Do I really need a diesel truck?

clammanclamman Member Posts: 4
I am a truck person and will soon have to buy another one. This is my second Toyota and I have at least 300,000 miles (odometer broke several years ago) but need a crew cab with two children that are growing up. Why do I think I want a big truck? Well, I take several long trips each year plus my job adds 75 miles per day round trip (90% interstate). I am a very big man but not over weight and have been uncomfortable riding in the two Toyotas I have had in my life. I do not need to haul or pull really anything at this point, however, the wife and I are going to buy a pop-up camper next year. I can go out and buy a GMC crew cab or Ford 150 crew for less than a F-250 diesel, but the gas mileage stinks. From what I have read diesel might be a great alternative because of the interstate miles that I will rack up on the truck. I have talked to several people that have the F-250 diesel trucks and they love them. They get around 19 miles per gallon on the interstate. What about these new diesel engines coming out in January with even better fuel economy and less pollution/noise? I would really appreciate any advice you can give me.



  • wpalkowskiwpalkowski Member Posts: 493
    One of my best friends has '00 PSD, and he's still totally in love with it, though he only gets about 15 mpg. (I've got V10, but it's not my daily driver. We've had a friendly competition going on now for 18 months). PSD is gonna cost you $4K extra over gaser. Gonna take a few years of driving to amortize that extra cost. However, the motor will probably outlast the rest of the truck. Current 7.8L PSD supposedly will go at least 300K before needing an overhaul. Not sure about new 6.0L PSD. Navistar makes great engines, but personally I'm a bit skittish about the first model year of any engine (diesel or gas).
    Keep in mind that oil changes are 15 qts, and filters are a bit more expensive too. Also need to keep up anti-cavitation additive in coolant to prevent cylinder wall damage. If you live in cold climate, you'll need to make sure you're using winter mix fuel so it doesn't gel on you. Plus the engine block heater helps make starting quicker on those cold winter mornings. Lot of folks also carry around an extra fuel filter in case they get a load of water in their diesel fuel. However, if you buy diesel at same place big-rigs do, it's fresh and properly blended for the time of year, and water doesn't get a chance to condense in their storage tanks.
    Personally, diesel exhaust is not exactly perfume to me, and motor is too loud. My friend garages his truck, so there's always a fine coating of soot on everything in there. Don't get fuel on your clothes, or track it into truck - it smells pungent and stains are difficult to get out of carpet. Of course it won't blow up like gas :-) But if you're in love with diesels, then those are trivial points.
    I know what you mean about needing a crew cab for kids, Superduty CC is immense inside. My kids used to fight over who had to sit in back of my old F150 SC. I'm 6'5 - 270lbs and am thoroughly comfortable - have split bench seat. Now everyone is happy. Of course my CC,V10 usually only gets 12-13 on highway.
    Guess it all boils down to your personal choices. Just a thought - go for long test drive with one. Try parking lots, tight turns, drive thrus, etc. get a feel for the bulk and the maneuverability. They're pretty responsive for big pickup, but it's a big step up from the Toyota.
  • dustykdustyk Member Posts: 2,926
    I've got to tell you that a few years ago I developed a severe biological rejection to diesel exhaust. It makes me vomit. Seriously. I've been told its similiar to the way pregnant women react. Maybe my doctor knows something I don't.

    A diesel truck will represent a significant cost delta over a gas truck, both in initial cost and maintenance. This increase in cost will be easier to justify if you have the need to haul extremely heavy loads and/or put a lot of miles on a vehicle. There are other disadvantages that wpalkowski has listed, including anti-algicides for the fuel and somewhat limited diesel availability (compared to gas). A mechanical problem with a diesel engine could also represent a significant cost committment.

    If you need four doors and still want a truck, there are other alternatives that are in the 18-21 MPG range and cheaper to maintain. Both the Dodge Dakota Quad and the new Explorer 4-door truck might be something for you to look at. These are not as roomy as full size pick-up quad cabs. However, if you're like most people the rear seating will be used a small percentage of time anyway.

