Best Truck Engines

Greatest Truck Engines + The Worst Truck Engines

What are the most effective truck engines and that are the worst?

How do I do know which truck engine will serve my wants finest as an proprietor operator?

So simple as the query appears, there aren’t any straightforward solutions to those questions.

Nevertheless, there are some necessary elements which needs to be thought-about that will help you decide your best option of  diesel engine on your semi truck.


High 10 Greatest Truck Engines – Our Picks

Now we have thought-about:

  •  Reliability (low breakdown incidents)
  • Longevity (size of time earlier than main overhaul/work wanted)

Listed here are our prime 10 decisions of semi truck engines in no explicit order:

  •  300 HP Mack – What a troublesome dependable engine these Mack engines had been. They had been powerful engines and nice chilly starters. In case you’re a Mack truck fan, you would possibly like this gallery of outdated Mack vans.
  • 350 Cummins – The 350 Cummins and the Huge Cam Cummins engines had been dependable however not particularly good on gas financial system.
  •  Huge Cam Cummins
  • 1693 Cat – This is likely one of the finest Cat truck engines. A bit lud, however dependable and plenty of energy.
  • 380 Cat – This Cat diesel engine was sturdy, dependable, highly effective and bought respectable gas mileage.
  • 3408 Cat – This Class 8 truck engine was sturdy, was about 450 HP however actually put out round 550 HP. The gas financial system was poor.
  • C15 Cat – the C15 and C16 Caterpillar diesel engines had been workhorses. They had been additionally dependable, not unhealthy gas financial system and had nice warranties.
  • C16 Cat
  •  60 Sequence Detroit – These Detroit engines are the one ‘newer’ diesel engine in the most effective semi truck engines. Detroit appears to have conquered the emission methods issues that the opposite diesel engine producers are having.
  •  DD 15

  • 3406 Cat – This diesel engine by Caterpillar didn’t make the highest 10 listing because it had plenty of head gasket hassle.
  • New Cummins + Paccar Diesel Engines – These Paccar engines and Cummins engines didn’t make the most effective 10 listing both as they haven’t been very dependable because of the points the producer has been having with emissions gear.

10 Elements To Contemplate For Selecting the Greatest Engine For a Semi Truck

  1. Sort of Work

First, as an proprietor operator, it is advisable know what sort of labor you may be doing, akin to:

  • the common load weight
  • the kind of terrain the place you’ll be touring
  • the type of trailer you’ll be pulling
  • know the specs of the remainder of the drive line
  • know what the transmission and the rear differential ratio

  1. Measurement Consideration

Larger is healthier is considerably of an outdated philosophy of considering for the most effective truck engines.

Extra horsepower is finest, doesn’t ring true a lot now, because it as soon as did.

Relying on the kind of work you’ll be doing, greater shouldn’t be all the time your best option in a truck engine.  I believe that there have been much more male hormones concerned in lots of an engine alternative’s previously.

Since an proprietor operator is in enterprise for revenue, somewhat than bragging rights on the counter on the truck cease, “small” block engines (13 liter) are much better these days, than previously.

Most of those diesel engines, can reliably go to 500 horsepower 1850 TQ, which is a reasonably respectable score.

These motors are lighter, with a decrease tare weight and may give some fairly spectacular gas financial system in comparison with the 15/16  liter huge brothers.

Select the scale and horsepower required, NOT SIZE AND HORSEPOWER DESIRED.

Bear in mind, horsepower prices cash each on the time of buy and through all the lifetime of the truck.

Most engines may be uprated later to the next horsepower for higher resale.

  1. Resale

The owner-operator also needs to take into account future resale prospects. Nothing could make a truck well worth the equal of a ‘pet rock’, just like the unsuitable drive line (engine).

  1. The Driveline

Truck producers all have their very own proprietary drivelines.

So, if you need a Paccar product however like a Detroit engine, the times of getting any engine in nearly any truck are lengthy over.

Cummins is the one motor accessible in nearly all chassis kinds, besides Volvo. It was an choice years in the past however that is not the case.

All chassis builders have a wide selection of their very own branded semi truck engines, so when you select your truck builder, then your engine decisions turn into simpler.

Every truck producer provides a small block and massive block choices in their very own model. Horse powers are related as are TQ specs.

  1. Engine Prices – Quick Time period and Lengthy Time period

Money stacked up

For the reason that essential focus in revenue in a small proprietor operator enterprise, prices are paramount.

The price of a truck engine is probably the most speedy quick time period price.

Some producers will provide particular reductions on a driveline combo, for instance, a specific engine mannequin with a specific transmission and rear diff, particularly whether it is their very own model.

Typically the producer will provide a money low cost or a free prolonged guarantee.

The long run prices of the engine consists of:

  • gas financial system
  • oil change interval
  • oil change price
  • overhead set frequency and prices
  • prolonged guarantee prices

All of those prices can fluctuate wildly relying upon on the producer.

  1. Truck Engine Restore and Supplier Community Availability

Truck makers are taking a web page from the automobile business and making it practically inconceivable to get any type of engine restore accomplished wherever however on the OEM facility.

