Diesel vs. Gas Trucks: What’s the Difference?

January 5th, 2022 by

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when buying a new truck is choosing between one that is gas or diesel-powered. While there are many similarities between each type, it’s important to understand the biggest differences so you can choose between the two different fuel options.

Diesel vs. Gas Truck: Which Is Better?

esso gas station at night

Image via Flickr by wjlonien

There isn’t a clear answer when deciding if a diesel or gas truck is better. Instead, it’s important to consider what you want most out of a truck, as each type has its own pros and cons. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the right type of power for you:


Everyone wants their truck to last as long as possible while requiring the fewest repairs. Having a durable truck ensures you get the most value out of your purchase and can save you money by avoiding frequent costly repairs. Diesel trucks have a reputation for lasting longer than gas trucks. Diesel engines are typically designed with more durable mechanical parts that can better handle higher compression ratios. In summary, they can withstand a higher degree of wear and tear.

This doesn’t mean that gas engines can’t last a long time. They may require more preventative maintenance to last as long as a diesel truck though. Longevity also depends on the year and make of the truck you choose. A lot of newer vehicles today are built with higher-quality parts, meaning they’re also more likely to last longer.


Efficiency refers to the amount of energy that is converted to power.  There’s a minimal difference between the maximum hot and cold capabilities in a gas and diesel engine, making diesel slightly more fuel-efficient than gas. Efficiency also comes from the fact that diesel fuel is thicker than gas. Diesel may not be the best option if you frequently haul or tow small loads with only the occasional heavy load near the truck’s limit. If the majority of your loads are smaller, or below the truck’s maximum weight limits, you’re likely to get more fuel efficiency out of a gas truck. 

If you have heavy hauling and towing needs, diesel engines can perform better during peak performance. They perform better when frequently towing at maximum weight capacity. With this being said, it may be easier to find a fill-up station for gas trucks. Not all gas stations have diesel fill-up stations, and those that do may only have one or two pumps dedicated to diesel. Efficiency of each option also affects the temperature settings.

Maintenance Needs

A diesel engine has a simpler design than a gas engine, which may mean fewer maintenance requirements. The number of miles on a gas-powered engine doesn’t weigh as heavily into expected repair needs as it does for diesel engines. However, the maintenance on a diesel truck can be more expensive than a gas-powered truck. You’ll find that most automotive technicians are more familiar with gas engine trucks, making repairs faster and more cost-effective.

Off-Roading Capabilities

Some people choose a truck to enjoy off-roading adventures. If off-roading is important to you, you might find more value in a gas-powered truck. This is due to the fact that gasoline-powered trucks are typically lighter than their diesel counterparts. Because truck designers aim for a lightweight truck for off-roading purposes, this can be a primary benefit of choosing a gas-powered truck.

Towing/Hauling Needs

Whether you’re towing the family camper or hauling equipment for work, you need a hardworking truck to keep up. When it comes to hauling or towing, diesel is usually the better choice, especially if you’re towing at, or near, weight limits. Diesel can produce a lot of torque, which is ideal when towing. Diesel engines also have built-in features that can help with towing, like integrated brakes.

Power and Performance Capabilities

Power capabilities are another important consideration when choosing a truck. If you’re specifically looking at horsepower with heavy towing, you’re likely to find diesel trucks to be a better option. Gas engines typically give better acceleration and power, which is important for peak performance. This means if power and performance are most important, then gas-powered may be the better option. The lighter weight of both the truck and engine can make a gas-powered truck faster.

Vehicle Cost

Cost may be an important factor to some when choosing the right truck. When it comes to cost, you want to consider both the purchase price of the truck, as well as the fuel and maintenance costs. Diesel trucks do tend to come with a higher price tag. However, because they also tend to last longer, this may actually be cheaper when you divide the cost of ownership over the life of the truck. 

Diesel fuel used to be much more expensive than gas fuel. However, many suppliers have adjusted production methods and the prices of diesel fuel have begun to even out.

How Does a Diesel vs. Gas Truck Differ?

It can be helpful to also understand how diesel- and gas-powered trucks work to help you make the right decision. Both diesel and gas trucks use a similar combustion method, but diesel doesn’t require the use of a spark plug. A diesel truck also uses a special type of fuel, referred to as diesel. Diesel is thicker than traditional gasoline, meaning it evaporates much slower. 

A gas engine, on the other hand, works by mixing air and fuel together. This means that compression ratios may differ, with diesel engines having a higher than average combustion ratio than when compared to a gas engine. Diesel trucks are designed to manage a higher level of compression, making them more reliable and typically longer-lasting.

Diesel-powered trucks are a good option if you have heavy towing needs and a gas-powered truck may be ideal if you value off-roading trips. Both diesel and gas-powered trucks are designed to manage the roads in Youngstown, OH, whether you’re towing for work or exploring the local trails. Come by #1 Cochran Chevrolet today to check out our full inventory of durable, hardworking brand-new or used trucks. Let the team at #1 Cochran help you find the car of your dreams today! 

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