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What space the best truck engines and which room the worst?

How execute I recognize which truck engine will certainly serve my needs ideal as one owner operator?

As basic as the question seems, there space no straightforward answers to this questions.

However, there room some important determinants which have to be considered to aid you recognize the best choice of diesel engine for her semi truck.

LET’S begin WITH THE finest ENGINES.

Top 10 finest Truck Engines – our Picks

We have considered:

Reliability (low break down incidents)Longevity (length that time before significant overhaul/work needed)

Here are our top 10 selections of semi van engines in no details order:

350 Cummins – The 350 Cummins and the big Cam Cummins engines were reliable yet not especially good on fuel economy.  Big electronic came Cummins1693 Cat – This is among the finest Cat truck engines. A little lud, however reliable and also lots of power. 380 Cat – This Cat diesel engine was strong, reliable, powerful and gained decent fuel mileage. 3408 Cat – This class 8 truck engine was strong, was around 450 HP however truly put out approximately 550 HP. The fuel economy was poor. C15 Cat – the C15 and C16 Caterpillar diesel engines to be workhorses. Castle were likewise reliable, not bad fuel economy and also had great warranties. C16 Cat 60 collection Detroit – these Detroit engines room the just ‘newer’ diesel engine in the finest semi van engines. Detroit seems to have overcame the emissions systems troubles that the various other diesel engine manufacturers space having.  DD 153406 Cat – This diesel engine through Caterpillar didn’t do the height 10 list as it had actually a lot of head gasket trouble. New Cummins + Paccar Diesel Engines – these Paccar engines and also Cummins engines did not make the best 10 list either as they haven’t been an extremely reliable due to the problems the manufacturer has actually been having actually with emissions equipment.

10 factors To take into consideration For choosing the ideal Engine because that a Semi Truck

Type of job-related

First, as an owner operator, you require to understand what form of job-related you will certainly be doing, together as:

the average pack weightthe kind of terrain where you’ll it is in travelingthe kind of trailer you’ll it is in pullingknow the specifications that the rest of the journey lineknow what the transmission and also the behind differential ratio

Size Consideration

Bigger is much better is rather of one outdated ideology of reasoning for the best truck engines.

More speech is best, doesn’t ring true so lot now, together it as soon as did.

Depending top top the kind of work you’ll it is in doing, enlarge is not always the best an option in a van engine. I doubt that there to be a lot more male hormones involved in countless an engine choice’s in the past.

Since one owner operator is in business for profit, quite than bragging civil liberties at the counter at the truck stop, “small” block engines (13 liter) space far far better nowadays, than in the past.

Most of these diesel engines, deserve to reliably walk to 500 horsepower 1850 TQ, i beg your pardon is a pretty respectable rating.

These motors are lighter, through a lower tare weight and also can give some pretty superior fuel economy contrasted to the 15/16 liter huge brothers.

Choose the size and also horsepower required, NOT SIZE and also HORSEPOWER DESIRED.

Remember, horsepower expenses money both at the moment of purchase and also during the entire life of the truck.

Most engines can be uprated later on to a greater horsepower for much better resale.


The owner-operator should also consider future resale possibilities. Nothing have the right to make a truck worth the identical of a ‘pet rock’, prefer the wrong drive line (engine).

The Driveline

Truck manufacturers all have actually their very own proprietary drivelines.

So, if you want a Paccar product however like a Detroit engine, the days of getting any type of engine in almost any truck are long over.

Cummins is the just motor obtainable in virtually all chassis styles, except Volvo. It to be an alternative years ago but this is no longer the case.

All chassis contractors have a an excellent selection of their very own branded semi truck engines, so as soon as you pick your truck builder, then her engine choices end up being easier.

Each truck manufacturer offers a small block and big block choices in their own brand. Steed powers are similar as space TQ specs.

Engine expenses – brief Term and also Long Term


Since the main emphasis in benefit in a tiny owner operator business, costs are paramount.

The cost of a truck engine is the most immediate short term cost.

Some manufacturers will market special discounts ~ above a driveline combo, for example, a specific engine version with a specific transmission and also rear diff, specifically if it is their very own brand.

Sometimes the manufacturer will sell a cash discount or a free extended warranty.

The long term expenses of the engine includes:

fuel economyoil change intervaloil readjust costoverhead collection frequency and also costsextended warranty costs

All of these expenses can differ wildly relying on on the manufacturer.

Truck Engine Repair and also Dealer Network Availability

Truck makers are acquisition a page from the car industry and making it virtually impossible to get any kind of sort of engine repair done anywhere but at the OEM facility.

