April 18

How to Choose Between Diesel and Gas Trucks

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Last Updated on June 28, 2022

Before you’re ready to make the purchase, you have to know what to buy. Alas, you’re stuck between two choices. Diesel trucks or gas trucks? Thankfully, we’ve asked that question too. Here’s what to know when choosing between diesel and gas trucks.

People buy trucks for their performance, comfort, price, style, and fuel type. Trucks come equipped with a diesel engine more often than most other personal vehicle categories like sedans, SUVs, luxury vehicles. This is because diesel engines outperform gasoline engines in some applications where trucks are commonly used. 

People looking for a diesel truck have nearly 20 options. 

Diesel and Gas Trucks - list of diesel truck options

Half-ton: 

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  • Ford F-150
  • Ford F-150 Raptor
  • GMC Sierra 1500
  • Nissan Titan
  • Ram 1500
  • Ram 1500 TRX
  • Toyota Tundra

Three-quarter-ton:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Ford F-250
  • GMC Canyon 
  • GMC Sierra 2500 HD
  • Jeep Gladiator
  • Ram 2500

One-ton

  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
  • Ford Super Duty F-350
  • GMC Sierra 3500 HD
  • Ram 3500 

The increased number of diesel half-ton and three-quarter-ton models is due, largely, to the increased number of models available in those sizes.

Comparing diesel to gas trucks

When comparing diesel-powered to gas-powered trucks, there are eight criteria to consider for these two categories.

Diesel and Gas Trucks - infographic list of eight criteria

1. Availability

Whether you’re searching for a new or used vehicle, the truck you want has to be available. This applies more to diesel-powered trucks than gas-powered ones, and items in short supply with a high demand escalate in price. 

It’s not that you won’t find a diesel-powered truck in your area, but it may not be your preferred model. Color options may be limited. It may not have the features you want. You may need to expand your search to locations farther from your home, which could further increase price.

Also consider the availability of refilling stations. Most carry diesel and regular gasoline, but there may be challenges in your driving area.

2. Purchase cost

Diesel-powered trucks have a higher sticker price than the gas-powered variety. A half-ton diesel truck will cost more than $5,000 over a comparable gasoline truck. That number creeps to $10,000 or more on full-sized models.

The reason diesel trucks cost more is because their engines contain more parts and are more durable than gasoline engines.

3. Maintenance cost

Once you complete maintenance on your diesel truck engine, you’ll see it costs more than one that’s gasoline-powered. Extra components, including filters and hoses, adds to the number of components needing to be repaired. Even oil changes cost more. And diesel engines require the regular addition of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), which isn’t necessary with gasoline-powered trucks. 

The exception is when gasoline-powered trucks are run in ways that put a lot of demand on the engine. Frequent speed changes, heavy towing, and a lot of mileage are a few examples. In these scenarios, the repair and maintenance costs meet or exceed diesel trucks. 

4. Miles per gallon

Here’s a positive for diesel engines. Despite improvements in the fuel efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles, diesel-powered vehicles are more fuel efficient. This is true regardless of size or application (city, highway, hauling, unladen, etc.).

5. Performance

Under the umbrella of “performance” there are a lot of points to consider, such as speed, hauling, terrain ability, and more.

5 points of performance infographic
  • Hauling: Diesel-powered trucks have two advantages. They have a lot more torque at low rpm, which is more conducive to hauling. And they have an integrated exhaust brake, which helps control the trailer from swaying and decreases wear and tear on the brakes. 
  • Payload: Gasoline-powered trucks generally have a higher payload. Payload is how much weight the truck can carry without a trailer. Diesel-powered trucks have a higher gross vehicle weight and this cuts into their payload. 
  • Torque: Gas engines can’t compare to diesel engines when it comes to torque. Car manufacturers offer one-ton, diesel-powered trucks with more than 900 pounds-feet of torque. However, comparable gasoline-powered trucks achieve only half the amount of torque.
  • Speed: Gas engines offer higher horsepower, so this translates into faster acceleration and top speeds. 
  • Off-road Driving: Gasoline-powered trucks have a wider operating rpm range in each gear, which aids when traversing the desert or clearing mud from tires. They also have a lighter front end, which is less likely to get stuck in mud or sand. This is good for desert running and clearing mud from the tires. Diesel-powered trucks offer more low-speed control, which is great for traversing larger rocks and their torque allows them to better climb steeper grades. 

6. Longevity 

Diesel engines last longer than gasoline ones. They are generally built with more durable and long-lasting components. Combined with the ability of diesel-powered trucks to outperform gasoline-powered trucks in common applications, such as hauling, parts don’t wear as quickly. 

7. Driving habits

How much do you drive? If you only drive for short trips, choose a gasoline-powered truck. The filters on diesel engines fill up faster when many frequent short trips are taken. Are you hard on your vehicles? If so, choose a diesel engine because it can better tolerate more rigorous driving. Do you frequently travel far? Save money on fuel by getting a diesel engine. 

8. Total cost of ownership

The total cost of ownership takes into several data points, including purchase price, maintenance costs, fuel costs, and resale value. 

Gas wins at purchase price and maintenance costs, but diesel wins with fuel costs and resale value. 

When it comes to diesel-powered trucks, mileage is often the differentiator that distinguishes which truck is giving you better value. Up to about 150,000 miles, the lower purchase price and maintenance costs of the gasoline-powered trucks costs less. After that, the price of fuel drives greater cost savings for diesel-powered trucks. 

DIESEL TRUCKGAS TRUCK
AvailabilityLess availableMore available
Purchase CostMore expensiveLess expensive
Maintenance CostMore expensiveLess expensive
Miles Per GallonMore fuel efficientLess fuel efficient
PerformanceBetter hauling, torque, and low speed controlHigher payload and horsepower, wider operating rpm range
LongevityMore durableLess durable
Driving HabitsFor longer tripsFor shorter trips
Total Cost of OwnershipBetter fuel costs and resale valueBetter purchase price and maintenance costs

Trucks Currently at Online Auction

Diesel and Gasoline Trucks: The Verdict

If you regularly sell and replace your truck before it reaches 150,000 miles, selecting a gasoline-powered truck will probably be the better cost option. Though if you regularly hold onto a vehicle until it reaches a higher mileage range, then the diesel-powered truck will prove the more cost-effective option. 

All in all, if you still feel uncertain, then there’s something else you can do. Try perusing through our online catalog and see if anything fits your fancy. As we said earlier, whether you’re searching for a new or used vehicle, the truck you want has to be available.


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