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Discussion Starter #1
Son is looking for a truck for daily driver. He likes the mid-nineties "square" body style. Looked at a 1996 F250 "heavy duty" but guy told him was not best truck for daily use as it had heavy rear end and transmission and was meant for towing.
Is there an F250 from that time frame that is NOT "heavy duty". Are trucks of this era prone to frame rust? I know they are prone to rusting over the rear wheels and rear cab corners. Appreciate any tips and insight from the Ford guys. Thanks.
 

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The 96-97 F-250 heavy duty is the same as the previous years back to 92. They added the heavy duty badge to differentiate from the 97 F-150 which had already switched to the new body style. In 97-98 you could get a "light duty" 250, it was basically an F-150.

They're good trucks, fine for daily driving if you can afford the gas. Depending on what engine it has you probably won't get over 15 empty and single digits towing if it has a gas engine.

I just bought a 97 250 a few months ago, they're great trucks. It's certainly going to replace my 01 as a daily driver and maybe replace it entirely.
 

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The 96-97 F-250 heavy duty is the same as the previous years back to 92. They added the heavy duty badge to differentiate from the 97 F-150 which had already switched to the new body style. In 97-98 you could get a "light duty" 250, it was basically an F-150.

They're good trucks, fine for daily driving if you can afford the gas. Depending on what engine it has you probably won't get over 15 empty and single digits towing if it has a gas engine.

I just bought a 97 250 a few months ago, they're great trucks. It's certainly going to replace my 01 as a daily driver and maybe replace it entirely.
If it's a rear wheel drive you could possibly at a reasonable cost switch the rear axle ratio to a more economical one.
The E4 OD automatics were troublesome when hauling heavy behind a diesel. Hard on torque converters.
But my experience was with E-350's
 

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Your son would be fine with an F250 or 350, as long as he could afford the gas and didn't mind the rougher ride. I'll take a 250 or a 350 everyday, over a half ton (I've owned them all, and the 250 and 350 will simply do more work, and they have heavier components).
The frames are not prone to rust, other than surface rust, or any other channel frame. The key is that they are c-channel, not boxed.
In the series trucks that you are looking at, rust is prone in the rear fender wells (double walled and holds moisture), the rear cab corners (especially on the extended cabs), and behind the front tires, in the fender corners. Otherwise, they are good, solid, reliable, fairly easy to work on trucks.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Blake. So the light duty F250 would not have the "heavy duty" under the F250 badge?
 

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Thanks Blake. So the light duty F250 would not have the "heavy duty" under the F250 badge?
The light duty F250, put out in 97, will be the same body style as the newly released F150 (Heritage body), with a larger rear axle than the F150, and 7 lug wheels. Ford still built the square-body F250 and 350 for 97, skipped 98, and released the Super Duty in 99.

That light duty F250 only came with the 5.4, and an automatic (in the 4WD's).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The light duty F250, put out in 97, will be the same body style as the newly released F150 (Heritage body), with a larger rear axle than the F150, and 7 lug wheels. Ford still built the square-body F250 and 350 for 97, skipped 98, and released the Super Duty in 99.

That light duty F250 only came with the 5.4, and an automatic (in the 4WD's).
Thanks hodge. Great info.
 

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Hodge nailed it. :good2:

What I like about the 90's F series is that they were popular enough, there are still a ton of them on the road. If your son does his own mechanic work, parts are readily available from stores and a lot of things are dirt cheap in junkyards. They haven't hit the age where salvage parts are hard to get. They're easy to work on and don't require much of special tools. While most of the automotive world went to OBD II in 96, these trucks did not. They're still an OBD I system that doesn't require a special scan tool. If your son doesn't do his own mechanic work, every mechanic out there has worked on one of these trucks and knows about them.

Compared to a newer truck they're lacking some creature comforts and the turning radius could be better but they're solid, well built trucks.
 

