GAS or DIESEL... What's this girl to do?

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CandyNelson

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Aug 19, 2006
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Hi fellas, you really know how to convince me!

Well, I posted my question in this forum about which gas tow vehicle I should buy for my new full-timing travel trailer (either the Ford 350 V10 or the GMC 2500/3500) and I'm getting the overwhelming response---- "buy a diesel."  So, while they say "the crowd is always wrong", I don't think so this time and so I am really going to consider getting a diesel.  I just wonder how much fun driving a diesel around town will be when I am not connected to the trailer.

One thing that doesn't make sense to this blonde----> how can both the GMC 2500 gas model and the same GMC 2500 model in diesel have the exact same maximum towing capacity.  You would think the diesel could tow more based on what I am reading on this forum.  If they both tow 12,000 max, why get a diesel?

Second, if I buy a 2007 diesel now how does the new low sulfur diesel gas law effect me? 

Third, does getting a diesel only make "cost effective sense" if you are going to hang on to the vehicle for a long time?.  (I like to drive something new after 4-5 years)

Lastly, is it still a smart decision to get a diesel with the way diesel gas prices are rising?  It's 30-40 cents more than regular gas in some places.

See ya on the road, Candy
 

Ned

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There are other factors that determine towing capacity besides the engine; brakes for example.

If you buy a vehicle with a 2007 engine, it will require the ULSD fuel, if it's a 2006 engine, it will run on the existing LSD.

A diesel will outlast a gas engine by many, many years if the proper maintenance is followed.  However, most diesel vehicles (other than commercial uses) will never be driven long enough to wear out the engine.

A diesel will generally get better fuel economy than an equivalent gas engine, somewhat offsetting the current higher price of diesel fuel.  However, in some places, diesel is about the same as gas.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I just wonder how much fun driving a diesel around town will be when I am not connected to the trailer.

What's not to have fun?  A modern turbo-diesel performs like a rocket ship, though it is a bit noisier than gas when idling at a traffic light. 

The low-sulphur fuel thing actually takes effect Jan 1, 2007, so maybe an early 2007 will be to 2006 specs?  I don't know - ask the dealer (or better yet, call Ford or GM direct).

The V10 will tow OK, but the diesel will deliver much better fuel economy when towing. And probably when not towing as well.
 

2006F350

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Memphis TN
The vast majority of my miles have been non-towing (just turned 19K). The only problem I have is finding a parking place, so I usually park away from the crowd and have no qualms about taking up 4 slots (my truck is just a tad shy of 23' long and almost 8' wide). Fuel milage - my previous vehicle was a F150 Lariat with the 5.4L gas engine / 3.55 rear end and weighed just over 4500 lbs. Got just under 15MPG in town and almost 20MPG on the highway - didn't tow at the time. I now get almost 16MPG in town and 18MPG not towing or 12 towing on the highway with the 6.0L diesel and 4.30 gears and weighs almost 7500 lbs, and it's sooooo much more comfortable than the F150. Heck, to be honest, I think I have more back seat room than 99% of the full-size passenger cars today. I have no plans to downgrade from diesel. As one of the previous posters mentioned, when you press the go-pedal, that is exactly what it does, and quite quickly.

Larry

 

GaryB

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Evansville, IN
I've never owned diesel before.  Is a diesel truck that much harder to start or does it take that much longer to warm up in the winter?  I'm rather impatient and would hate to have to let my truck warm up for 10-20 minutes on a cold day just to drive 3 miles to/from work.

Thanks
Gary
 

Ned

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The engine should have a block heater, if not, get one installed.  Turn it on several hours, or the night before and it will start up as if it were summer.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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10-20 minutes? Do you let your gas engine warm up that long? A diesel doesn't really take any longer once it is started, but you may need to take a minute or two before attempting to start. Some engines have glow plugs that need to heat up and in severe cold you may need a block heater to get it to fire at all.  Warm-up time should not be an issue. But all my diesel experience was in a warm climate, so what do I know?

Let's hear from you cold-country diesel owners - what do you do?
 

Ned

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We try to avoid the cold temps but if it's in the low 40s or high 30s, then we will use the block heater for a couple of hours in the morning to aid in a quick start.  Otherwise, we just wait for the preheat lamp to go out on the dash. We never let it idle for more than it takes to get the air pressure up to insure brakes will work.
 

Jim Godward

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OK, since we are one of the cold country drivers, here is what I do. 

When it is cold, below about 40 degrees all the way down to the below zero teens, I plug in the block heater and let it run.  The time depends on how cold.  If it is below zero far enough, I may run it all night but that is very unusual.  Usually a couple of hours is enough to get the coolant temps up into the low 40s or higher.  Then I start as Ned described and we start moving as soon as the air is up, less than 5 minutes and the jacks are up.  BG

One additional item is that we do add an antigel to the diesel when we fill and I make sure that I have cold weather diesel in the tank if we are storing it during October and November.  We drive south in late December.  As long as the temps are above 40 degrees, no problems or special steps are necessary.