    Good luck,
  • fordy1fordy1 Member Posts: 30
    Mybe you ought to think about the ford F 150 super crew
    since you don't haul you can live with the small v8 (4.6)
    You can dress this truck up anyway you want. It's a great
    family vehicle.
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    Get the F-250 CC SB PSD. You'll love it. I have an F-350 DRW SC LB PSD as my daily driver. I get around 18.5 mpg empty with a best just last week of 19.17 mpg. I just got back from a weekend camping trip and got 12.24 mpg with a 31' TT behind me.

    Initial cost and individual maintenance items are more expensive. But, the Superduty CC is considerably larger than the SuperCrew. Also, the first 100k or so miles will pay for the extra cost of the PSD, then it starts paying for itself in fuel mileage. You said that you drive 80 miles one way to work, chances are you pass at least one truck stop on the way, so diesel availability should'nt be a problem.
  • mledtjemledtje Member Posts: 1,123
    Back to the GMC Crewcab as a possible alternative. I have a 6.0L in a 2000 2500 4x4. All my miles have been with a popup camper in the bed and full weight of 7500#. My average mileage for 37,000 miles has been 14.12 mpg. I fully expect to get 16-17 mpg without the camper in the bed. I don't have a heavy foot, and typically drive the speed limit +5 mph.

    Before the 2500 I had a 1500 with the 4.8L engine. With the same camper and driving style, it averaged 15.0 mpg. That truck was slightly over the GVWR at 6440# loaded. Without the camper, it got 16-17 in town and 22-24 on road trips.

    While I would really like the low end torque of a diesel, I've never been able to justify the upfront cost and maintainence. I would probably be happy with an F250 PSD, but I'm also happy with the 2500 6.0L and the extra cash in my pocket.

    Mike L
  • fordtuffordtuf Member Posts: 101
    I agree with the selection of F150 supercrew and a small V8. Up until you get a full camper in the area of 24' to 26', you will still be OK.

    I have had F150 and now my second F250. The only thing I miss is the smoother ride. The F250 is for WORK. The suspension is suited for it quite nicely. My truck rides nice with about 800 or more pounds in the bed.

    If you are interested, you could probably find an off-lease F150 just the way you want it.
  • gmengineman1gmengineman1 Member Posts: 32
    Recently a friend bought a 6.5 GMC diesel 3500 dually pickup. I was astounded! As far as I was concerned all the 6.5 turbo was in my book was a boat anchor. This one was completely redone by a diesel shop in British Columbia and man does it perform! He purchased the truck from a buddy who was getting a new GMC Duramax dually 3500 and the dealer suggested he sell the truck out right due to the lack of interest in such a powerplant. This guy bought it for &7,900 US and drove it straight to the B.C. shop for a complete engine workover. It will now stay with the newest generation Cummins and PSD engines and it has a six speed manual tranny. An electro-magnetic input retarder was installed at the differential and he rarely applies the service brakes. His fuel economy? 24 mpg highway empty. 14 mpg highway pulling a three car hauler triler weghing about 15,000 lbs loaded. Not bad for an old boat anchor. Think about a deal like that! Go to and see what they say about work on the 6.5 GM turbo. I rode in this one!
  • kit1404kit1404 Member Posts: 124
    We are truck people - never owned a car and we are both nearly 60 years old. Have owned mostly Fords - not that many as most have held up incredibly well. Have gone through the cost analysis of diesel/gas engines. Never could make it cost effective. Now if the diesel didn't cost nearly $5,000 more, that might be different - although my husband has always worked around construction jobs and has truly developed a hateful attitude about the smell of diesel. But, me being the accountant, have considered the cost/savings - could never make the savings work. If we hauled a 5th Wheel around the country all year long - no question. But, for our occasional need for a strong truck, it will probably remain gasoline, especially considering the good gas efficiency of Ford's latest engines.
  • clammanclamman Member Posts: 4
    Thanks so much for the advise. I just bought a new truck after having a Toyota for 10 years. Toyota has a great product but the Tacoma has a poor safety rating for consideration for children in the back seat. I bought a Dodge Dakota this weekend and just love it! I became an educated consumer and knew more than the three different sales people I dealt with. I am very happy with my purchase. Ford has a great product but it came down to money and what I needed.
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    My BIL has a Quad-Cab and loves it.
  • novoqnovoq Member Posts: 26
    Review of new Power Stroke engine and Power Torq trans.

