Reader Question: 1986 Ford F250 Diesel

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

John asks: Just got an old truck (1986 F-250 XLT Lariet, with the 6.9L diesel with an ATS turbo, C6 auto trans, flatbed with 131K) for a steal of a price at $700, but I know nearly nothing about diesels of this era, other than with proper maintenance they will most likely outlast me.  What do I need to watch for?  What do I need to do right now?  I’m thinking of changing all of the fluids (AT, Oil, Coolant) would you recommend doing anything else?  It’s got nearly new rubber on the wheels, new breaks, body is in better shape than my 1999 F-250 was when I sold it last year.

My reply: Congratulations – you scored! Diesels from this era are the way diesels used to be – simple, rugged and largely maintenance-free. They have mechanical injection and very little in the way of modern electronics – yay! Here’s an article that may be of interest that gets into the details. The main thing I’d be concerned about is crap in the tank, given the truck is more than 30 years old. If it sat for long periods, undriven. If not, you are probably ok.

I’m jealous. Wish I had one!

. . .

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  1. Thanks Eric, great reply and now I’m going to lose hours and hours on

    I only knew to look for something old because of reading your site and knowing I want something without all the safeeeeeeeety and EPA crap.

    • My pleasure, John!

      You nabbed one of the greats. Pre-Uncle models like this are going to go up in value a lot, I think, as it becomes common knowledge that the new stuff is for the most part throw-away and rent it (lease) only.

  2. I drove a F-550 diesel with an aerial lift (bucket) for a time. Don’t recall what year it was but there were a few of them in the fleet. One thing that seemed to go on all of them was the main seal between the engine and transmission which would cause a pretty major oil leak. Expensive repair unless you can DIY.


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