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1989 Ford E350 - Issues

any issues? im thinking about buying a diesel

You are thinking of 29 year old truck? And you are asking about issues… Everything is an issue, starting with rust, wear, lack of parts availability, the engine, the transmission, the rear axle.

There is nothing about a 29 year old truck that won’t be an issue.


Second Mustangman…

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It’s nearly 30’s years okd, everything has the potential to be an issue. Also the N/A 7.3L isn’t exactly a powerhouse, and it probably has the C6 transmission with no overdrive, meaning that fuel economy won’t be particularly great either.

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the 7.3L diesel can run for a long time, but I have yet to see a Ford transmission behind one last much more than 100,000 miles. I’m sure it has happened, but I used to have several in my fleet, and you could almost set a clock by them.

Are you referring to automatics? Or manuals too?

good question. I am meaning automatics- specifically the C6 that FoDaddy is referring to.

EDIT for Correction:
The E4od is the one that I have had lots of trouble experience with. My vehicles are heavy by design, and the e40d would not last more much more than 100,000 before needing replaced.

The C6 is about as bulletproof as Ford automatics get. I wouldn’t worry about that one. The one I would have reservations about is the first iteration of the E4OD that came out in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I want to say that it was available in the F-Series in 1989, but I don’t know if it was in the vans for that year or if was the following year. But the early E4OD’s weren’t the greatest. I know it saw major revisions in 1993, 1995, and again in 1998. The pre-1995 versions are to be avoided IMHO.

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I piloted a Ford E350 16 foot panel truck a few years ago when moving some household items from Denver to San Francisco. That truck had an automatic. Even fully loaded that truck was really powerful, step on the gas, even going up steep hills, and you’d really accelerate. The biggest problem w/that truck was it didn’t seem super-stable, with a very noticeable left/right wobble when going over offset bumps. But other than that, very easy to drive. I wouldn’t have guessed a c6 would be tough enough for that sort of load. I do seem to recall that transmission used a special fluid, Mercon 5 , b/c I wanted to take a spare bottle along, and it was difficult to find a vendor who sold Mercon 5. Mercon 3 was widely available, but not Mercon 5. To finally obtain some Mercon 5 I had to find a repair shop out in the commercial area outstkirts of town that repaired semi- trucks and the like. A while ago, I may have the Mercon numbers mixed up.

Edit: In my case, gasoline engine version.

Wow, thanks everyone for the insights. To continue: I’m looking for a van to build out and live out of. There are some AWESOME Ford E250 and E350’s that have many features I desire.

I found a 1989 Ford E350, 5.3L diesel, C6 transmission, with excellent features. It appears to be rust free and has low miles (80k) on the current engine.

What kind of questions should I ask used car owners in order to be confident I’m not buying a cool-looking can that will immediately die on me?

Thank you and god bless.

You don’t ask them anything. Just pay a good mechanic to inspect what ever you want to buy. That will give you a better chance at a decent vehicle but not a guarantee .

Not that it relevant but your picture is weird.


I had to chuckle.

And agree. On the advice and the picture.

You can ask questions, but people lie. Especially people wanting to unload an old full size van. They’ll lie like a rug.

Best bet is a thorough test drive and inspection by you or a qualified third party. If something in the way it operates feels or seem strange, it probably is. And you should walk away. Good luck.

What strikes me is the low mileage. That could be a good thing. Or a bad thing, which is the part I’d be worrying about w/this particular van. It’s been driven less than 3,000 miles per year on average. So I’d want to know why so few miles? And if that mileage is accurate, I’d want a professional assessment of things that low mileage bring, like oil sludge, coking possibly affecting the ability of the valves to seal, and exhaust system problems. For the engine, at the minimum I’d want a compression test and inspection of the spark plug’s tip condition.

You are absolutely correct. It is the E4od that I was meaning to refer to. oops, lol