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New Emissions & Diesel trucks

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  • New Emissions & Diesel trucks

    So...I'm starting to look at new trucks. Not seriously, but then someone mentioned the new emission rules and the urea additive that is expensive and I might want to make sure I buy one before that is stock equipment.

    So, my question, should I avoid this DEF additive? My current truck is a 2002 Dodge Ram 3500. It is reliable. I like my Dodge trucks, so am leaning towards a new on. Ford & Chevy both already have the new stuff and in 2013 I guess Dodge will have this requirement also.

    1. Will it make mileage worse?
    2. How expensive is this stuff going to be?
    3. Is it good overall?
    4. Will it make the truck less reliable?

    New dually trucks cost a fortune, so I'm not in a huge hurry, but what do you think?

    Oh, this isn't about brand bashing, this is about the urea additive requirement in new trucks.


  • #2
    Try this web site: http://www.discoverdef.com/def-overview/

    Says it improves mileage, longer time between oil changes.

    I've heard that if you don't fill up the DEF tank when it's low, that the vehicle's computer will reduce the speed of the vehicle to 5 mph.
    My Equestrian Art Photography page


    • #3
      Pretty much the nature of the beast going forward...and we are late adopters here in the US, if I'm not mistaken.


      • #4
        1: No idea if it has any specific effect, but each new generation of engine is generally more efficient so the mileage will probably be better.

        2: It seems to cost about $3 a gallon if somebody near you sells it in bulk, or about $6 for a gallon jug if you have to buy it from an auto parts store. If you let your dealer do refills at service time they might add a 1000% markup to that price as car dealer service departments are wont to do. eg http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012...ml350-bluetec/

        It gets used at about 3% the rate of diesel, so if you figure it is effectively adding 2% to the cost of each fill up you'll have a fair guess.


        • Original Poster

          Thanks. I did some reading on it last night and it didn't seem that awful, and the person trying to convince me that I should get one before the DEF module is added would love me to buy a 2012 truck...but I'm not ready to buy a truck for at least another year...if not more.

          This looks like it is probably better. Lower emissions and all that.

          At which point, I'll do my usual analysis and pick one. So far, I've had two Dodges. The first a 1994 V10 Ram 2500 2x4, the current one a 2002 Ram 3500 dually 4x4.

          I test drove a new dually while getting mine serviced this past summer, but mine is still under 100K. If I get a new truck I won't have lesson or show money.

          And I just noticed while typing this that the adchoices ad is all for Dodge Ram, Mercedes-Benz or Acura...


          • #6
            I have a new Ford F350 2012. I have 17,000 miles on it and would have more but it spent a week in the body shop after an encounter with a deer.

            So as usual, there is a lot of misinformation and you already have got some of that.

            You can google "cost of def fluid" and learn a lot, but here is a good place to start:

            Now for real life:

            The new computer will tell me exactly how many miles I have had my trailer hooked to the truck, available only when hooked up.

            The last time I looked at it, last week, I had pulled my trailer 9,000 miles.

            The trailer is a 4 horse head to head, almost 40' long. It has never been fully loaded but even so, I am getting a little over 5,000 miles between def reflils. You will use mre or less according to the loads you pull and the severity of service.

            So that really does not add much to the cost.

            The info that running out will reduce you to 5 MPH is wrong.

            Because my 2008 stopped me in the middle of the road due to a faulty sensor in the exhaust system, I checked up on this before I bought the 2012. Then, after I owned it I ran the def fluid dry to see if the manual lied and it did not.

            You have 50 miles at 50 miles per hour. My truck did that.

            When it does stop, you still have idle power for heat or air in case this happens to you in adverse weather. It just will not run at highway speeds.

            After ithe 50 mile mark and it shuts down, you can restart it and drive it again until you reach a service facility. That is the one thing I did not test.

            I figure the first 50 at 50 will get me off the road where I can get service.

            But you don't really need any service other than more fluid, which is available in all auto parts stores and all major truck stops.

            As for MPG, Saturday before last, I drove mine without the trailer 498.7 miles and got 20 MPH. This was 60 and 65 highway miles with very little in town.

            That is according to the computer.

            If you do not trust the computer, the only way to get an accurate reading is to fill it at the same pump, sitting exactly in the same place because just a slit tilt or a different nozzle will make a difference in how much you put in the tank.

            I have not done that because I purchase my fuel in buld delived to my farm, so when I purchase at the pump it is only to get home from some far away place.

            Pulling my trailer at highway speeds in typical Piedmont country, rolling hills and no mountains, I get from 12.5 to 13.4....mostly right around 13.

            I have 21" tires, a 3.55 rear end, single rear wheels and of course the Tow Mode.

            If you buy a Ford, get the factory installed hitch. I have had hitches since 1949 and that is the best I have ever seen.

            I am speaking of the goose neck hitch. It also comes with a very nice bumper hitch, but I very rarely use that.

            I have never driven the Dodge, but the new Ford is so quiet that at 75 on the interstate, all you hear is the wind. No engine noise.


            • Original Poster


              Thanks for the details. It makes me feel better about the additive.

              Now, those 21" wheels, how much clearance do you have between the GN of the trailer and your truck bed sides? I had to have my 2002 Dodge lowered by removing the blocks between the springs to have adequate clearance and I've noticed the new ones are even taller.

