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Demystifying myths: Gasoline vs. diesel

Monday, December 14, 2015

By: Mark Lorentz, Specialist, Truck & Equipment, Element Fleet Management

What is the better engine type - gasoline or diesel? The debate between gasoline engines versus diesel engines in pickups and cab and chassis is ongoing. There are advocates on each side of the discussion, passionate about why one powertrain is a better choice than the other. 

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It's important to remember that engine technology has changed rapidly over that last several years and emission regulations have added complexity and costs to diesel engines. Let's try to separate the some of the myths from the facts.

Myth #1: Fuel efficiency

While it is true that diesel is a more efficient fuel than gasoline, the actual increase in fuel economy in most fleets is relatively small. Low speed applications and idling are driving realities that quickly close the efficiency gap.

Myth #2: Power

If a truck is used for towing, the torque of a diesel engine is practical. In most other applications, today's gasoline engines provide a greater balance between horsepower and torque to get the job done.

Myth #3: Maintenance

Current emission standards require diesel engines to utilize particulate filters (DPF), selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to operate cleanly. These items have added complexity and cost to the maintenance of a diesel truck.

Myth #4: Durability

Diesel engines last longer, but be careful not to confuse this for reliability. Diesels can be temperamental and are more expensive to repair than gas engines. For applications where high idle times are unavoidable, you run the risk of damaging the DPF and SCR systems which can also lead to turbo, EGR and fuel injector repairs.

Myth #5: Cost

The upcharge to a diesel engine has nearly doubled over the last seven years as it now averages $9,000. If you combine this with higher maintenance costs and diesel fuel that is priced equal to or higher than gasoline, it becomes difficult to justify the purchase of a diesel over a gasoline engine truck.

Which engine choice is optimum for your fleet? If you aren't sure, it is best to consult an expert.

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