Gas trucks verses diesel
As the operations manager of growing construction company one of my responsibilities is the buying and maintaining of company vehicles. We own gas and diesel pickup trucks. All trucks in our fleet are Ford trucks. The reason is not because I believe that Ford is the only truck maker, or because they are simple the best. It is more about the relationship that we have had with the local Ford dealer in our area for the past 25 years. We have been buying new trucks from him that whole time. It’s not the price of the vehicles that takes us there but the service for customer and vehicle.
For the first 8 years that we bought trucks, mostly F-150’s and they were all gas. That is the half ton version that Ford makes. The first F-250 that we purchased was in the early 90’s and it was a gas truck. The F-250 is the ¾ ton version that Ford makes. What we found is that the cost of driving a gas truck was more than we were willing to spend, especially when towing heavy loads.
So in the early 90’s we bought our first Ford diesel. It was an F-250 super duty. For the next 14 years all the company bought were F series diesels, the F-250 and its bigger brother F-350. These trucks were truly workhorses, great on fuel and long on low end torque. In other words exactly what you want when hauling big loads or pulling large trailers.
These diesel trucks were abused every day and survived very well. Every diesel truck was kept until it had 300,000 km’s on it or more before it was traded in for a new truck. The only reason the trucks were traded in were because the bodies were so beat up that they weren’t worth fixing.
In the middle of the 2000’s things changed with diesel trucks, they became so popular with pickup truck owners that Ford and every other truck maker started to add more and more power to the trucks. They did this by adding turbo’s, single turbo’s and then dual turbo’s. Gone were the days that you left the stop sign and slowly gained speed in your diesel, now the trucks would smoke the tires if you weren’t careful. Up went the horsepower and torque, down went the fuel mileage. It got to the point that in the mid 2000’s the diesel's that we owned were almost un-drivable. They were so bad on fuel that we were putting $100.00 of fuel in them every day!
So this brings us to this year (2011) were I was stuck with the decision of buying a new truck for myself to drive as the operations manager. I was driving a 2005 F-250 diesel 4x4 lariat. A lariat is the trim level inside, leather seats and all the creature comforts. The truck only had 212,000 km's on it. But we had spent $4,000.00 fixing it in 3 months and it was having engine problems again. It had come to the point where the truck was almost un-drivable from a safety factor. I put 60 to 70,000 km’s on a truck a year and I am pulling or hauling material and trailers about 20 to 30 percent of the time.
So when I started to compare buying a new diesel verses a new gas truck. This was a radical idea in our company; we haven’t bought a super duty gas truck in almost 20 years. I started by talking to my sub trades, friends that had bought new trucks from Ford and the local Ford dealer. What I found was the following;
· New diesel trucks were better on fuel then the diesel trucks made in the past 5 years.
· New diesel trucks had more power and torque then diesel trucks in the past 5 years.
· The option to buy a diesel engine for a Ford truck had grown to $9800.00 over buying a gas engine.
· The new gas engines from Ford had no turbo’s on them and make 80% of their power below 2000 rpm’s. This means that the gas trucks don’t take off as fast from the stop sign, but they do have lots of power for pulling and hauling big loads. Without turbo’s and making so much of their power at such a low rpm level they are really good on fuel, better on fuel then have been in years. Better on fuel then even diesel trucks.
· Diesel and gas prices are close to the same price now.
· The maintenance costs on the gas trucks are cheaper overtime then the cost of servicing diesels.
So I priced a 2011 F-250 Lariat 4x4 FX4 6.8L diesel and a 2011 F-250 lariat 4x4 FX4 6.2 L V8 gas.
These were the year end clearances so they had large discounts on both trucks. It worked out that the gas truck was $6,000.00 dollars cheaper than the diesel one. Another thing that I have come to realize is that diesel trucks do not hold their trade-in value like they did even 6 years ago. It use to be that you could sell a diesel truck no matter what the shape for a reasonable amount of money, but because of the fuel mileage problems, engine problems in the past couple of years and the overall popularity of diesel trucks there is not much of a market for them. The market is flooded with 2000 era Ford diesel trucks.
The gas truck drove nicer, because it was a lighter without the big diesel engine in it and a lot quieter. The gas truck didn’t even need to be turned off when going through the drive through. Something that gas truck owners don’t know is that when you own a diesel truck there are two things that you have to be aware of at all time:
1. You can never run a diesel truck out of fuel, if you do you will have to have the truck towed to a garage and have the lines bled of the air in them before you can restart it.
2. You have to be very careful were you purchase diesel fuel from. Diesel engines cannot handle any kind of water in there fuel. In a gas truck if you have water in the fuel you might not know it until the temperature drops below 0. Diesel trucks will have trouble running with any kind of water or moisture in there fuel. Diesel owners have to use diesel fuel conditioner and have the water drained out of them during oil changes. This means that you have to plan your driving routes so that you always fill up at a station that you trust or know does not have a history of water problems in there fuel tanks.
In the end I opted to buy the gas F-250, not just for the price but also for the maintenance and ride differences. Since we seem to have more problems with the bodies of the trucks then the engines, I figured that the body would go before the gas engine ever did.
We will always need diesel trucks in our fleet to pull the bigger items like excavators, but for driving around and hauling tools it just doesn’t make sense anymore to waste money on a diesel engine.
Village Builders Inc.