Major car manufacturers like Ford, Chevy, BMW, and more are offering more diesel engine options than ever before. With the power to tow and haul, and fuel used more fully per unit, the benefits of driving diesel are well-known. But to-be diesel owners may be wondering, do you have to care for a diesel vehicle differently than a car that runs on gasoline?
We tossed that question to our Automotive and Diesel Technology pros to see what insights they could offer.
Diesel vs Gas: Back to Basics
As internal combustion engines, the principle behind diesel- and gas-powered cars is the same: Inside the engine’s cylinders, a mixture of fuel and air is compressed and ignited in order to move the appropriate mechanics inside the engine and produce power that translates to the wheels.
The biggest difference between how diesel and gas engines produce power happens in the “ignite” step. In a gasoline engine, the air-fuel mixture is compressed and then ignited by a spark plug. Instead of using spark plugs, a diesel engine continues compressing the air until it produces enough heat to combust the mixture.
Knowing that combustion happens in a highly compressed environment explains a lot about why diesel engines are the way they are, including the fact that they’re built to withstand such a high pressure, which makes them more durable and more likely to last longer than their gas counterparts.
How this Impacts Maintenance
One thing you won’t need to worry about having replaced in your diesel engine is spark plugs! In a gas-powered vehicle, these are changed out every 80,000 or 100,000 miles (always consult your owner’s manual for the recommended service interval).
Caring for a diesel engine can also vary slightly when it comes to oil changes. While most manufacturers recommend a similar interval (between 5,000 and 7,500 miles), if you’re using your diesel vehicle to tow heavy loads often, you’ll need to follow an accelerated oil change schedule (again, check your manual for this).
A diesel engine’s fuel filter will be changed more often than a gas engine’s. Diesel exhaust fluid, which aids in reducing emissions, is another diesel-only update that typically needs to be added alongside the oil change service interval in models running under sever-operating conditions, like towing.
Learn More About Vehicle Maintenance
If you enjoyed learning about the differences between caring for a diesel engine vs. a gasoline engine, you might be interested in getting a behind-the-service-desk look at how professional automotive technicians handle scheduled vehicle service.
In this educational guide, you can take a peek at step-by-step instruction sets for inspecting, adjusting, and replacing parts on modern vehicles. Download your free copy today!