  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    Nice article, thanks for the link. The new 6 liter and tranny sounds great. However, that tranny sounds like it will be terribly expensive to fix. Auto's don't have a very good track record when mated to a diesel, light truck variety that is. Being a Ford man myself, I'll be watching to see how things turn out.
  • jonjon70363jonjon70363 Member Posts: 4
    Go with the gas. If you don't tow anything and drive less than 50,000 miles a year the diesal will not pay. If you get a F 150 Super Crew with the 4.6L V8 you'll get at least 15 around town and up to 19/20 on the highway. Pulling your pop up will have little effect. But with a diesal all you'll ever get is 15/16 city/hwy/towing it's all the same. And if you're planing on keeping the truck repair cost figure in. Average repairs on a gas will run you $200 but with a diesal it'll start at $1000. I've got a 1999 F 150 4.6L V8 for a personal/light work truck, and an 1999 F250 with Diesal as a pure work truck that regularly pulls an 8000lb tool trailer, and for hauling skid loaders and mini excuvators. I rather the ride of the F 150.
  • superduty250superduty250 Member Posts: 7
    When I go over speed bumps or large dips in the road I hear this horrible squeaking sound. It seems to be worse when it's cold.

    I have taken it to the dealer and they wanted to use the "shot in the dark" method of fixing the problem (to me that meant they had no idea of what it was). However, they wanted to replace my ball joints. I asked them not to hold off ... as I wanted to get a second opinion, as it did not sound right to me.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • wpalkowskiwpalkowski Member Posts: 493
    Most of the sqeaking folks have complained about is coming from front springs. Ford's solution has been these little rubberized sleeves they put over ends of spring pack - called spring tip isolators. They seem to be a stop gap solution as noise eventually comes back.

     To find out more, go to


    Do a search on front end noise or spring tip isolators - there's a lot of info on it. Some people have lubed the spring leaves, while others have gone to upgraded heavier "X-springs" in order to seek noise relief.

  • superduty250superduty250 Member Posts: 7
    Wpalkowski - thanks for the info ... have you experienced this noise with your own truck? Again, thanks for the info .... I will check it out.
  • bigfurbigfur Member Posts: 649
    Have you ever owned a diesel? cuz i can tell you of atleast 5-10 powerstroke owners who constantly get atleast 18mpg. and with my cummins (not in play here i realize but making a point) i get as much as 25mpg. Just be careful what "facts" you state please.
  • wpalkowskiwpalkowski Member Posts: 493
    I've got '01, 350, CC, 4x4 w/V10 - on cold mornings the front end is squeaky. Especially this morning with 6 degrees on the thermometer. Squeaks last for about the first 5-10 minutes and then disappear. (Actually, when it's this cold everything squeaks, including me.) Buddy of mine with '99, 350 PSD is going nuts with the squeaking - his front end is heavier than mine. Not sure, he may already have x-springs as I think he's got heavy duty suspension option. He's had spring isolators put on and sprays some silicon lube on them when noise makes him nuts, unfortunately the quiet only lasts 'til the first rainstorm. Actually I don't notice squeaks that much when I ride with him - volume of PSD drowns them out. ;-)
  • superduty250superduty250 Member Posts: 7

    Again thanks for the info .... I have made an appointment with my dealer to take my truck in and will share any info I receive.

