How Does a Diesel Engine Differ from a Gas Engine

diesel vs gas engines

If you have ever wondered how different diesel engine and gas engines are, we have put together some information on how the two differ and how they are the same.  First of all, diesel gets great mileage. Diesel cars usually deliver 25 to 30 percent better fuel economy than similarly performing gasoline engines. Diesel also can provide as much or more fuel economy than traditional gasoline-electric hybrids, depending on the models involved.

Cost for diesel vs. gasoline

Although diesel fuel used to be less expensive than gas, it now often costs the same amount or more. However, even if there is an increase in price, diesel fuel would have to be at least 25 percent more expensive than gas to erase the cost-advantage of a diesel engine’s fuel efficiency.

One of the most efficient fuels available today is diesel fuel. Because it contains more usable power than gasoline, it delivers better fuel economy. Although diesel fuel is more efficient because it converts heat into energy rather than sending the weather out the tailpipe as gas-powered vehicles do, it does not result in high-speed performance.

How do diesel and gas engines work

Modern car engines work on the standard principle of four simple strokes: intake, compression, power, and exhaust. Whether powered by gasoline or diesel, the engine strokes are the same. However, there are critical variances as to how the strokes perform.

For gasoline engines, the intake will pull fuel and air into the combustion chamber. A diesel engine, on the other hand, will only be drawing in air. The next stage is compression, and both engine types will squeeze down the air. Gasoline engines will use a spark plug to time and start the power stroke. A diesel engine, on the other hand, only has a pocket full of hot air before the power stroke.

Maintenance and tune-ups

Diesel has no spark plugs or distributors. Therefore, they never need ignition tune-ups. However, you still need to change the oil and the air, oil, and fuel filters.

Diesel engines are more rugged to withstand the harshness of higher compression. Therefore, they usually go much longer than gas-powered vehicles before they require major repairs. In fact, some diesel cars can go hundreds of thousands of miles before needing major repairs.

However, you still need to proper maintenance on a diesel. For instance, if the fuel injection system breaks down, you may have to pay a diesel mechanic more money than you would repair a gasoline system because diesel engines are more technologically advanced.

The mechanics at Britton’s know that diesel engines are different from gasoline-powered engines and know how to repair and maintain your diesel truck. Call us to schedule an appointment. (928) 505-3535


What Your Diesel Mechanic Must Know!

skills for a diesel mechanic

Does your diesel mechanic have the mad skills to get the job done?

Diesel mechanic jobs require specific skills, not just an idea that anyone can do it.  If you want to check with the person working on your diesel truck here are some ideas of what to look for and what to ask.

Communication Skills

When your mechanic finds a problem can they tell you what the problem is and how to repair it in such a way that you can understand? Are they using complicated jargon with crazy prices? If your mechanic can’t explain things to you in layman’s terms, then you may need to find someone else who can.  There is nothing wrong with expecting to have your diesel mechanic tell you what is wrong and how to fix it in everyday language.

Comfort with Technology

Diesel mechanics are having to deal with changing technology all the time.  They must stay comfortable with using new ideas and keep up with the changes.  Talk to your mechanic to see if there’s anything new in the industry and how they best utilize these changes and innovations to best do their jobs. Also, you can ask if they are taking courses and training programs in diesel mechanics.

Electronic Skills

As technology continues to change, the amount of electronic equipment in the modern diesel engine is astounding. The contemporary diesel mechanic must be able to work with electrical components and even computer programs that monitor and run the engines on the machines they repair.

To excel as a diesel technician, they will need to know how to use diagnostic equipment for electronic systems. In addition, You will also need to know how to diagnose electrical problems and how to interpret the data for electronic diagnostic equipment.

Analytical and Math Skills

Strong analytic skills are needed to diagnose the problem with the diesel systems. Some mechanics think that the electrical diagnostics tools eliminate this need, but this is not true. Analytics is still vital because the diagnostic equipment sometimes gives a starting point.

Also, heavy equipment technicians do use math every single day. Mental math is helping your technician work more quickly as you calculate mileage and measurements. Being comfortable working with fractions, decimals, and necessary number calculations are crucial


All of the above skills go a long way with troubleshooting skills and helping mechanics repair engines and diagnose problems. Mechanics need to be able to look at the evidence, find the problem, and prepare and execute a solution.  Of course, adjusting the changes when the first line of thinking does not work.

