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Old 10-06-2017, 04:44 PM   #1
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Default Gas vs Diesel

In 2015 my Sprinter 4x4 arrived and life was perfect. I finally had a van to convert that I could take on ski trips. After a learning curve with the part time AWD system I seemed to have smooth sailing ahead.
Then the diesel engine problems started. I started loosing power after driving in stop and go traffic. It was just like my 2000 diesel golf used to act when the exhaust manifold used to clog. I thought the DEF system solved that problem but I guess not.

First time the dealer couldn't find any codes or problems so they updated the software and send me home.

Second time I was in CA and a x number of starts before limp mode came on so I was forced to drop it off at a CA dealer and rent a car for the rest of my vacation. They replace an oxygen sensor.

Then I just lived with it and became too busy for trips. I took it in a couple times but I don't remember what they did.

Right before the eclipse I took it in and told the dealer if it happened again I was going to shoot the van. The told me that CA put in the wrong OXY sensor part number so they replaced and assured me it was fine.

The last time while driving home from an eclipse trip it happened again and this time I was lucky to make it over the mountain pass. Finally, a check engine light came on. I called the dealer and let them know I was bringing the damn thing back. This time they replaced the crank shaft position sensor and after a 4000 mile road trip it seems fixed.

It took over a year to fix.
This could just be my luck, but diesel engines have such complicated emissions systems it seems there is a greater chance of problems.
Plus now Mercedes says not to idle the engine for extended periods.

I plan to sell my Sprinter van and buy a gas van where I can take short trips and idle if I want and not worry about when the next time "it" happens.

Has anyone had similar experiences?
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Old 10-06-2017, 07:15 PM   #2
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.

the bad oxy sensor is notorious for the 2015; you are not the only one who got stranded.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:03 PM   #3
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We bought a diesel in 1996, partly because it could be idled for extended periods on only a tiny bit of fuel. We got caught in a pile-up in Cajon pass one January and ran the engine for four hours, staying toasty warm in sub-freezing temps. That engine has over 200K miles on it and runs great.

When we looked for a B, we started with a diesel in mind. Then we did a lot of research and it seems that if you have a pre 2007/2008 version, you are OK. After that, they seem to have quite a lot of issues as a result of the emissions equipment.

As a result of that research, we bought a gas engine. It has less torque and the new gas engines run at much higher RPM than the old ones so we aren't sure how long it will last - probably not 200K miles.
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Old 10-06-2017, 09:16 PM   #4
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As a result of that research, we bought a gas engine. It has less torque and the new gas engines run at much higher RPM than the old ones so we aren't sure how long it will last - probably not 200K miles.
In my young years we used to rebuild our gas engines after about 40 or 50K miles. Since then there have been lots of improvements in materials and oils. I don't think you can ware out a gas engine anymore.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:13 PM   #5
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IMO, it is less about gas vs diesel when comparing longevity than it is to the design requirements. We are used to gas car engines, that are designed to last 100-200K miles and diesel truck engines that are designed to last 500K+ miles. Properly designed gas engines can be designed to last longer, but it is normally impractical because they are less fuel efficient and too expensive to run for those long lifespans.

With direct injection gas, and turbos on small engines, the fuel efficiency of gas engines is getting much closer to that of diesels. Now that diesels actually have to meet emissions, things are getting even closer.

The big question is if either gas or diesel will survive, or it will be all electric or other power source going forward.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:54 PM   #6
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IMO, it is less about gas vs diesel when comparing longevity than it is to the design requirements. We are used to gas car engines, that are designed to last 100-200K miles and diesel truck engines that are designed to last 500K+ miles. Properly designed gas engines can be designed to last longer, but it is normally impractical because they are less fuel efficient and too expensive to run for those long lifespans.

With direct injection gas, and turbos on small engines, the fuel efficiency of gas engines is getting much closer to that of diesels. Now that diesels actually have to meet emissions, things are getting even closer.

The big question is if either gas or diesel will survive, or it will be all electric or other power source going forward.
Mazda just announced a new line of high compression gas engines that purport to have economy the same as diesels. The "breakthroughs" in economy we are about to see really have nothing to do with engine design. It's the improvements in materials production at scale to produce affordable engines. They've known for decades how to make much more efficient engines - it's just a matter of the manufacturing tech making it possible to do things affordably.
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:57 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Phoebe3 View Post
We bought a diesel in 1996, partly because it could be idled for extended periods on only a tiny bit of fuel. We got caught in a pile-up in Cajon pass one January and ran the engine for four hours, staying toasty warm in sub-freezing temps. That engine has over 200K miles on it and runs great.

When we looked for a B, we started with a diesel in mind. Then we did a lot of research and it seems that if you have a pre 2007/2008 version, you are OK. After that, they seem to have quite a lot of issues as a result of the emissions equipment.

As a result of that research, we bought a gas engine. It has less torque and the new gas engines run at much higher RPM than the old ones so we aren't sure how long it will last - probably not 200K miles.
There are Promasters for sale coming out of commercial duty with over 300k miles on them regularly. That's some pretty hard duty and I'd be happy to get that kind of longevity out of something in RV duty.
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:25 PM   #8
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Just a little back-of-the-envelope math with some pretty variable numbers:

If gas and diesel are both $3.50/gallon...

And the gas engine gets 15 miles per gallon...

And the diesel engine gets 22 miles per gallon...

And the diesel Sprinter costs $15,000 more to purchase than the gas Promaster or Transit...

You will have to drive approximately 200,000 miles before you have spent as much on gas as it cost you up front for the diesel.

Even if I pick more conservative numbers, it probably doesn't make sense to buy a diesel solely for the fuel savings.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:05 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Phoebe3 View Post
Just a little back-of-the-envelope math with some pretty variable numbers:

If gas and diesel are both $3.50/gallon...

And the gas engine gets 15 miles per gallon...

And the diesel engine gets 22 miles per gallon...

And the diesel Sprinter costs $15,000 more to purchase than the gas Promaster or Transit...

You will have to drive approximately 200,000 miles before you have spent as much on gas as it cost you up front for the diesel.

Even if I pick more conservative numbers, it probably doesn't make sense to buy a diesel solely for the fuel savings.


+1 +1


With the Ford ecoboost engine, you get 400 lb/ft of torque. There goes another edge the diesel used to enjoy.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:35 AM   #10
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I am hoping that my next rig will be all-electric. But if that doesn't happen, it will be gas. The diesel emissions stuff are not-ready-for-prime-time (much like the gas emissions devices of the 1980s). Moreover, I doubt that they will ever be--not for technical reasons but for economic ones. The VW incident caused serious harm to diesel's brand, and has really taken the wind out of the sails of new diesel development. As discussed above, the advantages are no longer significant, so the requisite R&D investments are unlikely ever to be made.
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