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    Caterpillar Truck Engine Models and Prefixes Explained

    Caterpillar manufactured commercial truck diesel engines for many years but exited the business back in 2010. Their manufacturing still exists today, except they are done for various off-highway equipment and machines.

    The goal of Diesel Laptops has been to provide clients an easy and efficient way to lookup engine related repair information. This typically means allowing a user to either enter a VIN or select a year, make, and model of the information they are looking for. The issue with Caterpillar is that they do not categorize their repair information this way. They categorize it by engine application (Truck, marine, military, etc...), engine model, and then engine prefix.

    The engine prefix is the first 3 characters in the engine serial number. For example, SDP22671 has a prefix of SDP. Quick research can tell us that this is a C15 engine, but what years of trucks did it go into? Caterpillar has never made this information available to the public, along with more details on what features those prefix’s have. In this blog post, we hope to break all of that down for you.

    We also need to have a quick conversation about production years, model years, and emission years. Often vehicles made in a current year, are classified as next years models. Most vehicle manufacturers flip their model years over at some point in the first couple months of the new year. For example, a truck built in March of 2020, could very well be a model year 2021. Truck order backlogs often fill up for months, or even years, at a time. This means you could be sitting here in December 2020 and receiving quotes on 2022 model years (Which would be available in early summer 2021).

    To further muddy the waters, emission years often lag production years. The EPA set standards that engine manufacturers have had to meet since 2004. You now must line up engine manufacturing dates with vehicle manufacturing dates with model year changes. This all becomes even more problematic when we are trying to decode a VIN which gives us model years, not production nor emission years.

    CAT C15 Engines

    The CAT C15 was the replacement for the 3406E and was a very popular “big bore” 15-liter engine during its day. They have 3 “versions” of C15 engines they made:

    • C-15 (Pre-ACERT engines, with a dash between the C and the 15)
    • C-15 Bridge (Engines in transition from pre-ACERT to ACERT)
    • C15 ACERT (ACERT is the CAT technology to meet EPA 2004 & 2007 emission standards)

    Based on our research, our team was able to categorize this as follows:

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    6NZ
    C-15
    Jul 1998
    Jun 2005
    99,900
    1998 - 2002
    6NZ, 9NZ, MBN, & EGH have same fault code tables.
    9NZ
    C-15
    Jun 2005
    Feb 2009
    18,500
    1998 - 2002
    6NZ, 9NZ, MBN, & EGH have same fault code tables.S
    MBN
    C-15 Bridge
    Dec 2001
    Feb 2003
    30,100
    1998 - 2002
    6NZ, 9NZ, MBN, & EGH have same fault code tables.
    EGH
    C15 ACERT
    Dec 2002
    Oct 2004
    Less than 300
    1998 - 2002
    6NZ, 9NZ, MBN, & EGH have same fault code tables.
    BXS
    C15 ACERT
    Mar 2003
    Dec 2004
    39,000
    2003
    First “True” ACERTS.
    MXS
    C15 ACERT
    Mar 2003
    Jul 2006
    100,000
    2004 - 2006
    Most popular C15 ACERT. Once piece housings for engine brake & VVA’s
    NXS
    C15 ACERT
    Jul 2006
    Apr 2009
    33,000
    2004 - 2006
    NXS exact same as MXS. CAT ran out of serial numbers.
    RKS
    C15 ACERT
    Sept 2008
    Jan 2009
    Less than 100
    2004 - 2006
    RKS same fault code tables as MXS & NXS
    SDP
    C15 ACERT
    Jan 2005
    Mar 2009
    22,700
    2007 - 2010
    Last C15 engine prefix built

    CAT C12 Engines

    The CAT C12 was the little brother to the CAT C15 engine, as it was a 12-liter engine with a maximum of 430HP from the factory.

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    1YN
    C-12
    Nov 1994
    Dec 1997
    12,800
    1994 - 1996
    First C12’s made
    9NS
    C-12
    Jan 1997
    Feb 2004
    20,200
    1997 - 1998
    2KS
    C-12
    Mar 1996
    Apr 2006
    99,500
    1999 - 2003
    2KS, CPD, & 8YF use the same fault codes.
    CPD
    C-12
    May 2001
    Jun 2005
    2,500
    1999 - 2003
    2KS, CPD, & 8YF use the same fault codes
    8YF
    C-12
    Feb 2007
    Sept 2009
    3,100
    1999 - 2003
    2KS, CPD, & 8YF use the same fault codes

    CAT C13 Engines

    The CAT C13 replaced the CAT C12 engine and was a popular 13L engine that was built from 2004 until 2010 when CAT exited the on-highway diesel engine business.

