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Old 01-31-2008, 10:11 AM   #1
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Thanks to all of you who responded to my earlier question.
Now I would like opinions on diesel vs gas engines. I've never owned a diesel. Is the mileage that much better? Do the engines last that much longer? What are the benefits of diesel to justify higher fuel cost at the pump.
Also, is the engine noise as loud inside the van as it is outside?


Bob in Tucson

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Old 01-31-2008, 12:58 PM   #2
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This topic has been bashed around a lot on the Yahoo group, but here's the gist. I've test-driven Sportsmobiles with both the Ford diesel v8 (6.0l), and gas v10 (6.8l). Both seemed very powerful. The Ford diesel is pretty smooth and quiet for a diesel, but it's still noisier than the gas. And even a gas Sportsmobile is pretty noisy at highway speeds.

After considering the extra noise and fumes when driving in the backcountry on slow trails with the windows open, I decided to go with gas.

Diesel (+) advantages and (-) disadvantages:
  • (+) 10-20% better fuel mileage
    (+) can run diesel appliances
    (-) noisier
    (-) fumes
    (-) fuel gelling in extreme cold conditions
    (?) fuel availability in foreign countries
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Old 01-31-2008, 09:45 PM   #3
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If you tow anything heavy, you need a large diesel for torque and fuel economy

Diesels tend to hold value better...and cost more to repair/maintain

With diesel fuel costing 20% more than gas now, fuel savings are not there now. You will get greater driving range.

I have a 5.9L gas in my dodge, 250Hp 13 MPG. Would I like a 3.0L diesel 154Hp, a 330 HP powerstroke 6.0 maybe.
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Old 02-01-2008, 02:07 PM   #4
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Gas V-10 is hard to find


My wife and I have been working through the same question. I guess the optimistic view is that since there is no clear winner, we should be happy either way:-)

I just placed a deposit on a diesel although we would have been happier with a V-10 gas. Unfortunately, SMB West doesn't have any in stock and it will add +- 10 weeks to the lead time of a build. So, one factor in your decision might be how time sensitive you are if you are looking new.

For us, we want to have something by the time the kids are out of school so we are hoping the noise of the diesel won't drive us crazy.

There is presently a 5 week queue before they start working on it.

Good luck.


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Old 02-01-2008, 02:40 PM   #5
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Mark, once the diesel warms up, i really don't notice the sound that much, and i haven't dynamatted the engine housing yet. But you probably could here me starting the Sporto up at zero degrees clear out of the state of Montana.
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Old 02-01-2008, 02:58 PM   #6
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You can search through the posts to see I have had a bit of difficulty with my 2005 6.0 PSD, but even so I'm not convinced it was the wrong decision. Guess I would have to drive a gasser for a year too to make a clear comparison from a performance standpoint.

As Ed mentions, the noise really isn't that bad once it is warmed up (except when the fan kicks in though .... that is really loud). My biggest complaint with the diesel is the heat that makes its way into the cabin. Again, I'd have to compare to a gasser to know if it is any more or less. The diesel generates a lot more heat in general plus the turbo location and down pipe that pushes against the inside of the dog house contribute a lot to higher temps particularly in the passenger seat.

Part of the reason I chose a diesel is mileage and I am rather disappointed in that department. I get 11 mpg on the low side and the highest has been 14 mpg. I was hoping (expecting) better than that. Absolutely no complaints in performance (when it is running anyway).

This is also my first diesel and it has been a learning experience.

Lastly, I've actually grown to like the smell of diesel exhaust in the morning!


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Old 02-02-2008, 12:49 PM   #7
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I'm a big believer in diesel in general for a lot of reasons. I'd take a diesel over gas in most vehicles, if it remotely made sense. Even so, I'm not totally in love with the current PSD's. And some big part of the decision is always personal.

I like that a diesel is more efficient. I love being able to run bio-diesel (B20 until we're past the warranty mileage or Ford changes its policies), which among other things helps with the noise and smell issues some folks have. I like having a single (bio) fuel solution.

We don't have the on board diesel stove like some folks, but I'm getting a camp stove from Britelyt. It, and the lanterns I already have from them, will run happily on diesel.

The van is already such an expense, and a long term investment, that the additional cost of the diesel engine didn't seem like a reason not to get it. My only hesitation has been the reliability issue. They're not as bad as all the internet chatter can make it seem. And I know there are after market replacements for the turbo, which seems to be the weakest link and the cause of most problems, or at least what goes first.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:35 AM   #8
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I currently have a 2005 Ford with the 6.0 Diesel. This is my first diesel vehicle.

My previous van was a 1994 Ford (same body style), high top conversion van with the 460ci V8. It was an E350 (rare in regular conversion vans) with a 4.10 rear. It got 11 MPG on the highway and 10 MPG in the city. Ouch. It had tons or torque, of course, it weighed 3000 lbs less than my SMB.

The van I had before that was a 1988 Ford (old body style) regular roof E150 conversion van with a 351ci V8. It got around 14 MPG on the highway. Power was fair but nowhere near the power of the 1994 or my current 2005.

Noise wise, the 1988 was the quietest. You couldn't even tell it was running.

The 1994 was OK but louder than a car.

You always know when the diesel is running. It's loud when the engine is cold but once it warms up, it's not bad. At highway speeds, it's comparable to my 1994 gasser. Under hard acceleration, the diesel is louder.

Historically, diesel fuel has been cheaper than gas, with a higher BTU content and higher efficiency. Over time, it would be cheaper to buy a diesel. Since Hurricane Katrina, diesel has been more expensive than gas. In my neck of the woods, it's about the same as premium gas. Hopefully one day it will return to it's lower price.

The next van I get will be diesel. I'm sold.

But whatever you decide to get, will be the right choice for you. Enjoy it!
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Old 02-05-2008, 02:29 PM   #9
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Great thread. I'm in search mode right now and had been limiting myself to a diesel. I will be towing a car trailer with a dune buggy and dirt bike(s) often. My in-laws have the V-10 gas in their Winnecrapo and that motor has served them well for many years throughout Baja and mainland Mex. Seems diesel is not the hands-down better decision that I assumed it to be. Humm. What about the tranny differences between the two when it comes to Ford E-350 vans, for example? Can't remember the numbers, but is one more relaiable than the other? One more capable at towing than the other? Is either worth a darn beyond 100k miles?
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Old 02-05-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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I think both engines were available with 5R110 TorqShift 5spd automatic.

You should expect the trans to go far beyond 100K miles.

Even though I've had a bunch of tranny problems - mostly caused by the tech that worked on it - I'd still reccomend that transmission.


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