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Should I buy a diesel or gas vehicle?

It all comes down to whether you're planning on hauling heavy loads long distances.

Updated

Fact checked

Gas cars and trucks have come a long way in recent years, and they’re now the most popular choice. But long-haul truckers may still be better off with diesel vehicles.

Do diesel or gas vehicles cost more to buy?

Diesel vehicles generally cost more up front. For example, the 2019 Chevy Colorado LT truck has a starting MSRP of $35,395 for a gas engine or $41,140 for a diesel engine, which is about a 16% difference. As you get into bigger and more expensive cars and trucks, that difference can become even more noticeable.

Do diesel or gas cars get better mileage?

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 isn’t as noticeable as it once was, and new technology means that gasoline cars are often actually cheaper to run. For example, 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, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

What about performance?

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.

Which costs more to maintain?

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.

Test drive a car near you

Get connected with dealerships in your area that offer upfront pricing.

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

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
Carvana
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
1 to 6 years
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
car.Loan.com Car Loans
300
Varies by network lender
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
CarsDirect auto loans
Varies by network lender
Varies by network lender
Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.
Save time and effort with this lending service specializing in beginner-friendly or subprime car loan.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
300
Varies
Varies
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
Monevo Auto Loans
500
3.99% to 35.99%
3 months to 12 years
Credit score of 500+, legal US resident and ages 18+.
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
LightStream Auto Loans
Good to excellent credit
Competitive
2 to 7 years
Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
LendingTree
Good to excellent credit
Starting at 3.09%
Varies by lender
18+ years old, good to excellent credit, US citizen
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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