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    JAM
    C13 ACERT
    Jul 2005
    May 2011
    Less than 90
    2004 - 2006
    EPA 2004 Emissions, No DPF
    KCB
    C13 ACERT
    Nov 2002
    Jan 2010
    94,000
    2004 - 2006
    EPA 2004 Emissions, No DPF
    LEE
    C13 ACERT
    Jan 2005
    Mar 2009
    23,500
    2007 - 2010
    EPA 2007 Emissions, DPF, new air management system

    CAT C9 Engines

    The first several engine prefixes were built in exceptionally low quantities, so they were more then likely test engines. The 2004 emission engine was a 8.8L configuration and the 2007 model was a 9.3L. The 2007 model included Clean Gas Induction (CGI) and a particulate filter with Cat Regeneration System (CRS).

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    ETK
    C9
    Jan 2005
    Jul 2008
    Less than 500
    MTB
    C9
    Jan 2004
    Dec 2006
    1,000
    CKP
    C9
    Apr 2003
    Jun 2003
    Less than 500
    CKP
    C9
    Apr 2003
    Jun 2003
    Less than 500
    9DG
    C9
    Aug 2000
    Dec 2006
    10,500
    2004 - 2006
    EPA 2004 Emissions
    CKP
    C9
    Apr 2007
    Dec 2008
    1,200
    2007 - 2010
    EPA 2004 Emissions

    CAT C10 Engines

    This engine was smaller then the C12, and was only used in production for a short period of time. This was a 10.3L engine, and didn’t put up huge sales numbers.

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    2PN
    C10
    Nov 1994
    Aug 1998
    7,300
    1995 - 1997
    8YS
    C10
    Mar 1997
    Apr 2003
    7,300
    1998
    3CS
    C10
    Jul 1996
    Dec 1999
    9,700
    1999 - 2002
    3CS & MBJ use exact same fault code tables.
    MBJ
    C10
    Oct 2002
    Dec 2003
    4,000
    1999 - 2002
    3CS & MBJ use exact same fault code tables.

    CAT C7 Engines

    The CAT C7 was released in 2003 to meet engine emission standards and was a 7.2L medium duty diesel engine. The CAT C7 was plagued with the same ACERT problems that CAT had in the other ACERT engines.

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    YPG
    C7
    Nov 2004
    Mar 2005
    Less than 100
    LBM
    C7
    Apr 2006
    Oct 2008
    700
    KAL
    C7
    Oct 2002
    Jul 2003
    1,800
    2003 - 2006
    3WAX, SAP, & KAL prefix are identical.
    SAP
    C7
    Feb 2005
    Jun 2005
    21,500
    2003 - 2006
    WAX, SAP, & KAL prefix are identical.
    WAX
    C7
    Aug 2005
    Dec 2006
    75,700
    2003 - 2006
    WAX, SAP, & KAL prefix are identical.
    CS7
    C7
    Feb 2005
    Aug 2007
    3,700
    2007 - 2010

    CAT 3406E Engines

    The CAT 3406E was eventually split into the CAT C15 & C16 in 2000. The CAT C16 only made it a couple years before being discontinued mainly due to emission standards that took place starting in 2004. The CAT C15 turned into the CAT C-15 ACERT engine eventually.

    ENGINE PRREFIX
    MODEL
    FIRST BUILT
    LAST BUILT
    QTY BUILT
    MODEL YEARS
    NOTES
    5EK
    3406E
    Nov 1991
    Jan 1997
    99,300
    1993 - 1997
    6TS & 5EK almost identical. 6TS has steel top pistons, 5EK aluminum.
    6TS
    3406E
    Jan 1997
    Aug 1998
    27,800
    1993 - 1997
    6TS & 5EK almost identical. 6TS has steel top pistons, 5EK aluminum.
    5DS
    3406E
    Sept 1996
    Jan 1999
    1,000
    1998
    15.8L Engine
    1LW
    3406E
    Dec 1997
    May 2003
    33,000
    1998
    14.6L Engine
    1MM
    3406E
    Jun 1998
    Dec 1999
    1,300
    1999 - 2000
    15.8L Engine
    2WS
    3406E
    Mar 1996
    Dec 1999
    42,700
    1999 - 2000
    14.6L Engine

    Summary

    Hopefully, our research has helped answer a question or two for you. If you are looking for diagnostic tools or repair information on CAT engines, you have come to the right place!

    Our Diesel Repair platform contains repair information on fault codes, along with remove and replace instructions, torque specifications, wiring diagrams, component locators, and much more.

    Our online store has all kinds of diagnostic tools for CAT engines, as we cover everything from handheld code readers to full blown dealer level diagnostic tools. Call, chat, or email us today and let us help find the right tool for you!

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    Tyler Robertson

    Tyler Robertson is the Founder, Owner, and President of www.DieselLaptops.com. Started in 2010, DieselLaptops.com has become the premiere source of diesel diagnostic equipment for commercial trucks, off-highway equipment, marine, motorcycle, automobile, agriculture, and more.

    Comments

    Adam Henderson - July 15, 2021

    Thanks for compiling this information! Very informative

    Gary Morgan - February 11, 2021

    Impressive set of information.

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