Americans have never really taken to diesel powered cars, but diesel powered trucks have long been favored for their dependability and longevity… but do you really need a diesel powered truck? And if yes, then how will you deal with the 2 main reasons why they literally die because of very expensive repair bills.
Several years ago, Barack Obama announced that the federal fuel economy standards, known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE, will be raised to 54.5 mpg by the year 2025. This doesn’t mean that all cars will get 54 mpg, because that number is just an average of the total fuel economy achieved by an automaker’s entire product line. Thus, the more hybrids or econo-boxes they sell, the better their average will be. That’s why you’re seeing so many different types of gas-electric hybrids coming on the market. And since pickup trucks are typically the thirstiest models on the showroom floor, car makers are employing creative methods to improve their efficiency. One of these popular methods are diesel powered trucks.
The Obsession of Diesel Powered Trucks
Americans have never really taken to diesel powered cars, but diesel powered trucks have long been favored for their dependability and longevity. The reason for this is because of the (relative) simplicity and efficiency of a diesel engine. Compared to gasoline, diesel fuel actually contains more energy per gallon (147k BTU’s per gal vs. 125k BTU’s), so a diesel engine can run at lower rpms, because the combustion process is able to extract a large amount of energy from a comparatively small amount of fuel. They’re also built from heavier gauge materials in order to withstand the intense pressure created during the combustion process. Putting a durable, efficient diesel powered truck motor into a pickup seems like a no-brainer. But Ford and Chevy / GMC only offer a diesel in their heavy-duty ¾ – 1-ton trucks. Ram on the other hand, offers a diesel in its ½ ton 2014 Ram 1500. And you can even get this engine in the base, $24k Tradesman.
When the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel went on sale in February, Ram’s initial allocation of 8,000 diesel engines were completely sold out in just 3 days. People apparently loved the idea of a having torquey diesel powered truck engine in their daily driver. Since most half-ton pickup owners use them for family transport, as well as towing / work, being able to get 20 city / 28 highway / 23 combined made perfect financial sense. This 3.0L DOHC V6 doesn’t skimp on the power either. There’s 240-hp, 420 lb-ft of torque, and when properly equipped, this diesel powered Ram can drag up to 9,200 lbs. behind it. No wonder the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel currently accounts for a lion-share of 2014 Ram sales.
The Tried & True Duramax Diesel
While the Ram’s 3-liter diesel powered truck engine is impressive, it can’t offer the brute force of a larger engine, like Chevy / GMC’s 6.6 liter Duramax V8 Turbo Diesel. Available in the respective brand’s 2500HD and 3500HD trucks, this monster spews out 397-hp and a whopping 765 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough twist to pull 13,000 lbs., or 17,900 with a fifth wheel. If you step up to the 1-ton 3500HD dually, that diesel powered truck can move 22,800 lbs., and you’ll always be in control of the load, thanks to state-of-the-art stability / trailer brake systems. There’s also a commercial-grade Allison transmission, and an Eaton automatic locking rear differential to help you maintain traction. Needless to say, these diesel trucks are designed for hard use, and lots of miles.
Like General Motors, Ford only offers a diesel in its F250 / F350 / F450 Super Duty. But it packs a serious punch with 440-hp and 860 lb-ft of torque. The 6.7 liter Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel is capable of pulling 19,000 lbs. when it’s installed in the 2014 Ford F450. It can also pull 31,000 lbs. with a fifth wheel, and the Power Stroke’s new up-sized turbo means you can access all of those 860 torques at just 1,600 rpm. So if you’ve got to tow say, an apartment building, this big Ford diesel powered truck might be your best bet.
Do You Really Need a Diesel?
So if you need LOTS of low-end torque for pulling big loads frequently, these 3 diesel powered trucks are worth your time and money to take a closer look at which brand is right for you. All three provide astounding power to torque ratios allowing you to haul or tow large loads, while getting better fuel efficiency & longevity than their gas powered counterparts. However, diesel fuel costs are higher than gasoline, as are oil & filter changes and replacement fuel injectors due to the newer ULSD (ultra-low sulfur diesel) fuels and lack of lubricity in this type of fuel.
Whether you buy one of these new 2014 diesel powered trucks, or a slightly used diesel powered truck, it’s important to keep the inside of the engine clean. A good quality Diesel Oil, like CleanBoost® Diesel Duty™ 15w40, is designed to meet the warranty requirements, while providing a superior level of heat transfer. Its high alkaline reserve protects bearings and other metallic surfaces from unnecessary wear. And EMT™ (engine metal treatment) additives penetrate the surface of moving parts to fill in any abrasions, which significantly reduces friction and excess heat.
By keeping the inside of a diesel powered truck engine clean and friction-free, it will run at a cooler temperature and produce less soot. The CleanBoost® Diesel Duty™ 15w40 oil also has special detergent dispersants that will reduce soot and varnish deposits, which will keep the oil passages clear and protect the engine from internal damage. This is more than just motor oil, it’s engine insurance.
It’s also important to reduce your longer term costs of ownership of a diesel powered truck. One of the biggest complaints for any owner of these 3 brands, is the need to replace fuel injectors as mentioned above. These costs are substantial (upwards of $5,000 for a set of 8 installed) and we’ll have a follow up article about this with further detail. For now, do yourself a favor and save your bank account by adding the missing ingredient that is damaging these injectors in the first place. Ultra low sulfur (ULSD fuel) equates to low lubricity. Low lubricity means more heat and friction for fuel injectors, which spells out early failure and very expensive repair bills.
Protect yourself by adding in lubricity. CleanBoost® Maxx™ protects injectors by adding in the much needed special lubricants and friction reducers to increase power & lubricity to these expensive components. This way, the next time you see your smiling service technician at your local dealer or diesel repair shop… it won’t be to hand them over your kids college savings or a sizable chunk of your retirement fund, just a small amount for an oil and filter change. In the end, it all comes down to fuel & friction and your knowledge and application on how to manage these two powerful elements.