All You Need To Know About Diesel Engines

Author: Tellz Auto | | Categories: Car Buying Service

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Advanced vehicle technology gives automakers a lot of opportunities to create different types of engines for vehicles. There is no bigger playground for innovation and experimentation than in the engine world. Currently, there are many engines types like gasoline, diesel, hydrogen, and even ethanol. Automakers like Mazda have gone revolutionary and, later this year will be introducing their Skyactiv-X engine to some of their models. This engine seamlessly blends the elements of a gasoline and diesel engine in one unit.

For the purposes of this piece, we will be focusing on the traditional version of a diesel engine and explore how it has evolved up to this point. We want to help you better understand what a diesel engine is composed of with a more in-depth coverage and how this sophisticated engine type functions.

The History Of Diesel Tech

The inventor of the first iteration of diesel technology was named Rudolf Diesel. Rudolf started working on the development of this engine type during the rise of steam engine production for large industries. The refining of this engine’s development was a slow and painstaking process, taking Rudolf approximately over twelve years to reach phases that were suitable for commercial testing.

As testing for the diesel technology became more public knowledge, other engineers took interest in the viability of the technology and began to collectively work towards building a diesel engine capable of working in different vehicle applications. Though Rudolf had created patents on earlier diesel engine designs, he eventually abandoned being involved in its future development which allowed other inventors to put their stamp on it and make it what it is today.  

How A Diesel Engine Works

Like a gasoline engine, a diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine, another word for burning, this is simply a kind of engine where the fuel is burned inside the main part of the engine (the cylinders) where power is produced.

That's very different from an external combustion engine such as those used by old-fashioned steam locomotives. In a steam engine, there's a big fire at one end of a boiler that heats water to make steam. The steam flows down long tubes to a cylinder at the opposite end of the boiler where it pushes a piston back and forth to move the wheels. This is external combustion because the fire is outside the cylinder (indeed, typically 6-7 meters or 20-30ft away).

In a gasoline or diesel engine, the fuel burns inside the cylinders themselves. Internal combustion wastes much less energy because the heat doesn't have to flow from where it's produced into the cylinder: everything happens in the same place. That's why internal combustion engines are more efficient than external combustion engines, because they produce more energy from the same volume of fuel.

Which Automakers Make These Engines?

Diesel technology is embraced by a lot of automakers. In an automotive world full of many options, diesel power is a viable choice for consumers looking for a combination of accessible power and cost savings. Luckily, there are a lot of great choices out there. Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and BMW make many popular diesel models that have performance equally comparable to their gasoline counterparts.

The 2013 – 2015 GLK 250 introduced the first ever four-cylinder diesel engine for the brand. Displacement was a small 2.1-liters and horsepower followed suit at 200. But the real story here is the amazing 369lb-ft of torque available. That number surpassed the gasoline engine’s torque figure by an almost 100 horsepower.

This means the GLK in diesel form lost none of the gasoline GLK’s agile performance and to add icing onto the cake, the GLK250’s combined fuel economy of 7.4L/100km surpassed the gasoline version’s fuel ratings by thirty percent.  

Land Rover sells different configurations of the diesel engine for its Range Rover, Velar, Discovery and Range Rover Sport range of vehicles. There is a turbo diesel V6 producing 254 horsepower and 443lb-ft of torque and this application is used in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. A smaller displacement diesel engine, a 2.0-liter with 296 horsepower and 295lb-ft of torque is an option for the Velar model.

Just like the above-mentioned GLK, each of those diesel options in the Land Rover has torque outputs higher than their gasoline counterparts. The average fuel economy for this engine in the models it’s used is 9.0L/100km. That is a typical fuel economy figure for a mid-size sedan weighing 3300 pounds. Both the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models in all trim levels have an average gross weight of 5000 pounds and for fuel economy like that to be possible with that weight is remarkable.

Pros and Cons of Diesel Engines

Diesel engines have so far proven themselves to be very versatile in their applications. Currently, diesel engines are used in automobiles, locomotives, buses and even freight ships.

Two main characteristics of a diesel engine have made it the ideal choice for a lot of the above mentioned applications. The first, a much higher compression than a typical gasoline engine requires a sturdier engine structure and makes them last longer. The second is the impressive amounts of torque created when compared to gasoline counterparts during identical driving loads. Combustion happens differently and earlier than in a gasoline engine, specifically a longer length of combustion and the added presence of a longer crankshaft stroke. The result is more instantaneous torque that is more useful for getting much larger vehicles and trucks up to speed quickly.

That same feeling of sturdiness and advanced structure of diesel engines also lends to some disadvantages. Due to a sophisticated fuel system, maintenance can become pricey. Also, maintenance procedures will have more frequent intervals when compared to a gasoline engine. For instance, diesel needs about twelve quarts of oil while a gasoline engine requires a maximum of six. Diesel fuel filters get worn out more frequently and might need constant replacement.


Tips 4 Keeps

Vehicles with diesel engines have come a long way since the early nineties when the mass market car community started embracing them. Once relegated to a small group of automakers who needed a diesel option in their lineup as a form of diversification for marketing needs, nowadays a diesel option provides the same level of performance with little compromises and in some cases, more significant fuel savings over vehicles with smaller engine displacements.

Not all manufacturers build their diesel engines to the same specifications and while some automakers have the goal of total efficiency in mind, others want to transform the perception of diesel engines from being unrefined and slow to be seen as more luxurious and sportier.


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