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Diesel vrs. Gas

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by rft, Jan 16, 2001.

  1. rft

    rft Guest
    Messages: 0

    I did a search, but didn't find any discussion of this.

    As I think more about a plow vehicle to get, I wonder about diesel. I've never owned a diesel anything, but I hear there are some disadvantages to go along with the advantages: Hard to start when cold? Hard to find fuel in some areas? Noisy, smelly, etc.?

    They are supposed to be long-lasting, but is this an issue when I hear most people speak of replacing their plow trucks every few years anyway?

    Lots of torque, but is torque really critical when the limiting factor will probably always be traction?

    What do you folks think?

  2. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    What are you using it for the rest of the year? Remember it usually doesnt snow all year.

    I have a Dodge w/360 and its plenty strong for plowing. The final drive ratio is important, I have 4.10 axles and its fine for pushing.

    I stopped in a Ford truck dealer last week to gather info on a new 350. The salesman basically said, if you run less than 20k a year you will see no economic savings with a diesel over gas. The consensus among other lawncare peers in my area is also, for short start and stop use such as lawn care a diesel is ill-suited and will develop more than its fair share of mechanical problems with that type of use. Makes sense, its what killed my 85 6.9 and the main reason I didnt replace it with a diesel.

    BTW I can buy a new 2001 350 4x4 XLT auto air etc 5.4 gas for 27,300.
  3. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299

    Diesel vs. Gas


    The choice depends mainly on 3 questions:

    1. How long do you plan on keeping the truck?

    2. What type of work are you using it for?

    3. Can you afford the xtra 4-$5K?


    If you do a lot of heavy towing, or for long distances, the diesel motors rule. Hands down.

    Diesels also have a longer expected lifespan. And maintenance costs should be lower(a little).

    As for milage. I have 24K on my diesel, and calculated I have saved ~$1500 this year in fuel, even with diesel being higher than gas right now. That's based on everyday driving, towing/plowing would save even MORE. I can get 600 miles + on 1 tank of fuel(34gal).

    I estimate 3 years(75K) to save the $$$ in fuel that the diesel engine cost. Keep in mind the resale value of the Ford/Dodge trucks is ~$5K MORE than a gasser. So you get back the cost if you sell it.

    Cold starting hasn't been an issue, the newer trucks fire up no prob. I just plug it in under 30F, so I have instant heat(it would fire without it).


    Diesels take a long time to warm up in cold weather. If the block heater wasn't plugged in, it can take me 12 miles+ before thermostat opens. Almost renders remote starters useless for winter warmups.

    Should be "cooled down" before shutting off. This is because of the turbine temperatures. The turbo needs to be cooled after workin hard. Usually 30 sec to a minute.

    They are noisier than gas. You either like it, or not. Can be tough in drive thru's. On the highway, very quiet.

    Fuel is harder to find. But not as much as you think. And fuel prices vary more than gas in the winter months. This is due to fuel oil price/demand.

    This is my 1st diesel pickup. I will never buy another new gas truck. IMO, the newer diesels have MUCH more torque, and can get TWICE the milage.

    If you can afford it, I recommend it highly.

  4. cut-rite

    cut-rite Junior Member
    Messages: 21

    Dave o , what truck are you running?
  5. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299


    '01 Ram 2500 4x4 SB, Xcab, Cummins, auto, 3.55's.

    All options xcept heated seats/4 wheel antilock. Those are not available with plow prep.

    Almost bought a stroke. Left the Dmax for Dino...LOL

  6. Dockboy

    Dockboy Guest
    Messages: 0

    I agree with DaveO,

    I will never go back to a gasser.

  7. rft

    rft Guest
    Messages: 0


    Okay, I'm scratching my head over this one. Why can't you get heated seats with the snow plow prep?? :)

    Thanks for all the info, guys. Since I'm still in the planning stages, thinking about a fun business for after I retire, I can't say what the truck would do the remainder of the year. Maybe the answer to that will give me more insights into whether I want a diesel or gas truck.

