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Old 09-20-2003, 11:56 AM   #1
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Question Switching to Diesel?

After our 2nd trip towing the 22' CCD with the Tundra (mostly all above 6K' above sea level), I'm wondering if I should've bought a diesel truck. The Tundra tows the CCD like it's not even there. It's not a power thing, but at 7000' above sea level, with a head wind and a full tank of fresh water , I'm burning way more gas then I thought I would (9 miles to the gallon or less..). What are your diesel trucks getting? Is it really cheaper? Who makes the best diesel engine (while at Great Basin NP, I thought I was the only person not towing with a Dodge)? I'm building a comparison spread sheet (Dodge, Chevy, GMC and Ford), but I can't find any MPG numbers on the manufacturers websites. Also it looks like a new one from any of the manufacturers is about $40K, would you get a used one? Please post your MPG numbers. And of course I would appreciate all your other comments on this topic.

2003 22' International CCD
2003 Toyota Tundra

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Old 09-20-2003, 12:00 PM   #2
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I have traveled quite extensively with my '99 F 350 (v8 Powerstroke Diesel) - towing my old '79 AS. Without it hooked up I avg around 24 mpg and around 18 when towing. I never imagined that a such a huge truck would get that kind of gas mpg but wow it does. I bought mine used for 15K (it had 100K miles on it) and other than replacing the water pump on it a few weeks ago - narry a problem with it.

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Old 09-20-2003, 02:30 PM   #3
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We have a Ford 7.3 Power Stroke E350 and we log about 16 to 17 mpg without the AS. When towing our 31' loaded, we drop to 9 to 10 mpg. Comfort does have it's price!
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Old 09-20-2003, 03:01 PM   #4
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Miles per gallon quotes by people with diesels can vary quite a bit. When refueling them the fuel foams up, different pumps do it to varying degrees so it can be hard to get accurate and consistent data. I would say 15 mpg and less while towing with a diesel is probably average. I have gotten as bad as 10, heading into a stiff southern coastal breeze and running 75 miles an hour. In my situation just having all the power I would ever need right at hand is probably the best reason to have a diesel. They cost more to get into, regular maintenance such as oil changes are higher and not everyone appreciates the noise and the smells. If you like the Tundra and are just the typical recreational camper I would just stick with it.

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Old 09-20-2003, 03:44 PM   #5
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I drove Chevy Burbs 100k per year for over 15 years and only had one diesel.....the gas models all got around 10 and a 85 6.2 Detroit diesel got 18 at all times, traveling 5 SE states with an average load of 1000 pounds....western hunting trips with a 21 ft trailer and 3/4 men and full gear still approached that 18 mile per gallon figure...

I drove that diesel nearly 400k miles instead of the 200k I got out of gas models and for no reason I can put my finger on, never bought another diesel....I enjoyed it when I had it and maintenance was reasonable....I just did't want anotherfor some reason??? They are not for everyone....jem
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Old 09-20-2003, 04:04 PM   #6
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The very best diesel available in a pickup truck is the Chevy Duramax. Or possibly the Ford Powerstroke. But it could be the Dodge Cummins.

Both the Ford and Cummins are very new, and the Chevy has only been out two years or so. No one has any real long term experience with any of these newest designs, and long term is what diesel ownership is all about.

Diesels are not for everyone. First off, they only come in heavy duty models - 3/4 ton or larger. With spring rates to match. Second, you have to own them a while to ever come out ahead on the fuel costs, as the extra up front cost can be $6,000 or so.

The current generation of diesels are far cleaner, far quieter, and far easier to deal with than those of just a couple of years ago.

All three of these models are turbocharged, which is a real plus if you do a lot of towing at altitude.

If you are like me, and drive them until the wheels fall off, and and do a lot of towing, they can be very satifying to own.

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Old 09-20-2003, 05:44 PM   #7
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Diesels rule!!

I bought a 97 F-250HD PS CC SB 5-speed 4x4 4.10 NIB. (Powerstroke, crewcab, short bed, new in box)
I don't own a AS yet but I have a steel 3 horse gooseneck trailer I get 17-18 combined city/highway no trailer at posted speeds. 13-14 with the GN and that doesn't appear to matter noticeably if there are horses loaded or not. Once I get past 65 the mpg starts dropping from air drag. If I stay around 55-60 with the GN hooked on it stays on the high side of 14. I'm guessing with a couple of horses the trailer would weigh around 6500 maybe more. Ihave gone to BFG AT 285x16 tires which are size larger than the 255 stockers. So, my mileage has dropped about 1mpg across the board.

I have a VW Jetta TDI that gets 50mpg. Just can't tow much.

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Old 09-20-2003, 06:12 PM   #8
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My buddy ran from Atlanta to Ancorage (sp). 02 F250 Crew short bed 7.3 pulling a 39ft fth wheel camper with 3 four wheelers in the back. Not sure of the weight but the average MPG for the trip was right at 15 he said. That's darn impressive. Says empty it gets about 22. He previous truck was a 94 Crew cab long bed F250 He got 10mpg towing and 15 empty.

My 454 sub gets 10 empty. It gets 9.5 with 7500lb behind it. It just doesn't care. It gets about 10 regardless of how I drive it, A/C, no A/C, 75, 55, 45, 7500lb in tow it gets about 10.

