college budget. I have a '96 2500 that I bought for $4,000 January this year as my first vehicle.

I hadn't realized when purchasing that it was VERY abused by the previous owner, and had been in a serious front end accident a year before I bought it. It destroyed a Hyundai, and the whole front end was replaced using junkyard parts by the previous owner. I also have reason to believe the odometer was replaced with one showing less miles during the repairs (Owner before last noted in the owners manual that 260k miles was last oil change, but truck is showing around 20k less than that now, and that was indicated around 7-8 years ago). It's got fairly serious blow-by, to the point I had to build a vent where the oil cap was so it didn't spit out all the oil from the pan. (Here's the link to that post https://www.cumminsforum.com/forum/9...gh-speeds.html) I've lost the tappet gasket, wheel bearings, power steering lines, water pump, exhaust pipe (literally fell off while driving), the aforementioned blow-by oil loss, no ABS, no emergency brake, no cruise control, and a dozen other small things. It also didn't have a thermostat when I bought it.

Now, here are the positives I've considered--It has new wheels and tires. The transmission seems to be running good, with only 3rd gear grinding a bit when you put it into gear, and that's only when it's cold. The KDP was removed by the mechanic that replaced the tappet gasket. The mechanic's assistant used an impact driver on the injector pump while reinstalling, so it cracked. They replaced it with another P7100 injection pump, but this one was from a school bus. They fixed that free of charge.
I've threatened to sell it almost every month I've owned it with every problem that pops up. Every issue that I've come across (with the exception of the tappet gasket) I've fixed myself, and have been under $100 per repair.

I was wondering if I could get your opinions on if I should keep or sell it? And if I kept it, what can I expect will go bad next, and how much would it be? Is it too beat up to keep reliably? Obviously you can't see into the future, but is there a general trend that goes with repairs like these that I might expect more issues? I've been told by several people on this forum that it'll need a complete rebuild at some point. How much would that run me, and could I do it myself on a college budget? I'm still learning how to repair it, and I've gotten better at diagnosing issues, but how difficult would it be to rebuild it? Is it even worth keeping it?

Now I *feel* like most the issues have been ironed out. It's honestly starting to become a good looking and running truck now. That said, I've yet to drive it without feeling a bit nervous that it'll leave me on the side of the road, which it has five times. I bought it because I thought it would be a million-mile rig, but my mother's '99 expedition has had less issues in it's entire lifetime than my truck has in the last year I've owned it.

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but every response is highly appreciated. I'm honestly so mixed about it right now, I'd love some second opinions.


1996 Dodge Ram 2500, white-ish, 5 spd manual, straight-piped with side dump after cab, school bus p-pump.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 03:43 AM
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I'll tell you this.

Your first mistake was buying a roughed up dodge as a primary vehicle. I dont know what kind of expectations you had of the truck but most people assume they are invincible. Which you are quickly learning they are not. Not knocking you, but I'm genuinely curious why you chose the truck you chose. (Which will lead into why you should or shouldn't keep it)

Learn the truck inside and out. Establish a relationship with it. I suggest you either find a side chick (cheap beater car, or a motorcycle) till you can get the big girl squared away, or really sit down and look at the truck as a whole. If you love her and she is worth it TO YOU, regardless of what we have to say, make it work.

I am the same way man. All the little nickle and dime stuff drives me insane and everytime I buy one of these trucks, no matter how nice it is, I know its gonna fall apart on me at some point. Same crap over and over... And I would like to believe I'm pretty good at fixing, maintaining my stuff. (As evidenced by the wife's daily driver being a '99 bmw with 295k miles on it). Just gotta know yourself and decide if the juice is worth the squeeze.

You can and will quickly end up spending more then you paid for the truck in rebuilding everything. That's all I can tell you without having any powers of clairvoyance.

2002 ram 2500 quad cab shortbed ST. Red, 4x4, nv4500 swap 24v, 66mm silver bullet, 100hp injectors , fass titanium 150, 4" exhaust, guages. 190k miles.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 09:04 AM
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Does it drive and brake straight? Is it paid for so you can park it whie you repair it and it wont cost you monthly? Lastly, what a shop you had working on your truck!! They bust a 180 pump and "give" you a pump from a bus!? I would go back to that place and tell them you want another 180 and youll "give" them a bus pump, criminals!

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 98whitelightnin View Post
Does it drive and brake straight? Is it paid for so you can park it whie you repair it and it wont cost you monthly? Lastly, what a shop you had working on your truck!! They bust a 180 pump and "give" you a pump from a bus!? I would go back to that place and tell them you want another 180 and youll "give" them a bus pump, criminals!
What thinking the same thing about the pump. That's like taking a BBC core and putting a small block in its place.

2002 ram 2500 quad cab shortbed ST. Red, 4x4, nv4500 swap 24v, 66mm silver bullet, 100hp injectors , fass titanium 150, 4" exhaust, guages. 190k miles.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 11:06 AM
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Sounds like my 94 when i bought it. I slowly made it better while i drove it.
Its never needed a tow truck, and its always pulled my trailer wherever it need to go.

After owning it almost 7 years and 100,000 hard miles, its still the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned.

Daily driver/ workhorse: 1994 2500SLT 4x4 Auto. Hewitt EGT, Boost, Trans gauges, Under hood Mech FP gauge, Trident fuel lines, Tork Tek OFV, Mag-Hytec DD Transmission Pan, Ford manual hub conversion, Diamond eye 4" turbo back, 37337 Upgrade. 260K

98 2500slt 4x4 ECLB moldy G56, south bend clutch 3rd gen trac bar , boxed control arms, billet tappet cover w/ dual breathers trident fuel lines, Tork Tek OFV, 4' stainless side dump with muffler 240k
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 11:19 AM
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^I agree. Dispite their problems, I've never had a cummins powered ram NOT get me home. I used to be super paranoid when I had VP trucks because the "vp44 will die and you'll be stranded in the middle of nowhere" thing. But mine always got me where I needed to go.