    I notice that torque has been mentioned. Is this *ever* an issue when pushing snow? Couldn't most any engine exceed the traction available when plowing? Where does gobs of torgue benefit a plow truck, if all it does is push snow?

    Thanks again,
  8. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299



    For some reason you cannot get the "SLT+" pkg with plow prep. The heated seats only come with the SLT+. I believe the 4 whl anti can be ordered seperately. So I have an SLT loaded with leather, and all the other options except 4 whl anti. You also could not get the "sport" pkg with the plow prep, because of the front lower panel.

    You do not NEED a diesel to push snow. Torque is a factor of gear ratio(hypothetically). I use a Ford 6 cylinder to plow with. In 1st gear(std), it will push/pull anything until traction goes away, or something breaks in the driveline(u joint, axle).

    Like someone has stated before, the mass of the truck AND the torque are the determining factors. This is assuming adequate traction available. You can effectively increase your rear wheel torque, by just changing gear/range on your trans/tcase.

    Diesels are just more efficient in producing power(torque).


    [Edited by DaveO on 01-16-2001 at 01:53 PM]
  9. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Depends on the plow truck.

    A pick up with out a spreader gas is fine.

    However any C&C type truck with a v-box a diesel will equal fuel savings. I have records to prove it.

    However I am going all diesel because of the long distance drives the company does in the summer.

  10. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,222

    My vote is for the diesel I have a 6.5 and a powerstroke nothing but power and millage savings in my view on it had gas before and would never go back in the winter trucks idle to keep warm and in the summer they are are on for the a/c.My trucks never had a hard time starting even in the coldest weather unless they have been sitting for a week but i try to plug them in just to make the warm up time faster and easier.And as far as fuel diesel is all over more now than before even up in the tip of vermont every one had a diesel. My vote go for the diesel unless you will not being putting the truck to much work just regular low mile stuff and now pulling or pushing.
  11. Deere John

    Deere John Senior Member
    Messages: 410

    I agree with Geoff above. I too am a high-milage driver, year round. I am also in logging, and usually trade vehicles every 3 years with about 200,000 km on them. The diesel pays for itself twice in that time frame. Besides, I tow and plow.

    Someone else asked about torque being important for plowing. Yes and No. My truck weighs 6,700 lbs with the plow and my tool box and junk - it takes a little bit of hoof to start pushing an 8' blade up a 15% grade with enough speed to throw the snow back. Less torque equals less performance. I won't be driving another new gas job anytime soon. I'm trying to talk my wife into a diesel too, because the market will soon bring out diesel SUV's and vans.

    About the stink of the exhaust. It's like plowing, you've gotta like it, or you won't be happy. I don't notice alot of fumes while plowing back and forth.
  12. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    I test drove the new GM 6.6, and alot of the issues you mentioned are longer an issue with this and the new diesels that all three will have out in the next few years.
    1- The GM is quiet, and I mean quiet, no louder than a gas engine
    2- Very easy starting, in fact no glow plugs or manifold heater are needed in temps above 0 degrees
    3-No smoking from exaust, in fact this engine is so clean running it doesnt even have a cat
    4-power and then some, easy drivability as well, its not quirky, or hard to drive
    5-the tranny and engine combo are unreal, Ford and Dodge will have to get this tranny or one very similar if they want to compete. It almost does the thinking for you.
    They are not cheap, its 4K over the cost of the big gas engine, but after driving both, I think it is worth it.
  13. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Dosent gm have the tranny that downshifts when you hit the brakes?
  14. ProSeasons

