What Makes a Diesel Engine Different and Unique?

There’s a thrill in the hunt for your next vehicle. From reading reviews, looking at safety reports, and checking over all the new options available, whether it’s for your daily drive, offroading only, or longer road trips. This is an investment, right? You want to be smart with your money, and keep an eye out for future maintenance issues and costs, so you can be out on the road (and in the dirt) as much as possible for as long as possible.

Maybe you’re more of a do-it-yourself person. You’ve got the hood up, tinkering with your labor of love, and want to make sure you’re on the right track. Are there upgrades you should be considering? Are there repairs you’ve been trying to fix yourself without luck? Perhaps you just need an expert to get your WIP up on the lift and take a look with you or just consult about current trends in the overland scene.

With the number of places that already fed you misinformation, personal biases, and outright lied to you when you knew better, how do you know who to trust? At Mach1 Motorsports, we’ve been where you have been and love our trucks and overland toys just as much. Let us get you started on your diesel expedition today by explaining what makes a diesel engine different and why you might consider it for your next truck. 

Under the Hood

At a fundamental level, gasoline and diesel-fueled engines both serve the same purpose in a vehicle: to convert fuel into motion. Each of these options does this through internal combustion, which is the process of pressuring a mix of air and fuel until it combusts and generates the power needed to drive the mechanical parts of your vehicle.

Both engine types initiate combustion through the same steps, just slightly differently. Both engines start at the intake of fuel and air. However, where the gasoline engine mixes both in the cylinder, the diesel engine only lets in air and will mix the fuel in later in the process.

Once fluids are in the system, compression can begin as the piston moves to minimize space and increase pressure and heat. In a gasoline engine, too much heat will cause the fuel to ignite in the cylinder and could cause massive damage to the engine. On the other side of the fence, the lack of fuel in the diesel engine’s cylinder allows for higher compression as it needs the cylinder to hit a high temperature while still in this phase.

Finally, ignition begins, and here is where the main operational difference lies. Gasoline engines use spark plugs to ignite the air-fuel mixture with an electrical charge. With diesel engines, the cylinder can get hot enough for self-ignition. This means as soon as the fuel is injected, it combusts.

In both engines, the combustion fumes are expelled as exhaust so that the process can start over, which it does multiple times every second when engaged. Overall, this doesn’t seem like a significant difference. However, there are more factors at play, especially when you take in the long view.

Out on the Road

The main draw of diesel engines is the increase in fuel economy when compared to gasoline. Due to the differences in the combustion process, this allows the diesel engine to burn less fuel to gain the same power output. This difference, which can be up to twenty percent compared to traditional gasoline, directly increases the fuel efficiency by the same amount.

In addition to being less thirsty, your diesel engine is also incredibly durable. Where the 150,000-mile mark is where most gasoline engines show cylinder wear and signal an end to come, diesel engines utilize slower Revolutions Per Minute (RPMs), which results in less overall wear and tear. Less wear means significant increases in the lifecycle as compared to a gasoline engine of similar size — some even hitting the 1 million mile marker.

Also, the decrease in RPMs means ramping up torque. When you combine this extra power with the increased fuel efficiency, it all starts to add up to more carrying capacity, which is perfect for hauling heavier loads and towing other vehicles.

Back In The Garage

There are many moving parts to keep an eye on when reviewing your next purchase options or upgrading one of your toys. Looking online for more information uncovers so many mistruths and misconceptions. Some of the common ones you’ll see are:

  • Costs – Diesel is typically more expensive at the pump, which leads people to think that it costs more to operate. What they aren’t considering is how much more power you can get out of the same amount of fuel, which translates into lower operating costs.
  • Pollution – Gone are the days of billowing black smoke from diesel exhausts. The restrictions on diesel manufacturers have been steadily getting stricter, leading to more creative engineering and technological advances to the point where diesel now runs cleaner than ever.
  • Too Loud – Diesel engines have a reputation for being loud, and it’s mostly just that anymore: a reputation. Modern engineering has quieted the engine compartment to the point where the operator probably can’t even detect a difference in volume compared to gasoline.

Need a Service Center?

Now that you know more about how diesel measures up, you can make more informed decisions moving forward in regards to what options are best suited for you. And if there are still answers you need to seek out, we here at Mach1 Motorsports will be happy to share our experience and go explore with you!

In addition to being a full-service automotive facility, we have an in-depth knowledge of the automotive industry, from top to bottom. Our passion is your happiness, and we want to meet and exceed your expectations of a service center. 

Whether you’re looking for a reliable provider of aftermarket parts or access to the latest diagnostic equipment to find out why your engine is making that noise, we’re sure you’ll be happy working with us.

In addition to the routine maintenance your engine will need, from oil changes to minor repairs, you can also count on Mach1 when shopping at that next auction. We have hands-on know-how of those older cars and trucks — the real classics — and can make sure your new purchase is road legal and running just fine.

Or, if you want to leave the roads behind, we can show you how to get started offroading or what new must-have upgrades are now in stock to help you get into even deeper mud and longer trails.

Contact us today to learn what we can do to help you get out on the trails, enjoying the fresh air and challenge of mudding, climbing, or just taking a trail ride.

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