Do I need a diesel or gas engine in my pickup?

The right diesel can dramatically out pull a gas engine. Ever see a gas powered semi-truck? Diesels will generally last longer and get better fuel economy. At the present time they have better resale value. On fuel mileage, the diesel can at times, double the mileage of a gas engine. But they cost more than $4000 new over a gas engine. It generally takes 80,000 miles of fuel savings to pay for a diesel verses a gas engine. So if you keep a truck a long time, after 80,000 miles the rest is gravy. If you trade often and don t pull a trailer a lot, you should consider a gas engine. But if you keep them a long time, or pull trailers constantly, the cost of the diesel option will pay for itself in fuel savings.

You know diesels are louder than gas engines. Diesel explodes inside your engine, while gas ignites. You really don t notice this flying down the road. But if you live in town, you ll notice the guy down the street who starts his diesel at 4 am and warms it up for an hour and the people at the drive up windows seem to notice you in a diesel. If you buy a diesel with a manual transmission, it will require more skill to shift. The compression is twice that of a gas engine, which means you have to shift faster and time the R.P.M. s a little closer for a smooth shift.

Diesels need the heat from glow plugs or manifold heaters to aid in warming up the cylinders for starting. In very cold conditions, (-10 F) you will need to plug in block heaters and be sure you are using blended fuel, #2 and #1. Normally diesels run on #2 diesel. #2 has lubricating qualities that make it oily, smelly and stays on your hands for a few days. #1 diesel is like kerosene or jet fuel and less oily. The lubricating properties in #2 are what gels when extremely cold. This is why a blend of #2 and #1 50/50 is used in the winter by most service stations in states that get cold. But if you go to a warm state, (California, Arizona, Florida, etc,) in the winter and buy fuel there before coming home, you may want to use a diesel additive. If you are out of your area, buy your diesel at a truck stop. They should know what you need.

If you have never experienced gelling up a diesel in the winter, be happy. I have had this experience on my farm tractors. I had to use a hair dryer to liquidify the fuel in the injector pump and then crack the fuel lines to bleed the fuel through the pump and injectors. Most states don t get cold enough to plug in the block heater on your diesel. But if you are in the colder areas and need to plug in your diesel, I like to use a timer you can buy from Wal-Mart for $12 to $15. You only need to set the timer to turn on for a couple of hours before you re ready to use your truck.

Oil changes can cost two to three times as much or more than gas trucks. In area's where you are required to have an emission test on trucks, the diesel emission test costs more and sometimes is required more often. In Colorado you get 2 years emission exemption when the truck is new and after that you are required to be tested every year in certain Front Range counties. Today the break in period on new engines is generally 500 miles. During that time you don't want to use your cruise control. You need to vary the R.P.M.'s so the valves and rings can seat properly through the whole R.P.M range. On a diesel it generally takes 5000 miles to adjust itself. After the 5000 miles, diesels tend to start faster and the fuel mileage is as good as it gets from the factory.

Diesel is safer to handle than gas as far as fire. With the new turbo diesels, smoke is not the problem it use to be before turbo s. Diesels need enormous amounts of air. Above 10,000 feet elevation your diesel losses about 4% power per 1000 feet. Because diesel has to explode to combust, the engine components are built heavier than gas engines. But the diesel mechanic rate per hour is higher than for gas engines.

Most of these diesel engines have a bleeder valve on or near your fuel filter to drain off water from the fuel; diesel engines are prone to condensation in the fuel tanks. If you pay close attention to servicing your fuel filter, air filter, oil, oil filter, and radiator service at the right intervals you should expect to join the 300,000-mile club with your diesel pickup truck.

Till next time, Good Truck'n.
Kent Sundling (MrTruck)

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