Few years I'll look at a 7.3 F250 like my buddies.
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Old 09-20-2003, 06:52 PM   #9
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The new Ford 6 litre diesel engine is definately an improvement over the old power stroke diesel according to a test done by one of my 4 wheel magazines. I have looked for that issue and it may be out in the trailer. The test compared a loaded Ford vs the new High Output Cummins and the Chevy Duramax. The Ford outpulled the others. It is also available with a new 5 speed automatic as is the Chevy Duramax. Durability will have to be measured but by all accounts this new Ford diesel is a winner. OK, I drive a Chevy 2500HD with 8.1 gas engine so I'm not being brand loyal here. If you are looking for a diesel then by all means test drive all 3 brand names. The original Cummins engine has been around for a good while and has proven itself but the new Cummins is quieter by a long shot. One of the guys at work has one and I can hear him start up and drive away 600 yds. away. I really hate that sound and for that reason would never consider the regular output Cummins. I rode in a 3500 Duramax several months ago and have to admit that it sure is quiet. It is also detuned according to a forum my son and I spend some time on. Chevy calls it torque management so that the drivetrain is not abused. This can be defeated with programming modules which give the Duramax plenty of extra power. These are also available for the Ford and the Dodge units.

Found the issue, Aug. 2003 of Four Wheeler. A 7,000 lb. trailer was attached to each vehicle and run up a long grade. Unloaded, the vehicles were close together with the Ford winning. With trailer attached, the story changed. The Ford beat the Chevy by one second which beat the Dodge. The Dodge was hampered by a new 48RE which is a beefed-up version of the 47RE four speed auto transmission. It does not feature a tow/haul mode like the other two vehicles do. All three 3/4 ton truck did a good job though.

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Old 09-20-2003, 08:10 PM   #10
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You might just consider moving up in the gas engine department rather than making a big jump to the diesels. The new Nissan Titan really pulls as compared to the Toyota Tundra in Nov. 2003 issue of Four Wheeler magazine. They did not test these 2 at the same time but that was the feeling of the writers. The Tundra with 4.7 litre DOHC engine is rated at 240 horses and 315 lb.ft. of torque compared to 305 horses and 379 lb.ft. of the Nissan 5.6 litre DOHC. Even the Chevy 6 litre engine with 300 horses would pull a little better. The diesels are stump pullers but around $4000 on the front end is rough unless you plan to keep the vehicle forever or plan on putting the miles on her. The option is just a little more truck than you currently have without going the whole nine yards, that is unless you plan on buying a bigger airstream later.

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Old 09-21-2003, 10:48 AM   #11
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A 22' CCD is within the Tundra's ability. Towing a current day 25’ ‘stream starting at nearly 5000# dry totally pushes the GCWR limit, to say nothing of the 75% rule. The Tundra’s V8 rear differential ratio of 3.92:1 gives good towing power but poor mileage; can’t have both.…

Good resources I have saved are:
Another towing question (especially note Maurice's pointers about diesel)
More on tow ratings (experience, opinion, and the '75% Rule of Thumb')
Some more links about towing (THE encyclopedia of links, circa 5 months ago) (well, different anyway...)

Yes, the Nissan Titan is interesting. An increased capacity Tundra is a big question mark and seems a year or more away. If you swallow the depreciation hit by selling the Tundra, be sure to factor that amount into when you’d break even on a better mileage vehicle change.

Good luck!

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Old 09-21-2003, 01:20 PM   #12
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I was very impressed after I traded in my 98 Dodge 1500 with the 318. Not only did it have no real power but it was a real pig when towing, 10 mpg or less. 15-16 when not towing was no real imporvement. Now that I have a 2003 F-250 with the 7.3 powerstoke im getting 18-20 unloaded and 14 towing my 31ft airstream. Im planing to change out the exaust with a banks stinger system and a k&n intake were I should pick-up approx 60 horses according to the engineers at banks. This should increase im fuel econemy as well.
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Old 09-21-2003, 01:45 PM   #13
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I just bought a 2003 GMC 2500HD with the Duramax/Allison combo. I really don't think the diesel will pay for itself as they are really expensive. My Duramax was a $5010 option on the sticker. BUT, I got a hell of a deal. I am eligible for GMS pricing AND happen to catch a $6000 rebate. They are trying to clear the lots out of 2003's to make room for the 2004's. So, I figure, I got the DMAX for free. Had these rebates not been available, I would have opted for the 8.1/Allison combo.

I have only put less than 150 miles since delivery. We went camping over in PA this weekend and averaged 12.8 MPG towing/lots of city driving. The 454 would have gotten aroound 9.5 under the same conditions.

So far I am really happy with the truck. The slighty longer wheelbase makes it more stable, while towing on the highway.
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Old 09-21-2003, 02:20 PM   #14
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I have owned a 2002 2500HD Chev D/A Ext Cab LB since September of 2001. I pull a 1995 30' Excella 1000. My truck is heavy with all the equipment I carry, i.e. ladder rack, boat, canopy, two 100lb German Sheperds, the thin wife, and the replacement Transfer Flow 56 galllon fuel tank. Since I boondock most of the time, my fresh water tank is always full.

I live in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. Everywhere I go is uphill from here. Pulling the Airstream, I get between 15 and 16 mpg. I generally go the speed limit plus 5 miles an hour set on autopilot. Your milage will improve. Just be sure you break your rearend in correctly and change your rearend fluid after the first 500 miles of pulling.

Sure beats my old 3/4 ton heavy duty 350 chev especially with the Tow/Haul mode in the mountains.

I would suggest you go over to and check out all the valuable information available on their forum.

Have fun!

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