Do you really want a diesel engine in your truck? Advantages and disadvantages of using diesel power

In a world moving towards electric vehicles, choosing a diesel-powered truck seems like a step in the opposite direction. Large semi-trailers have long used diesel engines to take advantage of the greater power to pull a heavy load. Is this the type of engine you want or need in your truck? Let’s consider some pros and cons of driving a diesel powered truck.

Pros: a diesel engine offers better fuel economy

Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD | Chevy

RELATED: 4 Reasons You Want The Diesel Engine In Your 2022 Chevy Pickup

Overall, diesel trucks are more efficient than those that use gasoline. MotorTrend underscores this fact by telling us about the greater energy density of diesel fuel. This density allows a diesel truck to use direct injection to burn less fuel than the port-injected configuration of gasoline models. For direct comparison, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 offers a good example.

The Silverado’s turbocharged 3.0-liter Duramax diesel six-cylinder engine and 10-speed automatic transmission return 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway in RWD models and 22 mpg city/26 mpg gal on the road in the 4WD versions. This engine also has 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.

The base engine is the one that comes closest to the fuel economy of the Duramax engine. This model is a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers 310 horsepower, 420 lb-ft of torque and 19 mpg city/22 mpg highway in RWD models, while 4WD versions offer 17 mpg city/20 mpg highway. road.

Disadvantage: the initial cost is much higher than that of gasoline trucks

In America, we only see diesel engines in full-size trucks and large SUVs on the market. Most models that use this fuel cost at least $10,000 more than their gas-powered counterparts. This upfront cost is turning some customers away from the diesel powertrain, opting instead for a more affordable gasoline model.

Advantage: greater towing capacity with diesel engines

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel used pickup truck with good gas mileage

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel 2015 | RAM

The higher torque numbers of a diesel truck allow owners to pull a much heavier load than if they chose a gas-powered model. The three big names in diesel models on the market are Cummins, Duramax and Power Stroke. These engines in heavy-duty truck models offer 910, 1,000 and 1,050 lb-ft of torque to tow 35,000 pounds or more.

Disadvantage: diesel is more expensive than gasoline

Every time you pass a gas station, you can see the proof. Diesel fuel generally costs at least $0.50 more than gasoline per gallon. The National Motorists Association blog points out that a switch to “Ultra Low Sulfur” fuel has caused the price of diesel to rise. There was a time when diesel fuel was more affordable than gasoline, but that is no longer the case.

Pros: Longevity of diesel engines

Ford Super Duty pickup truck towing a tractor on a trailer through a farm field.

2021 F-Series Super Duty | Ford Motor Company

Most gasoline engines cannot last nearly as long as a diesel model. Different experts offer different mileage marks, but all agree that gasoline trucks wear out faster and require more expensive repairs much sooner. Typically, a diesel engine can last over 350,000 miles before costly repairs are needed.

Disadvantage: maintenance costs

The typical maintenance visit for a diesel truck is far greater than that of a gasoline machine. Hot Cars tells us that diesel engines require more frequent oil changes, filter changes, and water separator cleaning. Oil changes typically range from $60 to $80 for a diesel truck, compared to $20 to $40 for a gas-powered pickup truck.

Advantage: fuel flexibility in diesel engines

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Gasoline vehicles can only burn gasoline, but a diesel pickup truck can also burn biodiesel or other fuels that help reuse restaurant items. In fact, these engines can burn used vegetable oil, which you can pick up at your local restaurant. Of course, you have to modify your engine, but you can use this scrap in your vehicle, and many restaurants will give it to you for free.

Disadvantage: availability of vehicles

Gasoline vehicles are much more common than those with a diesel engine under the hood. In the United States, most vehicles equipped with a diesel power plant are trucks and large SUVs. Even these vehicles are limited. For example, the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Jeep Gladiator are the only midsize trucks offered with a diesel engine. Ford doesn’t even offer a Power Stroke engine in the F-150, which limits the vehicles you can buy if you want to run diesel in your truck or SUV.

Should you buy a vehicle with a diesel engine?

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If you need more towing capacity than a gasoline engine and want a vehicle that lasts a long time, diesel power makes sense. On the other hand, if you don’t keep your vehicle for more than a few years and you don’t tow heavy loads, you’re probably better off driving a gas-powered truck or SUV.

RELATED: Is the Power Stroke a better diesel engine than the Duramax?

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