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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I have limited mechanical experience, so pardon my ignorance. And I was strictly looking at the gas powered PM, but have seen some deals on the EcoDiesel that have piqued my curiosity.

Can someone explain why a diesel is worth the extra dough? The mileage isn't that much better to justify a $4-5k price difference. Are they inherently more durable? Will they last an extra 100k miles?

Thanks
 

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The mileage is a big deal. The gas PM gets about 17 mpg and the diesel gets about 26, 150% better. That is a difference that will pay for the diesel engine in about 150K miles (or much less) and then it is cheaper. In addition the diesel will outlast the gas engine 2 to 1 probably. This I4 3.0 liter engine is an industrial commercial engine built to last. The diesel also comes with a transmission that will probably last the life of the engine with a clutch change sometime in its life. Cost for service is comparable as the diesel has much longer service intervals.
The gas engine is a very popular and much used Chrysler product with just a few issues, an update will appear in a year or so. It should have a normal life in this van and the transmission should be the same but about 250 K miles or so on the average. It is cheaper up front.
Diesels have recently come under new emissions restrictions and meeting them has been hard for many manufacturers. Sprinters have had a very difficult time in particular, you will hear from former owners who's bad experience has made them diesel haters. FCA has adapted better I believe and very few emissions issues have cropped up in the last year and a half. For the first 8 months or so FCA had a proportion of unresolved or lengthly to resolve issues, cured in the most part by software updates.
There have been four or so gasoline engine failures we know of here among our posters' PM vans, about what might be expected on any proven design, not something to worry about. About the same number of transmission failures. No diesel engine failures, one transmission failure (clutch and actuators). Early on FCA bought back a few owners diesel vans as they were so problematical. Don’t buy a diesel made before about February 2015 to avoid the early issues which are gone now. There are many more gas PM vans represented here, both drive systems are very good.
The diesel is wonderful to drive, does not shift down in cruise and pulls like a freight train! It’s transmission is a manual that is automatically shifted. It is very efficient and once used to it, most owners like it. The gas van shifts a lot and the step down is a bit large, more of an irritant than a problem. The gas van has plenty of power but the diesel seems to be better at hauling a trailer.
Diesels and this M40 transmission need heating in very cold conditions and in Canada they come with a plug in heater. It is an option in the US.
I have a diesel, ordered it and negotiated a price that effectively cost me $3500 for the option. I love that I can travel 550 miles between fill ups, diesel has been cheaper or at par with gas for the past year so I am well along towards it being paid for. None of the dire predictions have come to pass, DEF is easy and cheap, the pumps are on the same islands and just as clean. In theory the diesel should be worth more as a trade in or sale. Time will tell. I don’t see any down side. I have tried to be fair here but I really only know the diesel personally, gas owners will add more I am sure.
 

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Diesel and gas are different animals, each with its peculiar set of pros and cons. RD will tell you the diesel is the best thing since sliced bread. I disagree. Neither of us is right or wrong--just opinionated. You need to seriously educate yourself before making the decision. Also factor in that the gas and diesel PM's use entirely different transmissions, one of which you may prefer over the other.

When I was making the choice, my pencil estimated about 150,000 miles as the break-even point money-wise, assuming equal prices for the two fuels. At the moment, diesel price appears to be heading up. Next week it may nose-dive, so the dollars may be impossible to compare long-term. As for longevity, I'm more concerned about my own than about my gas engine, particularly since replacements are dirt cheap.

Gas engine just runs. Turn it on, turn it off, no problem. Emission controls have evolved to the point where they are transparent to the driver. Diesel engines are still in training pants with emission controls and require more attention from the driver. Search the forum here for more details.
 

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Yes, msnomer I can agree with everything you have stated, but then I also agree with RD so that's not much help, I'm afraid.

It basically comes down to economics, nothing more IMHO. Out West diesel in usually cheaper than gas on on the East coast just the opposite. Diesel suck in cold weather so if you spend more time in the cold not a perfect choice. Diesels do last twice as long as gas engines but good, low mileage gas engines for the Promaster are cheap, cheap, cheap.

