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Diesel vrs. Gas

Discussion in '<a href=http://www.plowsite.com target=_blank ?>Sn' started by rft, Jan 16, 2001.

  1. rft

    rft Guest
    Posts: 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 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,412

    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 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 238


    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 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 69

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

    DaveO LawnSite Member
    Posts: 238


    '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 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 75

    I agree with DaveO,

    I will never go back to a gasser.

  7. rft

    rft Guest
    Posts: 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 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 238


    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. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Posts: 1,651

    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 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 822

    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.

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