Common Misconceptions About Diesel Engines
Trucks, trains, and large ships were always the dominion of diesel engines. Today, however, they’ve gained popularity amongst cars and pickup trucks. They are seen as a better alternative to the gasoline engine, and consumers are actively buying them. However, myths and common misconceptions about diesel engines still exist and permeate the consciousness of the world.
You Can’t Find Diesel Fuel
Lots of people think that you can’t find fuel at the gas stations. While it is true that not every gas station carries diesel, most of them do. In any town, there will be at least one gas station the carries diesel fuel—especially in rural areas. Those giant truck stops on the highway all have diesel fuel for the semis that frequent them. Once you own a diesel vehicle, you’ll start to know who has it and who doesn’t. After you spot a few, you’ll see that there are more places carrying it than you thought.
Diesel Fuel Is More Expensive Than Gasoline
This is only true if you live in Illinois, and more specifically, the Chicagoland area. Illinois taxes diesel at a higher rate than gas. In the rest of the world, diesel is cheaper per gallon than gasoline. It is cheaper to produce diesel fuel than gasoline—the only reason that it might be more expensive at the pump is the local tax structure. Just like gas though, shop around and find a place that has it cheaper to save some money.
Diesel Pollutes the Air
There is an image that people keep in mind of a giant truck on huge tires spewing black smoke in the air as it lumbers down the highway. That black smoke is particulate matter from the exhaust that the engine produces, but that is going the way of the Dodo. The EPA has increased emission standards, so now diesel engines must meet the same requirements that gasoline engines do. Diesel trucks have what’s known as a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) that eliminates the black smoke. The engine traps the smoke until the computer decides it’s time to get rid of it. A small amount of fuel fills the combustion chambers, and the heat and oxygen burn off the soot and particulate. This makes black smoke burn off inside the engine and not expel into the air.
Diesel Engines Don’t Start in the Cold
While this might have been true when the diesel engine debuted, it’s not today. Cold temperatures are a problem for diesel engines and fuel, but they will start in below-freezing temperatures. Diesel fuel has a very high freeze point—around 40° F. At this temperature, the fuel will start to gel and can’t flow freely into the cylinders. Obviously, this is a problem because the engine can’t start or move without fuel. Thankfully, there are many aftermarket parts to help the fuel stay warm in the cold. Modern technology such as glow plugs and block warmers keep the fuel from freezing and preventing the engine from starting.
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