Cummins nonetheless provides repairs unbiased of the chassis suppliers, as does Caterpillar however except you’re constructing a glider, you received’t have that engine as an choice.

So, as a brand new purchaser the community  of sellers and the connection you may have with the seller possibly turn into a extra necessary issue with regards to engine alternative, than the model of the truck.

Associated > Will Glider Kits Survive the Storm within the Trucking Trade?

2009 Peterbilt 389 Glider

  1. Flexibility

The saying, “by no means say by no means” can come into play whenever you spec an engine on your new truck.

The kind of work you’re presently doing now as an proprietor operator job, will nearly undoubtedly change.

It’s a lot simpler to vary engines at the moment than previously.

Right now’s engines provide varied horsepower and TQ settings utilizing the identical block, head and injectors.

In case you are pulling 80000 lbs or much less sort at your current job, then possibly 450-475 horsepower is greater than satisfactory on your utility.

Nevertheless, ought to you may have a possibility for tridem or heavy haul, then you’ll be able to improve your engine to a 500 horsepower.

  1. Gas Financial system

The largest single variable price is gas consumption.

Do not forget that greater displacement and better horsepower will price extra each single time, no exceptions.

Take a look at our ideas for enhancing your gas financial system.

  1. Tare Weight

Smaller truck engines weigh much less.

In case you are in a sector that requires minimal tare weight then weight turns into a vital issue within the engine and truck model it is advisable purchase.

  1. Prolonged Guarantee

This generally is a coronary heart stopping expense.

The prolonged guarantee price needs to be factored into your truck buy price.

Most warranties cowl after therapy in addition to engine. Learn the effective print.

  • Be completely positive you perceive the restrictions of the guarantee you’re buying.

  • Make sure you perceive your duties because the proprietor, so that the guarantee is legitimate, when you ever want it.

Your prolonged guarantee is principally insurance coverage.

You’re betting the engine received’t final. The producer is betting it should.

Typically if there’s guarantee remaining on the engine, it might probably add to the resale or commerce worth sooner or later.

TIP — Select your truck producer first. Most producers provide Cummins in addition to their very own model of engines.

Associated > 2004 Peterbilt 379 — In It For the Lengthy Haul

3406 Cat Engine

Greatest Truck Engines For a Class 8 Truck

I’ve owned vans with Huge Cams, Twin Cam ISX, Single Cam ISX, and had fairly good luck with all of them, HP as much as 605, TQ 2050.

These can be found in PACCAR, Freightliner, Western Star and Navistar chassis.

The large benefit of those decisions are that almost any store can service them.

The seller community is sort of giant relying on repairs or components required.

ISX Being Rebuilt

Paccar has its personal line of diesel truck engines.

  • 13 liter  – They’ve had some points however appear to have sorted out a lot of their issues.
  •  Horsepower as much as 500 TQ 1850.

The Paccar engine is offered in each Peterbilt and Kenworth vans.

The seller community is far improved from the previous.

Components scarcity was an issue as one time, nonetheless it now appears to have improved.

Associated > Why Kenworth and Peterbilt Vehicles Are (Nonetheless) Higher Than the Relaxation

  • Freightliner/Western Star

Detroit diesel is owned by the identical mum or dad firm as Freightliner and Western Star.

They’ve 13, 15, and 16 liter engines in varied horsepower, as much as 600 and TQ2050. These are based mostly on a Mercedes design from Europe.

Everybody that I’ve spoken to who’ve these explicit engines of their vans are fairly happy with them.

These will not be the identical because the Mercedes engine that was so common within the smaller Freightliners and Sterling vans from the sooner 2000’s.

The 16 liter incorporates a secondary turbo that drives the gear set on the again of the engine so as to add horsepower to the engine by serving to drive the gear prepare.

Their community of sellers is sort of giant with a seller accessible in most main facilities.

Volvo/Mack has their very own model of engines. They’ve 13 liter and a 16 liter, varied horsepower and TQ 600 hp TQ 2050

Volvo provides a 13 and a 16 L engine at present, the 13L being the most well-liked and within the overwhelming majority of their vans.

As much as 500 horsepower, 1850TQ is offered and is doing a superb job for them. There are various printed stories of excellent gas financial system on these engines.

The 16 liter has had some points. Reviews are that because of its lack of recognition and specialised elements, some drivers have discovered themselves ready for lengthy durations for components.

Mack’s engines are based mostly on the Volvo block and use most of the similar elements.

Gone are the times of a Mack engine smoking out a freeway, when the driving force stands on the throttle.

Volvo has a superb community accessible, whereas the Mack seller community is smaller and extra regional.

Navistar has quite a lot of smaller motors for Class 5-6 models however their solely actual Class 8 engine is the Cummins ISX.

Most facilities have a Navistar seller close by as Navistar promote a superb amount of the smaller class models. Their seller community is nice.

Associated > Let the Truck Driver Determine, NOT the Truck Engine!

Caterpillar Big Rig Engine under hood of a truck exposed

Semi Truck Engines You Might Need to Keep away from

Everybody who has ever owned a semi, has a horror story to inform. Engine producers aren’t any totally different.

