Bigger isn’t always better. There are many RV or trailer owners who like the biggest size possible. They feel that having more room and more features is the best way to go. However, when they go big, they find that maybe the engines to power them up steep grades are not big enough.
The C10 was made between 1995 and 2004 and over that time span this engine produced about 6 different HP levels. It started at 325 and ended at 385 HP at 1800 RPM for all levels. The torque did change going from 1050 to 1350 lb-ft at 1100 and 1200 RPM.
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 still has what it takes to get the job done. It is a good engine that still produces the horsepower.
We found one list that provided 6 HP ratings for this engine. There are other resources that mention HP but they only mention one or two, the highest and the lowest. But over its 9-year run, it seems that Caterpillar produced different C10s with different HP ratings.
The lowest figure was 295 HP with the next rating at 320. #50 is mentioned twice on this list but after that, it goes up to 365 before hitting its highest rating of 385. All of these numbers were measured at 1800 RPM.
Whether or not it has the power to pull a 40,000-pound trailer up a 6% grade is another matter. It does not seem likely that this engine has the power for such heavy loads.
Even with this amount of power the B-50 rating for this motor is 900,000 miles. That means that no matter where you drive, you can expect to have this power to do the pulling you want for a very long time.
At the time of its construction, the C10 was given then up-to-date technology to help it perform better. It has its faults but it is a very durable engine.
Here is a chart describing the available ratings for this engine. It should help you answer any question you have about this engine’s performance ability.
|Advertised HP||Governed speed||Max HP @1600 RPM||Max HP @ 1800 RPM||Torque lb-ft @ RPM|
** figures taken from- https://web.archive.org/web/19970616094536/www.cat.com/products/engdiv/truck/c10.htm
As you can see, this engine was given enough power to handle the most difficult tasks. It seemed that while it was placed in some RVs, the majority of vehicles it was used in were buses.
When it came to fuel economy, it did 1.9% better than the 3176B truck engine. This performance was a computer-based test that CAT has been using for over a decade at that time.
One of the reasons production was stopped in 2004 was that CAT developed the C-9 which met the strict 2004 emissions regulations.
One of the up-to-date technological advances of that time that this engine was given was the ECM. The Electronic control module was supposed to have been an enticing feature for those companies that operated a fleet of trucks.
This feature was advertised to fleet managers as being able to help them analyze data, performance, and so on so they could determine the most effective and efficient way to utilize their vehicles.
This was a top benefit at the time. Then with its B-50 rating of 900,000 miles, this engine was determined it would be very durable over a long period of time. CAT designed it to be low maintenance so it was not sitting around the shop waiting to be repaired.
It was out doing the job it was designed to do. With its being one of the more reliable engines you could own, you could be more productive without making a lot of noise. It is said to be a very quiet engine.
The direct injection fuel system helped boost its fuel rating making it more economical than the 3176B truck engine.
There is no shortage of websites that provide this information. One website listed the specs as follows:
Number of cylinders 6
Cylinder bore, mm 125
Piston stroke, mm 140
Displacement, cc 10,3
Compression Ratio 17,25:1
Power output, kW (hp) 231-317 kW (310-425 hp) at 2200 rpm depending on configuration
Injection direct injection
Dimensions, mm (LxWxH) 1287 x 918 x1 078 or 50 x 36 x 41 inches approx.
Weight, kg 630 (dry weight) or 2050 pounds
While another website put the specs at the following levels:
Bore 125mm (4.9 in)
Stroke 140mm (5.5 in)
Max Torque 1350 lb-ft @ 1200 RPM
Aspiration Turbocharged ATAAC1
Displacement 629 cu in (10.3L)
Cooling System2 2.7 gal (10.2 L)
Lube Oil System (refill) 2.4 gal (9.4 L)
Weight, Net Dry w/Standard Equipment 2050 lb (932 kg)
The displacement was 10.3 L or 629 cubic inches. It was a large motor but CAT was able to build it so that it would not be as noisy as other diesel engines can get.
If you go to the chart above, you will see all the torque specs for each rendition of this motor. Those specs stayed fairly stable and only went over 1200 RPM twice. But below you will get the torque specs for the nuts and bolts of this engine:
1. Main Bearing Cap Bolts- step 1 = 95Nm, 70 lb.ft
step 2 = + 90 degrees
2. Connecting Rod Bolts- step 1 = 130 ± 7 Nm, 95 ± 5 lb.ft
step 2 = + 60 degrees
3. Main Cylinder Head Bolts- (bolts 1 through bolt 26 in a numerical sequence)
step 1 = 160 Nm, 120 lb. ft
step 2 = repeat step 1
step 3 = + 90 degrees
step 4 = loosen all
step 5 = 160 ± 10 Nm, 120 lb. ft
step 6 = repeat step 5
step 7 = + 90 degrees
4. Minor Cylinder Head Bolts- (bolts 27 through bolt 34 in a numerical sequence), step 8 = 28 Nm, 20 lb. ft
This information is provided by this website and they are the same for the C12 motor. That website has additional information on other CAt engines as well as repair and other manuals.
This engine is supposed to be very reliable and durable. Its longevity reaches almost 1,000,000 miles which means that it can last you for a very long time before needing any real maintenance work.