The diesel mechanics at Britton’s in Lake Havasu City know how to repair and maintain your diesel car or truck.  Call to make an appointment. (928) 505-3535

Diesel Fuel and the Diesel Engine

History of Diesel Fuel

The history of diesel fuel

Developed in the 1890s by inventor Rudolph Diesel, the diesel engine has become the leading choice worldwide for power, reliability, and high fuel economy. Besides that, early experimenters on vegetable oil fuels included the French government and Dr. Diesel himself.

Dr. Diesel envisioned that pure vegetable oils could power diesel engines. Modern biodiesel fuel, which is made by converting vegetable oils into compounds called fatty acid methyl esters.  This would help with agriculture in remote areas of the world, where petroleum was not available at the time. This research has its roots in 1930s Belgium but was not established in Europe until the late 1980s.

In the late 1800s, there was a desire to improve upon inefficient and dangerous steam engines.  Above all, this desire led to the development of the diesel engine. The diesel engine works on the principle of compression ignition. The fuel injectors force the fuel into the engine’s cylinder after compressing the air out. As the fuel enters the cylinder, it self-ignites and burns rapidly.  As a result, this forcing the piston back down and converting the chemical energy in the fuel into mechanical energy. Most noteworthy, Dr. Diesel holds the first patent for the compression ignition engine, issued in 1893. Diesel became known worldwide for his innovative engine which could use a variety of fuels.

Early Work

The early diesel engines had complex injection systems. Therefore, the design intent was to have the engine run on many different fuels, from kerosene to coal dust. In addition, someone recognized that, because of their high energy content, vegetable oils would make excellent fuel. The first public demonstration of vegetable oil-based diesel fuel was at the 1900 World’s Fair when the French government commissioned the Otto company to build a diesel engine to run on peanut oil. The French government was interested in vegetable oils as a domestic fuel for their African colonies.

Rudolph Diesel later did extensive work on vegetable oil fuels and became a leading proponent of such a concept, believing that farmers could benefit from providing their fuel. However, it would take almost a century before such an idea became a popular reality. Shortly after Dr. Diesel’s death in 1913 petroleum became widely available in a variety of forms, including the class of fuel we know today as “diesel fuel.”

The mechanics at Britton’s in Lake Havasu City know how to repair and maintain your diesel car or truck.  Call to make an appointment. (928) 505-3535

Diesel Truck Oil Changes & Maintenance

The importance of changing your oil on a diesel engine

Maintaining your diesel

So, you just purchased a new diesel truck! What maintenance is required to keep your diesel running reliably? Luckily, the best plan of action is written down in one place. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule found in your glove box. Here we give you some of the highlights.

Today’s types of diesel are more complex than ever. The demands of modern emissions standards, increased horsepower, torque, and the technology required to keep them running optimally, the maintenance required has increased and is very important. Filters and critical fluids must be in good condition and at adequate levels.

Schedule your diesel truck oil changes!

Regular maintenance of the fluids and filters may seem expensive, but in the end, abiding by the schedule from the manufacturer and keeping up with this routine diesel truck maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs. You should schedule your oil every 7500 miles or every 700 hours of operation. This is an industry standard since many types of diesel (think work trucks or ambulances) often sit and idle while someone is working. Just because these bigger vehicles hold, more oil does not mean they can go longer between oil changes.  (This is just a suggestion.  You may need to change your oil sooner!  Make sure to periodically check your oil to see the quality and if it needs to be changed sooner.)

In addition, changing the engine oil more frequently is good for all the seals inside the engine, as they are costly to replace once they begin to leak. Fresh oil changes help to keep seals soft and pliable and doing what they are intended to do. Oil that hasn’t been changed on time and becomes abrasive and can damage moving parts inside the engine.

Fuel filters and injectors

Changing the fuel filters on a diesel is one major service that is overlooked. It is critical that the fuel going to the injectors is clean and has no water or contaminants in it. One injector can cost anywhere from $200-800 since each diesel can have from four to eight injectors. Injectors are very difficult to access to the labor involved can be expensive.

Frequently changing your oil can have a significant impact on the life of the injectors. Old, broken down oil can destroy the injector or cause them to stick and not run optimally. There are also fuel/water separators on diesel engines and some of them can be drained, but it just depends on the make and model.

Since there are many considerations when doing routine maintenance on diesel, it is essential to have an experienced diesel technician you can talk to and that you trust. The mechanics at Britton’s will help you stay up to date on your diesel truck maintenance!