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Old 07-31-2020, 07:07 AM   #1
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Diesels Tow Great, but as daily drivers??? PLUS MPG Impact on Towing

1. Diesel engines
Purpose of this question/comment is to highlight the limitations of diesels as daily drivers. There is not to dispute how wonderful diesels tow our ASís, both in the mountains and other locations. How many hotshots on the highways are driving gas powered TVís = NONE!

2. MPG
Also, MPG statements when towing are useless and low numbers are expected and must be warmly embraced if you want to tow.

MPG statements are only helpful IF you state the importance on the RANGE of your TV. For example, we get 10-11 MPG when towing our vintage 26í Overlander, both with our previous F150 and our current F250. Impact on us:
* F150 = 26 gl tank, 260 mile range, which caused us to start looking for fuel stops at 160 miles
* F250 = 34 gl tank, 340 mile range, start looking for fuel after 240 miles (if bladder holds out that long).
* Ford long bed has 48 gl tank = (depends on engine) if gas and similar to our gas TVís gets 10 MPG, it would have a range of 480 miles, we would start looking for fuel after 380 miles. Importance here is that some folks could drive all day without refueling and disconnect trailer at campsite and refill without the often humorous, frustrating, challenging experience at fuel pumps. You should see us at a truck stop with our 34í Excella, when someone pulls up in front of us at the lead pump, knowing we need that pump to clear access to other pumps!
* Our previous TV for our Coleman pop up was a Toyota 4 Runner with a 16.5 gl tank, range was abysmal both towing and not towing. We could bare drive 120 miles while towing before we had to refuel.

Back to Diesel Engines:
This post is not about the large investment new diesel TVís require (only familiar with Ford @ over $10,000 on MSRP), or the increased maintenance and fuel costs, or increased trade-in value.

I have read posts that state diesels are great TVís but lousy daily drivers. I agree. My personal experience at Land Yacht Harbor in Melbourne, FL with 300 trailers confirms this. Owners from long distances away, lament they have to drive their diesel 4 miles to Walmart to pickup stuff. Plus for ALL super duties, parking lots and drive thrus are not our friends! Our technique is to drop my wife at the door of Walmart and then park in the back of the lot. After shopping, I retrieve the truck and pick her up at the door.

I asked my nephew, who we visited last month in Lubbock, TX, who is a regional service rep for FCA about this frustration with using diesels for short trips, where the engine barely warms up. His response: ďAs I travel around my region, I recommend sales folks not to recommend diesels for towing infrequently or short distances, because that causes problems with the EGR and increases FCAís warranty claims to repairĒ.

Remember comments should be limited to:
1. Diesels as daily drivers
2. MPG impact on range
* This is a discussion of super duties limited turning radius, or rough ride .
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:21 AM   #2
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My previous daily driver was a 2015 GMC 2500HD Duramax. It was only used as a tow vehicle for the last 6 months I owned it. As for durability, I only ever changed oil, tires, batteries. The truck was bulletproof.

Here is why I purchase diesel trucks: When I traded it in, the dealer gave me $16,000 less than I paid for it new over 5 years before. I'll do the math...$3000/year, or 27%. Here in Texas, you can expect the non-diesel variant to depreciate that much the minute you drive them off the lot. I believe the Duramax option was around $8000 in 2015. Clearly, I got all that back (and then some!) on the back end.

In my experience, I've had incredible durability and phenomenal resale value. The large expense was only on the first one; high residual value means I get the next one on the cheap due to the large down payment.

There is one thing I do not understand about the "you gotta pull hard and take long trips or your truck will end up with thousands of dollars of repairs" crowd. My wife drives a 2017 BMW X5 diesel. It's got the same Bosch fuel system, DEF nitrous oxide reduction system, and a pair of turbo chargers. Nobody ever says you have to drive these things hard. In fact, the average trip for this vehicle is probably less than 5 miles. I don't hear a lot of complaints from the Euro diesel crowd and my BMW service shop says the diesel powertrain is probably more reliable than the gasoline ones. We have only ever taken it into the shop once a year for a preventative maintenance appointment--whether it needs it or not!

Maybe someday I'll have a bad experience with diesel drivetrains, but I've been a happy camper for the last decade.
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:51 AM   #3
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“As I travel around my region, I recommend sales folks not to recommend diesels for towing infrequently or short distances, because that causes problems with the EGR and increases FCA’s warranty claims to repair”.

I thought the recall was because of defective EGR. That's why I fixed my 2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel.
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:53 AM   #4
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Diesels Tow Great, but as daily drivers??? PLUS MPG Impact on Towing

I have the Nissan Titan XD with a 5 liter Cummins diesel. Fine truck, pulls well and, while it does not have an exhaust brake per se, the computer does close the turbo vanes down when on an idle descent in tow mode which is very nice. Many doodads (heated seats, digital everything, traffic sensors...). Quiet, very comfortable.

