Product Evaluation: International 4300

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Wheelbase: 128-254 inches
Engine: International DT 466; 210 hp @ 2400 rpm to 255 hp @ 2300 rpm, and from 520 lb-ft of torque to 660 lb-ft, @ 1400 rpm
Transmission: Eaton Fuller 6-, 7-speed/Allison 5-speed auto.
Clutch: Eaton
Fuel tanks: Various
Front axle: International, setback, 10,000 pounds
Rear axle: Dana Spicer, 17,500 pounds
Brakes: 4-wheel hydraulic disc/full air
Wheels: 22.5 x 8.25
Tires: Goodyear Unisteel G, 11R22.5

If the 4300 were a high school student, it might easily be voted “Most improved,” judging by comments from our evaluators, who found it “head and heels” above its predecessors – especially in the area of maintenance ease.

The product
Sharing much with its stablemates – the lighter 4200 and heavier 4400 – the 4300 straight truck offers wheelbases from 128 to 254 inches, and GVWRs from 20,200 to 44,000 pounds. Like the entire 4000 Series, the 4300 was designed for urban and regional delivery, plus a variety of other applications, including beverage, leasing, utility and recovery, International says.

The 4300’s power comes from International’s 7.6-liter DT 466, in-line, 6-cylinder turbo diesel, rated from 210 hp @ 2400 rpm to 255 hp @ 2300 rpm, and from 520 lb-ft of torque to 660 lb-ft, all @ 1400 rpm.

The DT 466 is one of a new line of sixes that share technologies first introduced on International’s VT 365 V8 diesel, including: a second-generation hydraulic-electronic unit fuel injection (G2) system, which works independently of camshaft/ valve events; four valves per cylinder for better breathing; an electronically controlled, variable-rate (EVRT) turbocharger to reduce turbo lag; and available, integral, “Diamond Logic” engine and exhaust brakes. (For more engine details, see last month’s “Equipment” department.)

While the standard transmissions are Eaton Fuller 6- or 7-speed boxes (depending on weight rating), several Allison automatics are optional. The entire package rides on a Huck-bolted-crossmember frame, and brakes are hydraulic disc or full air, again depending on weight class.

The evaluation
Evaluators found maintenance ease to be the 4300’s brightest reflection on its designers and builders. For example, they were pleased that the hood itself has three main pieces, allowing easy replacement of fenders in the event of damage, while the pop-out grill provides a similar advantage at the front end.

An easy tilt of that hood reveals all daily fluid points – oil check/fill, power steering, brake and washer fluid reservoirs and coolant tank – grouped together on the driver’s side of the engine compartment. “That’s where they belong,” asserted an evaluator. “If you make routine maintenance that easy, it’s bound to get done.”

While underhood, evaluators were also happy to see a self-tensioning accessory belt drive system and widespread use of constant-torque, no-leak hose clamps. “That’s two traditional maintenance chores eliminated,” said one. “And it’s nice to see that they’ve gone back to the use of zerk lube fittings to improve suspension component life.” He also noted two additional supports under the radiator, which he had not seen on previous models. “That should really help with radiator, condenser and charge-air cooler life,” he predicted.

Indeed, quibbles were few and far between. While no one was particularly keen on the far, rear-of-the-block location of the engine ECU, “It’s not as hard to reach as many I’ve seen,”

Headlamp replacement consists of removing screw covers behind lamp in inner fenders.

product manager John Randall told the group. “You can get it if you go in from the doghouse inside the cab, and it’s a stacked unit that comes out in two thinner pieces.”

The rest of the inspection continued to reveal maintenance-cost-cutting and safety features. The large side mirrors, with replaceable glass, for example, are designed to safely snap forward or backward on impact, thus reducing or eliminating the need for repair.

Evaluators also appreciated the well-positioned, self-clearing steps and interior grab handles, which are more likely to remain clean and safe than exterior-mounted ones.

Another safety concern on many trucks has been eliminated on the 4300, evaluators found. The driveline parking brake has been moved from behind the transmission to in front of the rear axle, allowing the vehicle to remain securely parked in the event that the driveshaft is removed for service.

All agreed that air leaks and electrical shorts and opens, resulting from wire and hose chaffing, are perennial nuisances on some vehicles, but the use of abundant tie-downs and slack where it should be – and not where it’s not – should all but eliminate the problem on the 4300, they said. Moreover, the use of resettable circuit breakers, located in two clearly marked boxes, were judged to improve the odds of getting the vehicle home if electrical problems should crop up on the road. And if the electrical problem is a burned-out headlamp, “No problem,” said Randall, demonstrating the simple, screw-out bulb covers in the inner fenders.

On the road, the team had little to complain about, finding full instrumentation, expensive looking materials, plenty of storage space and nice touches like a more ergonomically located key switch and headlights that come on automatically with the windshield wipers. They also agreed that working room, maneuverability, visibility, ride quality and noise and vibration insulation were at least as good as advertised. “The mirrors don’t shake at all,” observed one.

Of course, there were a couple of nits picked. For example, one evaluator didn’t think the plastic interior door handles looked strong enough to stand up to hard, everyday use, but Randall assured him that the same handles have been used for nearly four years with no failures, adding that they are designed with enough room around them to be easily operated with gloves on.

And another evaluator noted some door rattling at speed, and found that, with the driver’s door closed, he could pass a piece of paper through the lower opening. “There have been issues with door fit, and we have made assembly process changes to eliminate the problem,” says Randall.

Satisfied that the few problems are being addressed, and that International’s “Invest in product and invest in process” philosophy is resulting in greatly improved trucks, who knows? Maybe evaluators will vote the whole 4000 Series “Most likely to succeed.”

The International 4300 Product Evaluation Team (left to right): Darrell Womack, corporate manager of fleet services, USFilter, South Bend, Ind.; Jim Blitz, fleet manager, Elderlite Express, Richmond, Ind.; Brett Quigley, corporate director of transportation, US Filter; and Kevin Massey, Midwest area maintenance manager, Old Dominion Freight Line, Columbus, Ohio.

The fleet operator’s opinion
CCJ Product Evaluations are not performed by CCJ editors. They are conducted by a team of fleet equipment managers, chosen for their experience with the type of product being evaluated. Editors report evaluators’ opinions, not their own.

An evaluation is based on a driving test and design assessment (which sometimes involves some disassembly of the vehicle), followed by a discussion among the evaluators and manufacturer’s representative(s). Manufacturers are given ample opportunity to respond to any criticisms.

As always, CCJ welcomes your comments and suggestions.