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Should I buy a diesel vs. gas vehicle?

Choosing between diesel vs. gas cars really comes down to whether you're planning on hauling heavy loads over long distances.

Gas cars and trucks have come a long way in recent years, and they’re now the most popular choice. But long-haulers may still be better off with diesel vehicles. To decide which option is right for you, learn how to compare diesel vs. gas vehicles in our guide below.

What’s the difference between diesel vs. gas engines?

When it comes to analyzing the differences between diesel vs. gas engines, first realize that both engines work essentially the same, by combusting a mixture of air and fuel. One of the biggest differences between diesel vs. gas engines, however, is how the fuel gets ignited. In a gas engine, the gas is ignited by sparks. On the other hand, a diesel engine doesn’t use sparks, but rather the diesel fuel and air gets compressed to the point where it just naturally combusts.

How much do diesel vs. gas vehicles cost to buy?

Diesel vehicles generally cost more up front. For example, the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 short bed crew cab truck has a starting MSRP of $40,210 for a 2.7L gas engine or $51,285 for a 3.0L diesel engine, which is difference of about 22%. As you get into bigger and more expensive cars and trucks, that difference can become even more noticeable.

What is the fuel cost for diesel vs. gas vehicles?

Diesel fuel is said to be 20% more expensive much of the time, but diesel and gas prices can fluctuate. There have been times when diesel has cost the same amount or even less than gas — it all depends on trends in the oil market.

How much does it really cost to own a car?

How does mileage compare for diesel vs. gas cars?

Diesel cars have a reputation for getting better mileage, particularly when hauling heavy loads for long distances. That’s one of the reasons why diesel trucks are still popular.

But the difference between mileage for diesel vs. gas cars isn’t as noticeable as it once was, and new technology means that gasoline cars are often actually cheaper to run. For example, some sources report that a four-wheel-drive gas-powered Ford F150 S10 generally costs less to run than its diesel counterpart, even if 90% of your driving is highway driving.

What about performance between diesel vs. gas cars?

Gas cars are generally more powerful than diesel. However, power isn’t everything. Diesel vehicles can deliver a large amount of torque at low revs, so if you’re traveling between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm, you’ll power ahead. This makes diesel better for cruising, whereas gas cars are better for speed.

What are the maintenance costs for diesel vs. gas vehicles?

Diesel vehicles come with notoriously higher costs for servicing and upkeep. These vehicles need diesel-specific oils, filters and coolants that can come with a higher price tag.

And if you don’t properly maintain a diesel vehicle, you can run into a lot of problems — especially with the engine.

Who should buy a gas car?

If you’re a casual driver, you’re likely better off with a gas-powered vehicle. Most sedans aren’t even available as diesel. And if you drive an SUV or a truck but don’t regularly haul heavy loads, you’ll pay less for a gas car.

Who should buy a diesel car?

Diesel is best suited to truck drivers who haul heavy loads for long distances. But advances in engines are slowly making diesel vehicles less competitive, so it’s worth comparing the mileage and towing capabilities of both the gas and diesel version of the truck you’re interested in before buying.

Compare car loans for diesel and gas vehicles

Check out our list of reputable car loan providers in Canada to find the right financing option for your diesel or gas car.

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product APR Loan Amount Loan Term Requirements Long Table Description
CarsFast Car Loans
4.90% - 29.90%
$500 - $75,000
12 - 96 months
Requirements: Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
Loans Canada Car Loans
0% - 31.99%
$500 - $35,000
24 - 120 months
Requirements: Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
0% financing applies to some new models with loan terms up to 60 months. Offer ends May 31, 2023.
Canada Auto Finance
4.90% - 29.95%
$500 - $45,000
3 - 96 months
Requirements: Min. income of $1,500 /month, 3+ months employed
Clutch Car Loans
From 8.49%
$7,500 - No max.
12 - 96 months
Requirements: 3+ months employed, Max.1 bankruptcy, Ontario & Nova Scotia only

Representative example: Leon buys a Dodge Ram

Leon, a resident of Ontario, is deciding between two 2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Longhorns. One has a 5.7L V8 gas engine and is priced at $68,000.00. The other has a 3.06L V6 diesel engine and is priced at $72,800.00. Leon knows diesel fuel is more expensive but figures the gas engine will cost more to maintain overall. Plus, the diesel truck will hold its value longer and can likely be resold for more than the gas truck.

Leon chooses to buy the diesel truck and makes a 15% down payment on it, which amounts to $10,920.00. He also gets an $8,000.00 trade-in on his old vehicle. Thanks to his solid credit history, Leon is approved for dealership financing to cover the remaining $53,880.00 plus 13% HST ($7,004.40). Additionally, he pays around $150.00 to register his vehicle with the provincial government – this includes a sticker for his license plate and a vehicle permit.

The table below shows how much a loan could cost for both vehicles:

2020 Dodge Ram 1500 Longhorn vehicle specsGas engine: 5.7L HEMI VVT V8 engine with FuelSaver MDS

(8-speed automatic transmission, 4X4 drivetrain, crew cab)

Diesel engine: 3.0L V6 Turbocharged Diesel

(8-speed automatic DFV transmission, 4X4 drivetrain, crew cab)

Purchase price of vehicle$68,000.00$72,800.00
Loan typeAuto loan (term loan)Auto loan (term loan)
Loan amount$65,920.00$71,344.00
Interest rate (APR)5.90%5.90%
Loan term8 years8 years
Additional fees
  • 4.00% origination fee ($2,636.80)
  • $0 application fee (waived by lender)
  • 4.00% origination fee ($2,853.76)
  • $0 application fee (waived by lender)
Payment amount $863.08 monthly or $397.33 biweekly$934.09 monthly or $430.67 biweekly
Total loan cost$82,855.68 with monthly payments or $82,644.64 with biweekly payments$89,672.64 with monthly payments or $89,579.36 with biweekly payments

*The information in this example, including rates, fees and terms, is provided as a representative transaction. The actual cost of the product may vary depending on the retailer, the product specs and other factors.

Bottom line

Gas vehicles are significantly more popular, and they’re the best option for most casual drivers. But if you regularly tow heavy loads, it’s worth considering diesel options. Whichever you choose, compare car loans first to find the best deal available for you.

Frequently asked questions about diesel vs. gas

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