Diesel vs. Gasoline: The Pros And Cons

Shopping for a new car can be a daunting process. Sedan or SUV? Truck or van? Hybrid or electric?

Gasoline or diesel?

In the past you could cut down that list by half if you decided you wanted a diesel-powered vehicle as until recently, most diesels were only available in trucks. 

Now, you have the option to purchase many vehicles with a diesel engine option. Gone are the days of a stinky car spewing soot as it chugs down the road. With vast improvements over the decades, diesel engines have been engineered to produce less soot and improve their carbon footprint. 

Should your next vehicle purchase be a diesel-fueled model? Find out with the pros and cons of diesel versus gasoline engines.

Diesel vs. Gasoline Engines

Diesel and gasoline engines use the same concept when it comes to expanding fuel. Both are internal combustion engines that transfer chemical energy from fuel to mechanical energy which forces the movement of pistons in the cylinders. The pistons are connected to the crankshaft which generates motion to create power to move the vehicle. 

Diesel and gasoline engines are combustible engines which means they convert fuel into energy with small explosions. How the explosions occur is where each engine differs. 

Gasoline is delivered to the engine and is mixed with air and then is compressed by the pistons and ignited from the sparks made from the spark plugs. 

Diesel engines on the other hand, compress the air before the fuel is directly injected into the combustion chamber. Diesel engines do not require spark plugs because highly compressed air heats up and causes the fuel to ignite. Gas vs. Diesel Fuel Pump

Diesel Pros:

  • Superior towing capabilities, enhanced torque, better take offs
  • Improved fuel efficiency, less fill ups
  • Improved noise level and smoother performance from earlier diesel models
  • More fuel efficient, decreased carbon emissions, cleaner than primitive diesel engines
  • Fewer engine components, no tune-ups

Diesel Cons:

  • Abysmal horsepower, slower speed
  • Expensive fuel, limited gas stations with diesel
  • Noisier and more rugged ride than gasoline-powered engines
  • Produce emissions that emit carcinogens, nitrous oxides, and soot into the atmosphere
  • Costlier repairs and maintenance

Engine Power

Have you ever wondered why so many tractor trailers traverse our highways fueled by diesel? Diesel engines are able to produce a great amount of low-end torque

A diesel-fueled car has more “get up and go” accelerating quickly from a complete stop in comparison to a gasoline-fueled car. Diesel engine vehicles also have better towing abilities. If you’re planning on towing a boat, toy hauler, or camper, a diesel engine will make those long hauls easier.

While a diesel engine’s torque game is strong, it loses points for horsepower. Diesel fueled cars are strong, have long lasting engines, and are dependable–but they are not sporty.

Fuel Efficiency

Many vehicle owners choose diesel-fueled vehicles over gasoline models because of their increased fuel efficiency. Some diesel model passenger cars can get up to 30 percent more miles than their gasoline counterparts. Though diesel vehicles are more efficient, when it comes to diesel vs. gas prices, diesel fuel is more costly than gasoline. Diesel vehicles do very well on the highway as opposed to city driving. If you spend a lot of time traveling on highways, a diesel vehicle is an ideal option for you.

Emissions

Today’s diesel vehicles run much more cleanly than in the past, but is diesel cleaner than gas? Though they run much cleaner, diesel cars still produce higher levels of emissions including nitrous oxide and soot, especially when taking off from a complete stop. City commuters or drivers that are more environmentally conscious may want to opt for a cleaner electric or hybrid car instead of purchasing a diesel model.

Ride Quality

Diesel-powered vehicles haven’t always had the best reputation. Many people think of diesel vehicles as noisy, rattily, stinky, dirty cars. Through better engineering and development of technology, diesel cars have improved producing a smoother and quieter ride. In spite of these groundbreaking improvements, diesel engines are not as quiet or as smooth as gasoline engines. 

Maintenance and Repairs

Because the diesel engine is not equipped with distributors or spark plugs, there is no need for the regular tune up that gasoline engines require. However, regular maintenance including oil changes and other maintenance services are still necessary. Just like any vehicle, failure to maintain the engine and other components can spell disaster later on. The fuel injection system, particularly in diesel engines, if not maintained can result in severe damages and costly repairs. 

If you’re considering purchasing a diesel engine car, it’s important you determine what your needs will be behind the wheel. Will you be spending weekends camping in the woods, hauling a horse to shows and rodeos, hauling ATVs to the sand dunes, or are you planning to explore America’s highways and become a frequent road tripper? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may want to consider purchasing a gasoline, hybrid, or electric vehicle to better accommodate your lifestyle. If you answered yes, a diesel-fueled vehicle is a great option for you!