7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
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1999-2007 Gas Engines Discussion of the gas engines available in the 1999-2007 Super Duty trucks

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Old 02-20-2005, 11:56 PM   #1 (permalink)
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7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

First I would like to say hello to all on these forums. I am new here as you can tell.
I have a question I would like to ask of some of you truck enthusiasts. I am looking to purchase a 1990-1997 F350 Crew Cab 4x4 with Automatic Trans and I am debating between the 5.8L gas and the 7.3 diesel. I don't tow anything on a regular basis so the overall pulling ability is not the issue. More an issue of mileage (is that even reasonable on a 1 ton truck? lol).
I guess I should mention my location as well - Bay Area of California. With the price of Diesel Fuel always up there right with 92 octane or higher, I am wondering if the 5.8L is a better choice for my light load situation.
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Mike

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Old 02-21-2005, 04:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

7.3! i have one and i love it!!!
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Old 02-21-2005, 06:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Hi Mike-

I had a '96 5spd F350 4x4 reg cab with 5.8. It was a good, dependable truck. I liked it. Its only shortcoming was its limited towing capability. It would do fine with trailers up to maybe 5K but performance would fall off quickly with heavier loads or high elevations.

RE mileage, it did OK. Comparing it to my '01 with 6spd and 7.3:

'96 5.8: (SRW ~6000 empty) lifetime average mpg (mixed): 13.5; best mpg: 19

'01 7.3: (DRW ~8300 empty) lifetime average mpg (mixed): 15.5; best mpg: 21

So my experience suggests that the 7.3 gets maybe 2mpg better than the 5.8. In similar sized trucks, maybe a little more since my '01 is a bigger and heavier truck than the '96.

IMO, the windsor engines are good ones. Except for its limited towing abilities, I think that the small block 351 is a fine motor.

Good luck with whatever you choose!

Mark
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:28 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Hey guys, Thanks for the replies. Guess the only other question is how much more per gallon does Diesel cost per gallon than regular unleaded on average. I know it goes up and down. I think it is about 13% more than gas right now.

Oh, one other consideration. I am quite mechanical but have never dealt with a diesel engine. As far as cost to maintain and possibly rebuild in the future, what should I expect if I choose a diesel? One machinist I know said that the non-turbo 7.3 is probably a better choice from a cost of rebuilding standpoint. Is that necessarily true?

And I have also been told all kinds of horror stories about being screwed if you break down out on the road in a diesel. I would like to hear the reality from some diesel owners. Is it possible to make all of the repairs yourself on the diesels or do they require super high tech expensive equipment for calibration etc?

Thanks again,
Mike
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Hey Mike-

Fuel costs vary greatly by time of year and region of the country. Generally, diesel costs will be higher than gas during the winter when the refineries are making lots of heating fuel (which is similar to diesel) and lower than gas during the summer.

Around here, the pendulum has finally begun its swing towards summer fuel costs and the two are pretty close, with reg being $1.84 and diesel $1.85. I'd guess that over a years time, the two are pretty close. Maybe diesel being a little higher nowadays. Didn't used to be the case. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

You'll get lots of different answers on maintenance/repair costs and people's experiences vary widely. All vehicles are getting more electronic crap on them these days which are out of range of shade tree mechanics to fix. I've been lucky and never had any electronics problem in any vehicle I've had. If something does go wrong, you can bet that the diesel will be more expensive to repair. The upside is that they can be worked harder for longer periods of time without needing major repairs.

Personally, I view the amount of time and money to do routine maintenance on any modern vehicle, either gas or diesel to be minimal. I change the oil in all of ours, putting Mobil 1 in my wife's Jeep and Delo or Rotella T in the PSD and the price isn't too far off since the M1 is synthetic. FWIW, I've never had any diesel-specific (turbo's, injectors, etc) failures on any PSD I've owned.

To tell you the truth, from what you've described RE your needs, I'm leaning towards suggesting you purchase a 5.8 gas truck. The only reason to upgrade from that is if you think that you may want to do some medium/heavy towing down the road and plan to keep your truck a long time...

Best,

Mark

ps: one last thought. FWIW, during the warmer months and/or if I was towing, I had to run a higher blend of gas in my 5.8 to keep it from pinging. Medium grade during the summer when not towing and premium during the summer when towing. If that ends up being the case with you, it is probably guaranteed that the fuel cost will be a wash or even lean in favor of diesel.
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

I have a superduty powerstroke, so it's a little different than the first generation powerstroke or an IDI that you would be looking at, and I also have a 302, and a 351.

The 302 will be pretty good on gas, unless you load it up good, then it would have to work waaaay harder than a 351 would causing it to suck more gas. The 351 is also a proven motor that would also fit what you want if you want to pay a penalty with city milage. But like you said, it IS a truck. The diesel will also move you nicely and really shine during heavy load conditions. All in all, I would first start with the condition of the trucks you can find, then price, then what engine because they will all work for ya.