Cummins still provides repairs independent of the chassis providers, together does Caterpillar however unless friend are structure a glider, girlfriend won’t have actually that engine together an option.

So, as a new purchaser the network that dealers and also the partnership you have with the dealer maybe come to be a an ext important aspect when it comes to engine choice, than the brand of the truck.

Related >Will Glider Kits survive the Storm in the Trucking Industry?


The saying, “never speak never” have the right to come into play when you spec an engine because that your brand-new truck.

The type of occupational you space presently doing now as one owner operator job, will virtually undoubtedly change.

It is much simpler to change engines now than in the past.

Today’s engines offer various horsepower and also TQ settings using the very same block, head and injectors.

If you are pulling 80000 lbs or less form at your existing job, then maybe 450-475 speech is more than enough for your application.

However, should you have actually an possibility for tridem or hefty haul, climate you can upgrade your engine come a 500 horsepower.

Fuel Economy

The biggest solitary variable price is fuel consumption.

Remember that bigger displacement and higher horsepower will cost more every single time, no exceptions.

Check out our advice for improving your fuel economy.

Tare Weight

Smaller van engines weigh less.

If you are in a sector that calls for minimal tare weight then load becomes a really important variable in the engine and truck brand you should buy.

Extended Warranty

This deserve to be a heart preventing expense.

The extended warranty expense should it is in factored right into your truck purchase cost.

Most warranties cover ~ treatment and also engine. Check out the good print.

Be absolutely certain you understand the limitations of the warranty you room purchasing. Be sure you know your obligations as the owner, in order the the warranty is valid, if you ever need it.

Your extended warranty is basically insurance.

You space betting the engine i will not ~ last. The manufacturer is betting the will.

Sometimes if over there is warranty continuing to be on the engine, the can add to the resale or trade value in the future.

TIP — pick your van manufacturer first. Many manufacturers offer Cummins as well as their own brand the engines.

Related > 2004 Peterbilt 379 — In It for the long Haul


Best van Engines for a class 8 truck

I’ve own trucks with huge Cams, Twin video camer ISX, single Cam ISX, and had pretty great luck with every one of them, HP up to 605, TQ 2050.

These are easily accessible in PACCAR, Freightliner, western Star and also Navistar chassis.

The big advantage that these choices are that nearly any shop can service them.

The dealer network is quite big depending on repair or components required.


Paccar Engines

Paccar has its own line of diesel van engines.

13 liter – lock have had actually some issues yet seem to have sorted out numerous of your problems. Horsepower approximately 500 TQ 1850.

The Paccar engine is accessible in both Peterbilt and also Kenworth trucks.

The dealer network is much improved from the past.

Parts shortage was a difficulty as one time, yet it now seems to have improved.

Related >Why Kenworth and also Peterbilt Trucks space (Still) better Than the Rest

Freightliner/Western Star

Detroit diesel is owned by the same parent agency as Freightliner and Western Star.

They have actually 13, 15, and also 16 liter engines in miscellaneous horsepower, as much as 600 and TQ2050. This are based on a Mercedes design from Europe.

Everyone that i have talked to who have actually these specific engines in their trucks are fairly pleased v them.

These room not the very same as the Mercedes engine that was so popular in the smaller sized Freightliners and Sterling trucks from the previously 2000’s.

The 16 liter incorporates a second turbo the drives the gear collection on the back of the engine to add horsepower to the engine by helping drive the gear train.

Their network of certified dealer is quite big with a dealer obtainable in most significant centers.


Volvo/Mack has actually their own brand of engines. They have 13 liter and also a 16 liter, assorted horsepower and TQ 600 hp TQ 2050

Volvo offers a 13 and a 16 l engine currently, the 13L gift the most popular and in the vast majority of your trucks.

Up come 500 horsepower, 1850TQ is obtainable and is doing a good job because that them. There are numerous published reports of good fuel economic situation on these engines.

The 16 liter has had actually some issues. Reports are that due to its lack of popularity and specialized components, some chauffeurs have discovered themselves wait for long periods for parts.

Mack’s engines are based upon the Volvo block and also use numerous of the very same components.

Gone room the work of a Mack engine cigarette smoking out a highway, when the driver stands on the throttle.

Volvo has a an excellent network available, if the Mack dealer network is smaller sized and an ext regional.


Navistar has a variety of smaller motors for course 5-6 units yet their only real course 8 engine is the Cummins ISX.

Most centers have actually a Navistar dealer nearby as Navistar sell a good quantity of the smaller class units. Their dealer network is good.

Related >Let the van Driver Decide, no the truck Engine!


Semi truck Engines You might Want to prevent

Everyone who has ever owned a semi, has actually a fear story to tell. Engine manufacturers space no different.