Realizing the most effective diesel engines on the market may be useful, however figuring out the engines that don’t carry out is invaluable.


Cat makes some excellent engines. I’ve owned a number of Caterpillar engines through the years and have good issues to say about them.

Trucker Fixing Caterpillar Diesel Engine

Nevertheless, when the emission rules began to kick in, Cat struggled badly.

Their primary blocks heads had been nonetheless as sturdy as ever. However they simply couldn’t get them to run with  the poorly thought out engineering that was occurring.

A few of the Acert motors had been horrible as had been the dual turbo models with the burner packing containers on the body. These had been some fairly embarrassing moments for Cat.


Cummins was not immune from points.

Their twin overhead cam motors ISX had been identified for some ongoing issues.

The cams had been a critical challenge, the place unhealthy coatings on the lobes result in delicate metallic to cam bearing points. There was additionally the occasional one that may have a rod or crank failure.

I had one in all these Cummins ISX engines. To rectify the scenario, I made a decision to shorten the outdated change interval.

Cummins was suggesting 40-50000 km oil change intervals, however I instantly shortened mine to 20000 kms.

Once I traded my truck in just lately, in July 2018, it had 1.4 million km with no main engine challenge.


Within the early 2000’s, Freightliner and Sterling had been placing a small block Mercedes in a lot of their vans.

In a neighborhood vocational non Class 8 world they labored okay.

However within the lengthy haul Class 8 surroundings, they proved to be less than the problem.


The 12L and 13L Volvo/Mack engines labored pretty properly, though the 16 liter has had quite a lot of points.

Components for these had been troublesome to search out as was a correctly educated mechanic to restore them.

In consequence, they’ve turn into much less and fewer common. I predict they might be discontinued within the close to future.

6V 92 Detroit Diesel Engine

The Emissions-Pleasant Issue Replace

All producers have needed to cope with the emissions rules and the struggles concerned with assembly these emissions.

Nobody was immune from these issues.

It seems that many of the points encountered are within the technique of being rectified or have been straightened out.

Gas financial system appears to be enhancing.

They’re getting higher and turning into extra dependable as soon as once more and the ‘stranded roadside’ tales are being advised much less regularly.

Practically all engines are working at a a lot decrease RPM’s than earlier fashions.

They’re being designed to function down as little as 1,000 RPM, so gear quick and run gradual has taken on a brand new definition. 

There was a time that working an engine down that far would trigger harm to it.

Right now it’s turning into the norm to run an engine low, as producers are pushing for higher financial system.

Time will inform if these engines can deal with the low RPM’s.

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Getting the Greatest Truck Engine  – Ideas for the Proprietor Operator

If it’s your very first truck as an proprietor operator, then you should have a marketing strategy and a price range.

The revenue margin within the trucking enterprise for an proprietor operator is slimmer than ever.

It’s crucial to know your numbers.  The numbers ought to drive your choice.

If in case you have accomplished your analysis and know your numbers, then selecting the most effective truck engine and chassis, is an easy course of.

Ask plenty of questions.

  • Do Your Analysis. Take the time to do some in-depth actual analysis. This doesn’t embrace listening to a buddy who talks a superb story, however actually doesn’t actually have any thought if he’s worthwhile or not. Have a look on the web. There’s a mountain of data.

  • Ask Present Proprietor Operators.  Communicate to profitable, skilled proprietor operators.

  • Discuss With Some Specialists. Discuss to the store foreman from a good store and their heavy truck mechanics. In case you are uncertain of a specific model of engine and also you need the actual skinny on it, go to the store at your dealership of alternative and discuss to the store foreman or the precise mechanics. They’re a wealth of data. They aren’t pushed by a “company” gross sales push or market share push because the gross sales division possibly.

Everybody you converse to about varied aspects of your owner-operator enterprise, can have one thing of worth so as to add to the financial institution of data you have already got.

One of the vital insightful methods to search out out what the most effective truck engines are, is to develop relationships with a couple of of those guys.

They are going to be a window into what they’re seeing on the ground of the store, relating to the truth of the reliability and integrity of the engine you have an interest in.

Making the correct alternative for the most effective truck engine is a crucial one.

Take the time and vitality wanted to do it proper.

Is an enormous horsepower engine all the time your best option?

It is a somewhat outdated philosophy with regards to truck engines. Larger horsepower is okay when completely obligatory. Nevertheless, extra horsepower prices extra money at buy time, in addition to over the lifetime of the truck.

Who’s the most effective particular person to advise on which truck engine to purchase?

Discuss to as many individuals as doable. Discuss to different proprietor operators and their experiences in addition to a number of diesel mechanics who’re conversant in modern-day engines and their efficiency.

What’s the finest truck engine ever made?

Cat engines had been nice engines. Nevertheless, sadly, they’re not produced for Class 8 vans. Caterpillar bowed out once they couldn’t produce a dependable engine when the emissions requirements had been launched.

Truck Driver Standing Beside Blue Peterbilt

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