Diesels are as reliable as the care put into them. They can have problems just like a gasser, but can also just as easily be towed to someplace that knows what they are doing. I am generally an untrusting person when it comes to others working on my rigs so I do most work myself, but no matter the shop or place, if a mechanic can prove ability to me they can do work for me.

Last thought, don't rule out 99+ superdutys. There are deals to be found and they work just as good. Welcome to thedieselstop and have a nice day. Happy hunting.

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Old 02-21-2005, 08:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Runboy....I too am new to this site as I just bought my first diesel last December. Mine is an '02 F-350 SC SRW 4x4 7.3. All I can say is GET THE DIESEL!!!!! Driving down the road, hitting the go-pedal and having enough grunt to really go! PRICELESS! All I pull is my boat (16' john boat, one ton truck, go figure). Can't tell just how pleased I am with the truck. wish I'd bought one sooner. Good luck in whichever you decide. seems to be lots of good folks around this site sharing tons of very useful info!
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Old 02-21-2005, 09:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

KY4XFORD, what kind of mileage are you getting in that setup? I am kind of leaning toward the diesel for the "smog exempt" factor also. smog regulations are getting rediculous here in Ca.
Mike
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:29 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

i say get the 5.8 b/c the cost of mant. the diesel is a great puller which in your situation you dont need. i have a diesel b/c i pull all the time and i love the power but ive pulled my same loads over the years with a 4.9 (300 six)82 F- 350 DRW, 88 (5.8), 96 (7.3), and now a 03 (7.3) BTW go price a waterpump at an auto parts store for 7.3 and 5.8 and you will see
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Old 02-21-2005, 10:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

I have used all of the engines you mention. My dad has a 351 in his pickup. It has around 160000 miles on it and has done part time duty pulling trailers. It is pretty much gutless pulling heavy loads and his is about to give it up (excessive oil consumption). My first 7.3 (idi non turbo) had 250000 miles on it when I sold it and was still going good with more pulling power than the 351. I don't care for the 351 very much but am a believer in the engines in the newer ones such as the 5.4 and the V10. My mileage numbers would pretty much agree with the other poster with the diesel about 2 ahead of the gasser. Maintenance costs are definitely cheaper and easier on the gasser as the first 100000 miles just takes less than half the filter and oil money that the diesel does. If I was to buy one today, I would look at the 5.4 in a 99 for about the same money as a PSD in a 96 or 97. If you are looking at older ones, my personal choice there would be a diesel over the 351 but I like to do a little maintenance.
Kelly
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Old 02-22-2005, 10:53 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Runboy

I debated going to gas when I bought mine. The 3 to 4 thousand dollars more for the diesel will buy you alot of gas. Not to mention that diesel is now so much more now than regular. Mathimatically I should have went gas. I would have to own this truck longer than I will for it to pencil out, but I like diesels so that's what I bought. Since you don't need the pulling power of a diesel I would drive 'em both, see what you like and buy it. It's not a lifetime commitment. Diesels aren't everybody's cup of tea.
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Old 02-22-2005, 12:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

[ QUOTE ]
All I pull is my boat (16' john boat, one ton truck, go figure).

[/ QUOTE ]

I don't think a 16' jon boat is considered towing. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/biggrin.gif[/img]

I think my 14' boat, motor, and trailer weigh less than 500#. I pull it with my ATV when going to and from the river bottom.

Just kidding, I can never tell mine is back there.
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Old 02-23-2005, 08:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

My Buddy has a '90 F-250 5-speed 3.55 gears, reg. cab 4X4 w/ 351W almost identicle to My PSD. He normally got 10-11 mg..... I get around 18. Son's '93 Lightning got about 14 MPG till He got an EEC Tuner, now He can get 17-18 in a little low profile 2 WD half ton. On light duty a diesel should get 25-30% better MPG. Far as cost of maintenance, Gas engines still cost more to keep running over the life of the vehicle compared to a diesel.
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Old 02-23-2005, 08:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

Also, If you are a mechanic type, the IDI's are not complicated and there is a lot of knowledge on the forum here. They have talked me through a lot. And the parts are not too bad.
You do not get the acceleration out of a diesel that you will out of a gas truck. I think as was stated here that you need to drive both and decide.
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Old 02-24-2005, 12:32 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: 7.3 Diesel Vs 5.8L Gas?

[ QUOTE ]
Gas engines still cost more to keep running over the life of
the vehicle compared to a diesel.

[/ QUOTE ]

I think you'll find this not to be the case if you look at the first 100k or even the second 100k. Most folks trade before that happens. by the end of 200k (with proper maint) both trucks will be on the first engine but the second transmission.

Oil changes, fuel filters all much more on a psd. Alternators, water pumps all more on a diesel. Of course this isn't factoring in the extra several thousand up front, high cost of diesel and all the additives folks here like to pour into their diesels.

I kept my last truck for 11 years. Not many people keeping them that long. Many diesel owners here on their 3 psd since 99. What do they care about the life of an engine over 300k? If you have the money, why not. Me I'm poor.
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