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Old 04-21-2014, 11:18 PM   #1
XDCX
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Default How common are block cracks/failures in the Cummins 5.9L with "Block 53" casting?

I've been surfing the Internet for the past couple of days checking out Ram Trucks with the 5.9 Liter Cummins and I've noticed some sellers specifically mention their truck does not have a Cummins "Block 53" casting and therefore believe their truck should be worth more money.

I did a quick Google Search and learned that the "Block 53" issue refers to cracks that develop in the short block of the 5.9 Liter Cummins that result in coolant loss. Apparently the cracks start as seepage cracks and continue to worsen to the point the engine needs to have coolant added even after short trips.

The "Block 53" issue affects certain 1999 - 2002 Dodge trucks equipped with the 24 valve 5.9 liter engine. Not all trucks from this era have "Block 53" engines - there were other castings that were being used at the same time.

Is this a common problem that eventually impacts all "Block 53" Cummins engines or a relatively uncommon event that gets blown out of proportion due to the Internet?
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Old 04-22-2014, 06:07 AM   #2
birch3x
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Never seen one. I sold the first Cummins that came in-State in the fall of 1988. We've never even done a head gasket and so far I think that the engines have outlasted the trucks. I heard that the ever-elusive 'Block 53' engines were cast in Brazil.
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:39 AM   #3
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Same as Birch...never seen one... or heard of it until today. I think you're right about things getting blown out of proportion... due to proliferation of internet forums on just about every make and model of vehicle, and someone's desire to exploit anything, if they think they can make a buck out of it. I'm not saying it's wrong to use it NOT being a "casting 53" to try and get a higher price, but that it's obviously a problem that only affects a small amount of production, but when it's put out there as a selling point, then it quickly becomes an issue to people that see it mentioned in advertisements. It's similar to the EGR modifications on the 6.0 Powerstroke Fords...the first question a buyer asks is "has it had the EGR mod done?"...and most of them have no idea what it actually is...they've just heard so much about it. Once they have it in their head, it becomes THE issue to them, and if the dealer doesn't know anything about it, or can't explain it to them, they'll walk away and go somewhere else.
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Old 04-22-2014, 10:30 AM   #4
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Perception is reality....right or wrong.
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:18 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information.

I had never heard of the "Block 53" issue prior to this week and was wondering whether I was just "out of the loop" or whether the situation was being blown out of proportion.
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Old 04-22-2014, 07:30 PM   #6
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I've also never ran into one.

When the first 6.7 liters came on scene in 2007 with the new emissions gear there were some troubles, but those have been remedied as far as I know.

When the first 6.7 launched I had a customer who traded after just a few months on the advice of forums... not a wise financial decision, but ah well.

We used the truck to pull a trailer for the next few years... up to almost 100k miles, no issues.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:31 AM   #7
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Default I wonder if "Waterless Coolant" would be a solution for a cracked block?

Based on what I've read the problems with the "Block 53" castings are cracks that result in coolant leaks to the outside of the block. While some people have been able to weld the cracks others have indicated that the cracks will eventually reappear.

To the extent a coolant leak to the outside of the block is limited to the pressure in the cooling system, I wonder if waterless coolant would be a solution for a block that is just beginning to show seepage?

I first heard about waterless coolant while watching an episode of Wheeler Dealer - the TV show on Velocity featuring two Brits who buy/fix/sell older cars.

The waterless coolant shown on Wheeler Dealer had a boiling point which was beyond the engine's operating temperature which meant it was not necessary to pressurize the cooling system to prevent a boil-over condition. The episode showed the radiator cap being removed from a vehicle that was at operating temperature and there was almost no pressure in the system at all.

If a cracked block just had a seepage leak with a cooling system that was pressurized to 15 PSI I'm guessing that it wouldn't leak at all if there was almost zero pressure in the cooling system.
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Old 04-23-2014, 12:50 PM   #8
steve_biegler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XDCX View Post
Based on what I've read the problems with the "Block 53" castings are cracks that result in coolant leaks to the outside of the block. While some people have been able to weld the cracks others have indicated that the cracks will eventually reappear.

To the extent a coolant leak to the outside of the block is limited to the pressure in the cooling system, I wonder if waterless coolant would be a solution for a block that is just beginning to show seepage?

I first heard about waterless coolant while watching an episode of Wheeler Dealer - the TV show on Velocity featuring two Brits who buy/fix/sell older cars.