It is huge, with itís own zip code so not fun as a daily driver.

When towing I average 13 mpg. I have a 26 gallon tank so, theoretically my range is about 300 miles. I have never stretched it that far ó I am looking for diesel at about 225.

So far, it has not required any service at the dealership. I do oil/fuel/cabin/air filters and my mechanic of many years has done the few other scheduled items.

However, had I the chance to do it over, I would buy the same truck with a gas power plant. Why?

500# pounds more payload.

Diesel fuel stinks and, apparently, there is a rule that there has to be a puddle of it on the ground in front of every diesel pump in North America. Once it is on your shoes, you get to enjoy it all day.
Also, my truck has the narrow diesel fuel filler neck so I either find the auto diesel pump or go to the truck diesel pump and hand dribble fuel in at a gallon a minute.

There is diesel fuel and diesel fuel ó my owners manual specifies no greater than 5% biodiesel. In some states, in the summer, you canít find anything less than 20%. Flying J (which I liked for their RV lanes) labels all their diesel 20%. So, am I voiding my warranty? Really donít have much choice...

Pair of fuel filters (every 7500 - 10000 miles) is $65. Oil change of 2.5 gallons is around $80.

Is any of this critical? No. Just annoying enough ...

It is immaterial as, at my age, this is surely my last TV (unless a viable electric comes along).
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Old 07-31-2020, 08:56 AM   #5
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I have no idea what is the point of your post or what you are asking us to do? Or is there even a question?

Do you drive a diesel?

I drive a diesel. I like it. Does that about cover it?
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I have no idea what is the point of your post or what you are asking us to do? Or is there even a question?

Do you drive a diesel?

I drive a diesel. I like it. Does that about cover it?


What Bill said covers a lot of ground for my answer too.

Owned my 2005 Dodge Ram 5.9L 6 speed since new currently about 210K. I ran it as my only driver for 5 years before I even had an AS.

I started driving a company truck a 1997 Dodge Ram 5.9L 3500 5 speed and I was hooked. Had to have my own.

I later bought a 2000 VW Beetle 1.9L 5 spd for DD nothing to do with towing but I put over 400K on it commuting.

Spark plug free since 2005 and all maintenance by me at over 600K all manual trans shifting.

Gary
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:34 AM   #7
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Glad to read the discussion

I will soon be looking at tow vehicles and will consider diesels. We were already leaning towards a gas power train as that is what I currently have. The best feedback is from you guys not the salesman. Thank you for sharing the first hand experience.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:53 AM   #8
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When I tow my 2019 AS 30" Classic with my 2019 Ford F250 diesel I average 12.1 mpg. I added a 40 gallon auxiliary tank in the bed so I have a total of 74 gallons of fuel when the factory tank and auxiliary tank are fully topped off. That gives me just under a 900 mile range while towing.

When unhitched, I get 19 mpg which gives me a range of about 1400 miles.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by superChop View Post
. How many hotshots on the highways are driving gas powered TVís = NONE!

.
Not 100% correct. Do an internet search for a hotshot named Flatbed Ed. He got 418k miles miles out of his first 6.2 in his Ford Super Duty. He replaced the engine. The last post I found, he had 290k miles on the replacement engine.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:05 AM   #10
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Iím also in the wonít go back to gas for my tow vehicle. Yes itís a big vehicle but other than that very happy.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:20 AM   #11
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I love my 250 with 6.7 for towing. Used to have 4 cars but now down to 2 so the truck is also my daily driver. About 6 mi to work each way, 15 min. It does not like it and the potholes make for a bouncy ride. But the worst part is I go to a number of meetings around town or events. I have to park in garages at big buildings. I had to let the air out of my tires once for clearance once I got in a tight spot.

Height can be an issue in the urban jungle. Turning radius is a poorly designed garage is a hot mess. I wish I could get away with installing a train horn sometimes but when I pull out, people tend to make way.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:28 AM   #12
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I had a 2000 diesel Excursion as the family car. I liked it, but on cold mornings it was very loud.

Sold it to a polygamy cult out west.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:32 AM   #13
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I had a Tundra TV and traded it in for a RAM HeavyDuty Cummins.

I loved the Tundra as a daily driver, not so much as a TV.