I've probably owned as many diesel vehicles as gas in my lifetime and, living in New England, it can be a hassle in the winter. Having said all that, NO I wouldn't pay more for a diesel Promaster but I wouldn't reject one either (if the price was right)!

The bottom line - drive em both, consider how long and how far you expect to drive it and don't look back after you've made your decision. There is no right or wrong answer to this question only a personal, warm, fuzzy feeling inside after you have spent all your hard earned money.
 

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As long as you have a Leatherman with you, you'll be fine.... :)


I have the diesel, I got a deal on it so it wasn't $5000 more than the gas, but hands down, I love the transmission and the way it shifts. I can't imagine driving an auto with these now.

I'm not getting 26 MPG like RD, (more like 24, which is still pretty amazing considering the size of this thing) but then I'm younger and probably drive faster :)

Plus, it's just cooler to say you have a diesel :)
 

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I went with a diesel because of the fuel economy as well as the option to do a diesel heater, so I can skip propane for my camper build.

Bought mine used, so diesel/gas is essentially the same price at that point.
 

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For me the EcoD was a combination of hwy drivability (no shifts), MPG (obviously) and towing capacity and capability. This thing tows our camper like a boss. It barely ever shifts when towing our 4000# trailer and still gets 19+ MPG. It never even seems to be working very hard.
 

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First, I have limited mechanical experience, so pardon my ignorance. And I was strictly looking at the gas powered PM, but have seen some deals on the EcoDiesel that have piqued my curiosity.

Can someone explain why a diesel is worth the extra dough? The mileage isn't that much better to justify a $4-5k price difference. Are they inherently more durable? Will they last an extra 100k miles?

Thanks
To answer your ?
Half the cost of the diesel is because they can charge it. Now for the other cost, the block has to be high strength iron, for the high compression and high temp in the combustion chamber. The heads, valves, pistons and rods need to be made of high strength and high temperature components also. All parts out of the combustion chamber really aren't special just labeled diesel. Diesel's have direct fuel injection and have turbos and now have new emission controls that add to the price. They are better at hauling heavy loads and towing and always will be I have not seen any 18 wheelers with gas engines lately. The new diesel is not fuel efficient in city driving and you need to drive 2/3 thirds highway for fuel economy. These diesels are mass produced for the EU market, made there too, and should not have such a high price tag. Some of the components of a diesel are starting to show up on gassers to meet new fuel and emission standards such as turbos and direct fuel injection so gas and diesel engines should start equalizing in price if not for the first sentence.
 

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MMXVI - L2H2 in IN
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I look at the warranty periods and the cost of repairs after it, 5/100k diesel vs 5/60k gas. In a perfect world the diesel is the way to go. After the warranty is up any repairs for the diesel and trans will wipe out any savings. Most independent mechanics can work on the gas, not so with the diesel or that manual transmission. Don't get me wrong I like the diesel version. I have only found one person that has taken a Promaster on the Trans Labrador Highway if you have a problem up there finding someone to fix the diesel version would be an issue. I have yet to find a high mileage diesel, saw a 209k gas for $13k. If I could find a Promaster with a 3.9 Cummins 4BT and a manual transmission I would be all over it.
 

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If you're going to be towing or hauling a lot, go with the diesel engine. Even without much load, the transmission in the gas engine is geared tall in the interest of gas mileage, but it means lots of shifting between 6th and 5th on the slightest uphill or headwind. The diesel engine doesn't have as much top end power but it has more bottom end torque ... and it is better at staying put in 6th gear because of it.

If you're going to be putting on a lot of annual mileage, go with the diesel engine. Fill-ups will be less frequent, it will use around 30% less fuel. You will have to crunch the numbers with local fuel prices to see if it's worthwhile. Bear in mind that gasoline and diesel fuel have independent seasonal variations in price. Around here, sometimes gasoline is more, sometimes diesel is more. It's close enough on average to call it even.