The waterless coolant shown on Wheeler Dealer had a boiling point which was beyond the engine's operating temperature which meant it was not necessary to pressurize the cooling system to prevent a boil-over condition. The episode showed the radiator cap being removed from a vehicle that was at operating temperature and there was almost no pressure in the system at all.

If a cracked block just had a seepage leak with a cooling system that was pressurized to 15 PSI I'm guessing that it wouldn't leak at all if there was almost zero pressure in the cooling system.
I have never heard of this product, sounds fantastic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7PykrgzWPQ
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:38 AM   #9
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I have never heard of this product, sounds fantastic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7PykrgzWPQ
Thanks for the link - I had never watched that video before.

Here's a YouTube link that has the portion of Wheeler Dealers episode that I mentioned - click here

The only downside to waterless coolant that I've read is that the fluid itself actually conveys less heat than water alone. That means engines will run hotter unless the volume of coolant flow is increased with a larger water pump or larger radiator.

That said, since boil-over is not an issue with waterless coolants the fact the engine runs a little hotter may be a non-issue.
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Old 04-27-2014, 09:53 AM   #10
birch3x
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On a related note, I just found out this weekend that the first 2 Cummins-equipped 2500's I sold are still on the road. The first is an automatic, being used as a small town's plow truck. The second is a 5 speed still on the original family, a local contractor. Wow.
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Old 04-28-2014, 10:24 AM   #11
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On a related note, I just found out this weekend that the first 2 Cummins-equipped 2500's I sold are still on the road. The first is an automatic, being used as a small town's plow truck. The second is a 5 speed still on the original family, a local contractor. Wow.
That's awesome.

I still like the old D/W trucks from that era and still see quite a few on the road. It's not uncommon to see several D/W trucks on Craigslist from the 1988-1993 era that have in excess of 250K miles and they're still going strong. (Almost all of the trucks have paint failures but that's a different issue....)

I also saw a program on SPIKE TV a few weeks ago that showed there's an active secondary market for the original 12 Valve 5.9 Cummins. Apparently the early engines are in demand because the don't require any computers or electronics to operate and they're repurposed for marine and industrial use.
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Old 04-28-2014, 10:36 AM   #12
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That's awesome.


I also saw a program on SPIKE TV a few weeks ago that showed there's an active secondary market for the original 12 Valve 5.9 Cummins. Apparently the early engines are in demand because the don't require any computers or electronics to operate and they're repurposed for marine and industrial use.
The 12 valve Cummins engines were already used in a wide variety of industrial and marine applications when Dodge started using them. They were in use on construction equipment such as road graders, front end loaders, and very widely used to power irrigation pumps in agriculture.
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:49 AM   #13
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The 12 valve Cummins engines were already used in a wide variety of industrial and marine applications when Dodge started using them. They were in use on construction equipment such as road graders, front end loaders, and very widely used to power irrigation pumps in agriculture.
That's a great point. I remember hearing that Chrysler needed to de-tune the 5.9 Cummins when it was installed in the Dodge trucks because the engine was capable of delivering more power/torque than the transmissions and drivetrain could handle. (I vaguely remember that there was some screw setting that could be easily altered to return some of the lost horsepower. I think Chrysler had the screw capped off from the factory but some customers found a way to remove the cap and increase the power.)

On the episode that appeared on SPIKE TV they fired up an old 5.9 Cummins that was strapped to a pallet. All they needed was some diesel and a battery and the engine fired right up.
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:38 AM   #14
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Yep...as it came out of the crate, the pump was turned back so it was running at about 60% of it's rated power...one of the reasons they lasted forever...you could thrash it as hard as you could and it was still loafing along on those older 12 valves.
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Old 04-30-2014, 12:16 PM   #15
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Yep...as it came out of the crate, the pump was turned back so it was running at about 60% of it's rated power...one of the reasons they lasted forever...you could thrash it as hard as you could and it was still loafing along on those older 12 valves.
It reminds me of the days when I was a kid and I had to cut the lawn. My Dad bought a one or two year old lawn mower from a local tool rental company that was updating their equipment and I quickly figured out that they had adjusted the throttle cable so you could only open the throttle plate to about 70% when you were at full throttle.

From the tool rental company's perspective I'm sure the adjustment limited the amount of wear and tear their customers could do to the lawn mower while it was out for rental.

From my perspective, I wanted more power. Needless to say, I readjusted the throttle cable....
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