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Old 12-07-2022, 04:52 PM   #1
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8.1l Engine

I've been kind of bouncing around on the internet looking at class A motorhomes to possibly upgrade if I happen to find one that fits mostly my budget. I now have a P32 with 7.4L. I see a lot of problems on here with the 8.1's. Are they really as bad as it leads a person to think. I know maintenance and care play a big part in everything. It's just that I haven't noticed as many problems with the tried and true 7.4. Maybe it is the same as when Chevy went from the 350 to the 400 small block, it was a disastor.
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Old 12-07-2022, 04:58 PM   #2
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The folks on here that have had problems are a very small minority.
Just like all vehicles, you never hear from the vast majority that have no problems,just the very few that do.
It is a great engine. Period. Better than the Ford V10.
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F4Gary View Post
The folks on here that have had problems are a very small minority.
Just like all vehicles, you never hear from the vast majority that have no problems, just the very few that do.
It is a great engine. Period. Better than the Ford V10.
Our 2005 Winnebago has the 8.1 and even with issues we have had, I still prefer it to the Ford.

Problems we have had is the damper pulley starting to separate and broken exhaust bolts at about 50,000 and now with 104000 the fan clutch failed.
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:20 PM   #4
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Do you do your own maintenance ? Make sure you run a car fax on it.. and do compression test on chassis engine.. get 2 independent inspection 1 for chassis and 2nd for coach.. do your homework.. because changing the engine out at shop could run over 20,000.00 or more.. check date on every tire including the spare.. tires could be 350 and up for each one..
Good luck and keep us posted
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:27 PM   #5
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We had a motorhome on a W22 chassis with the 8.1. Put about 40,000 miles on it and had no issues whatsoever with the motor (or transmission). It had 110,000 miles when we sold it. Seemed pretty bulletproof to me.
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:37 PM   #6
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Our 2004 Winnebago has an 8.1 and it turned 100,000 on our way home from the last trip before winterizing. I have changed the AC pump, brakes, tires, starter and alternator. The engine still runs fine.
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Old 12-07-2022, 06:47 PM   #7
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I've been doing repair work since I was about 10 years old. My dad farmed in my early years and his equipment was not the greatest. A car fax will only tell what is reported to them so I have very little faith in them. I have a P32 now with the J71 so I learned a lot about them real quick. Th 7.4 had bad intake manifold gaskets so it leaked antifreeze into the oil. The second year I had it the injectors all failed 1200 miles from home. The crank sensor failed the first year and it had to be towed. I blew a rear tire on that same trip on Sunday afternoon. But, after all that I still am not a fan of the V10 so that does not leave much choice. I think I can check it out just about as good as an
'inspector'. I may eat those words but if they do it and miss something I'm still hung with it. Most of what I buy turns into a t--d anyway.
The main thing I'm asking what to look for on the 8.1 and I do believe the Allison is about as bullet proof as they come. The house part I'm not all that afraid of, as long there is no glaring evidence of roof leakage and I've down the roof come loose scenario.
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Old 12-07-2022, 10:53 PM   #8
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Car fax is only one piece of total information.. your eyes and experience is what I trust.. you are there I am not.. but just a note.. if you run a car fax.. it may.. tell you where it was purchased and clues on where and how it was used.. but it seems you trust the po.. do as you will.. it seems you are well equipped to handle what comes down the road.. you might have a good friend at least run a compression test..
Good luck and keep us posted
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Old 12-07-2022, 11:09 PM   #9
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Dump the cast iron exhaust manifolds and put Banks headers on, and you will have a winning power plant.

Look for a later one with the Allison 6 speed transmission.
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Old 12-08-2022, 07:01 AM   #10
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Thanks everyone for the responses. The one I have my eye on right now is a 2007 with just 40,000 miles on it. That does make me a bit nervous as it probably sat more than moved. I haven't been in direct contact yet with the dealer as I did not see it untill late yesterday after their hours. it is a nationwide dealer that some discourage dealing with but unless you find a small dealer they are all about the same as far as I'm concerned. They are predicting 6 inches of snow in my area this afternoon and I need to go in at 2 this afternoon so I don't know if I will get anything done today but I will keep you all posted.
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Old 12-08-2022, 07:21 AM   #11
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I have a friend who has a 2003 Tiffin Alegro for sale @ 20000. She's selling it due to loss of husband. It is in great shape.
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Old 12-08-2022, 08:16 AM   #12
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As an 8.1L P32 owner for a few years now, and someone that does 100% of their own repair work I consider this engine a "keeper". The 4L85E that's mated to it suffers from a deficiency addressed in a factory TSB but I'm working through that. From my perspective the issue with any P32/W22/W24 isn't the 8.1 or 4speed/Allison, it's the orphaned workhorse chassis. They're now becoming old enough that wear and tear, corrosion and decomposition are taking their toll, and parts are becoming more difficult to locate. Shops willing to take them on are limited. I think at the age of any workhorse based RV is, "carfax" is a non sequitur - the depreciation is past and they're in sustaining mode - whatever it takes to keep them going. I would consider the performance, reliability and reparability of the 8.1L a plus but it's a small part of the care and feeding of these older RV's.

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Old 12-08-2022, 10:33 AM   #13
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I think the evidence tends to lean toward the 8.1L GM engine being a more reliable engine than the 7.4L engine. However both engines very often had the endurance to outlast the vehicle they were in. In both cases it was not the engine that had issues, it was the things peripheral to the engine such as manifolds, water pumps, fan clutches, injectors, etc. that failed...not the engine.

The latest case of a reported 8.1L failure that I recall the engine failed because the driver chose to continue driving it even when he knew it was out of coolant. I don't call that an engine failure. I call that a driver error!

The issue of parts scarcity is real. It is real for any vehicle made in 2006. 2006 Ford parts are becoming scarce too!
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Old 12-08-2022, 11:39 AM   #14
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So far as a shop willing to work ona motorhome I am lucky in that the one in town here will work on most anything, from a golf cart to a semi. There aren't many of these type of shops left around anymore. I do most all of my own work unless there is something that is too cumbersome. I have done most of it in the younger years but as we age we realize there are certain things left to others. I read that the 8.1 parts are hard to get when it comes to large component replacement. They were a real limited production engine with the emissions laws.
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