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For most people, buying a diesel truck is more a labor of love than a love of labor. Diesels are cool, they’re interesting, and they can do lots of work. But if you don’t need a truck that can haul an excavator or a giant horse trailer, there are several reasons why you might not want to buy a diesel truck. Today’s Duramax, Cummins, and Power Stroke diesel engine trucks are much easier to live with than they were a few years ago, but they’re not perfect.

What are the benefits of a diesel engine?

This 2022 Ram 3500 HD Cummins Diesel pulls a travel trailer.
2022 Ram 3500 HD Cummins Diesel | Ram

Diesel engines don’t work like gas engines. Instead of spark plugs igniting fuel, diesel fuel is an oil that burns due to heat and compression. That combustion makes a lot of power to tow and haul. It can also be more efficient than a gasoline-powered engine. But diesel engines are built differently, and that means they’re heavy.  Diesels used to be stinky and loud. Modern diesel trucks are still stinky and loud, but much less so than they used to be.  

1) Diesels are dirty

Diesel engines can be dirty and they require DEF to clean them up.
Rolling Coal | Sierra Club

Burning oil is a dirty business. To combat those emissions modern diesel engines use an additive to clean up their emissions. Mercedes-Benz, for example, calls its cleaner diesels BlueTEC. Benz uses AdBlue, which is a brand name for urea. Diesels use urea fluid in their catalytic converters to convert toxic nitrogen oxide to simple nitrogen and water. Most gas stations sell DEF, or Diesel Exhaust Fluid, which is about $15 for 2.5 gallons, and needs to be filled about every fourth fill up.

2) Diesels are expensive

Sure, a diesel can tow a lot. But if you don't need to do this much work with your truck, you don't want to buy a diesel truck.
2021 Silverado 3500 HD LTZ with a diesel | Chevrolet

The Eco Diesel engine option in a Jeep Gladiator is a $4,010 option over the gas engine. The Duramax diesel in a Chevy Silverado is a $9,890 option. The Cummins diesel engine option in a Ram 2500 is a $9,595 option. Ford’s Power Stroke is a $10,495 option. Sure, they can do a lot of work, but is it worth $10,000 more just to tow?

3) Diesels are also expensive to maintain

REALATED: Does Jeep Have a Diesel Engine?

The AdBlue or DEF fluids you need to add are expensive and getting more expensive. They also need a lot more oil to lubricate the engines. A 6.7-liter Cummins diesel that you can find in a fifth-generation Ram 2500 needs 12 quarts of oil every time you change it. That’s about double a gas engine. Also, batteries, starters and other components are also more expensive. Because they weigh more, diesel trucks also wear out tires, brakes, and suspension parts sooner than a gas truck.

4) Diesels don’t make more horsepower

Engines are rated both on their horsepower and their torque. Horsepower is how rapidly you can do work. Torque is the force of that work. Diesels spin slowly so they don’t make much horsepower. That means that your 6.6-liter Duramax in a 2022 Chevy Silverado will make 445 horsepower, while the smaller 6.2-liter engine in a Corvette makes 495 horsepower. So if you like to accelerate quickly, a stock diesel engine won’t work for you. That’s one reason Vin Diesel doesn’t drive a diesel in the Fast and Furious films.

5) Diesel fuel is more expensive

Diesels can be more efficient, but expensive fuel is one reason not to buy a diesel truck.
Gasoline and diesel prices in May in California | Xinhua via Getty Images

The Diesel Jeep Gladiator Is Faster Than Any Other Gladiator

It’s true that some diesel engines get better fuel mileage. But, diesel fuel today costs about .90 cents more per gallon than regular gasoline and prices are going up. Plus, the price of DEF and AdBlue is skyrocketing right now.