Posted Monday, Sep 18, 2023
If you are in the market for a new truck, you may be wondering whether you should choose a diesel or a gas engine. Both types of engines have their pros and cons, and the best choice for you depends on your needs, preferences, and budget.
In this article, we will compare diesel and gas trucks in terms of fuel economy, performance, maintenance, cost, and environmental impact. We will also give you some tips on how to decide which one is right for you.
One of the main advantages of diesel trucks is their better fuel economy. Diesel engines are 20% to 35% more efficient than conventional gasoline engines, so they use less fuel and deliver more miles per gallon. For example, the EPA rated the 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 engine in the Chevrolet Silverado at 25 combined mpg, compared to 19 miles per gallon that the gas-powered 5.3-liter V8 gives you. In the Ford F-150, a 3.0-liter turbo diesel gets 24 mpg, six more than a turbocharged gas 3.5-liter V6.
The fuel economy difference between diesel and gas engines is due to various factors, including diesel’s much higher energy density as well as the better efficiency of compression ignition as compared to spark plug ignition. Diesel fuel contains more usable energy than gasoline, which makes it one of the most efficient and energy-dense fuels available.
However, the higher fuel efficiency of diesel trucks may not always translate into lower fuel costs. Diesel fuel generally costs more than regular gasoline, and the price difference varies depending on the location and season4. Therefore, you may need to drive a lot of miles to recoup the extra cost of diesel fuel.
Another advantage of diesel trucks is their superior performance in terms of torque and towing. Torque is the force that moves a vehicle forward, and it is especially important for pulling heavy loads such as trailers, boats, or other vehicles. Diesel engines produce more torque than gas engines at lower rpm, which means they can accelerate faster and maintain speed better under load.
As an example, the Chevrolet Silverado with a diesel engine delivers 460 pound-feet of torque at 1,500 rpm, while the gas engine delivers 383 pound-feet at 4,100 rpm. The Ford F-150 with the diesel engine delivers 440 pound-feet at 1,750 rpm, while the gas engine delivers 400 pound-feet at 2,500 rpm. These numbers show that diesel trucks have an edge over gas trucks when it comes to towing capacity and performance.
However, gas trucks have their own advantages in terms of horsepower and speed. Horsepower is the measure of how fast a vehicle can go, and it is especially important for achieving high speeds and satisfying acceleration. Gas engines produce more horsepower than diesel engines at higher rpm, which means they can reach higher top speeds and offer a more fun driving experience.
For instance, the Chevrolet Silverado with the gas engine delivers 355 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, while the diesel engine delivers 277 horsepower at 3,750 rpm. The Ford F-150 with the gas engine delivers 375 horsepower at 5,000 rpm, while the diesel engine delivers 250 horsepower at 3,250 rpm. These numbers show that gas trucks have an edge over diesel trucks when it comes to speed and agility.
One of the main disadvantages of diesel trucks is their higher maintenance cost. Diesel engines are more complex and require more frequent and expensive service than gas engines. Diesel trucks have more filters and components that need to be changed or cleaned regularly, such as the fuel filter, air filter, oil filter, glow plugs, injectors, turbocharger, and emissions system.
Diesel oil changes are also more expensive than gas oil changes because they use more oil and require special synthetic oil. Additionally, diesel trucks need to have their DEF topped up every few thousand miles.
Gas trucks have lower maintenance requirements than diesel trucks because they have fewer filters and components that need attention. Gas oil changes are cheaper and less frequent than diesel oil changes because they use less oil and regular conventional oil. Gas trucks do not need DEF or any other additives to meet emissions standards.
Diesel maintenance costs more than gas maintenance because of the more frequent and expensive services and parts. Additionally, diesel repair costs more than gas repair because of the higher labor rates and parts prices.
Diesel trucks are more expensive than gas trucks upfront and in the long run. Diesel engines have a higher production cost than gas engines because they use more materials and technology. This cost is passed on to the consumer in the form of a higher sticker price for diesel trucks. For example, according to Cars.com2, a 2017 Ram 1500 with a gas V6 engine had a starting price of $27,890, while a similar model with a diesel V6 engine had a starting price of $38,7302. That is a difference of $10,840 for the same truck with a different engine.
Diesel trucks also have higher ownership costs than gas trucks over time because of their higher fuel costs, maintenance costs, repair costs, and depreciation rates. Diesel fuel also costs more than regular gasoline on average, and the price gap can widen depending on the location and season.
Moreover, the resale value of diesel trucks depreciates faster than gas because of the lower demand and resale value for diesel trucks in the U.S. market.
Diesel and gas trucks have their pros and cons, and the best choice for you depends on your needs, preferences, and budget. If you are looking for a truck that can tow and haul heavy loads, has better fuel economy, and lasts longer, then a diesel truck may be a good option for you. However, you should also consider the higher upfront and ownership costs, as well as the environmental impact of diesel emissions.
A gas truck may be a better option for you if you are looking for a truck that is cheaper to buy and maintain, has better performance and handling, and is more widely available. Ultimately, the best way to decide between a diesel and a gas truck is to compare different models, test drive them, and do the math on the total cost of ownership.