Knowing the finest diesel engines the end there deserve to be helpful, but knowing the engines that don’t carry out is invaluable.


Cat renders some very an excellent engines. I’ve owned number of Caterpillar engines end the years and have good things to say about them.


However, as soon as the emissions regulations started to kick in, Cat struggled badly.

Their straightforward blocks heads were still as strong as ever. But they just couldn’t acquire them come run through the poorly assumed out design that was occurring.

Some that the Acert motors were terrible as were the twin turbo units through the burner boxes on the frame. These were some pretty embarrassing moments because that Cat.


Cummins was no immune indigenous issues.

Their pair overhead camer motors ISX were recognized for some continuous problems.

The cams to be a severe issue, where poor coatings ~ above the lobes bring about soft steel to electronic came bearing issues. There was additionally the sometimes one the would have a rod or crank failure.

I had one of this Cummins ISX engines. Come rectify the situation, I determined to shorten the old change interval.

Cummins was suggesting 40-50000 km oil readjust intervals, yet I immediately shortened mine to 20000 kms.

When ns traded my truck in recently, in July 2018, it had actually 1.4 million kilometres without a major engine issue.


In the early on 2000’s, Freightliner and Sterling were placing a little block Mercedes in a large number of their trucks.

In a neighborhood vocational non course 8 human being they worked ok.

But in the long haul class 8 environment, they proved to be not approximately the challenge.


The 12L and also 13L Volvo/Mack engines worked reasonably well, return the 16 liter has had actually a range of issues.

Parts for these were daunting to uncover as to be a appropriately trained mechanic to repair them.

As a result, they have end up being less and also less popular. Ns predict they may be stop in the near future.


The Emissions-Friendly element Update

All manufacturers have had to address the emissions regulations and the struggles associated with meeting those emissions.

No one was immune from this problems.

It shows up that most of the problems encountered space in the procedure of being rectified or have been straightened out.

Fuel economic climate seems to it is in improving.

They space getting better and becoming more reliable as soon as again and the ‘stranded roadside’ stories are being told much less frequently.

Nearly all engines space operating at a much lower RPM’s than previous models.

They room being design to run down together low together 1,000 RPM, so equipment fast and run slow has actually taken ~ above a brand-new definition.

There to be a time the running an engine under that much would cause damage come it.

Today it is becoming the norm to operation an engine low, together manufacturers room pushing for much better economy.

Time will tell if this engines have the right to handle the low RPM’s.

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Getting the ideal Truck Engine – Tips for the Owner Operator

If it’s your very very first truck together an owner operator, then you must have actually a company plan and also a budget.

The profit margin in the trucking company for an owner operator is slimmer 보다 ever.

It is imperative to know your numbers. The numbers need to drive your decision.

If you have actually done your research and know her numbers, then picking the finest truck engine and also chassis, is a basic process.

Ask a many questions.

Do her Research. Take the time to perform some comprehensive real research. This go not encompass listening come a buddy that talks a an excellent story, yet truly doesn’t yes, really have any kind of idea if he’s lucrative or not. Take it a watch on the internet. There’s a mountain of information.Ask present Owner Operators. Speak to successful, skilled owner operators.Talk through Some Experts. talk to the shop foreman indigenous a reliable shop and also their hefty truck mechanics. If you room unsure the a details brand the engine and also you want the actual skinny top top it, walk to the shop at your dealership of choice and talk to the shop foreman or the yes, really mechanics. They are a wide range of information. They room not moved by a “corporate” sales press or industry share push as the sales department maybe.

Everyone you speak to about various facets of her owner-operator business, will have something of worth to include to the bank of information you already have.

One that the most insightful ways to discover out what the best truck engines are, is to construct relationships v a few of these guys.

They will certainly be a home window into what they space seeing top top the floor that the shop, about the truth of the reliability and also integrity that the engine you are interested in.

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Making the right selection for the best truck engine is vital one.

Take the time and energy needed to carry out it right.

Is a huge horsepower engine always the ideal choice?

This is a quite outdated philosophy once it concerns truck engines. Bigger speech is fine as soon as absolutely necessary. However, more horsepower costs an ext money at acquisition time, and also over the life time of the truck.

Who is the ideal person to advise on which van engine to buy?

Talk to together many human being as possible. Talk to other owner operators and also their experiences as well as several diesel mechanics that are familiar with modern day engines and also their performance.

What is the best truck engine ever made?

Cat engines were good engines. However, sadly, they space no longer created for course 8 trucks. Caterpillar bowed out once they couldn’t create a trusted engine once the emissions requirements were introduced.