  • bowhuntwibowhuntwi Member Posts: 262
    They had fixed the problem by now with the front springs. On my 00 CC SD 4x4 with HD Suspension, had the isolators replaced 3 times, each time ford said they were better then ones before. Hopefully the 03's will be better, but I guess I'll see. I have noticed My SCrew has noisey front & rear springs too when it's cold starting at about 28 degrees. I haven't been to the dealer with this because it's going to be sitting on there lot soon.
  • hennehenne Member Posts: 407
    What your describing has been very common on the IFS 4x4's ball joints. Lube and or replace has been the common fix.

    I have also seen it come from a sway bar. If you pull the swaybar and lube the inside of the rubber where the metal rubs with a synth lithium type grease is unsually that fix.

    Good Luck,

  • buyin250buyin250 Member Posts: 1
    I am considering buying a 2003 F-250 with the diesel for its torque, fuel savings and longevity. Daily, I only make short trips of about 5 miles. Ive heard that it is not good for a diesel to be used regularly for short distances. Is this true or is it a thing of the past? Also, is there any difference in the sqeaking problem between the standard and max front GAWR suspensions?
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    So you drive 5 miles to work, then 5 miles home? If that's the case, get the gasser. You'll never see any savings from the fuel economy with that kind of driving. A diesel requires a lot of time to come up to operating temp. and those 5 mile trips just won't cut it. I have an appraisal business. I drive approximately 25 miles each way to the office. There are some weeks all I drive is back and forth to the office, which works out to around 250 miles a week. Of course, other weeks, such as last week, I put nearly 700 miles on my truck. My truck runs better and gets better mileage when I am on the road all the time. I've been told a diesel, in general, will need about 45 minutes to an hour to generate enough heat into the oil to boil off any contaminants.
  • mesazonemesazone Member Posts: 51
    I have read in the owners manual that you should let the engine idle for 5-10 minutes after using the Turbo. How do I know I've been using the turbo? Is there a "magic" RPM where the turbo kicks in or how is that determined? When I'm not towing but doing 70+ down the highway, am I still using it?

    I can tell when it kicks in on a take off but how do I know when the turbo isn't being used?
  • mullins87mullins87 Member Posts: 959
    The turbo, working off exhaust gasses being pushed out of the engine, works all the time. If its running, the turbo is spinning. I can't hear mine until around 1,500 rpm, or thereabouts. You can pull your air filter hosing off and watch the compressor wheel turn while the truck is idling. Or, you can take the exhaust apart, leaving only the downpipe attached and let the truck idle. You'll hear the turbo singing at idle!

    Cooldown times: Well, this is where we really need a pyrometer. I admit, I have a $35k truck, at least when new anyway, and I haven't spent the $175 to get a pyrometer. But, I don't have a chip or any other performance pieces either. This is what appears to me to be the general concensus about turbo cooldown. Normal around town driving, empty, the turbo will most likely be cooled down from the slow drive down your street. Provided you live on a side street. Most days, I come off the highway and onto my street. From the time I slow down at the stoplight on the highway, wait for the light, drive 1/2 mile to my street, drive 35 mph down my street, approximately two minutes, then take another minute to pull into the drive and into the garage, I figure mine has cooled down enough. When you are running high speeds and/or towing, you'll need that five to ten minutes to cool down. Anytime I am towing, it takes me about that much time to park the trailer and unhook before pulling into the garage.

    If your really worried about it, or if you have any performance mods, you should get a pyrometer. Just as soon as I can sneak one past my wife I'll have one.

    on edit: That time that I use to let the turbo cool down, I use that time to unhook my seat belt, set the parking brake and get everything else in order.

  • mesazonemesazone Member Posts: 51
    Thanks for your information. I have to drive through town which is posted at 25 for about 5 miles before I get to my neighborhood. So I guess I don't need to worry about it, at least on the trip home. I don't have any mods on mine either.

    I've had a basic understanding of turbos so it makes sense it's always going.

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