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Diesel vs Gas Car: Which of These Vehicles Should You Get?

For years in the US, gas-powered cars have proven a more popular choice than ones that run on diesel. But the same cannot be said for Europe, as nearly 50% of all cars on the roads in Europe run on diesel. 

However, some car manufacturers, including foreign-owned ones like Audi and Volkswagen, have introduced a range of cars with diesel engines over the last few years. They recommend diesel cars to their customers because they provide better mileage than gasoline cars. 

Although diesel cars are popular in Europe, they still lag behind ones with gasoline engines in the US. Why is this, and will this remain the case in the diesel vs gas car debate?

Let’s take a look at the differences between a diesel vehicle vs a gasoline vehicle. 

Diesel Engines vs Gas Engines – Everything You Need To Know 

As more foreign car manufacturers offer vehicles with modern diesel engines, many people have been wondering which is the better option, a car that runs on diesel fuel or one that runs on gasoline? 

Below we will show you the differences between these two vehicle choices so you’ll have a better understanding of them and be able to make a more informed decision as to which of these vehicles is suitable for you. 

Diesel vs Gasoline – What Are The Fundamental Differences? 

Diesel car engine

Whether your car uses diesel or gasoline, the first thing you need to know is that both of these types of fuel are made from crude oil. The difference is that the fuel you put into gasoline-powered trucks is more refined. 

The refining of this type of fuel results in it being of a thinner density, making it more volatile than diesel. As a result, the gasoline you put in your vehicle’s tank burns a lot quicker and helps the engine produce more power. 

As for diesel fuel, this is much thicker in density, and, as a result, it will evaporate a lot slower. It also has a much greater energy density in comparison to gasoline. Vehicles with diesel engines can produce 20% more energy for the same amount of fuel as vehicles with gasoline engines. 

This is why trucks and other big machines are fitted with diesel engines, as they produce more energy even at low RPMs, providing a better towing capacity. Plus, diesel trucks can provide more torque compared to ones with a gasoline-powered engine. 

As for gasoline engines, these tend to be used in more lightweight vehicles that don’t need much torque or power to go faster. 

Diesel vs Gas Car Engine Technology 

Both types of fuel help produce power in an internal combustion engine. In these engines, fuel gets burnt through an explosion that takes place in an enclosed space. This is known as the combustion chamber. 

When combustion occurs inside the engine, it causes the pistons to be pushed down. This, in turn, moves the crankshaft, which then causes the vehicle’s wheels to turn. 

While both gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles use this same concept, the combustion process differs between the two and is what makes the difference. 

In vehicles with gas engines, the fuel first mixes with air in the combustion chamber before being compressed by the pistons. Such cars are fitted with spark plugs that create a spark that causes an explosion. This explosion causes the pistons to move upwards, which drives the crankshaft and then the wheels. 

When it comes to diesel trucks, you will find that these aren’t fitted with spark plugs. 

All diesel-fueled cars use a system known as a compression-ignited injection. In these types of vehicles, the fuel needs to be vaporized first. It then gets sent through to the combustion chamber, which is then ignited at a higher temperature.

In these vehicles, compressed air is used to help raise the temperature in the combustion chamber. Then, when the piston compresses the air, it becomes hotter due to the pressure placed on it. As soon as the hot air mixes with the vaporized diesel fuel, it ignites, and an explosion (combustion) occurs.

However, in some diesel models, you may find that they have been fitted with a glow plug. This is installed as it helps increase the temperature further inside the engine. 

Because vehicles with a diesel engine have a much higher compression ratio, they can burn fuel more efficiently than engines running on gasoline. As a result, vehicles that run on clean diesel can produce more power than vehicles running on gasoline. 

Vehicle Durability 

car gasoline engine

Generally, vehicles powered by a diesel engine are considered more durable than those powered by a gasoline one. This is one of the main reasons why truckers and construction workers prefer to drive diesel trucks.

When looking at gasoline versus diesel, you should be aware that diesel vehicles can operate for a lot longer before needing any maintenance or repairs carried out. 

Plus, the life expectancy of a vehicle fitted with a diesel engine is about 250,000- 300,000 miles. However, the same cannot be said for cars equipped with a gasoline engine. 

The big difference between diesel and gasoline engines concerning their durability is due to the engine design and type of fuel used. 

Engine Design 

The engine inside a diesel-powered vehicle is much bigger than one powered by gasoline. They are fitted with much bigger cylinders, a larger crankshaft, stronger pistons, and variable transmission. These have a straightforward power plant that can work off basic gear operations. 

Plus, you will find, for example, a 6-liter diesel engine that uses heavy-duty materials to provide for continuous operation. As the gears in the engine of these vehicles are in a fixed position, movement is limited, which results in minor wear and tear on it. 

As for vehicles that use gasoline fuel, their engines are very complicated pieces of engineering. Most work using chains and belts and hundreds of other small parts that need to be more precise. Whenever driving such vehicles, you will find that a lot more stress is put on the engine, leading to a more significant amount of wear and tear being placed on it.

Types of Fuel and Effects on the Engine

Although diesel fuel is denser than gasoline, it is similar in consistency to light oil. As a result, as it moves around inside the engine, it is continuously lubricating the cylinder repeatedly. 

Plus, due to its larger engine size, this type of fuel can move around inside the engine more freely, allowing it to lubricate all engine components easily.

As the temperature inside the engine goes up, the viscosity of the diesel fuel is reduced, making it less dense. Plus, because this type of fuel in, say, a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 engine burns easier, the amount of wear and tear to the engine is reduced. 

When it comes to a gas truck, this fuel is more solvent and acidic than diesel fuel. So as the gasoline burns in the truck’s engine, it can cause corrosion, and the surface of the engine becomes rougher. This will lead to increased wear and tear inside the engine. 

Differences in Fuel Efficiency 

One of the major differences between gasoline and diesel relates to fuel efficiency. Generally, engines that run on diesel are more fuel-efficient than those running on gasoline. 

One of the major advantages of diesel engines is that they are 20% more efficient than gasoline. With fuel costs on the rise, a car that can produce more power but uses less fuel is one reason why more people are considering becoming diesel users. 

Diesel vs Gas Car: Let’s Wrap Things Up 

When it comes to deciding whether to go with a gas or diesel vehicle, it depends on your particular requirements. 

However, each of these engines comes with its unique advantages. If you only drive around 12,000 miles a year, then a vehicle that uses gasoline is ideal. 

But if you want a vehicle with brisk acceleration and good towing capabilities, you should opt for a vehicle with a diesel engine. You should also consider investing in this type of vehicle if you do a lot of driving in general. 

There are plenty of diesel and gasoline trucks and cars to choose from that come with some of the latest modern technology, so finding your perfect vehicle shouldn’t prove too difficult. 

Let us know what you think of this article and what kind of vehicle you drive or will be buying in the future!