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500 Detroit

Discussion in 'Truck Talk' started by guest, Jan 17, 2004.

  1. guest

    guest Guest

    Does anyone know anything about these engines. My local mechanic (and I) like the detroit engines, but he has cautioned me more than once to stay away from the 500 h.p. He says that they have a lot of problems since they hit the 500 mark. I'm wandering if maybe the later model trucks are any better? If so, what year do I need to be looking at, and why?

    I have found more than a few trucks that are in my price range for a class 8 expediter in the 1999-2000 models, but a lot of them have the 500 h.p. engine which I know is a lot of motor, but is it reliable?

  2. MattMO

    MattMO New Recruit

    I dont have any first hand experience with the 500 which I think is the 12.1 cranked up to 500 hp? I have heard some talk about turbo failures at around 300+K but nothing from the horses mouth. I know the 12.1 430hp is in alot of trucks on the road and has been around quite a while.
    The only Detroit I have owned was a 6V92 series in a 82 KW. I had a 15ft dump body on it and pulled a pup. Had many a load in commercial zone work grossing over 100K, it did the job and I had good service out of it, needless to say I dident get in a hurry with it though!
    (it was a much happier rig at 72K)
  3. guest

    guest Guest

    Thx Matt, The 12.7 detroit's are very common, but it seems like there is a lot of the 500's out there now. They are actually 14 liter engines. I asked this same question on another forum. Only got one response, but it was informative. He said that the first engines had trouble with the pistons. They got that problem corrected, but the '99 and '00 models had turbo problems. After that, I gues they are ok. Summary, from what i gathered, don't buy one unless it is '01 or newer.

    I don't see any need for that much h.p. for an exp. truck, but I justed wanted some insight in case I run across a good deal. I would buy a 12.7 430/470 detroit without hesitation if it was in good condition.

    Have a good one,
  4. Weave

    Weave New Recruit

    Not sure where you heard the 500 is 14 liters from, as far as I know the only Detroit S60's available are 12.7L. There used to be an 11.1, but no more. My truck has the 470 HP S60, derated through the computer to 360, which is still more than enough for my single axle D unit- it can blow just about any truck off the road if I were a redneck maniac and wanted to. I can toy with any big truck. If I had a tag axle and could haul more weight, I'd have it cranked up more. I think the 500HP version is the S60 turned up to max, with a larger turbo. It's for really heavy duty jobs like a tow truck, not an expediter. If you find one, it can be turned down, and will get better fuel mileage by doing so, but should have good (800k to 1 million miles) lifespan before rebuild even if you keep it at 500HP.
    S60's are reliable engines, and have great resale value. They are cheap to rebuild when needed.
    I have had 2 problems with my S60, and one turned out to not be it's problem.
    A few months ago it started idling erratically, like an injector was going, but was fine under throttle. This turned out to be my truck's batteries, discovered the first day the temp went below freezing and the engine would not crank. When I put the 4 new batteries in it, the idling has been fine since. Batteries are a very important part of the whole electrical system, and the ones I replaced were the original ones, about 3.5 years old. I hear a lot of trucks with S60's at truckstops doing this erratic idling during the winter, and now I know why. It's computerized injection system must need good strong batteries when there is not so much alternator current available at idle.
    The other problem is new. There is an oil leak that has started from the adapter that the filters go on, at the area where the adapter goes into the block. I thought I fixed it by retorqueing the bolts, and have now discovered that this leak only happens when the engine is started stone cold, and stops after about 2-3 minutes. It's not a big worry at the moment, as once warm is won't leak a drop, and there is no significant oil loss. I am, however, investigating the cause of this at the moment, as I don't like letting little problems turn into big ones. To remove the adapter is a major job, one I'm hoping does not have to be done.
    Engine has just passed 250k mile mark.
  5. guest

    guest Guest

    Hey weave, how's it going? Apparently you've been staying busy this year as well. Some of the others are reporting plenty of work in what is supposed to be the slow time. In the factry where i work, sometimes there is a Jan. rush to restock the warehouses after good christmas sales, I'm thinking that this and the HOS rules may be putting some money in your pockets :) Wish I was out there!

    Got a quick question, what is your engine taching at 60 mph?
    I'm looking at some 9200 IH's with the 12.7 430/470 in them, but they have 280 gear ratio. I'm sure that the big motor has enough power to for this, but I'm concerned about getting below the power band of the 12.7's. My understanding is that best fuel mileage and power is achieved from 12-1400 rpm. I would like to be in that range at 55-60 mph.

    btw, I wasn't sure of my source on the 14L so I went to THE source (DDC) and found that the 14L is a S60. I guess they added it when they dropped the 11.1. They show a H.P./displacement chart in the brochure and best I can tell, the split between 12.7L and 14L is the 500 h.p.

    And, rest assured that I am as much of a Detroit fan as you are. I am ok with Cummins, but the detroits have a HUGE reputation of reliability and low cost to repair and maintain and that is two very important points for me just starting out. There is a really nice truck sitting here in town that I would be very intereted in, has an N14 in it. I like the N14, but TRUST the detroit x(

    Thx again for some good advice and good to see ya!
  6. guest

    guest Guest

  7. Weave

    Weave New Recruit

    Guess there is a 14L S60- I learn something every day:)
    My S60 spins about 1300 RPM @ 60 MPH. Truck has 3.58 rear.
    This rear ratio and RPM is fine, consistent mileage in the 11 MPG range. Can go up the longest of grades fully loaded with no downshifting. Acceleration is a bit slow unless I skip-shift, but that is tricky to do with the 10 speed. I am happy with the Detroit thus far. The MBE4000 is actually a brother to the S60, very similar in design with a little bit more displacement and lighter weight- S60's are heavy engines at about 2600 lbs.
  8. guest

    guest Guest

    Thx Weave,

    I would buy a truck in a heartbeat if I was sure it was going to get the kind of mileage your showing. I'm not sure whether the 2.80 gears will help or hurt on overall fuel economy (i would think they would help). I've seen discussion about different transmissions ratio's too, but I have never dug that deep into any of this stuff..not sure if I could cipher all that out :+ .

