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Old 04-12-2014, 10:21 AM   #1
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Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

Background: I have a Ford E-350 EB [2003] with the 5.4 V8 [Sporty conversion #EB-44].

Upon the advice of numerous "Prime Time" & "Super Shuttle" drivers who all own and drive the same E-350 vans, I took my E-350 to the shop where they all take theirs for service. 95% of the shop's business is servicing these vans and the owner [Marcelo] is an absolute expert on them. He gave me some great tips based on his experience on how to make them "last forever" [he showed me two vans he's serviced, one with 670,000 miles, the other with 980,000 miles!].

#1 Use 20-50 oil [not synthetic] instead of the Ford's 5-20 oil [unless it's really cold]. And change the oil and air filters frequently.

#2 Use the next grade higher gasoline than the lowest grade. It prevents the detonation which you can't really hear. And [he claims] it will get you a little better mileage.

#3 When approaching a hill manually downshift the trans out of overdrive via the button on the shift lever instead of letting the trans downshift itself under load. It will add many miles to the trans's life.

#4 Never let your gas tank get below 1/4 full. The fuel pump is in the tank and is cooled by the fuel. With less than 1/4 tank the fuel doesn't cool the pump, it runs hot, and fails.

#5 Consider an "engine pre-oil" system which pressurizes the oil galleries when you turn on the ignition switch and prevents "dry-starts". The majority of engine wear happens when you first start the engine and there's no oil pressure to the bearings, etc.

Hope this helps,,, cheers,,,,
La Canada, Calif.

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Old 04-12-2014, 10:58 AM   #2
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

Thanks for the great tips. I've been wondering what the most useful, and straightforward, longevity tips are besides changing oil and air filters. I've also thought about "pre-oiling", but only in the "the van has been sitting for a few days and I know that the engine start probably isn't the best for it; I wonder if there's anything that can be done" sense. I haven't heard of "pre-oiling" before. Anyone have any experience with this?

KeVan: '06 E350 4x4 V8 "Transformer"
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:26 AM   #3
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

I'd think that the number of starts for an airport van is exponentially higher than for those of us with camping vans, but minimizing that event is still a good idea.

I dunno about the oil, although I do agree with not using Ford's. The reason for the lighter oil, as I understand it, was to help Ford meet CAFE standards since it gives teensy better mileage in the aggregate. I hadn't thought about going that heavy, but for those uses maybe it's a good idea. I use synthetic, but that's only because the oil I have around is synthetic for use in other vehicles that demand it. I don't think it hurts, but I also don't think it's worth the cost in a van (Consumer Reports, I think, once had a test of synthetic in taxis in NYC and concluded as such). It performs better in high temp ranges, and perhaps in engines with very close tolerances (which is why I guess it's spec'd in some vehicles).

Back in the day of 3k oil changes I remember we'd gradually go to heavier oils. They'd work, but I suspect a lot of that was that the tolerances became bigger and bigger on those old cars as time went by. Not sure about modern cars or our vans. But maybe a good idea if they're getting those kinds of miles with that kind of abuse.
2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:17 PM   #4
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

The shop owner [Marcelo] explained that the lightweight 5 - 20 oil was for "mileage, but at the expense of engine wear" which Ford doesn't care about. He said that Ford would rather sell you a new rig than have you keep it for a gazillion miles.

The pre-oil kit I'm going to have installed is: I'm going to put in the "C" kit at the manufacturer's suggestion. When you start your engine you probably can hear the difference in sound as soon as the moving parts get oil. I can.

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Old 04-13-2014, 04:25 AM   #5
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

I'm also of the thought that heavy viscosity oil might not be the best advice. While paranoia of Ford et al motives for specifying something makes too many suspicious about early death being part of the bigger scheme modifying or ignoring factory researched recommendations is flirting with potential for costly damage. I'm running a '00 5.4 E250 with 275K miles, have used recommended oil all along---that motor still runs quite strong & gets decent gas mileage.

Granted the airport and for-hire commercial livery thing might allow such a heavy oil and not cause immediate bad results but most of us don't use our vans in a way even remotely that "abusive".

Gas grade and keeping at least 1/4 tank always is good advice---I'm totally on-board with that.

I'd strongly advise against the pre-lube system you mention. I've been there, done that and just didn't have a good experience. Engine pre-oiling is a GREAT idea but there's a bit more to it; without a well designed system its possible to do actual damage to the engine. Were I in the market for the proper pre-oiling gear I'd look into Accusump: Its not quite as "affordable" as the other brand but its much much better than that in the link.

Anyway thanks for sharing your conversation---interesting stuff!
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:33 AM   #6
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

Re: your "didn't have a good experience" with the pre-oiler system, could you elaborate on that? I don't want to "pull the trigger" on something that might be problematic.


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Old 04-13-2014, 10:04 PM   #7
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Re: Longevity tips for Ford E-350 with 5.4 V8

My brother put some leftover 15w40 (from his Pathfinder) into his 5.4L Expy. It clattered like a diesel. He drained it out and put 5w20 back in.

For shuttle service, a heavy weight oil probably works because they rarely cold start.

I normally tun 5w20 unless I'm towing heavy continuously. Then I run 0W40 (gas/diesel Euro spec) because it provides a thicker film at extreme temps (I'll do 5k RPM for 10+ minutes in 120F weather, both A/Cs blasting) but similar cold viscosity as 5w20 at typical Oregon temps. It shaves my oil consumption in half when I'm towing (7k vs 3k/qt). I have read a few cases of motorhome bottom end failures that were attributed to too heavy an oil. Motorhomes have it worst because the oil has time to fully drain, and after a true cold start after sitting, the heavier oil doesn't reach all the bearings before Grandpa mashes the pedal to the floor to pull his 40' bus out of the driveway.

2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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