When it comes to automobile preferences, truck drivers have long been torn on the choice between diesel trucks and old fashioned gasoline. Here, we break down the benefits and negatives of diesel trucks and answer the question about how long they last.
What is the Difference Between Diesel and Gasoline?
Typically, when it comes to automobiles, there are two common types of fuel needed in order to make the engine run – gasoline and diesel. The voice between the two types of automobiles which run on these fuels has long been debated, with pros and cons.
In considering how long a diesel trick will last, it is natural to compared this to its gasoline alternative. Therefore, the difference between how diesel and gasoline fuel works should be considered when exploring this question.
Diesel fuel is generally much thicker than gasoline, meaning that is evaporates at a slower rate. Diesel fuel also has more energy density than gas.
When factored in, this means that diesel engines tend to have better fuel economy than gas engines making them more desirable to some drivers dependent upon their primary purpose for driving an automobile and where they typically drive it.
Rise in Diesel in the United States
Diesel engines have become more and more popular in recent years – with many favouring this type of fuel engine than the more commonly seen gasoline engines that have been particularly prominent in the United States over the years.
However, the demand for diesel engine automobiles is rising, and it's easy to see why. The American automobile consumer appears to be gaining knowledge about the efficiency of a diesel engine as a pose to gasoline, driving demand for the former in big numbers.
The trend is growing year-on-year, with a number of well-known European and Asian automakers now making and supplying diesel vehicles for the vast American market in numbers not seen before.
The debate around the advantages and disadvantages of diesel when compared with gasoline has led many to consider that diesel engines would be of greater value to their bottom line than gas.
Respected and established automobile companies like Volkswagen, Subaru, Audi and BMW are all making and exporting diesel autos to the American market as the United States consumer looks to follow the Europeans by increasingly favoring diesel engines.
Gasoline has long been the more popular choice within the United States for automobile drivers, with many U.S. consumers considering diesel a dirtier fuel than the traditional gasoline alternative.
However, technological advances have made diesel much cleaner, providing a green option for those drivers who desire a high-powered engine without compromising efficiency.
How Diesel Engines Work
Diesel engines, much like their gasoline counterparts, use internal combustion in order to operate. In the internal combustion process, air enters the engine and combines with fuel.
The engine's cylinders then get to work – and compress the air and fuel mixture, igniting it to trigger the motion of the piston and crankshaft and get the automobile up and running.
The crankshaft then works in a diesel engine to start the vehicle's transmission and turn the wheels of the car. Then, the piston moves back to its original position to dispose the used gas from the engine through the tailpipe exhaust.
The key difference between the two occurs in the ignition process. Diesel engines do not have spark plugs like gas engines do. Diesel engines simply use extreme compression to generate the heat required for what is known as ‘compression ignition' to start.
This makes diesel engines and increasingly popular choice for truck drivers as the efficiency of the vehicle engine is not compromised and the improvements in its effect on the driver and overall cleanliness for long journeys increased its appeal.
So, How Long Can You Expect Your Diesel Truck To Last?
If you've made the decision that a truck with a diesel powered engine is the one for you, you may be wondering about the shelf life of your vehicle. There are a number of key factors which will impact upon this answer and are detailed below.
Modern technological advances have been a game changer for automobile engines, and particularly diesel powered trucks.
Gasoline engines tend to reach 200,000 miles before being shot, diesel engines now often run for well into their 500,000-mile ranges and beyond, making them a natural and increasingly popular choice for truck drivers who take long, cumbersome journeys.
There are a number of reasons for the longer-lasting life of a diesel truck as a pose to the gasoline alternative.
How the Design Of The Engine Makes Diesel Trucks Last Longer
Firstly, the sheer size of a diesel engine when compared to those run on gasoline affects its ability to last longer. Diesel engines have higher compression ratios and have higher cylinder pressures than gasoline engines and are constructed with this consideration. The design results in a larger crankshaft and camshaft, which requires larger bearings. This is all held together by sturdier and more durable bolts, meaning the diesel engine is packed with greater protection as is necessary to keep it together.
But what does all this mean? In a nutshell, the much larger crankshafts and camshafts allows for increased clearance which means the oil flows much easier around the engine, resulting in less wear and tear and longer life.
As per above, there are also no spark plugs in a diesel engine, delivering a slower burn. A diesel engine truck also contains a piston cooling jet, meaning the engine is better lubricated and keeps the piston cool which is less likely to result in any faults.
Lower RPMs = Longer Lasting Diesel Truck
Another key element to how long a diesel truck will last is the operating efficiency at which diesel engines run. Diesel engines run at lower revolutions per minute [RPMs] and achieve higher levels of ‘torque' than, say, a gasoline engine.
This can have a huge impact on engine life as being able to operate at a lower speed to achieve the same power means less wear on your pistons, rings, cylinder walls, bearings, valves and just about everything needed to make your engine work properly.
When out of operation for a small amount of time, diesel engines will keep on running, meaning that it doesn't need to be started up again. The start-up ignition process and change in temperature can greatly wear the engine and this is thus reduced in diesel.
Diesel Fuel Friendlier on Engine
The longer your engine lasts, the longer your truck will last. This is particularly true for diesel trucks and the type of fuel required to operate a diesel engine is much friendlier on the engine than gasoline is on its own engine.
This is because of the components of diesel fuel. Diesel fuel is a type of distillate fuel, produced from crude oil, which gives diesel engines slower cylinder wear than gasoline engines. This comes down to the lubricating properties of the fuel, crucial for the engine.
The more lubricated the engine, the less chance of wear and tear and, in turn a longer lasting engine. Diesel engines have lower Exhaust Gas Temperatures (EGT’s) which also helps to increase their longevity, and the longevity of your diesel truck.
How Long Types of Diesel Trucks Last
Different types of trucks naturally carry different types of engines, even if they are all diesel. A heavy duty truck diesel engine [class 8, for example], is found to last between 600,000 and 1,200,000 miles (at full load) before the first overhaul.
Again, this comes down to how well the owner maintains it and the load used on the truck.
For lighter duty diesel trucks, such as pick-up trucks, this is also depending on the load you put on the engine. Operating at heaviest load constantly will affect the engines ability to last a long life and always operating at capacity will put strain on the engine.
If operating at max throughout, the engine might only last 300,000 miles. However, if operating at lighter loads your engine could last for up to 1,000,000 miles, which is hugely impressive. Maintenance is, as always, key.
Maintaining Engine To Maximize Diesel Truck Life
The key to any long-lasting diesel truck is a properly maintained engine. Ensure that you take all the required measures, such as lubricants, additives and high-standard coolants to prevent wear and tear on the engine and make your truck last as long as possible.
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