CVSA 2019 Truck SteeringFor light and medium-duty fleets, there is considerable debate over whether to invest in gasoline or diesel trucks. Upfront costs, maintenance, and fuel economy as well as the type of business the fleet performs all effect which kind of engine will be best. Breaking down initial expenses as well as costs over time can help provide clarification.

Acquisition Costs for Trucks

Diesel trucks cost more by upwards of $10,000 compared to gasoline trucks with similar specifications. This is because they undergo much more rigorous testing when being built as well as emissions testing to ensure the longevity of the engine. This extra labor comes at a higher price tag, which makes investing in diesel more expensive at the outset.

Fuel Economy and Mileage

At face value, gasoline appears to win when it comes to fuel costs as well. On average, gasoline is $0.50 cheaper per gallon, which adds up quickly at the pump. However, gasoline burns faster than diesel does. When comparing eco-friendly light to medium-duty trucks, diesel trucks can pull off 29 miles per gallon compared to 21 miles per gallon for gasoline trucks of a similar design.

While this doesn’t offset costs completely for short trips, trucks that experience high-mileage can see a significant financial difference over the course of the year. Even so, most light and medium-duty trucks don’t take on high-mileage trips. If this is the case, gasoline is still the more economical of the two.

Maintenance Expenses

Gasoline and diesel engines have distinct needs when it comes to maintenance. While diesel engines have fuel filters and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to manage, gasoline engines have components diesel trucks do not such as spark plugs. Gasoline engines also require more frequent maintenance than diesel engines do, particularly when it comes to changing the oil. However, even given the less frequent maintenance intervals, diesel maintenance tends to cost more as the training requires specialized skills and is more complicated than maintenance for a gasoline engine.

Engine Longevity and Power

Things begin to turn more in diesel’s favor when looking at the overall lifespan. Diesel engines boast more durable parts than gasoline engines do lending them a longer shelf life. They can also pull significantly more weight given their higher torque. For fleets that tow heavy trailers often, diesel may be the way to go.

For fleets that utilize primarily light and medium-duty trucks for short trips, gasoline is the clear winner. A diesel truck wouldn’t be able to make up the difference in fuel cost based on the economy over time and the added maintenance costs add up over the lifespan of the vehicle. However, for fleets that cover a lot of miles or pull heavy cargo, diesel can prove more efficient.

Cultivating a fleet of trucks can be challenging if fleet managers don’t have all the data on hand. Contact the experts at DriverCheck to learn how trucking telematics can provide insights into fuel economy, driver safety, cost savings, and more.