Understanding The Needs And Advantages Of Your Diesel Car

Posted on: 11 September 2015

If you have purchased a small car that runs on diesel instead of gas, you are probably wondering if you will drive or maintain the engine differently. Diesel does combust differently than gasoline, and diesel cars do have subtle differences from their gas-powered counterparts. There are many advantages to having a diesel engine, and understanding these advantages can also help you to avoid problems that come from using the engine incorrectly. 

Engine Tune Ups Are A Thing Of The Past

A gasoline powered engine needs spark plugs and a distributor to direct the voltage needed to start the fuel-burning process. These are not needed in a diesel engine, and they are the main reason why people need to take their vehicle in periodically to be "tuned-up". However, this does not mean you are completely off the maintenance hook. You will still need to

  • have the oil changed as per the recommendations of the owner's manual.
  • change the air, oil, and fuel filters. These may even need to be changed more often than gasoline cars, depending on how much you drive and how clean your fuel is.
  • empty the water separators. As engines are becoming more efficient and with the evolution of cleaner diesel, this step may not be necessary for your car. However, diesel fuel absorbs more water than gasoline, so it is still a common maintenance need in many model, so you should check the needs of your specific make and model. Most water collectors will need to be emptied manually, and every engine is slightly different, so you should start by checking it about once a week

Your Car Is More Fuel Efficient

Diesel fuel is climbing in price, mostly because the demand is so high. Diesel is still a good deal, however, because it is 33% more efficient than gas. No matter the cost of the fuel, you can feel good about your choice to drive a diesel car because the fuel efficiency is greater-- you'll be using less. The reason why diesel engines are easier on fuel is twofold:

1. The car is "slow and steady". Diesel fuel has less "get up and go" than gasoline, which means the car will accelerate less quickly and drive more slowly overall. The trade off is that your car will run smoother for longer; gasoline is a sprinter, while diesel runs a marathon. The "sprint" of gasoline acceleration burns more fuel than the steady speed increase of the diesel engine. Diesel also works slightly harder than gasoline, which is why it is often used for tough-duty trucks. You shouldn't try to force your car to "sprint", as this will wear out engine components more quickly.

This slow and steady nature means that it will take longer for your engine to require major repairs. They are dependable and hardworking. But, don't take this for granted. Staying on top your oil changes and paying attention to the check engine light is important, because diesel injection systems can be more complex and costly to repair. 

2. Diesel fuel burns differently than gasoline-- the heat of combustion is used as energy for driving, where heat from gasoline combustion is released with exhaust. Diesel fuel, therefore, has more useable energy that the engine is able to harness. Because of this efficiency, there are always improvements being made to help with diesel fuel emissions, which are dirtier. You can improve these efforts by filling up on bio-diesel as often as possible, as it is a cleaner-burning diesel that will further extend the life of you engine. 

If you have questions about your diesel car, or if you are thinking about purchasing a vehicle that runs on diesel, talk to a local dealership or service shop about the pros and cons, including the cost to benefit ratio.  Click here for more information.