While most cars today are powered by gasoline engines, many light trucks and practically all heavy duty trucks are powered by diesel engines. It should be noted that both gasoline engines and diesel engines are similar in that they are both internal combustion engines, however for heavy towing and long hauls, diesel engines definitely have an advantage over their gasoline cousins which usually means that most trucks today are in the form of diesel.
How Diesel Engines Work
Gasoline engines provide power by first mixing air with gas and then this mixture is compressed by the component in your engine called the cylinders. After being compressed it is ignited using the engine’s spark plugs. However, diesel engines work slightly different. First, air is compressed then it is mixed with the fuel, it should be noted that when air is compressed the effect is that it heats up, ultimately causing the fuel also to ignite and combust.
The Four Stroke Diesel Cycle
Diesel engines are known for their four stroke cycles. The fours strokes that are part of the diesel cycle include:
The intake stroke- The valve opens to allow air in.
The compression stroke- The piston closes the valve compressing the air inside.
The combustion stroke- The piston reaches the top compressing the air tightly, it causes the mixture of fuel and air to combust and once again forcing the piston down and the air valve open.
The exhaust stroke- The final stroke is the exhaust stroke in which the piston is in the down position allowing the exhaust from the combust to escape.
Advantages of Diesel Trucks
Heavy duty trucks are usually found with only diesel engines. There are two main reasons why most heavy duty equipment including trucks opt for diesel engines. The first is that they generally use much less fuel. On average, a diesel truck can use about 30% to 50% less fuel than a gasoline engine. The second reason is that diesel engines are much more reliable. They generally don’t require as much maintenance as gasoline engines and last for a much longer period of time. Since diesel engines do not operate at such high temperatures, their engine blocks also generally tend to last longer.
Disadvantages of Diesel Trucks
There are a few downsides of diesel trucks. Primarily that that they are slightly noisier than gasoline engines, they don’t operate well in extreme cold and they may pollute more than traditional gasoline engines, however technology over the last few decades are not only making diesel engines in trucks more cleaner, but quieter and more efficient.