Diesel Truck Prices vs Gasoline Trucks

March 19, 2012

This guide to diesel truck prices examines how diesel and gasoline trucks compare in terms of vehicle, fuel, and maintenance costs.

Diesel Pickup Truck

Trucks come in all sizes and shapes, from the smaller light-utility pickups to the larger cross-country semi-tractor trailers, and diesel truck prices will differ from gasoline based trucks in some ways. Many of the larger trucks use diesel fuel rather than conventional gasoline. Diesel fuel is a derivative of the same type of fuel used in home heating; it burns differently than gasoline and is not as volatile.

When one is considering the price of a diesel fueled versus gasoline-fueled vehicle, some factors come into consideration. Most heavy duty and commercial trucks for the most part come in diesel form as it is the most economical method of operation.

Gasoline Based Vehicles
A gasoline based vehicle will contain the usual components which drive a vehicle. There is an engine which operates on the gasoline stored in a tank on the vehicle. The gas is injected into the combustion chamber, which along with the compression of the air drawn in by the piston, is ignited by a spark plug. The expansion of the gas drives the piston down and turns the driveshaft leading into the transmission.

Diesel Based Vehicles
A diesel engine works differently in that the diesel fuel is injected in when the piston is compressing the air mixture. The high temperature ignites the diesel fuel and drives the piston down which turns the drive shaft.

When considering a diesel versus gasoline truck, there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Type and size of engine. Many trucks which have models that offer both gasoline and diesel often have different engine sizes to allow for mid to heavy-duty usage. For those who need a truck to do more driving than hauling, gasoline engines have quicker start ups and power for faster driving. Diesel engines provide more torque, which is ideal for towing and hauling. The major difference in pricing between gas versus diesel, is the engine, and drive train. A diesel engine creates much more torque than a gasoline engine, which in turn requires heavier-duty components from the engine block to the transmission to the drive train and differentials. On certain models this can add approximately $5000 to the cost over a similarly configured gasoline model.
  • Durability and maintenance. Diesel engines are much more durable and require less maintenance than a gasoline engine. A gasoline engine may require major maintenance at about 100,000 miles, however diesel engines may go three times that before maintenance is required.
  • Availability of fuel and prices. Gasoline and diesel fuel are made at different times of the year, according to the demands of driving versus fuel oil usage such as diesel and heating oil. Diesel fuel has a higher MPG than gasoline, so the cost of diesel is less as opposed to gasoline. Because gasoline-powered vehicles outnumber diesel vehicles, diesel fuel is more available along routes and highways where trucks travel. This is one of the reasons why diesel powered cars are not that popular.

Diesel Truck Prices vs. Gasoline Truck Prices

Gasoline-Based Vehicles
A gas-based vehicle operates similarly to a car. The gas is fed from the tank to the engine where it is injected into the piston as the exhaust gases are replaced by air pulled in. When the piston moves upward, it compresses the air and gas mixture which is then ignited by a spark plug. and then produces the gases to drive the piston down which turns the crankshaft. This provides power to the vehicle.

Price Differences
A diesel vehicle, because the engine creates more torque, requires heavier duty components from the engine block, to the pistons, crankshaft, transmission and drive train. In addition, because of the increased torque, a diesel trucks frame and chassis require strengthening in order to carry or pull cargo. Because all the components are heavier duty, the cost of a diesel truck is higher than a similar gas truck by a considerable amount.

Breaking Down Diesel Truck Prices For New Trucks
There are literally hundreds of publications both in print and on the web that claim to have the most competitive listings for diesel truck prices. But navigating the magnitude of information can be a tedious task, especially if you are looking for the best value for your product. However, there are some tremendous reasons why to purchase a diesel truck rather than a traditional gasoline-fueled counterpart.

How the Prices Line Up
Diesel trucks can be a little more expensive than your traditional gasoline-fueled truck, however, the cost difference is really worth the price. Be prepared to spend about $10,000 more for a larger diesel truck than you would for a smaller foreign equivalent. New trucks will range from $30,000 to $42,000, however, there is no other type of truck which will actually save you money on fuel as well as have some of the toughest pulling power around. There are some smaller, more economical versions that will run you about $25,000 but they won't have the same horsepower or features as some of the more expensive models.

The Real Breakdown
The real benefits when you choose diesel over the traditional fuel aren't just due to the additional power and bang for your buck, they're also in the fuel costs. While gasoline prices have been increasing, diesel has stayed pretty constant and is still relatively affordable. The other benefit of using diesel is that it actually produces more energy per gallon than gasoline giving trucks much better gas mileage and more strength while doing it.

Also, when considering miles per gallon, you'll have to determine what you want to use your diesel truck for. If you aren't going to be using your truck for big loads and a lot of towing, it's not going to be the most economical for you. However, if you are thinking of hauling a large trailer or camper, a diesel truck just might be the best option.

Several tests have been done to determine the amount of fuel used per mile when towing with a gasoline-fueled truck versus a diesel. While both could haul a large load, the diesel truck proved to not only do that, but also do it with a higher mile per gallon rating. Also, the diesel could tow up to twice the amount of the traditionally fueled truck, making it not only more economical, but more functional as well.

Related Questions and Answers

Is a Diesel Engine Size Bigger than a Gasoline Engine Usually?

When talking about engine power output, diesel engine size is going to be significantly smaller in displacement than a gasoline powered engine, with similar torque specifications. This is because the diesel engine is much more efficient and able to make use of much more of the chemical energy stored in diesel fuel than a gasoline engine can, with the chemical energy stored in gasoline. As an example, the 2.0 liter diesel in the VW Jetta TDi produces 236 foot-pounds of torque, while the 2.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine only delivers 125 foot-pounds of torque. 

Do Diesel Engines Work More Efficiently than Gasoline Engines?

As far as basic principles of operation are concerned, diesel engines work pretty much the same way a gasoline engine works. There are four cycles in both types of engines. Intake, compression, combustion and exhaust. The major differences being the type of fuel used and how the air and fuel mixture is ignited. Internal heat and compression, not a spark plug, is what causes combustion in a diesel engine. A diesel engine is much more fuel efficient, though. There are a number of technical factors that cause this increase in efficiency, the main factor being that a portion of the unburned fuel is scavenged from the cylinder and re-injected. Whereas in a gasoline engine, this unburned fuel ends up going out of the tailpipe.

How Does Engine Durability Compare Between Diesel and Gasoline?

Diesel engine durability is considerably higher than gasoline powered engines. There are a number of reasons for this. The biggest reason for this increased durability of diesel engines is that because these engines work under much higher pressures and higher temperatures, their parts must be made to be much more heavy duty and to withstand higher operating temperatures. Another major factor driving increased durability of diesel engines is the fact that they operate at much lower engine speeds. Whereas a four cylinder two liter gas engine may regularly see engine speeds (RPM) in the 5,000 to 6,000 range, a diesel engine will rarely see anything over 3,000 RPM. Slower engine speed means less wear and tear on the engine.

Why Do Most Trucks Have a Diesel Engine?

When it comes to full-sized pickup trucks, a diesel engine has become the engine of choice for most consumers. Diesel engines are, on average, thirty to forty percent more efficient than gasoline engines. This means that even though they cost a little more than a gasoline engine, in the long run, they are quite a bit less expensive to run. Also, torque output of diesel engines is much higher than a gasoline engine of the same size. This means that owners of pickup trucks with diesel engines can haul larger loads and tow heavier trailers.

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