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Old 10-24-2007, 12:10 PM   #1
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Diesel Engines/Gas Mileage/Current Prices

I have been kicking around the idea of a used SMB or Roadtrek. The conventional wisdom has been not to buy diesel unless you plan to put a ton of miles on it annually, as otherwise the additional cost can't be justified. I wonder if the current higher gas prices (likely to keep going up) change that analysis at all. Obviously, if you drive 5000 miles a year, a diesel might still be tough to justify. But if it gets to say 10,000 miles (conceivable for me), I wonder if the analysis changes (or if not then, at what mileage). Then there are other costs for diesel, higher upkeep, etc. Thanks.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:55 PM   #2
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Re: Diesel Engines/Gas Mileage/Current Prices

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Originally Posted by diver110
I have been kicking around the idea of a used SMB or Roadtrek. The conventional wisdom has been not to buy diesel unless you plan to put a ton of miles on it annually, as otherwise the additional cost can't be justified. I wonder if the current higher gas prices (likely to keep going up) change that analysis at all. Obviously, if you drive 5000 miles a year, a diesel might still be tough to justify. But if it gets to say 10,000 miles (conceivable for me), I wonder if the analysis changes (or if not then, at what mileage). Then there are other costs for diesel, higher upkeep, etc. Thanks.
Good question that many have tried to answer. Bottom line is that there is no clear best choice because the financial parameters change. Probably more important than the absolute price of gas and diesel is the differential between the two. That has fluctuated a great deal in recent years. Until 2004, med grade gas was consistently above diesel, then the relationship reversed for various reasons. Now they are very similar on a nationwide basis. Not clear whether diesel will move to its "normal" long term discount to med grade gas, or stay at a premium.

Many owners seem to decide largely based on how they intend to drive the vehicle. The need for large towing capacity and low rpm torque clearly favors a diesel. But many owners don't need that and the gasser works fine for most users. And additional cost to purchase a diesel should also factor in greater resale, so net differential is less than initial $5k. I like the diesel because I tow often and like the torque. Very unlikely I'll ever put the mega miles on my SMB to realize the longevity benefits of a diesel. I wish I could, but doubtful.

Rob
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Old 10-24-2007, 01:01 PM   #3
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Go to this section from Oct.6th. There is are many comments related to your question. My take.....diesel will not pencil out if long term costs, say over 50,000 to 75,000 miles of use, are considered. Diesel seems to be a matter of personal preference that trancends economic considerations. Such as low end torque being great, heavy towing being superior. Durability maybe if you will own and drive the van for 300k miles. Or maybe you just like the noise, smell and machismo associated with diesel.
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Old 10-24-2007, 01:41 PM   #4
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Gas and Diesel

Good points EMrider. From the stats that I have seen, if gas and diesel fuel prices are the same, it would take you 150,000 miles to recoup the greater inital cost for the diesel engine. Now with diesel prices fluctuating monthly as compared to gas, who knows what the payback time is, if price is your ownly consideration.

Environmentally, I've read that with the new low sulphur diesel, that diesel probably has the edge on gas for impacts, and especially if you can burn biodiesel.
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Old 10-24-2007, 02:02 PM   #5
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Other factors to consider:

- Higher maintainance costs with a diesel, much higher

- Gas is much higher in Canada; diesel not much difference

- How will your significant other feel about the diesel sound (noise)

- Availability of good diesel mechanics in your area. Most shops around here want 2-5 weeks before they can even look at a diesel.

All in all, I like being able to get 18mpg vs. the 12-14 on a V10. Doing your own maintainance will reduce that hit some, but the filters cost much more for a diesel. I kind of like the diesel sound, my wife doesn't like the noise.

Tough choice for most owners.

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Old 10-24-2007, 02:38 PM   #6
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A couple other things to consider that could possibly sway you towards diesel.

The improved gas mileage also means great distances between fill ups. This is a big advantage for us, especially in Baja. Let's assume you get 5 mpg more with a diesel and have the 45 gallon tank. Now assume that you typically put 35 gallons into the tank each time you fill it up. That means you should be able to go 175 miles more between fill ups. I think this is a relatively accurate example.

The other reason to possibly go with a diesel is the use of the diesel appliances (furnace, preheater). We ended up going without propane and we have the diesel furnace, which works really well.

As others have said though, it ultimately comes down to a personal choice/preference. I really don't think you would go wrong with either.
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:00 PM   #7
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Interesting choice of smb v. the roadtrek.
May I ask why you are interested in the smb per-se and the roadtrek per-se? I currently have a roadtrek, it is my ultimate touring vehicle, hotel on wheels so to speak. I have been quite happy with it, but it lacks true off road ability..
Yes, the rt now has the quigley 4x4 option and i can do a trade, and I have considered upfitting my current rt unit to a 4x4, but the rt is just NOT built to take the off road beating IMHO.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:56 PM   #8
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You have hit a big issue for me. I will at least initially buy used, and Roadtreks come outfitted the way I want, SMB's usually not. But I also want to get away from it all, and an SMB 4wd seems to be more what I would want. Also, with the penthouse option (but no 4wd), I believe an SMB can fit into a standard garage. I am going to look at an SMB tomorrow that someone in my area is nice enough to show me, but I have a feeling cost/practicality will mean a roadtrek for the first RV. Still open though.


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Originally Posted by smb4me
Interesting choice of smb v. the roadtrek.
May I ask why you are interested in the smb per-se and the roadtrek per-se? I currently have a roadtrek, it is my ultimate touring vehicle, hotel on wheels so to speak. I have been quite happy with it, but it lacks true off road ability..
Yes, the rt now has the quigley 4x4 option and i can do a trade, and I have considered upfitting my current rt unit to a 4x4, but the rt is just NOT built to take the off road beating IMHO.
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Old 10-24-2007, 06:57 PM   #9
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Better gas mileage help recoup cost

It sounds like the better gas mileage of the Diesel llikely will not recoup costs enough given the higher all-around costs, right?
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Old 10-24-2007, 07:34 PM   #10
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Shouldn't it be a choice between SMB and Roadtrek and then if it comes down on the side of SMB a further choice between SMB Diesel and SMB Gas (with possible availability of either on the PO market being a consideration)?

Looking at a google of a Roadtrek, I'd say the issue with Roadtrek is clearance more than 4wd too. Even with an SMB 2wd you don't have the spoiling hanging down. I met a guy at SMB West with just oversized tires on 2wd and it looked pretty capable.

It looks like (from 30 seconds of effort!) the Roadtrek has a pretty good market, so you can probably change your mind in a year or so without losing too much. In that case gas vs. diesel doesn't really matter either because you should be able to sell for more as well with the diesel.

If you're not absolutely sure about 4wd or SMB or Roadtrek you at least have a lot more options to shop for a good used vehicle!
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