Are Diesel Engines More Reliable Than Gas Engines?

Most recent propulsion comparisons deal with the differences between gasoline-powered engines and electric EVs. But the diesel engine silently offers a third option, mostly for trucks hauling payloads and towing. So this comparison, gas versus diesel engines, rests largely with truck buyers. And to compare, we need to cover many disparate factors.

What about diesel and gas engine resale?

Ford F-150
2023 Ford F-150 | Ford

Let’s start with the price. Diesel engine options cost more to purchase. Emissions systems require more servicing, which also adds to yearly costs. And diesel fuel costs more than gasoline, though diesel engines get better mileage than gasoline. Also, insurance companies are mostly ecumenical, though some think diesel-powered vehicles cost a bit more to insure.

One thing that buyers don’t always factor in is resale value. For this, diesel vehicles sell more than gas-powered ones. According to MoneyBarn, diesel vehicles sell for around 10% more than petrol versions. 

But keep in mind that diesel sales are slowly waning. While gasoline-powered vehicles make up 54% of new vehicle sales, diesel accounts for 10%. The rest are electric and hybrid vehicles, which make up 36%. 

Are diesel or gas engines more economical?

2023 Ram
2023 Ram 3500 | Stellantis

Engines that take more energy to make power are less efficient. So that means gas engines use more energy, which then means they are more prone to replacement or repairs sooner than diesel engines. And diesel fuel contains more energy than the same amount of gasoline. 

And diesel engines emit less CO2 than gas-powered cars. But, diesel also produces more emissions overall. Nitrogen oxide emissions are at much higher rates for diesel engines than gas. 

From a gasoline engine standpoint, they’re cheaper to run because gasoline is cheaper. And their rate of emissions is less than those of diesel engines. But make no mistake, gas-powered engines produce a high rate of emissions, specifically CO2. 

Does reliability depend on how diesel or gas engines are used?

Chevrolet Silverado
2023 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 | GM

Diesel engines are generally built stronger because the expectation of harsher use is built in. For owners, diesel engines have longer service intervals. And because diesel engines run at lower RPMs, there is less wear on parts. And those parts are built stouter because of the internal pressures found in diesel engines. 

Another factor in favor of diesel engines is that diesel fuel is more like oil. So it lubricates parts as it flows through the heads and other components. But if you’re planning on off-road excursions, you might be better off going with gasoline-powered engines. 

Reliability is more about the need

2023 Ram
2023 Ram 3500 | Stellantis

Is a Diesel SUV as Fast as a Gasoline One?

As we said early on, the reliability factor rests not so much on longevity and strength, but on need. If you purchase a gasoline-powered truck for doing heavy hauling and towing, you’ll decrease its longevity and increase servicing. But if you choose a diesel engine for mostly around-town transportation and occasional towing needs, a gasoline engine makes more sense. 

So in the end, the right engine used for the right applications means that in each use, they’ll be reliable longer. Beating a gas engine with regular heavy hauling, or expecting a diesel engine to do around-town duty with occasional heavy-duty chores, its reliability is lessened.