Rising fuel costs have led some people to think about their options when it comes to engine type. Today’s diesel engines aren’t the loud, smoke-belching beasts they used to be. Even in applications such as larger trucks, it is now nearly impossible to tell just by listening if the engine runs on hi-octane gas or diesel. Because of emission controls, operating characteristics and performance specs have gotten to the point where clean diesels are quite near to their gasoline-powered counterparts.
So, what are the pros and cons when it comes to both types of engines? Let’s take a closer look.
Parts and Maintenance
The engine torque for diesel engines is higher than that of gas. That means that the diesel engine requires components that are stronger and heavier. This includes the engine block, tires, transmission, drivelines, axles and suspension. Diesel parts are no longer difficult to find and can be had at near-gasoline engine prices.
Gas-powered engines are lighter, but they need more attention when it comes to being serviced. That being said, advancements in fuel injection systems and electronic ignitions will lead to maintenance cycles that are extended.
Taking all of that into account, there still isn’t a vehicle with a diesel engine on the 2016 list of cool cars.
One of the great things about a diesel engine is that they get great mileage. In fact, when compared to gas-powered engines, they can deliver as much as 25 to 30% more fuel economy. They also deliver better fuel economy when compared to engines that are gasoline-electric. Still, it will all depend on the specific model and the automotive technology that is continually being developed.
When it comes to the fuel itself, diesel is the most efficient and best energy fuel that is manufactured today. When compared to gasoline, it also has a lot more usable energy, and this is what gives you the fuel economy.
Buying a diesel-powered vehicle gives you a premium in price that can be anywhere from $3,000 for a passenger vehicle to as much as $10,000 when it comes to a full-sized pickup. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy comparing price tags for gasoline vs. diesel. This is because some vehicle makers will include additional features on diesel-powered vehicles so that they will be more attractive to buyers. However, the higher costs upfront are also mirrored by their resale values, because diesel-powered vehicles also bring a higher price when they are used. They are built to last longer too due to the main bearings, pistons and engine blocks being built to a standard that is more robust.
As advances in the engineering, design and manufacturing of diesel engines has brought them to the same playing field as gasoline-powered engines, about the only thing that might inconvenience you if you own a diesel vehicle is finding the diesel to put in it. Diesel engines start just as easily as gas engines in the colder weather and they run just as quiet these days too. However, not every gas station will offer diesel fuel. It might be easy enough to find close to interstates and in the cities, but if you plan on taking a road trip or live in the country, you might want to make sure that the fuel is available where you’ll be going.
Upgraded electronic ignitions and fuel injection, along with the diagnostic systems for trouble codes, mean that maintenance costs for a gas-powered engine are reduced. However, when they experience difficulties or fail, these exact systems require replacement costs that are high as well as troubleshooting and training that is sophisticated.
When it comes to diesel injection engines, mechanics need specialized knowledge. Nowadays, diesel engines require systems for emission control along with low sulfur turbocharging fuel, technology for exhaust gas recirculation, and particulate traps that will cost more while also requiring additional maintenance for failures that are generated by heat and can result in lower fuel efficiency.
All told, diesel engines are a lot better than they used to be, and even though they’re priced a bit higher, they will also last you longer and give you a fuel efficiency that can’t be beat.