5 Common Myths About Diesel Engines, Busted!

February 8, 2022

It’s no secret that diesel-powered cars are popular in Australia: as of 2021, around 1 in 6 Australians drives a diesel! Despite that significant ratio, however, the majority of the Australian population drives petrol cars, with diesel drivers only making up just over 16% of the total population.

While petrol cars have their uses, there are many misconceptions around diesels that may be dissuading new car owners from choosing a diesel over their petrol counterparts. Some of these misconceptions have become so twisted, they’re bordering myth – and we’re going to bust those myths!

5 Common Myths About Diesel Engines, Busted!  - white SUV driving through bushland

Where Did the Diesel Engine Come From?

The diesel engine was invented in a research lab in Germany in the 1890s by a guy called Rudolf Diesel. The principles of the diesel engine are different to petrol engines, but were developed from a similar concept: compressing air within the cylinder and igniting it with fuel to create power.

Instead of igniting this mixture via a spark plug, like in a petrol car, an airtight chamber is used which only contains the fuel and compressed air. This makes for much higher compression levels when ignited, providing much more ‘oomph’ when it comes time to take off. In German engineering terms, that’s ‘mehr gosht’.

Read More: What is a Diesel Engine Tune Up?

While there have been several alterations and advancements on this design since its invention almost 120 years ago (hello, exhaust gas recirculation!), current diesel engines are still based on the same principle as Rudolf Diesel’s first invention. That makes it pretty old school, but also one of the most efficient designs we have for powering a car.

Why Are There so Many Myths About Them?

Despite their efficiency and popularity, there are several misconceptions about diesel cars that may be dissuading potential buyers from taking the plunge and buying a diesel-powered car… But they’re just not true! Let’s bust those myths right now:

1) You Get Less Range With A Diesel What people think:

The lesser tank capacity of diesel fuel means you can’t drive as far on a full tank compared to petrol cars. This is why you never see long-haul trucks running on diesel.

This is a pretty common myth about diesel engines, and it couldn’t be further from the truth! We already know that diesel-powered cars have a significantly greater range than petrol cars – some even up to 30% more on average, so why would they have such tiny tanks? While it’s true that some older diesel car models did have small tank capacities, that was back when old Rudolf Diesel was still around.

Newer ULP (Ultra Low Sulphur) fuels are chemically engineered to keep emissions low while carrying much larger amounts of energy per litre. These new fuels mean you can fill up your tank just as often as you would with an equivalent petrol car without needing to worry about puddles under your car.

Read More: Top 5 Must Do Maintenance Tips for Diesel Engines

5 Common Myths About Diesel Engines, Busted! - White SUV driving on gravel road

2) Diesel Cars Are Noisy

Diesel-powered cars are noisy and noisier than petrol cars, so they must be bad for the environment. This is why you never saw those monster trucks running on diesel!

As we’ve already mentioned, modern diesel engines – like those found in new Mercedes-Benz and BMW models – run on ULP (Ultra Low Sulphur) fuel which has been designed to keep emissions as low as possible while still carrying a huge amount of energy. The lower sulphur content means there’s less nasty fumes being emitted from your exhaust pipe (and into our lungs).

Thanks to more efficient designs of the engine itself, many modern diesels are also exceptionally quiet. In fact, many modern diesels are so quiet, you wouldn’t even know they were running unless you looked at the speedo!

It’s a common misconception that diesel cars are noisy simply because their engines sound different to petrol engines. While this may have been true in past models, current diesel-engine technology is miles ahead of where it was decades ago – and these improved designs mean that the same new diesel makes significantly less noise than a new equivalent petrol car.

Read More: 5 Signs Your Diesel Engine Needs a Performance Facelift

3) They Are ‘Dirtier’ Than Petrol Cars

The days of diesel being a dirtier fuel source than petrol is a thing of the past. While it was true that older diesel engines emitted more pollutants than their petrol-powered counterparts, advances in engine design and new ULP fuels have seen this gap close significantly.

Modern low-emissions diesel engines means cleaner air for everyone – especially those who live or work near congested roads. In fact, many modern diesels produce less CO2 per kilometre travelled than equivalent petrol cars!

4) Diesel Engines Are Less Powerful than Petrol Engines

Petrol engines are more powerful than diesel engines, so why would you ever buy a car with a small engine?

This is another myth that has been around for decades, but modern advances in diesel-engine design have put this one to bed. In fact, the power output of modern diesel cars can be comparable to their petrol counterparts.

The main difference between the two is that diesels have better fuel economy at a steady speed compared to petrols, which tend to rapidly decrease while accelerating even though they have more power available.

Read More: Understanding Pavement Vehicle Interaction and Fuel Economy

5 Common Myths About Diesel Engines, Busted! - SUV driving through desert

5) Diesel Cars Cost More To Run Than Petrol Cars

Diesel cars cost more money to run because of higher fuel costs and lower miles per gallon. This means that they are more expensive to run than petrol cars.

The majority of diesel car models on sale come standard with a turbo-charged engine, which gives them much greater power and torque over their petrol competitors. This means larger, more powerful engines that can go further on a tank of fuel without sacrificing miles per gallon as much as petrol rival counterparts. The lower fuel consumption you get from driving at constant speeds also saves you money in the long term.

Boost Your Turbo Diesel’s Power

There you have it – five common myths about diesel engines, busted!

If you drive a diesel, you could be sitting on untapped potential. As your local diesel performance experts, Just Autos can help you uncover your engine’s true power – leaving all those ignorant myths in your dust! Call us today or send an enquiry to book your diesel in to our workshop.

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