Diesel vs. gasoline: Which fuel type is better for your line of work?

As a business owner who depends on a commercial vehicle for your work, you need the right truck for the job. A truck that comes up short on capability is no help — but too much truck can be a problem too, as the cost of operating it will eat into your profits. Instead, the ideal truck is one that does everything you need in the most efficient way possible.

One important decision to make when choosing your truck is fuel type. Comparing diesel vs. gasoline reveals advantages and drawbacks for each, so you need to choose the best engine and fuel type for your particular needs. Making a wise choice means doing the right thing for everyone who depends on the success of your business: your customers, your employees, you and your family. Below are some considerations for owners who want to get the most from their trucks.

Engine output

Engine output refers to the amount of horsepower and torque that an engine can produce. Horsepower is critical for sports cars, since it helps deliver quick acceleration. But torque is the more important figure for business owners who use their trucks for work. Ample torque means the truck can tow and haul heavy loads with relative ease.

If you push your truck to the limits of its towing or hauling capacity, you can depend on diesel to do the job with an impressive combination of toughness and efficiency. Those 18-wheelers you see pulling 53-foot-long trailers on the interstate use diesel for a reason. Gasoline engines can’t match diesels when it comes to heavy loads.

Fuel economy

Diesel engines also typically trump gas engines in terms of efficiency, delivering more miles per gallon to save you money at the pump. Consider the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which delivers up to 28 mpg on the highway while providing more torque than even the Ram brand’s HEMI® V8 engine.

There is a flip side to the fuel economy advantage, however. In most places, diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline. According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the national average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is about $0.80 more than a gallon of regular gasoline. Be sure to consider that price premium when estimating the costs of operating a diesel-powered truck against one that runs on gas.

Fuel availability can be an issue for diesel drivers, too. Gasoline is more widely available than diesel in many parts of the country.

Other ownership considerations

Besides capability and efficiency, small- and medium-sized business owners should consider maintenance costs and resale value in the diesel vs. gasoline decision process. Because gasoline engines are more common than diesels, parts and service for gas engines may be more affordable and easier to find.

But when it comes time to sell your work truck and replace it with a new one, diesels often deliver better resale value. Of course, diesels are typically more expensive to purchase new, too. The capability of the diesel truck will pay off for those who truly need it, though, and the extra value at trade-in or sale can offset some of the cost of the next truck.

Both gasoline and diesel offer advantages and disadvantages for work vehicles, depending on how you use your work truck. But generally speaking, gasoline engines are more affordable at the time of purchase, and gallon-for-gallon, gas is cheaper at the pump. Diesel engines, on the other hand, provide more capability and better fuel economy, but are pricier to buy up front. Like so many business decisions, this one comes down to figuring out what’s right for your particular needs.

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