    The Mercedes engines sound good, I like the light weight engines, Always wanted an M11 cummins in a gravel truck, but never had the opportunity to get one. If the Mercedes are down around 2200-2300 lbs., they will be well recieved over time, but so far, I've seen on here where they've showed a some terrible problems starting out. I'm sure they'll address the problems over time and hopefully we'll have another great engine to choose from. For now, I'm not looking for a late enough model to be concerned with them. The '00 models are about as new as I can afford right now and still start out with a fairly stable financial base.

    Thx again,
  9. Weave

    Weave New Recruit

    The problems listed on here have only involved the little MBE900, not the 4000. For now though, I would still stick with the tried and true S60 in a used truck.
    For a single axle truck with a 9 or 10 speed and the 3.58 ratio, and the S60 put into the 350 HP range, I think you could count on at least 10 MPG. In the flatlands without running the A/C, I have seen my truck get close to 14 MPG! The 11 MPG is about the worst case scenario, heavy loaded up grades with A/C on. I just said 11 as to not sound overly optimistic.
    The higher the axle ratio, the lower the RPM's the engine will spin at speed. I don't think I would want anything lower than the 3.58, I personally feel the truck could handle something taller, but it's just what came with it and it's fine.
    When buying a cheap used truck that someone else designed, there are just certain things one has to live with on it. If I had big $ I could design my own truck to ideal specs for myself, but well, forget it Weave:D When it comes to trucks, I think I will always be a prisoner of the damned to what is on the repo lot. I jokingly refer to my truck as "The Little Deuce Poop.":p
  10. Dreamer

    Dreamer Administrator Staff Member

    Hey Weave,
    This is a point that messes me up when figuring ratios. You said the higher the rear end ratio, the lower rpm at speed, therefore better fuel mileage, right?

    So is 3.58 higher or lower than a 4.63 rear? I've looked at trucks with both. So, let's say, all things being equal, a 250hp engine, 6 speed trans, which rear should get better mpg?

    Another thing I notice. Seems usually Cummins equipped trucks are geared around 3.21-3.58 etc... and Cat 3126 euipped trucks have 4.63 or so rear ends.. why is that?


  11. Weave

    Weave New Recruit

    I am messed up myself:D
    The LOWER the ratio, the lower the RPM's at speed, I screwed that up. So equal for equal, the 3.58 will turn fewer RPM and get better mileage.
    Here is a little chart to give you an idea, I had to refer to it myself.

    Keep in mind these are total tire diameter, not wheel size. This chart is for cars, but you could calculate it out for big trucks if you wanted to, but you'll get the idea.
    I am not really a rear axle expert, as they tend to be one of the few parts of a truck that don't require much attention short of an occasional seal replacement and lube change. Like I said before I just buy my trucks off the lot with whatever axle ratio it has and live with it. But, I think the 3.58 with my powertrain is about right.
  12. NEVERHOME247

    NEVERHOME247 New Recruit

    just thought i'd share my experience with 500 detroit. i have 2000 freightliner classic d-unit with 500 detroit. bought the truck as a repo with 147k on it. we now have over 685k and runs strong as ever. only problem with detroits is they smoke bad out of crankcase breather. we took ours in for this problem around 300k. they did a complete in frame under warranty. the models around that period had a problem not getting enough upper cylinder lube. they replaced the rods with a newer style drilled rod. which gets more oil to the top end. detroit really did not want to do anything about the problem. but i have a friend who owns a dealership and he twisted the reps arm and got me a complete overhaul. while they were at it i sprung for a turbo. just for good measure. but i really am happy with the engine. great power and good mpg. just got to keep the valves udjusted. the intake valves get tight and will pound the valve seats in if you don't stay on top of it. the only bad thing i will say about detroit is they are not idle freindly. if you idle alot they will load up with fuel and slobber out the exhaust. we seldom idle, we run our generator. i would buy a used truck with a detroit. but with any used engine i would have computer hooked to it and check idle time,run it on dyno and get oil sample done before i made the purchase. also check to see if any major repairs were done under warranty. all i can say is that big detroit puts that old 3126 I had to shame. the 500hp is way more than i need but I haven't had a load yet or a grade steep enough to have to drop any gears. sure cuts down trip time. :)
  13. Weave

    Weave New Recruit

    I had the after idle smoking problem with mine until I got the thermostats replaced. The temp would drop way down at idle and allow the cylinders to charge up with unburned fuel. New stats that keep the temp between 170-180 at all times solved the smoke problem. Also helps to idle between 900-1000 RPM. Best not to idle at all, but I don't have a genset.
    I do see a tad of smoke and a few oil drops from my breather hose, but nothing in excess of normal. The last time I went for a valve and injector height adjustment, nothing needed to be adjusted. I do have to have the oil filter adapter pulled from the block soon to fix a cold start oil leak there, which quoted from my mechanic "Is not going to be fun." But if that is the worst problem I have had or will have, I can't complain at all about the Detroit. The power and fuel economy on my 12.7 360/470HP are incredible.

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