A Diesel vs Gas Truck, What Do You Need?
What’s better, a diesel or gas truck? It’s a question as old as the dichotomy. We can tell you right now that there are a lot of differences, but no clear winner. Gasoline and diesel vehicles both have their strengths and weaknesses. Fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, there’s a lot to digest. It really all comes down to what you need your truck for.
Luckily, here at Northwest Motorsport, we know a thing or two about pickup trucks. So no matter what your preference, let’s take a look under the hood and find out what is the best truck for you.
Factors to Consider: Diesel vs Gas Truck
Let’s take a look at all of the different categories we want to consider when looking for a used diesel or gas truck. No matter what you’re putting out of your exhaust pipe, there’s something for everybody. But let’s find out what is the best truck for you.
If you’re buying, the acquisition cost is definitely going to be the first thing you want to consider. That makes sense because if you can’t afford the truck now, you’re definitely not going to be able to afford the associated costs down the road. So which costs more, a diesel or gasoline engine?
Of course, this isn’t a simple yes or no answer. However, on average, diesel trucks tend to cost between $6,000-$8,000 more than their gas counterparts. While this number can go in either direction, this is kind of a rule of thumb. In general, you could expect your acquisition costs to be higher for a diesel truck.
The sticker price isn’t the only thing to consider, of course! How about fuel efficiency? Well here is diesel fuel’s time to shine! According to the U.S. Department of Energy, diesel trucks can go about 35% farther on a gallon of fuel than a gas engine truck. That’s definitely not chump change.
That means your diesel truck is going to get more than a third better mileage on average. If that doesn’t seem impressive, look at it like this: that’s the difference between going 100 miles and going 130 miles.
Okay, so the diesel engine goes farther on a single gallon, but how much does that gallon cost? Well, smart shopper, you’re right to ask that question! On average, diesel fuel is about 30 cents more per gallon than gasoline. But why is that?
There are a couple of factors to take into account. The first is that outside of the U.S., the demand for diesel fuel is much higher. In Europe, many folks have already made the switch to diesel fuel, driving up the demand. There is also a higher federal tax on diesel fuel driving up the price.
The last thing to keep in mind is that the oil we use to heat our homes in winter is made from the same properties as diesel fuel. That means in the wintertime, demand for this fuel increases, and so does the cost.
Towing Heavy Loads
What’s better at towing? Diesel or gas truck? Well, let’s answer that question with another question! Which pumps do you see 18-wheelers lined up in front of? The diesel pumps, of course!
Diesel engines use compressed air rather than spark plugs to ignite fuel. The pistons on a diesel engine block have to travel farther to ignite the fuel, giving it more stroke. More stroke equals more power at lower-levels, giving you more torque. The higher your torque is the better your truck will be at towing heavy loads, especially up steep inclines, and at lower speeds.
So it seems like the diesel engine is working harder than a gasoline-powered truck. What does that mean for maintenance? Well, it means you have to work a little harder for maintenance on a diesel. That means higher maintenance costs.
Diesel engines typically require more oil than gas trucks. They also need to have more frequent servicing. This includes air filters, coolants, and general upkeep. While the diesel engine is more efficient, it takes more work (and more money) to keep it that way.
Okay, so higher maintenance costs and fuel costs on the diesel, but what about longevity? Well, this is where diesel has an advantage over gasoline. Diesel engines are pretty much always going to last longer than gasoline-powered trucks. But why is that?
Well, it has to do with the fuel itself. Diesel is light oil. When your truck is running on diesel, the fuel actually helps to lubricate the engine. This helps the parts to work more efficiently and last longer.
Gasoline, in contrast, washes away the oils that your engine needs. This means that the parts are wearing more quickly. This will lead to more parts that need replacing, and ultimately shortens the life of your engine.
This is a hard one to pinpoint because technologies for both engines are always improving. However, it seems to be the trend that diesel trucks have better resale value. Why is that? Well, it goes back to the different categories we’ve discussed earlier.
Mostly this hinges on the longevity of the engine. Like we said before, gasoline engines wear out more quickly when you’re putting a lot of miles on it. The health of your engine is going to be the biggest factor for resale value. Ultimately, this will come down to how well you take care of your truck. However, it’s easier to keep your diesel engine healthy.
It might be popular opinion that diesel engines have worse emissions than gasoline trucks. As is often the case, popular opinion isn’t completely right. Diesel trucks have to meet the same emissions standards as gasoline trucks.
Diesel engines do, however, produce more particulates and smog-forming nitrogen oxides. The industry is attempting to curb these emissions by making the switch to ultra-low sulfur diesel which burns cleaner and produces less negative emissions from the exhaust system.
Diesel or Gas Truck: The Debate Rages On
Like we said earlier, there’s no right or wrong answer to which is better. It will always depend on what you need your truck for. If you’re looking for a truck that can handle big tows and needs to last a lifetime, go with diesel! If you need a truck that performs better at higher speeds and will cost you less money, you probably want a gasoline truck.
Look, we don’t want to pick a side, that’s why we’ve got it all. In our eyes, all trucks are good trucks. Can you blame us?