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Old 07-03-2018, 04:15 PM   #1
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5.4L opinions and lifespan

Hey guys,
I have 2003 EB SMB 5.4L 2WD w penthouse that I totally remodeled and love to death. It has 165000 miles on it and I keep dumping money into it. I figure it’s still cheaper to do that than it is to start over and buy a new diesel 4x4 which would be my dream but I can’t afford it anytime soon. I just got back from. Baja w my son and we had a great time on the sea of Cortez at a beach close to Gonzaga Bay. We were super comfortable w the remodel having solar/ fridge/ fresh water pump, sink, outdoor shower new beds etc. The only thing bumbing me out was being limited off road. My intention is not to do anything crazy just charge the washboards better and get across some sandy dirt. So yesterday I dropped her off at Action Van in San Clemente for a 4 1/2” lift, new tires and rear limited slip diff lock. Really excited and again figured I’m spending way less than buying a new diesel 4x4. My question to you guys is how do you feel about the 5.4L engine and if the day came that I needed to rebuild It how hard would it be to do, and could I swap it out for the 6.8L V10 just because a little more power wouldn’t hurt. Curious of your options on my route in the SMB world. I paid 15k for the van, about 3k on the interior remodel, and 5k on new suspension, diff lock and tires. So all in all I’m in for less than 25k and totally stoked. Just hope my drive train holds up and that if the day came where the motor gave out it wouldn’t be the end of this amazing journey I began.

Thanks!
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Old 07-03-2018, 04:59 PM   #2
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5.4 and the 6.8 are stout motors. Keep up with the maintenance and possibly a little early and you should be able to double your current mileage and more.

As for the replacement, if the 5.4 is getting the job done, stick with it other wise the 6.8 is a beast.
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Old 07-03-2018, 05:18 PM   #3
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Also be sure to check your transmission fluid on a regular basis. Check the color and the color should be bright pink and it should not smell burnt.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:54 PM   #4
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Hey guys,
So yesterday I dropped her off at Action Van in San Clemente for a 4 1/2 lift, new tires and rear limited slip diff lock.

Thanks!

Assuming that you have 3.73 gearing, are you changing that with the limited slip work?


I have a 5.4L 4WD PH top and built out interior with 285/70-17's with 3.73's. I'm happy..but it's geared a little tall with the bigger tires...so if you're in there...think about 4.10's.
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Old 07-03-2018, 08:03 PM   #5
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Yes they are re gearing that as well for the 285 tires. How many miles on your 5.4 how do you like it. Mine def slows down climbing the grades. Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-03-2018, 08:30 PM   #6
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If you have a full build out I would consider 4:56s or more depending on tire size and if you plan to tow. I had a 5.4 for many years in a Supercrew and it was a great motor that was happy revving. Had 4:10s installed to tow my toyhauler and wish I would have gone with at least 4:56s. I had exhaust and custom tuning as well.

Locker in the rear and you can get most places a 4x4 can go. The TrueTrac limited slip is also a good choice if available for your axle. I used to run an Auburn limited slip in a 2wd Ranger and it did very well.
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:04 PM   #7
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Old 07-03-2018, 10:27 PM   #8
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I have a 98 EB E250 full SMB build, 2WD and 3.73. Stock size tires. With 113k on it. Has no problem keeping up with traffic over the high grades in the West.
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Old 07-04-2018, 04:19 AM   #9
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I currently own three E-Series (2 E250's, 1 E350) all with the 5.4 motor, all bought with minimum 140K miles. One was bought with 165K, it now has 264K; another bought with 203K miles, now about 285K. As long as proper maintenance is done to an accepted schedule you shouldn't have any major or super expensive issues anytime soon. If something needs attended to do it ASAP if reliability and a long life are your goals.

Oil changes with good quality oil and filter---I'm NOT a believer in all this high-tech stuff that's far more costly than effective. Of course I also believe oil/filter changes every 3-4K miles is mandatory; Valvoline MaxLife oil (Amazon @ $18/5 quart jugs), Motorcraft FL-820S filters (Amazon/eBay 12 at a time, about $3.50 each). FWIW I change oil "frequently" because I don't believe any oil is NOT subject to blow by fuel contamination, leaving it in the crank case too long just not a good practice, just IMHO understand.

Another key to drivetrain longevity is a transmission full flush every 50K miles or so---NOT the typical 5 quarts and a new filter service too many use even today. I've discovered its never too late to begin this practice---seriously consider it as a DIY job.

This guy wrote the end-all article how-to for this: https://www.ford-trucks.com/articles...-transmission/

That's a one-man/woman job if so inclined, I've done it by myself in my driveway without any problems. I shared my experiences here: https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1...ans-flush.html

While it might seem costly to keep a vehicle well maintained what does it cost in lost time, aggravation and frustration when something preventable happens? Most of us here can/will help with advise and sometimes actual how-to's on most any issue related to a van---always feel free to ask!

HTH
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:32 AM   #10
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Yes they are re gearing that as well for the 285 tires. How many miles on your 5.4 how do you like it. Mine def slows down climbing the grades. Thanks for your input.

I have 109K miles on the van....have been doing regular fluid maint as JWA discussed above...did the trans flush...Mobile 1 every 8K....changed brake fluid at around 90K. I have spark plugs but haven't put them in yet. Bought the van with 82K miles.


Are they re-gearing to 4.10's? That would be my choice. My van downshifts/slows down climbing grades with 3.73s and 285's.
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