If you’re in the market for a new truck, one of your first decisions is whether to buy a truck with a diesel engine or one with a gas engine. Both engine types have pros and cons due to several key differences. Which one works best for you largely depends on your situation and needs. Let’s take a look at the distinctions between gas and diesel engines, including what they do best.
Cost is usually one of the top concerns of any buyer, so let’s take a look at that first. Diesel trucks almost always cost more upfront. If you decide on a diesel truck, no matter what brand, you can generally expect to pay about $2,000 more compared to a gas truck of the same brand and trim. If you’re looking at a heavy-duty truck, you’ll pay even more than this for a diesel truck.
However, it’s well-known that diesel trucks typically get better gas mileage than gas trucks, and diesel fuel usually costs less too. As diesel trucks are known for their longevity, you might save enough on fuel costs over the lifetime of your truck to cover any extra amount paid upfront.
Maintenance costs are one area where gas engines often win out. Many diesel truck parts cost more than the same parts for gas engines. They also require a lot of turbocharger and emissions system maintenance compared to gas trucks.
If you’re planning to keep your truck for a long time, then a diesel truck might be the better choice. Diesel trucks often last well over 100,000 miles. In fact, some diesel enthusiasts insist that diesel engines are only just broken in at 100,000 miles! In part, diesel engine durability is a result of stronger engine blocks and stronger internal parts that can withstand higher compression ratios.
Of course, longevity depends largely on how you use the truck. Gas engines can last a long time too if they aren’t used extensively for towing and hauling.
Because of the longevity and higher price tag of diesel trucks, they tend to have better resale value overall than gas trucks.
One clear area where diesel engines shine is towing. Torque is the key when it comes to heavy-duty towing and hauling, and diesel engines generate a lot more of it at low RPM than gas engines.
Another reason that diesel trucks are preferred for towing is the integrated exhaust brake. This helps slow and control the truck and trailer while navigating heavy traffic or going down inclines. It uses turbo back-pressure to slow down which means less need for the actual brakes. One common issue in towing heavy loads is the brake system overheating. This is less likely to happen with a diesel truck.
Diesel engines also get better fuel economy when towing and hauling. In terms of fuel economy, a diesel truck with a full load generally outperforms a gas truck with the same load. Even without towing and hauling, diesel trucks typically get better gas mileage vs. a gas truck with the same engine size.
Gas engines do have a small advantage when hauling as they’re typically rated for higher payloads. The main reason for this is that they are overall lighter than diesel trucks. Diesel power will still be helpful in many hauling applications, but if the truck is at capacity, then a gas truck will generally be able to haul more due to the truck’s lighter weight.
At one point, gas engines outpaced diesel engines in horsepower, but that gap has narrowed considerably in recent years. In most cases, the extra horsepower of a gas engine vs. a diesel engine of the same displacement is less than 50 horsepower.
If you plan to go off-road with your truck, then a gas engine might be the better choice. As previously mentioned, they are typically lighter than diesel trucks, especially in the front. However, diesel trucks with manual transmissions offer a lot of low-end, slow-rev torque that helps control the truck on inclines or when rock crawling. The extra torque also helps a truck turn larger tires more easily.
Some people find the noise and smoke of diesel trucks off-putting, but modern diesel trucks are far less noisy than they used to be. The higher-tech emissions systems also make them less smoky.
Ultimately, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to choosing a gas or diesel truck. Much of it depends on how you plan to use it and your budget. But, the combined torque and power of a diesel engine easily outpaces gas engines, so if you plan to tow, diesel is almost always your best choice.
Rely on ProSource Diesel for all your diesel truck parts and accessories regardless of brand. You’ll find a wide range of Cummins diesel parts, Duramax parts, and Ford diesel parts available on our website. ProSource is where repair shops shop for reliable and hard to find diesel parts and kits.