When you have a big, heavy rig to move from one place to another, a powerless engine is not going to do the job. These are the times when you are happy to have a powerful motor like the 3208 under the hood. It has the power you need to move those heavier & larger vehicles.
The 3208 came in three versions and each version had its own HP and torque production levels. It has been reported that you could get one of these engines with as low as 150 HP but that HP level may not be powerful enough for most applications including an RV.
To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can decide if this older engine is still going to do the job you want. Take a few minutes to see how this information can help you.
This is a good question as some experts have claimed that in some applications the HP output was only 150. But in general, CAT made 3 versions of this motor and gave it only three HP levels.
The first level was called the lowest output and it contained 210 HP. The second level or mid-range version produced up to 375 HP while the highest output version reached 435 HP.
It is possible that the application of these motors will influence the total horsepower that you will experience. These are the official levels and are mentioned on CAT’s specification page.
Those three horsepower ratings are listed alongside the weight of each engine variation.
With these three engine versions for the 3208 motor, you should have enough power to get your vehicle where you need to go with ease. This engine has a wide variety of applications and the more powerful the engine, the more heavy-duty the application.
One of the issues you should be concerned about is not so much the level of horsepower the engine puts out but how long it will last. For example, the 375 HP motor, with good maintenance throughout its use, should last only 10,000 hours or slightly more than that before you need to rebuild it.
On the other hand, the 210 HP version should last up to and slightly over 25,000 hours with a good maintenance routine. One should not expect the 435 HP version to last as long as either of those two options even with top maintenance helping it.
While this was a very powerful motor, no matter its version, the 3208 drank a lot of diesel and could not meet the 2000 emission standards. That is why CAT stopped production of this motor in 1999.
The emissions regulations implemented over the years have killed a great many top & powerful motors that the consumer enjoyed.
There are different torque charts published but the best ones seem to be published by CAT. This link will take you to their specs sheet for the 3208 and as you scroll down you will see several charts that list a variety of torque levels for this motor.
For the lowest power output engine of these three, you could see 504 ft-lb of torque at 2200 RPM. For the 375 HP version, the torque reached 703 ft-lb @ 2800 RPM. Finally, for the highest output version, the measurement was 816 ft-lb @2800 RPM.
These figures are according to the CAT spec sheet we linked to above. It is not easy to find independent evaluations for torque as most results tend to provide the torque for nuts and bolts on this engine.
The spec sheet we linked to is used by a majority of websites that talk about this topic. This was a well-liked engine no matter its version. The design was simple and easy to repair.
Removing and installing parts was not that difficult. A point of interest has to do with the color of the engine. This was decided back in 1925 and the yellow color was meant to distinguish the CAT engines from its competitors.
One of the major issues here whenever this question is asked is that the majority of responders to the question say that you should not try to increase the HP at all.
They say that any version of the 3208 is powerful enough and increasing the HP level would invite trouble and high repair bills. However, you can turn the RPM limit screw about 1 1/2 turns to achieve a little more power.
You can also adjust the pre-boost to provide you with a bit more fuel. But once you start pouring in more fuel, expect to pay a lot more at the pump. No matter what you do to boost your power levels, you will lose on the fuel economy, such as it is already.
Boosting your power is a hard decision you have to make as while you gain on one end of the application, you will lose on the other end. To get the best advice on this topic you should talk to a qualified diesel mechanic with years of experience working on the 3208 engine.
They will know all the tricks you can do to boost your HP levels. They can tell you how to do it safely.
When you are thinking of buying a CAT 3208 do some thorough research on this engine. Some people think it is a throw-a-way model and not worth the time.
Others think it is a great workhorse engine that should survive for a few more decades. The key is to make sure to do good maintenance every year to not only boost its lifespan but also to enjoy the power that it comes with.
Almost 30 years later, it can still work for you.