2002 ram 2500 quad cab shortbed ST. Red, 4x4, nv4500 swap 24v, 66mm silver bullet, 100hp injectors , fass titanium 150, 4" exhaust, guages. 190k miles.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 11:54 AM
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Wouldn't make much of a difference with either Heartburn engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Killjoy View Post
That's like taking a BBC core and putting a small block in its place.

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 11:55 AM
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Wouldn't make much of a difference with either Heartburn engine <img src="https://www.cumminsforum.com/forum/images/smilies/rofl[1].gif" border="0" alt="" title="Roll On Floor" class="inlineimg" />

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That's like taking a BBC core and putting a small block in its place.
Bahhaha you get the analogy...

2002 ram 2500 quad cab shortbed ST. Red, 4x4, nv4500 swap 24v, 66mm silver bullet, 100hp injectors , fass titanium 150, 4" exhaust, guages. 190k miles.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 02:04 PM
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it does sound like you got fleeced on the buy .. not sure if you have laws about changing the odometer in your area .. but that stuff has some criminal consequences here. i can only assume you didnt look over the vehicle proper or have someone aka a mechanic look over the vehicle for you , a value lesson learned.
now if you want to keep it.. these trucks are a cult ... you will need a rebuild or find a good running motor to toss in .. around here you can got a solid runner for 2k give or take. being on a budget , id suggest getting to know your local pick n pull yard real well. it will save you a lot of money and youll be able to get loads of the small things fixed for cheap . youll also luck out and find some cheap upgrades.
its really up to you to state the obvious. these trucks need attention. mines a 97 and it needs just as much attention as a girl born that year. but it like the girls , become a thing of love.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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KillJoy,
I do agree, it was a mistake buying it as a primary vehicle. All my "experience" regarding these trucks prior to purchase was car magazines saying they were bulletproof engines. I chose my truck in particular because it seemed the best deal at the time. Decent 12 valves go for around $8k - $10k here, and even ones with 400k+ miles go for around $5k, so I thought I was getting a good deal at the time, even after the seller told me about the problems. I really appreciate and agree with your suggestion of doing all the work myself. The only reason I hadn't with the tappet gasket was that I needed it to commute with, and I didn't know how long it would have taken to repair.

98whitelightnin,
Weeeellll, it doesn't brake straight, haha. As said with my response to KillJoy, I need it as a commuter, but I'm not sure if that's possible to do reliably now. About the fuel injector pump, I'm genuinely unsure of the difference between the pumps. Is the original better than the bus pump? I agree though, I'm not going to be going back. I do appreciate them actually trying to fix it instead of just playing dumb, but it was still such a stupid mistake on their part. Even in my inexperience, I know not to use an impact driver to tighten a bolt, haha!

alanack6795,
That's good luck on your part, haha. I've gotten towed two times, and have been broken down three times more than that, but I was able to get it to work enough to get home. It's good to know there might be a chance the issues might be worked out eventually, though.

jeepsandbikesandram,
I agree that I did get taken quite a bit on the buy. It's also probably illegal of him to do that, but I don't really have much proof that he did, in fact, change the odometer. The only bit of evidence is that owner's manual with the original owner's writing in it. I'll definitely have to look up the addresses and phone numbers for the local pick and pull yards if I do decide to keep it, totally.

Thank y'all for your responses! I'm still deciding whether to keep it or not. I've honestly realized that any vehicle I get of this age will inevitably need major repairs, so I've gotta price out whether it's cheaper to keep and fix this truck up, or to just buy something else. It's the uncertainty that's so difficult. I might just keep driving it (with maintenance of course) until something critical goes wrong, and then just figure out if I want to keep it or not after that.

1996 Dodge Ram 2500, white-ish, 5 spd manual, straight-piped with side dump after cab, school bus p-pump.
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post #11 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 08:47 PM
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@RedneckRam

The allure of a 12v can get you into a mess, but they are becoming truly sought after. If you decide to sell I'm sure you'll be able to move it.

However.... my suggestion of getting a side chick still stands IMO. (Motorcycles can be very economical).

It's always been a dream of mine to own a 12v. I've had four 24Vs and never had any major issues. But something about the 12v always pulled me in. Oh yeah... mechanical injection...
I have not, and would not ever own a gas powered dodge pickup. The trucks themselves really aren't that great. But the Cummins (10lbs of crap in a 5lb bag) is the business. I've owned powerstrokes, got an lb7 duramax in the yard, but still prefer that sweet hum of the 6cyl, so I'll do what it takes to keep rocking one, till I just cant anymore.

2002 ram 2500 quad cab shortbed ST. Red, 4x4, nv4500 swap 24v, 66mm silver bullet, 100hp injectors , fass titanium 150, 4" exhaust, guages. 190k miles.
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post #12 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-08-2019, 09:44 PM
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My 94 truck has always had a good engine though. My 98 hasn't been running long enough to tell.

Daily driver/ workhorse: 1994 2500SLT 4x4 Auto. Hewitt EGT, Boost, Trans gauges, Under hood Mech FP gauge, Trident fuel lines, Tork Tek OFV, Mag-Hytec DD Transmission Pan, Ford manual hub conversion, Diamond eye 4" turbo back, 37337 Upgrade. 260K

98 2500slt 4x4 ECLB moldy G56, south bend clutch 3rd gen trac bar , boxed control arms, billet tappet cover w/ dual breathers trident fuel lines, Tork Tek OFV, 4' stainless side dump with muffler 240k
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