Diesel or Gas?


Expedition Leader
It says a lot that Canada's ambulance services have switched to gas... their bean counters can't all be wrong.


Engineer In Residence
Not to start a discussion of politics, but there is some good data behind the emissions standards, and their impact especially on diesels. I am not going to deny they could be improved, and there are some tradeoffs I don't agree with. The emissions profile of a low pressure direct injected diesel, or god forbid, an indirect injected diesel is not pretty to look at. The high pressure common rail units are better, and a DPF and DEF treated unit is quite reasonable when compared to a gasoline powerplant.

In Europe many countries opted to encourage diesel cars with tax incentives etc. They are starting to regret that, especially in the big cities. The particulate pollution and Nox emissions have a measurable effect on air quality and peoples health. And in big cities it becomes a problem. The older diesels are the worst offenders in this category.

The policy in the USA regarding emissions has been to regulate, and force the industry to innovate. It has worked well thus far. Crash safety standards, seat belts, emissions. The vast majority of these have required government intervention/regulation to force car auto manufacturers to improve their product. If the directors of these companies had a choice, they would remove most all regulation from the industry. It would make their job easier, and improve profit margins. Take a look at the vehicles Chevy and Nissan sell in Mexico. Terrible crash ratings, no airbags etc.

There are many places where the pollution from mid tier diesel engines would go unnoticed and cause minimal harm. These are rural areas and countries. Most of mainland Australia for example. Of course in the big cities is where it starts to have an impact. I have spent some time in central america and mexico, and the air quality in population centers is atrocious. In no small part due to the particulate and Nox (smog causing) tailpipe emissions from untreated diesel engines. I never had asthma symptoms until I spent a week in Mexico city in the summer.

In the USA the emissions standards that impact most diesels starting in 2007 have had a measurable impact on the reliability of light and commercial diesel engines (on highway vehicles). It has been difficult, though much of the initial trouble is starting to shake out as designs improve.

Personally, I would not want to have a large portion of light passenger vehicles be diesel (more than 30%) if they were the earlier generation. I can imagine my eyes watering in traffic...


For WIW, I have a 2002 SD 7.3, purchased new, with 240K on the clock. Maintenance by the book and transmission fluid and filter changes every 35-50K miles. No transmission flushes, this is the worst crime ever perpetrated by the dealers and so called mechanics. The truck has been flawless except one "gas" pedal failure and one cam sensor. No transmission issues even towing 15K lbs but being gentle about doing so. It is beginning to show its age with minor oil leaks and creaks. 16.5mpg over its entire life. Oil changes are $49 using Motorcraft filters and Rotella from Wal Mart. Now have added a 2016 5.0 F150 to the fleet. Two wildly different vehicles. One is a truck, the other is a LTD with a bed. Not to say that its bad, but the 150 averages the same 16.5 mpg driving much more aggresivly. It cannot safely (brakes and suspension) pull 10k lbs even though it is rated to do so. With mods it could do much better. It does GUZZLE gas, as in sub 10 mpg, when asked to do some work where the diesel shows only a minor loss of 1-2 mpg. The F150 is a far nicer daily driver. Bottom line, buy the one you want, it does not all come down to the dollars. The gas will win a drag race, the diesel a tow contest. I would not hesitate to buy a new gas or a diesel but would lean gas unless there was a clear need or equally important want for the diesel.

Sheep Shagger

You may want to drive a few of these engines in a van before deciding. Most of these engines are down on power in the van compared to the truck, and with axle ratios that simply won't work with decent sized tires. Once I'd driven a few of the engines suggest here I quickly ruled them out as they simply didn't suit how I wanted to drive.


13 Cheeseburgers
Let's not forget the fun factor. It's subjective as well but I love having the on demand torque and the boost delivery of a TD.


Diesel vs Gas

I've only ever had gas vehicles before my van and they've been been great to me. Some things break and/or wear out no matter what vehicle. My van is a diesel and I get in, start it up and say, "damn this thing is cool...". I drive a lot, tow sometimes and really enjoy the diesel. Regardless, drive what you want and allows you to do the things you want, take care of it and make it last - gas or diesel.


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Let's not forget the fun factor. It's subjective as well but I love having the on demand torque and the boost delivery of a TD.
For sure, ha.

A nice running 6.0 is stupid fun to drive, even in a van on 35s or 37s. But I wouldn't have another. Nor will I ever get rid of my 7.3!


I totally agree. For the OP I think gas is what will be best for him. With that said...I have two 7.3 vans and love them! So much fun to drive and they'll tow what I need.

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6.0 psd with an 80 HP DD tune and Atlas40 FICM tune in my van. It's really fun and probably close to 400 rwhp. In hindsight I wish I had pulled the motor from the get go and done all the things to make it dependable right off the bat but I wouldn't trade it for a gasser. Ever.


Hi All.

There's probably a better place to ask this, but I really only visit this area of the forum and I'd like to hear the thoughts on diesel vs. gas motors.

I'm intending to make the transition to a full size Truck or Van and have been swaying towards diesel for the seemingly better gas mileage and alleged longevity.

I say alleged longevity, because the more I ask, the more I question the statement. When I hear "I've got 250K" it's usually followed by I replaced the injectors at 100k for 3k. Or I had the engine bulletproofed for $6k. Or a new transmission.

I suppose any vehicle will go 300k if you keep throwing money at it. I'm curious if these kinds of things are just blown out of proportion or the norm.

I'm one of those "to each their own" guys and not trying to stir the pot. But I'm coming from a long line of mostly imports where I've seen 150-250k of fairly trouble free service. Not perfect, but not 5k "maintenance" bills either.

Trying to get an idea of what I'm in for.

There is not much to say after reading all the great info, the insight here is great. Is it going to be a Camper? That relationship is more intimate than most vehicles, you might care what your partner smells like when just hanging around the campsite. I drive forest roads and sneak up on wildlife sometimes which it can make a trip memorable, a heavy 7.3 does not sneak up on much........


^^^ hates cars
^^^ I'm starting to think wildlife is so accustomed to our noise that half the time they don't pay attention to it anymore. We've somehow "snuck up" on countless deer and elk with our noisyass 7.3. Hell I ended up face to face with a blackbear riding my dirt bike up a single track a few summers ago. I assumed we'd never see wildlife out in the woods making our 7.3 into a camper, but I was wrong. We see just as much as we did in our Toyota. Can't explain it and would have never expected it, but its been a welcome surprise.


Another vote here in the flavor of, "there is just nothing quite like a turbodiesel in proper tune" - the effortless and abundant torque, the feeling on the highway or in the mountains, the efficiency when they're working hard.

If you're going to do a ton of highway miles, drive a 5-10+ ton rig, or tow frequently, they're just in a class by themselves. Been driving diesels since 2003 pretty much exclusively and have never really been let down or had expensive repairs - but I treat them like a member of the family and if something is not perfect it gets investigated immediately - not like some import car that you can ignore problems and maintenance and just let issues stack up for miles and miles and months and months before giving them some love.

The new ones scare me a bit with their complexity though - I am tempted to buy a couple of cherry 10-20 year old diesels, keep them nice, and drive 'em for most of the rest of my life.

I'd tell people to buy gas unless they know exactly why they NEED a diesel.