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Thread: Diesel Scout Reliability - Thorough Feedback Requested

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013

    Default Diesel Scout Reliability - Thorough Feedback Requested

    Hello All! About eight years ago, I sold my last Scout, after having owned three of them plus a Travelall. Life has become a little more stable now, and I'm looking to get back into the Binder world once again.

    I have become very interested in a Scout II with the Nissan SD33T and am willing to pay decent money for one with an engine in excellent running condition. I am also willing to tackle the expense and time of a full engine rebuild, if necessary.

    The question is, how reliable is the SD33T? My previous IH vehicles were all gasoline: a 258 I-6, three 345 V-8s, and one 392 V-8. All were very reliable, with the exception of one that consistently gave me grief with the ignition coil and the starter solenoid...such is life, and I can live with that.

    This would not be a daily driver, but once finished it would be my go-to weekend warrior vehicle, ideally spending more weekend time roaming the outdoors than in the garage broken down.

    I would be very grateful to hear what everyone has to say about maintenance issues, challenges finding replacement problems, inherent weaknesses in the engine design or accessories (e.g. injection pump, pressure regulators, injectors, turbo lubrication, etc.). Anything you can tell me will be greatly appreciated, especially if it helps me to know what I might be getting myself into.

    It's good to be back, boys!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    I have 2. An 80 Scout II and an 80 Scout Terra. I bought the Terra as a demo in 1981 with 8,000 mi. on it. The Scout had over 100,000 mi. on it when I bought it used years ago. I am a rancher and love the fuel economy. At low engine speeds they will run forever on a tank of fuel. I do a lot of off road work at low speeds and they are very well suited to that. Mine both have 3.73 axle ratios and do pretty well on the highway. They are not a powerhouse and are not too well suited to stop and go traffic but do pretty well on the open road. I have seen as much as 30 mpg at a steady 45 mph and at a steady 65 about 21-22 mpg. Mine will run 75 on the interstates but the mileage will be down well below 20.

    They are very cold blooded. They start hard below about 20 degrees and will not run good for a couple minutes. And unless you live in the country the smoke generated when cold will be a problem. I have engine heaters on both and plug them when possible. It is essential to keep the cooling system in good shape as they are prone to heat in hot weather and I've read that a lot of the problems people have had have been cooling system related. The Scout I have has 180,000 miles on it and is all original. The Terra has 115,000 and is on its second engine. The original blew at about 80,000 mi. I was cruising down the road at 55 and bang, the engine just exploded. I never really knew the cause for sure, I think it dropped a valve but I know people talk about piston cracking problems so maybe that could have been too. It broke both the head and the block. I bought an engine that had been taken out of a Scout with head gasket problems. I rebuilt it using parts obtained at Nissan Forklift dealers and have had no problems since.

    Other than the catastrophic failure mostly it's just been routine maintenance. Both are using original turbos, alternators, and vacuum pumps which some have had problems with. Besides all that, they just sound cool running, that almost is worth having one (or two)
    Last edited by farmall57; 03-22-2013 at 04:12 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2013


    Thanks for the thorough response, Farmall57. Sounds like a reasonably stout powerplant for a project/weekend vehicle. Now I just have to find one!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010


    The SD33T is known for cracking the pistons at an early age, no known cure.
    The injectors require maintenance every 20,000 miles.
    It's low on hp.
    It's low on torque.
    Part are unavailable locally.
    It smokes profusely irritating drivers behind them.
    For a weekend driver, it might make it.
    1980 Scout, Cummins 4BTA, 92 Dodge CAC, NV4500, 3.73 gears, Atlas 4.33, rolling on 33/10.50 BFG muds, modified H1C.

  5. #5


    Cracking pisttons are ussaully caused by overheating. There are ways to improve the HP and torque but as far as stock form they will hold there own against the 4 cyl 196. Parts canussually be obtained from a forklift dealer Yes they smoke but only under start up and if tuned properly. I have had several and love them in a Scout II I really prefer the SD33T


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