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Debunking 11 Diesel Engine Myths

Posted by Mark Houlahan on

Vehicles with diesel engines have a reputation, and not always for the better. Some of the "facts" circulating about diesel engines are actually myths. Here are the top 11 diesel myths debunked.

Myth #1: Diesel engines are slow and sluggish.

As long as a vehicle equipped with a diesel engine isn't pulling too much weight, it does not perform slower than any of its gas-powered counterparts. In fact, they typically outperform gas-powered cars because of their torque. They maintain a higher peak torque more easily and at lower speeds, which makes them fast and efficient.

Myth #2: Diesel engines create air pollution.

This is a myth now. When diesel engines were first established, they did create air pollution. However, present day emission regulations hold engines to high standards, and modern engines are much cleaner. Filters and catalytic reduction both contribute to more efficient and less polluting engines than their diesel predecessors.

Myth #3: Diesel fuel is always more expensive than gasoline.

The cost of diesel fuel and gasoline can vary based on a lot of different factors, but it's not a true statement to claim one is always more expensive than the other. Typically the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel are very comparable, but the price of each depends on where you live.

Myth #4: A diesel engine won't start in cold weather.

Below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, diesel fuel can start to become gelatinous or goopy, where gasoline is not subject to that. However, diesel engineers have solved this by adding glow plugs, which warm up the fuel to help vaporize it and prevent it from gelatinizing. Block heaters can be found in most diesel engines as well, and they also help keep fuel the right consistency so your engine can start at low temperatures.

Myth #5: Diesel engines are very noisy.

Just as the first versions of diesel engines were much more pollutant than the diesel engines today, the first diesel engines got a reputation for being loud. Modern diesel engines are no more noisy than gas-powered engines. If your diesel engine is making a loud noise, it should be inspected soon.

Myth #6: Diesel-powered vehicles can run off vegetable oil.

While biodiesel is created through a mixture of animal fats and vegetable oils, using vegetable oil in your vehicle is strongly discouraged. Doing so can cause damage to your car and the engine. You are always best off using products recommended by your manufacturer.

Myth #7: Diesel engines are expensive to maintain and repair.

Compared to their gasoline-engine counterparts, the parts in a diesel engine are typically more expensive, but they are also more durable. With proper maintenance and attention, diesel engines are much less likely to fail or need replacement parts than gasoline-powered engines are. Diesel engines also have fewer parts than gas-powered engines, which means there are fewer parts that could potentially need repairs or replacements. So while parts are more expensive up front, they should last longer and not need to be replaced as often as parts in a gas-powered engine.

Myth #8: Diesel-powered vehicles perform poorly at high altitudes.

Gasoline-powered vehicles perform worse at high altitudes than diesel-powered vehicles. Because diesel engines have turbochargers that can compress the air regardless of how thin it is, the altitude does not affect the quality of the diesel engine's performance. In gasoline-powered vehicles, the thinner air is harder for the engine to process, and it compensates for the thinner air by using less fuel, which negatively affects the overall performance of the vehicle.

Myth #9: Idling a diesel engine is fine.

Idling any engine, whether diesel or gasoline, is expensive, makes your engine more vulnerable to damage, contributes to your carbon footprint, and is usually not needed. Warming a car for up to five minutes before driving is not a big deal, but idling a diesel engine for longer than that will drain your gas tank and your wallet. Drivers have wasted billions of dollars in unnecessary idling since each hour of idling your car uses an entire gallon of fuel.

Myth #10: Diesel engines have poor fuel economy.

Two factors contribute to fuel economy: the energy content per gallon of fuel and thermal efficiency. Diesel engines have a great energy per gallon of fuel and they have a higher thermal efficiency than gasoline, making them more fuel-efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Myth #11: Diesel fuel is expensive and hard to find.

While this myth may have been true years ago, now it is harder to find a gas station that does not offer diesel fuel as an option. Very rural areas may be an exception to this, but nearly all well-established gas stations will have diesel as an option at the pump.

While the diesel engines on the market in the 1920s may have started some of these myths because they were true back then, you can rest assured that diesel engines of today are made with much higher standards and are much more efficient than the engines from back then.

At Goldfarb and Associates, Inc., we have diesel engine parts for every type of diesel engine. Peruse our online inventory for all of your diesel needs and let us be your diesel parts supplier.

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