If you are going to be spending a lot of time out in the boonies, that tilts the balance towards the gasoline engine. Any mechanic that can fix a Chrysler can work on a Pentastar. The engine and transmission are just like the late model minivans.

In my own case, I crunched the numbers based on relatively low expected annual mileage (about 12,000 km per year - but often 1200 km at a time). I overestimated the fuel consumption of the gasoline engine ... my lifetime average is at 11.6 L/100 km. The diesel would probably use 8.5 L/100 km. Fuel costs are ballpark a buck a litre, diesel and gasoline are more or less the same, so the diesel would save about $3 per 100 km in fuel costs ... $360 per year ... Not worth the price premium up front.
 

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One thing's kinda funny for me. When I calculated that 150,000 miles, my thought was that I'd never see it. I was bummed a bit at the notion that the vehicle would probably outlive me. I no longer have that viewpoint. We've put on 30,000 miles this year with no slow-down in the near future, and the more we use it, the healthier I get. (Happiness breeds good health, does it not?) Soooo, I fully intend to wear this horse out. >:D
 

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I also use the 150k miles as a benchmark. If you follow Steve on Takethelongway you see how fast the mileage racks up, he averages 100 miles a day, he has used up 487 days of what I'm guessing is 1500 days of trouble free travels. His last trip ended about a month ago and was 126 days long. I ran the daily cost for gas vs diesel and Ram dealers along his route and figured gas was a safer way to go.

As Brian P said if your towing go diesel, I would add if its light and infrequent towing I would do gas.

If someone was expediting with a '14 diesel at least one should be for sale by now or they are still going strong.

The expediters I've seen use gas, I asked one about diesel and he replied, it was not worth the hassle.
 

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Everybody has their own opinions, but for me it's a no brainer - gas. Here's the main issues:

Service: anybody, literally any mechanic, can service the gas. Parts are cheap and everywhere. Diesel demands it be serviced by not just any Dodge dealer, but the Ram Commercial dealer. They are relatively few and far between. So dealership prices, dealership waits, and dealership mechanics who actually know LESS than an independent mechanic. Parts will be coming from Europe.

Towing: others will disagree, but if you are going to be doing a lot of towing, don't get a front wheel drive vehicle.

Mileage and cost: I get consistent 20s or 21s in both of my gassers. Diesels get a lot better, but yesterday in Toledo diesel was $2.40. Gasoline was $1.83. Without an MC number, you won't even be able to buy diesel at many stations in Indiana. Can the diesel handle to big truck nozzle size? Dunno. But if not, you may have to hunt for fuel. The extra range is a bonus, though.

Extreme cold weather may be an issue, depending where you live.
 

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Gas was a no-brainer for me because I drove a Mercedes 220D for 30 years--445,000 miles. Yes, it was economical and I loved the car, but I love my Corolla more. Yes, the vehicles themselves have improved, but diesel still stinks and Diesel engines still don't like the cold.

Also, if you ever contemplate driving south of the border, you want the gasser. Low-sulfur diesel is scarce--I've heard non-existent--past the border regions.
 

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Gas was a no-brainer for me because I drove a Mercedes 220D for 30 years--445,000 miles. Yes, it was economical and I loved the car, but I love my Corolla more. Yes, the vehicles themselves have improved, but diesel still stinks and Diesel engines still don't like the cold.

Also, if you ever contemplate driving south of the border, you want the gasser. Low-sulfur diesel is scarce--I've heard non-existent--past the border regions.
That may not be so much of an issue as it was. I am seeing reports the pumps on the Baja are showing Ultra low sulfur diesel quite a way down but I haven’t heard about the very Southern section. There is ULSD around Mexico City for sure as well but that is 1,200-1,400 miles from the border. PEMEX has promised to have it all over Mexico a few years ago but I have not looked to see if they have followed through. Look for "bajo azufre" on the pump. Before the winter is over I will try to report on the border section along the Western side of the country. With about 600 miles of range I could go quite far into Mexico and return if I don’t find it. Others here may know the Eastern side of Mexico better. It may be an issue. As wonderful as Mexico is it is difficult to find such things out. The fuel attendant will tell you what he thinks you want to hear no mater what is in the pump because they want to be friendly and helpful. If there is interest this could be a new thread.
 