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Thanks Blake. So the light duty F250 would not have the "heavy duty" under the F250 badge?
The light duty/heavy duty/super duty only applies to '97 & '99 vintage F-250/350's. My 1996 just says F-250, XLT, and POWERSTROKE. It was a late '96 model year build too, built first week of June, maybe second week. Was delivered to dealership June 23, '96.My '96 has been a great truck over it's almost 21 years and 302,000 miles. It was my daily driver for it's first 9-10 years putting 32,000-34,000 miles a year on it. It's a regular cab long box 4wd with manual 5-speed ZF transmission and 3.55 gears. I averaged almost 19 mpg of fuel when it was my daily driver, and I ran 70-72 mph all the time. If I'd have run 60-65 I would have averaged over 20 mpg easily.Many people talk bad about the Twin Traction Beam frt axle. I had a '78 F-150 with a Dana 44 monogram frt axle. I was lucky to get 25,000 miles to a set of tires. With my '96 TTB I got about 93,000 on the factory Steeltex Firestone's, got 127,000 miles on the Firestone Wilderness ATX's and have 82,000 on my Bridgestone Dueler AT's.My buddy had a '92 F-250 4wd w/351 Windsor, 5-spd manual and 3.55's, running 65-70 he'd get 10-12 mpg. Only other engine option on a 4wd was the 460. I "think" the 300-6 was standard on a 2wd F-250, but don't expect more than 14 mpg from that combination. I wore out two SWB reg cab F-150 4wd's and best I ever got was 14 mpg. Both trucks were basic, creeper lo 4-speed, just PS/PB, no AC, Tilt, or cruise. They could have used an overdrive bad but neither had an over abundance of power. SON had a '93 F-150 Lightning pickup for 12 years, tuned 351 Windsor, E4OD, 4.10 gears and best I could ever get was 14 mpg @65 mph, SON got 16 mpg once with his tires aired up to 55-60 psi, and drafting a semi at 70-75 mph.
 

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ive worked on a few for people. im not a ford lover at all but i do like the LOOK of the OBS trucks but like the gm's of that vintage better. the ttb front end sucks. i would look for a f350 which has soild front axle (4wd) the steering on the fords are bad real bad zero feel for the road and over boosted.

it all depends on what he plans to use it for. sport truck,work truck towing rig,grocery getter ect

my dad has owned a 01 2wd 3.0 ranger since new that thing has been a big pile. but he will go down with the ship:gizmo: he dosent get rid of nothing. even though at best it has no power and returns him 16mpg. i tell him he could have a more capable full size for the same mpg

as far as the fords i cant remember if all the OBS truck used speed density efi or mass air. if they are speed density not to much you can do for building more power with the factory efi. if thats a concern/goal..

i would probally look for a late 80's f350 with a idi 7.3 or even a 6.9 cheap and would be fun to work on/modify but dont go to far they aint no cummins:greentractorride:
 

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I've got a 1994 F250 with the 5.8 L V8 engine with manual transmission with over 310,000 miles on it. Still starts up strong and runs like a champ and I used to use it for my daily runner until we needed something more reliable to haul the horse trailer (3-4 hour trips). Got about ~15 miles per gallon when not hauling. There is definitely rust over the fenders and starting on the bed but it has lived in WI/MN all its life and the salt can be harsh. I've had to replace the front brake lines/hoses due to corrosion and one of the gas tanks leaks (along the strap area) again likely from rust/wear. I just don't use the forward gas tank anymore. My door switch went bad and the old WD-40 trick didn't work so I just pulled the fuse since its not worth it for me to fix it at this point.
As mentioned earlier, parts are easy to get at junkyards or online, I've had to replace a few things in the past and have not had a problem getting used or new parts.

Good truck and we expect to have it for a few more years as an "on-the-farm truck."
 

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Nothing wrong with a 90s F250 for a daily.
7.3 will run forever if maintained. E4OD will probably need a rebuild eventually, especially if towing. With the ZF5, no worries except a clutch at some point.
Diesel should net you high teens empty and ~10-12 towing, depending on load and trans.
Gasser will be in the low to mid teens empty and single digits towing.
 

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I had a 97 F250 with 460 auto. Great truck. Still kicking myself for selling it.

Dave
 
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