Diesel-Powered Vehicles: Their Advantages and Disadvantages

Petrol or diesel-powered vehicle?

This is one buying decision that sometimes confront us.

Indeed, here in Nigeria, we have come to associate the diesel engine with big trucks and buses. Diesel cars are rare Nigeria, but they are, indeed, available.

According to a research carried out by Edmunds.com: in the US, only 3% of new cars sold there are diesel-powered. Meanwhile, the opposite is the case in Europe.

Also according to the report by Edmunds.com, in Europe over 50% of the new cars sold there have diesel engines.

So, is there something that the Europeans know that the rest of us do not know?

Over time, vehicles running on diesel have become notorious for their clattering sound and smoke belching. However, in recent times, there have being remarkable improvements in that regard. In newer diesel cars – even an untrained ear will find it difficult to differentiate between a car running on diesel or high-octane petrol. Even emission controls have improved for diesel cars.

Anyway, let analyze some advantages and disadvantages of the diesel-powered vehicles.

Better Fuel Economy

Diesel vehicles can travel further distances with little fuel. They can can deliver up to 25% to 30% better fuel economy compared to vehicles that are powered by petrol engines. However, it is important to note that the model and automotive technology of the engine also plays a huge part when it comes to fuel economy performance. Otherwise, diesel engines typically consume far less fuel than similarly performing petrol-engines.


 Tougher and Rugged Engines

Diesel engines are rugged. They are designed to withstand the challenge of higher compression. They perform better, that is why they are used in vehicles designed for commercial transportation. What diesel-powered vehicles lack in speed (indeed, they are slower than petrol-powered vehicles) they make up in strength.

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Less Carbon-Monoxide Emission

Diesel engines emits far less carbon monoxide than petrol-powered engines. This particular advantage is why diesel engines are preferred in some non-automotive machines in environments that carbon monoxide can prove dangerous. For example, in power generators, in submarines, in mines, etc. However, this does not mean that they do not emit carbon monoxide, but not in the potentially fatal amount like petrol engines do.


 Higher Torque

Torque is a rotating force produced by a vehicle engine’s crankshaft. This translate into strong pulling power. The more torque an engine produces, the greater its ability to perform work, towing objects or carry heavy load. Torque becomes more important as vehicles get larger and heavier. Diesel-powered engines offer a higher torque than petrol-driving engines. This is the reason why larger vehicles – or vehicles designed for towing or carrying heavy loads – tend to be fitted with diesel engines.  Diesels engines offer more torque at lower revs than petrol engines. A small car can easily cruise along with very little torque, whereas a big SUV, truck and toying vehicles needs a lot of torque to get it moving. Diesels engines are known for their exceptional torque delivery even at low RPMs.


Diesel is Safer

Diesel vehicles have proven significantly safer than regular petrol vehicles for several reasons. For instance, diesel is more difficult to catch on fire or burn than petrol and it will not normally explode when exposed to a high heat source. Since diesel fuel does not release fumes like petrol, the possibility of diesel vapours igniting and causing a vehicle fire is much lower. All of these factors contribute to providing increased protection for motorists in the event of a major car accident when driving their vehicles.

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Excellent for Towing

Vehicles that are manufactured to use diesel as fuel are typically produced to have a lot of torque (pulling power) at low engine speeds. For instance, a 4-cylinder diesel vehicle can produce as much torque as a 6-cylinder petrol engine.


No Ignition Tune-ups Required

Diesel-powered vehicle do not need ignition tune-ups, this is because they do not have spark plugs or distributors. This is a big advantage for diesel engines. Diesel fuel automatically ignites to power the engine. It is for this reason that it does not require a spark plug or distributor – and by extension, the overall maintenance costs of diesel-powered vehicles are significantly lowered as compared to petrol-powered cars and trucks.


More Reliable And Last longer

Indeed, diesel engines have proven to be more reliable than petrol powered engines. They also tend to last longer.  This is because they are generally built stronger than petrol engines.  One reason for this is the fact that diesel engines does not require a high-voltage ignition system. Also, they also do not emit RF (radio frequency) that can cause issues with a vehicle’s electronic system. As long as car owners keep up with oil changes and other routine maintenance on the vehicle, it is not unheard of to see a diesel engine far outlast the other components in a vehicle.



Diesel Costs More Than Petrol

In some countries like Nigeria, the most obvious disadvantage of using a diesel powered-vehicle is the relative higher cost. They tend to cost more than petrol.


Regular Maintenance

For the fact that they do not have spark plugs or distributors, a diesel vehicle does not need ignition tune-ups. However, the absence of these elements also means you have to do more when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. In other words, the vehicle would need to have the oil, air and fuel filters changed on a regular basis.

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Slower Speed Performance
If you are expecting high-speed performance from your diesel-powered car, then you might be disappointed. Diesel vehicles, though more efficient, stronger and more enduring, tend to be slower in speed performance than petrol-powered vehicles. It is for this reason that sport cars are rarely designed to use diesel.


Noisy Engine

The engines of diesel vehicles tend to produce a lot of noise, especially the clattering type. Although manufacturers today are getting good at using sound-muffling insulation in their diesel cars. That notwithstanding, diesel engines still have a bit of that characteristic diesel clatter.


They Generate a Lot of Smoke and Smell

Diesel vehicles are notorious for generating a lot of smoke. This is primarily due to the low-tech diesels found in older vehicles. However, today’s diesels are far more refined and are almost entirely smoke- and odor-free. This is due to cleaner (low sulfur) diesel, special exhaust additives, and advanced catalytic converter technology, today’s modern diesel car are more environmentally friendly than its gasoline


Scarcity of Good Diesel Mechanics 

Unlike petrol-powered vehicles, mechanic who are proficient in repairing diesel powered vehicle are hard to come by.