It was made to be low maintenance as well which means it should be tough enough to handle whatever you throw its way. We have not come across any major complaints about this engine and with its many applications
It has performed very well without catastrophic results. It is not a perfect engine as you will soon see but it is one you can count on when the going gets tough. You would have to decide if it has the power to pull up to 40,000 pounds up a 6% grade or not.
We have mentioned that twice as one perspective owner was looking at this scenario for this engine. It is a judgment call as most engines going up steep inclines towing a lot of weight behind it does not go very fast.
Without any major complaints so far and with millions of motors still on the road, it is safe to say it is a good engine. Of course, over time CAT has redesigned its engines to meet modern demands and this one may not be the best of the bunch but it was at one time.
While this motor was built to last, and in most cases it does, this engine doe shave some common problems that ruin the driving experience of some drivers. The list is fairly long of problems you can expect from this engine:
Connecting Rod Failure
Cracked Cylinder Head(s)
Scored Pistons and Liners
Spun Crankshaft Bearings
Lack of oil or oil pressure
Extreme Blow By
These are not the only parts that can go wrong. Remember that CAT placed an ECM or electronic control module on this motor. It was supposed to detect problems with the engine so you could avoid any major issues listed above.
However, it turned out that the ECM also created problems for this motor. One of those problems was a complete non-start. A very frustrating position to be in.
This problem got even more frustrating when you found out it was a dealer-only repair and the unit had to be changed. This situation made the repair very costly as well as time-consuming.
While this problem continues to today, there are new tools and technologies in place to cut the expense as well as the repair time. With the parts above, they drove some engines to the point that they were beyond repair.
Not all of them, but a few went that far. Others just needed a few components to fix the problem and you were on your way again. The word is that the ACERT or Advanced Combustion Emission Reduction Technology was the feature that ruined this engine.
It is said that the ACERT feature was one of the embarrassing moments for CAT. That feature was added in 2002 to meet strict and new emissions regulations. Two years later CAT came out with the C-9 and replaced the C-10.
This seems to be one of the major topics C10 owners talk about. They are looking to get more power from this engine and turn up simply means getting more fuel to the engine for more power.
The main complaint is that this engine did not have enough power to make it up some hills. Part of the reason may be that the turbocharger CAT installed was too small. One owner stated he had to change that part to have the ability to get the power he wants.
However, he cannot figure out how to turn up the fuel to achieve that goal. Another owner stated that he never gets a straight answer on this topic. He is a little frustrated like some other owners are.
In talking to one mechanic, one owner was told that he won’t be able to turn up the fuel without doing a major rebuild. He was talking about Injectors, cam, pistons, and timing and this was for the original C10 engine.
Another owner stated that there was not much that could be done without getting re-rated by CAT. We have not come across any resource that talks about this subject and gave a positive, logical answer.
One owner suggested new governor and spring spacers should do the trick. But there is no confirmation on that fix. We just have his word for it.
This seems to be a touchy subject. The word is that this engine is smaller than other diesel engines and most do not brag about its towing capacity. In fact, they kind of ridicule it.
It is not made for heavy-weight towing or hauling. Some people only use them to maneuver empty trailers around the yard and refuse to put any weight on those trailers.
There seems to be a tendency for these engines to blow up, figuratively speaking, but ruined nonetheless. When towing or hauling too much weight. If you are looking for a good tow engine, this is not it.
The reputation is that it is too small and under powered to be very effective with trailers, etc. This seems to be the main complaint about this engine. It is too small for heavy-duty work even though it was designed for heavy-duty work.
Of course, the main reason this engine does not perform that well is that CAT had trouble meeting the strict emission regulations that kept being handed down every few years.
The twin turbos with the burner boxes did not help matters and made the CAT engines of that era not as great as they could have been.
This engine model came with the best up-to-date features that CAT had developed at that time. They included the inline 6-cylinder engine model as well as the following features:
Electronic Ignition System direct injection cooled turbocharged, ADEM ™ F4 ECU, HEUI ™ fuel system, high efficiency oil filters, lightweight cylinder block, and split connecting rods.
Not to exclude the ACERT feature which was added in 2002. According to one source that rates the best and worst engines, the base block heads for any CAT engine at that time were really good. They were also very strong.
However, CAT suffered from poor engineering at the time and could not configure them with the newer upgrades because the engineering was not well thought out.
When CAT added the ACERT technology with the twin turbos and box burner, it was said to be very embarrassing for the company. While a durable and reliable motor, it just did not have what it took to be powerful and meet emission regulations. It was a no-win situation for CAT at that time.
While the engine may not be in production anymore and CAT may not stock parts for it either. There are still locations where you can get parts for this engine.
There are rebuild kits, camshafts, and cylinder head components still available at different locations. One example would be ATL Diesel which has a full line of CAT C10 parts that you can take advantage of.
Then there is Diesel Parts Direct which has a wider range of parts for this engine. The engine may be low maintenance but it is good to know that parts are available for something that has not been in production for 20 years.
With a good internet search, you should be able to find an outlet near you.
This article may seem like it is going back and forth about the quality of the C10 engine. That is not the case. It is just that this engine is better in some applications than others.
It just may not be the engine you want if you are going to be traveling to the mountainous regions of the country. It is durable and reliable but it is also under-powered.
Plus, you never know what stage it is at when you buy a used one with over 400,000 to 500,000 miles on it. It is a tough call when making a purchase.