Common Misconceptions About Diesel Engines

Common Misconceptions About Diesel Engines

Affirm CollaboratorJanuary 14, 2020

Diesel engines were long subjected to trucks, trains, and large ships, but they are gaining more interest these days. Many people now see them as a better alternative to the gasoline engine, and as such, consumers are buying vehicles with diesel engines. However, myths and common misconceptions about diesel engines still exist and permeate the consciousness of the world.

Myth 1: Diesel Is Dirty

There is an image that many people think of when they think of air pollution—a giant truck on huge tires belching out black smoke as it hurtles down the highway. That smoke is particulate matter and soot from the exhaust produced by the diesel engine. Or at least, it was. Emission standards by the EPA have increased, and now, diesel engines must meet the same requirements that gasoline engines do. Diesel trucks now have what’s known as a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), which eliminates that black smoke. The engine traps the smoke until the computer decides it’s time to get rid of it. A small amount of fuel fills the combustion chambers and the resulting heat and oxygen burn off the soot and particulate. This allows the black smoke burn off within the engine and not expel into the air.

Myth 2: Diesel Engines Won’t Start in the Cold

While this might have been true when the diesel engine debuted, it’s not today. Diesel fuel has a very high freeze point—around 40°F. At this temperature, the fuel starts to gel and won’t flow freely into the cylinders. Thankfully, modern technology such as glow plugs and block warmers keep the fuel from freezing and preventing the engine from starting.

Myth 3: Diesel Engines Don’t Perform Well

People still associate diesel engines with trucks and large, lumbering vehicles. Due to this, they think that a car with a diesel engine will perform like a truck—slow and sluggish. The truth is, however, those trucks are slow because they are hauling heavy loads, not because of the engine. Diesel engines hit their peak performance when the RPMs and speeds are low (under 65 mph), where most driving takes place. Gasoline engines only reach their peak performance at high RPMs and high speeds that will garner you a speeding ticket.

Myth 4: You Can’t Find Diesel Fuel

Lots of people think that you can’t find diesel fuel at the gas stations. While it is true that not every gas station carries diesel, most of them do. Once you own a vehicle that takes diesel, you’ll start to figure out who has it and who doesn’t. One thing is for sure—right now, you will have better luck finding diesel than you will a charging station. 

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