I love the RAM for both. Any stiffer ride or reduced turning radius is vastly superseded by the stability of the RAM as a TV.
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:40 AM   #14
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Diesel truck upsides: payload capacity, but applies to gas versions as well

Diesel truck downsides:
Doesnít fit in underground parking at home, so would be stored 30 km away and only used for towing (YMMV)
Unsuited for short trips without full warmup, which requires load to be applied
Unsuited for an urban environment.
Public backlash, aka trucklash (again, in an urban environment)
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:53 AM   #15
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I have a 2014 Touareg TDI that I use for my TV for my International Serenity 23FB and for my commute vehicle (at least during the winter - I try to ride my bike the 6-7 miles to work during the summer). I have been very happy with the 27 - 28 mpg I get when commuting and the 17 or so mpg I get when towing, even going up and over Colorado passes. But does anyone else feel a twinge of guilt about pollution when driving diesel over long distances? I would love to have an electric tow vehicle when we have enough charging stations.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:07 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by daytripper View Post
I have a 2014 Touareg TDI that I use for my TV for my International Serenity 23FB and for my commute vehicle (at least during the winter - I try to ride my bike the 6-7 miles to work during the summer). I have been very happy with the 27 - 28 mpg I get when commuting and the 17 or so mpg I get when towing, even going up and over Colorado passes. But does anyone else feel a twinge of guilt about pollution when driving diesel over long distances? I would love to have an electric tow vehicle when we have enough charging stations.
No guilt at all. Electric cars need to be driven over 150 kilometers before there is any benefit in the carbon footprint. At that point you're most likely replacing the batteries and you will not catch up. The cost of producing electric batteries is extreme. We've invested well over a 100 million dollars to date. That's not to mention what our clients have invested. The one client we are working with now is into it for billions. I wish I could share what goes into these. And how next to impossible it is to take them apart. You really have to invest a lot. It's all nice and dandy on paper. Then put it into reality.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:17 AM   #17
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Our 2004 Ram 2500 diesel is my only vehicle. 236,000 miles on it and doing great. 18.5 mpg not towing. 16.5 towing our 30' trailer up and over the Sierras recently. 32 gallon tank takes us 420 miles without trailer. Have replaced/rebuilt certain parts (transmission, AC compressor, bearings, etc. Engine is flawless...just change fluids. Bought it used with 75k miles on it for $23,000. It is now worth $16,000 12 years later.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:39 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Trowbridge View Post
Our 2004 Ram 2500 diesel is my only vehicle. 236,000 miles on it and doing great. 18.5 mpg not towing. 16.5 towing our 30' trailer up and over the Sierras recently. 32 gallon tank takes us 420 miles without trailer. Have replaced/rebuilt certain parts (transmission, AC compressor, bearings, etc. Engine is flawless...just change fluids. Bought it used with 75k miles on it for $23,000. It is now worth $16,000 12 years later.
Keep in mind you have a previous generation diesel. There is really no pollution control equipment on board. Today's diesels require DPF and an additive to be injected into the exhaust. This additive is water based. So if you live in a climate where it freezes a lot you have to the use the additional heaters to keep it from freezing. These heaters fail. The exhaust management system fails. The DPF fails. The sensors fail. If you buy a modern diesel you have at least 8k in extra stuff to fail and it will. The DPF has lifetime and so does everything else in the system.

I just had a failure on my DPF. First it seemed like an easy fix just the sensor, but then holder where it went into the exhaust was rusted out. The wanter $2700 just to replace the DPF and another $500 for the sensor. After some creative work we removed the DPF and welded another bung from another DPF onto it. That whole repair set me back $1100. A far cry from the $3200 I was originally looking at.

Is it worth it? Hard to say, but unless you're driving it lot it won't pay for itself. If you need it to haul then it's hard to quantify.

My 2000 VW TDI has over 530k on it. Doesn't need much and still runs. The only pollution equipment on it was the EGR which I need to replace. It also has a Cat. But so far it is ok. That's a far cry from what my 08 has. And the newer ones have even more stuff like the entire DEF system.

I don't think I will buying another diesel. Not because I don't like them, not because I think towing is better with it, but simply for the cost of the repair. It's far too high to replace these systems when you have a high mileage vehicle.
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Old 07-31-2020, 12:36 PM   #19
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He is correct..no idle and very few short trips for a diesel...
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Old 07-31-2020, 12:46 PM   #20
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No 3/4 or 1 ton truck, gas or diesel, makes a great daily driver for obvious reasons, particularly in an urban or semi-urban environment. Even 1/2 tons can be problematic in that context.

So if you need a true DD and a capable tow vehicle you own one of each. If that's not possible, and you can only own one vehicle, then you are simply going to have to accept significant compromises in one or both functions.

I suppose one could come up with a specific scenario where owning a dual purpose diesel 3/4 ton is more problematic than owning a dual purpose gas 3/4 ton truck but it's certainly not an issue for me. My 2017 6.7 F250 is everything I need and want in a TV, is a surprisingly quiet and comfortable highway cruiser when not towing and where I live it works out fine as an occasional errand runner. I love it.
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