              Do you have a newer trailer? Mine is a '96 Sooner and going strong. I think the newer ones have redone the GN for better clearance over the ridiculously tall trucks.



              • #8
                You are no dummy.

                That clearance issue is a real sneaker.

                I have a Sundowner that is about 10 years old and there is very little clearance.

                When turning into a farm road that is a little washed out or whatever, you know what to look for or you would not have asked, the trailer does at times almost touch the bed. So far I have been lucky. I bent the 2008 and probably will bend this one.

                I have told the trailer dealer that he should advise the various trailer manufacturers that he represents that they should take about 4" out of the bottom of the goose neck to give users more clearance. 4" would not change how I use mine.

                Of course, mine is 7'6" inside so it is roomy.

                I have a tool box on my bed and the first thing I had to do was buy a new one. The old one was the gull wing type. The new one has the one piece lid that swings up against the back window and is less than half the height of the old one.

                I use mine for hunting so I have to watch it carefully when I pull off a road into a field.

                But the 21" tire gives a little bit better fuel mileage.

                The tires do cost more.

                I found a chart somewhere on the internet that showed how many revolutions a 16" wheel makes per mile vs how many a 21" tire makes.

                It is significant.

                Of course, that is a simple math problem you can do for yourself if you can't live without knowing and can't find the chart. I don't have the link.


                • #9
                  Excuse the constant editing.

                  I have an eye problem and black on a white screen is very tiring. I have mine set for yellow foreground and a black background and for some reason the moderators ignored me when I complained that the new software they use forces me to type blind.

                  So after it is posted, I go back and edit it.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cssutton View Post

                    The info that running out will reduce you to 5 MPH is wrong.
                    From the very web site that you and I both indicated:

                    "What will happen if my truck runs out of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)?"


                    The EPA requires vehicle manufacturers to put measures in place to ensure that vehicles cannot run without DEF. Most manufacturers have approached this in a similar way. Before a truck's DEF tank runs empty the driver is given a series of alerts on their dashboard displays (much the same way as if they were running low on diesel). Generally speaking, when the DEF tank level drops below 10% an amber warning lamp will come on, at 5% this lamp starts flashing and below 2.5% a solid amber warning light is displayed.

                    If the truck is allowed to run out of DEF completely, the engine's power is reduced. This generally follows the next intentional key-off, when vehicle speed will be limited to 5 mph and a solid red warning will be displayed.
                    My Equestrian Art Photography page


                    • #11
                      All I have to say about that is that the web site is not correct.

                      Read the Ford F350 owner's manual.

                      And as I told you, I personally tested mine by running it out of fluid.


                      • #12
                        Here is a common sense article by one of the manufacturers of DEF.


                        Note that way down the page is the statement that power will be reduced but not shut down.

                        Note that all Ford owners should purchase at least one case of DEF so as to get their very good spout that will fill the tank without overflowing. And because DEF is 65% or so water, it will freeze and the Ford spout is designed to fill the tank just enough that it has room for the expansion and will not burst the tank.

                        Also, somewhere in the above link there is the notation that it will not freeze until 12 degrees F.

                        All in all, DEF is a total non issue.

                        The only trick is that if you run outout and put only one jug in the tank, it will still say that you are out. It will run just fine because the gauge only records three conditions: Full, half full and empty.

                        So one jug (2-1/2 gallons, does not push the gauge over the half mark and it still tells the computer it is empty.

                        So when you run out, fill it up.


                        • #13
                          I think the 5mph thing may be GMC. The dealer told us about it when we were shopping. We ended up with a new 2011 Dodge though and couldn't be happier (replaced a 1999 Dodge with 375k miles). No DEF needed and the emissions are good enough to not require emissions testing. We get good mileage towing and around town as the truck is a daily driver. I really didn't want a truck that required DEF so were happy with our choice.


                          • #14
                            In researching this question, I read something interesting.

                            Apparently, not posted as fact, Ford and GMC engines reach the EPA standards at lower speeds. For that reason, the EPA allows those trucks to proceed at a lower speed.

                            The reason for the DEF fluid is that by going that route, Ford and GMC can increase performance by a good margin.

                            For that reason, it is predicted that Cummins will eventually go to it in order to get the increase in performance and be competitive.

                            Time will tell.

                            But as for me, it was a curiosity in the beginning. A mystery. After 17,000 miles, more than half pulling a 4 horse trailer, it is the least interesting thing I can think of.

                            In fact, since I ran it dry on my test, I have never given it a second thought until OP asked about it.


                            • Original Poster

                              Well my question is answered. I was essentially worrying that this DEF would be such a PITA and so expensive that I'd consider buying a new truck sooner than I really want to...

                              New truck payments eat into the lesson and show budget, a lot more than the maintenance on my current one.

                              As tantalizing as new trucks are, with the exhaust brakes being standard now and better power, the only reason I have a truck is to haul the horses around.

                              I'm in favor of cleaner vehicles so I'll just plan on learning where my DEF fill up spot is on whatever new truck I get in 3 or 4 years (unless I win the lottery!) and until then, I'll just continue in my 2002.


                              • #16
                                so what happens in climates where winter temps are often below or way below 12 degrees. is there an anti freeze to use much like what we put in our fuel tanks in winter?


                                • #17
                                  Go back and read the link I posted.

                                  In really cold weather the truck does not need to use the urea.

                                  When the the weather thaws, it works because freezing does not damage it.