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Hi,
An interesting paper that compares Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) for diesel and gas models of a few common vehicles that are offered in both versions. The PM is not directly covered, but some pickups of about the same size are.

http://www.dieselforum.org/files/dmfile/20130311_CD_UMTRITCOFinalReport_dd2017.pdf

The TOC includes depreciation, fuel costs, insurance, and repairs.

Does not really appear to be a big economic advantage one way or the other. The diesels (mostly) save some money on depreciation and fuel costs, but it ends up being in the same ballpark as the extra initial cost of the diesel models.
Maybe the message (if any) is to make the decision based on driving, towing... differences, and not dollars saved?

The

Gary
 

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GaryBIS,
I saw it differently. Substantial savings (TCO- total vehicle cost) were realized within 3 years for the diesels. Some quite large, one only had a little savings and this did take into account the added cost of the initial cost differential. Here are their conclusions quoted verbatim.

"Discussion and Conclusions
Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles. The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle. Though there are some exceptions to these positive results for some of the diesel versions of vehicles from a TCO perspective, the overall direction of the results support the idea that diesel vehicles compete well within the US market. In particular, the idea that one can get a return on one’s initial higher investment in a diesel vehicle within three years is a very positive sign, considering that new vehicle buyers tend to keep their new vehicles for an average of three to five years."
 

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GaryBIS,
I saw it differently. Substantial savings (TCO- total vehicle cost) were realized within 3 years for the diesels. Some quite large, one only had a little savings and this did take into account the added cost of the initial cost differential. Here are their conclusions quoted verbatim.

"Discussion and Conclusions
Overall, the results of our analyses show that diesel vehicles provide owners with a TCO that is less than that of the gas versions of the same vehicles. The estimates of savings for three and five years of ownership vary from a low of $67 in three years to a high of $15,619 in five years, but most of the savings are in the $2,000 to $6,000 range, which also include the extra cost that is usually added to the diesel version of a vehicle. Though there are some exceptions to these positive results for some of the diesel versions of vehicles from a TCO perspective, the overall direction of the results support the idea that diesel vehicles compete well within the US market. In particular, the idea that one can get a return on one’s initial higher investment in a diesel vehicle within three years is a very positive sign, considering that new vehicle buyers tend to keep their new vehicles for an average of three to five years."

Hi RD,
If you just look at the pickups (Chevy, Ford, RAM...), which seem to me to be the most comparable to the PM, you get:

Difference in ownership costs after 3 years and 45K miles:


Silverado Seirra RAM F250
$3673 $2720 $67 $-1395

So, the $3673 for the Silverado says that the cost of depreciation, fuel, insurance, and maintenance was $3673 less for the diesel than for the gas over the first 3 years and 45K miles -- this does not consider or count that the diesel option initially added several thousand dollars to the truck price.
When you look at the elements of the saving, the lower depreciation rate of the diesel is the biggest part of the saving.


Difference in ownership costs after 5 years and 75K miles:


Silverado Seirra RAM F250
$1278 $2613 $-578 $763



So, after 3 years the if you exclude the F250 diesel (which did very badly), the average saving is $2150. Somewhat short of what the diesel option costs on most of these vehicles.

Oddly, the saving in cost of ownership for 5 years for diesel pickups actually goes down compared to 3 years. I guess this is mostly due to there not being as much difference in depreciation at 5 years as there was at 3 years. The diesels always depreciate less than the gas models, but the difference looks smaller when you get out to 5 years.

The high end numbers they quote for savings on some diesel models in their summary are for high end Mercedes passenger cars where Mercedes has chosen to price the diesels at essentially the same price as the gas models. I don't think they are representative of the PM.

Not saying that this study is ideal -- just another data point.


Gary
 
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