    ProSeasons Senior Member
    Messages: 624

    Bob, You will not BELEIVE the amount of snow a deisels torque will move with a power V in scoop. I could'nt see in front of the pile. I had to get out to check! The snow pile was a little higher than the hood, and iI pushed it 90 feet from a dead stop with the blade touching the pile. 2001 Dodge 1 ton wth a modified Cummins.Something like 400 hp with 1000 feet lbs of torque.
  15. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Snowthrowers-your BSing us,something like 1000 ft lbs gave it away.I agree with the others here,I had a dodge diesel,and now i went back to gassers.yes i miss the diesel,but i do not run it enough to justify its cost at all.In summer i only go 4 miles to work,and pull a tralier 2 days a week,for lawn work.winter i just plow and other than that i run errands,and pull snowmobile trailer when i go away,not more than 3 or 4 times a yr.The poor Dodge hardly ever got warmed up,except in a snow storm.The thing i miss the most is power/torque.My 350 TBI's are puppys next to that Cummins motor,it got double the mileage with double the power.
  16. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299


    Anytime you want to borrow my Ram.....NOT...LOL

    Keep savin up that $$$ for your downpayment!!

  17. nsmilligan

    nsmilligan PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 704

    Having owned and plowed for 3 years with a GM 6.5, I traded it for my 454, my other truck is a V10 Dodge both with EZ-V's. The 6.5 pushed a 7.5' Fisher. At the end of the day my gas records showed almost no difference in fuel between the diesel and the 454, just pushing snow. The diesel was a lot better on fuel on the highway. Here diesel fuel is 15 percent more then regular unleaded. The big blocks have the same torque as the diesel ( not the 6.6 new generation), and cost thousands less, my plow trucks are usually traded at about 60,000 miles or 3 years, but the 454 was so trouble free, not even a u-joint I kept it. The diesel had only the original transmission and differentals after 3 years, all warranty though. I think the diesel is a super rip off.
    There's no way an engine, just because it's a diesel, can cost 4000 to 6000 dollars more than a fuel injected V10, or a sohc injected V8. Maintence costs are higher, so unless you're putting big miles on your truck I think a big block gas is the most ecomonical way to go.

  18. DaveO

    DaveO PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Ma.
    Messages: 299


    Gotta disagree on this one. No way would your 454 EVER have the same usable torque my Cummins has. NOT EVEN CLOSE!! The milage? You show me a Chevy BB that gets 17mpg avg, 14mpg TOWING, and 20+hiway empty, and I'll buy everyone of them, and sell my diesel!!

    Sorry your 6.5 didn't show a big power diff, or mileage. But don't judge all diesels by one model. Just like plows, they are not all the same.

    And we both know how good the V10 is on gas. Like I said I have saved over $1500 in fuel this year after countin the extra cost of diesel. During the summer it was 15 cent/gal cheaper than gas around here.

    The extra $4-5K is a bit pricey, but it's worth every penny to me every time I drive it. ESPECIALLY when I pull the racebikes down to Daytona(Fla.) That trip alone saves about $300 round trip. This is comparing it to the Chevy 454 I used to tow with...that got 6 mpg all the way down(1200 miles). FYI the 6.5 I towed with got 9mpg on same trip. The Cummins gets 12-14 with the same trailer.

    As long as YOU like your truck ,that's all that counts.

  19. Dusty

    Dusty Member
    Messages: 82

    I bought my first diesel (MB car) in 1964 and have been sold on them ever since. I remember the days of hard starting an winter gel problems, but that is all in the past. My last car I had to go to gas, because diesel wasn't offered. My next truck is going to be diesel. They are longer lasting and less maintenance than gas in my opinion.
  20. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    As far as fuel consumption.
    My 98 6.5 diesel will use 35 gal of fuel for a typical storm, that means 12-16 hrs of non stop running
    My 89 454 will use 60-70 gallons for the same storm
    So I get 2x the usage from the diesel.
    Yes the new Gm allison tranny has a grade braking feature, and it is a very nice option.
    I also have read from some very official soruces that Ford loses 1K on each PS sold. They offer it for around 5k and the engine costs around 6K for Ford to buy.
    If you keep the truck at least 75-100K the diesel will break even, if you dont keep the truck that long, then stay with the gas.