I worry more about the water and tanks freezing than the engine and diesel.  VBG
 

Houseofarticcats

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Jun 29, 2006
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NH
I can only speak of what we have.. We have a F350crew cab 8 foot bed V10 and we love it.. As I type we are sitting on Long Island NY. We drove down from NH today and we got 10 mpg and lots off power..  It is the same motor we had in our MH we had and I loved it...  When we got this truck a diesel was 5 grand more so that is why we have gas...
 

GaryB

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Evansville, IN
A few follow-up questions:

1. What happens if you've been sitting all day long in a parking lot and there's nothing to plug the block heater into?? How do you get the diesel to start in frigid weather in that case?? Does it plug into something that the truck battery powers, or does it need an external power source?? Also, does the block heater shut off automatically, or must you turn it on and off manually?

2. Will any of the "new" diesel fuels (biodiesel, ultra low emission diesel, etc.) eliminate the cold weather woes with diesel (not only being harder to start, but also "gelling up" and requiring additives, etc.)?

3. On average, does diesel get 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. better mpg than gas engines (towing or not towing)?? I'm sure it depends on many, many factors, but I'm just trying to estimate how much the annual fuel savings would be based on a specific number of miles driven per year.

I've never owned a diesel before, and so maybe it sounds like more of a pain in the neck to me than it really is.  I'm used to jumping into my Honda Accord in cold weather, starting up immediately, and then driving away within 10 seconds.

Thanks again
Gary
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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GaryB,
How cold does it typically get where you are? And I gather you are talking about using a diesel truck as a daily driver, not  a diesel motorhome.


When we had a Ford diesel truck, it started within about 10-15 seconds, but 25-30 degrees was about as cold as it ever got. Didn't ever use the built-in block heater, which did require an external power source (120 VAC).
 

GaryB

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Evansville, IN
Hi RVRoamer

I live in SW Indiana (Evansville) - gets chilly here in winter, but rarely below 10-20 degrees F.  Maybe temps will reach the single digits once or twice per year (I just moved here, and so I'm just speculating).

Yes, I was referring to a diesel truck used to pull a 5er.  Regarding being my daily driver, I was originally planning that.  But I may hang onto my Accord, in which case it would be my daily driver.  I really am not sure yet (I'm building a home and I'd need another garage bay to keep my Accord).

As you can tell, I've never owned diesel before and am a bit nervous about some of the issues involved, such as cold weather starting (espec. in parking lot where 120 VAC is not available for block heaters), fuel "gelling"/additives in frigid weather, extra maintenance costs and the impact/availability of the new low-emissions diesel fuel (is that the same thing as "biodiesel"?)

Thank you for your reply!
Gary
 

woodartist

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Jun 23, 2006
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Well, A diesel will cost more for maintenance and repairs. Diesel Mechanics charge more than others and the parts cost more. Figure an oil change on a Power Stroke will take 14 quarts of oil and the radiator is rather large. Naturally the oil filters and air filters are costly. You can expect a few hundred thousand miles on the engine. Also, when you break down you may have to hunt for a diesel mechanic.

Yes they are noisy, can smell,and need to be plugged in for cold weather. Most cold weather states have heater outlets where you can plug in...usually motels, shopping areas, etc. We have used our diesel in ND and Wy without any problems.If you have never had a diesel, I'd suggest reading up on them because there are some unique concerns, like oil type, anti-cavitation additive, etc.

There is a great website and associated forum for Ford PowerStroke Diesels and a lot of the info is generic. http://www.freeautoadvice.com/powerstroke/index.html
 

joelmyer

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Mar 5, 2005
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Georgia
Gary, 

I have a 2004 Dodge 3500 4x4 srw with 40,000 miles.  It's not a daily driver at home but it is the touring & shopping vehicle on the road.

Not a problem driving it around on pavement.

If it's cold (40s-60s) you turn the iginition on and wait for the glow plug lite to go out.  Seconds to 10s of seconds depending.  Then crank & go - gently for a while.

Oil change is $60-80.  15,000 mile & 30,000 mile service has been $700-800.

We are in GA  so don't have any freezing or below experience.

Not every station has diesal, but it's not a problem to find.

Joel
 

woodartist

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Not every station has diesal, but it's not a problem to find.
Good point and I know many diesel owners who have put an auxilliary tank in the be of the truck. Some areas ( Alcan Highway was one) may not have diesel as frequent as your tanks need. Same for rural Northern States like ND and Wy. We have never had a problem though. FYI
 
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