Protecting and Preserving Your Auto Parts: Tips for DIY Mechanics

Some Frequently Asked Questions About Diesel Engines

Diesel engines are often used in larger pickup trucks as well as heavy-duty tractor trailers and even farm tractors, forklifts, and the like. If you're thinking of upgrading your truck or vehicle to something with more towing capacity or a stronger engine, you may wonder if diesel is the right choice. Note a few commonly asked questions about diesel engines so you can decide the best option for you next vehicle.

Why are diesel engines used for heavy-duty trucks?

Diesel engines convert heat to power, something not done with standard petrol engines. With a standard petrol engine, this heat is just wasted. This makes diesel engines stronger since they have more power from the fuel they burn and heat created from that burning process. Diesel engines also usually have a higher torque; this refers to the force needed to keep a vehicle's wheels moving when they're bogged down with added weight. A standard petrol engine may offer more horsepower, meaning it can build up more speed as the engine pistons fire more rapidly, but it doesn't offer the strength needed for towing and pulling. For this type of work, you need more torque, not more speed, which is why diesel engines are preferred for heavy-duty trucks.

Do diesel engines smoke?

A diesel engine shouldn't smoke; if you do notice smoke, this is the result of unburned fuel being used at very low temperatures. As a diesel engines heats up, the smoke should go away. If there is smoke coming from the exhaust system of a diesel-powered vehicle, this is often the fault of the exhaust. It may also be from having a leak in a part that is allowing fluid to drip onto the exhaust or another part. This smoke is not usually the result of a diesel engine itself.

Is it true that diesel engines don't need tune-ups?

A "tune-up" given to a car that runs on standard petrol involves changing the spark plugs; diesel engines don't use standard spark plugs. However, diesel engines do need maintenance just like any other engine, to "tune them up" and keep them running optimally. Diesel engines use glow plugs that create heat to get the engine started, and these do need regular changing; you may also see clogged fuel pumps and fuel injectors just like any other engine, and need to have additives put into the fuel to clean these parts. Diesel engines also need regular oil changes, just like standard petrol engines. Don't assume that a diesel engine needs no maintenance just because it doesn't need the same type of tune-up given to an engine that runs on standard petrol.