What Are the Real Costs of Owning a Diesel Half-ton Pickup Truck? (Ask TFLtruck)

2018 ram 1500 limited ecodiesel turbo
2018 Ram 1500 Limited EcoDiesel

What are the real-world costs of owning a turbo-diesel half-ton pickup truck? Kevin from Austin, TX recently asked this important question. This question will become ever more relevant over the next year as diesel half-ton trucks from Ford and GM will be joining Ram’s EcoDiesel.

Ford already confirmed that a turbodiesel (aka. Power Stroke) version of the Ford F150 will go on sale during the 2018 calendar year. It will use a 3.0-liter V6 turbo diesel. General Motors has not confirmed availability of a turbo-diesel 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500, but diesel prototypes of these trucks have been seen testing in public.

Here is Kevin’s question:

My question is, how much does it really cost to own a half-ton diesel truck? Everyone states that the maintenance is too costly for what you get and with the price difference in fuel costs and DEF it’s just not worth it. What’s your opinion?

You can send your questions or comments to: ask@tfltruck.com We will publish most popular questions.

Turbo-Diesel Pros

Diesel engines are still more efficient than gasoline counterparts, especially when talking about trucks and hauling/towing heavy weights. You cannot beat a small turbo-diesel on efficiency, although gasoline engines continue to improve and electric/hybrid trucks will be entering the mainstream within the next several of years.

A turbo-diesel truck is comfortable highway cruiser empty or loaded. The plentiful torque and power moves the truck along at a relative low rpm and without shifting gears too often.

Turbo-Diesel Cons

There are several cons to a turbo-diesel truck.  The obvious one is the extra initial cost. A turbo-diesel engine adds around $4,000 – $4,500 to a price of a new half-ton truck. There are additional maintenance costs: regular oil and fuel filter changes and potential long-term repairs of the EGR, particulate filter, and DEF system components.

Diesel fuel costs more than regular gasoline in most areas (although, diesel is cheaper than 91-octane or 93-octane gasoline that many current turbocharged gas engines require or recommend). These is additional cost to filling up with DEF, but it is much smaller when compared to fuel itself.

Final Decision

The decision comes down to how long you plan to own and use the truck.  If you plan to drive it at least 100,000 miles (perhaps 150,000 miles) and use it for hauling and/or towing, then a diesel half-ton starts to make financial sense.