What is the Difference Between Gasoline and Diesel Engines?

Have you ever pulled up to the pump and wondered, why are there all these different fuels? Most likely, you don’t ever need to worry about the various kinds since most cars run on regular gasoline. You just select regular and “fill ‘er up!” But some vehicles have entirely different engines designed to run on distinctly different fuels. If you have a diesel engine, you know that your vehicle needs the correct fuel to function properly and confusing diesel and gasoline at the pump could be dangerous. But what is the difference between gasoline and diesel engines?

Two Different Fuel Sources for Two Different Engines

Today, most cars are powered by oil. Both gasoline and diesel fuels come from oil, but through the refining process differentiate with entirely unique molecular structures. Each fuel type is different, such that vehicle engines are specifically designed for a certain one. Diesel and gasoline engines are as different as the fuels they run on, using different technology, parts, and processes to convert the fuel into power. So let’s break down gasoline and diesel engines and learn more about how they work.

Diesel Engines

Of course, we can’t talk about engines and converting fuel to power without a little science about combustion. You might remember learning that increasing pressure on a gas will also increase its temperature. Diesel engines work this way by compressing a mixture of air and injected diesel fuel into the cylinder. Under the pressure, the mixture ignites and drives the pistons, which powers the vehicle. Diesel fuel releases more energy in combustion, which means diesel vehicles tend to get better gas mileage than gasoline-powered ones.

Gasoline Engines

Gasoline engines do not use the same compression as diesel engines. Instead, they use different technology. Spark plugs are used in gasoline-powered cars to explode the fuel and air mixture in the cylinder and move the pistons. The difference in how gasoline is burned makes it cleaner, but it’s less efficient than their diesel counterparts. As the cleaner burning option, gasoline-powered vehicles are much more popular in the United States.

By on December 7th, 2018 in Auto Repair