Diesel vs. Gasoline Engines: Which Should You Drive?

gasoline station

It’s hard to seek glory for an invention if that invention cannot be commercially produced en masse. That was what happened to  Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the car engine that bore his name. Studying how the steam engine works, its strong points and inefficiencies, Mr. Diesel, a French national, was able to come up with a one-of-a-kind compression engine. It took him about 13 years to do so from the time he set up shop in Paris in 1885. Indeed, it was no easy task.

As brilliant as Rudolf Diesel is, there were some false starts with the engine that he invented; the first engine test was unsuccessful. But worse was yet to come. Unable to deal with all the criticism of his engine when he tried to market it commercially (it wasn’t ready), the visionary engineer had a nervous breakdown. In the end, he disappeared while aboard a ship on the way to England. People surmise Diesel committed suicide.

While that story may come as a bit of a tragedy, the same can’t be said about the diesel engine. Diesel’s invention has earned the praise of many experts in the car industry. It’s worth noting that in comparison, the gasoline engine was also developed in Europe at about the same time. Knowing how each of these most common engine types fares against each other should bid you well if you’re planning to secure a car. And rely on it for the most part.


It’s about time Americans look at each of these engines closer. To date, America is a gas-inclined country. Only about 4% of the cars in the Land of the Brave run on diesel. The majority runs on gas. Europe has better numbers in terms of diesel with more people using diesel-run cars than their American counterparts.

Take note that there are over 2 4 million cars navigating U.S. highways. That’s about 755 vehicles per 1000 American residents.

When it comes to mileage, diesel engines are the logical choice for people who drive for long hours. On a highway, diesel-engine vehicles are far more efficient compared to their gasoline-guzzling brothers. The reason is simple. Diesel packs a lot more energy compared to gasoline. To note, one gallon of diesel brings to the table 30% more energy vis-à-vis gas engines. So if you’re keen on fuel economy, diesel is the way to go.

This also explains why more Europeans prefer diesel. Governments on the other side of the Atlantic emphasize Mother Earth concerns and the reduction of carbon dioxide exhaust to make cars as efficient as can be. Thus, fuel efficiency is top of the agenda in Europe.


car on a road trip

Vehicles that run on your normal diesel performs better compared to gasoline-energized cars. But there’s a hitch. Make sure you’re using quality diesel. Employing black diesel or other kinds of enhanced diesel fuel can sabotage your car’s performance in the long run.

It must be clear that both diesel engines and gasoline engines wear and tear over time. But diesel may take longer to degrade as diesel as a product is a light oil and once it burns it also lubricates that part of your vehicle. In the process, your diesel engine lives longer. Gasoline or petrol acts as a detergent that washes away oil from the engine’s parts, destroying the engine faster in the long run.

Of course, when an engine is cranky and needs repair, you can either have it replaced with a new one or instead use a complete or master engine rebuild kit. The latter is a lot cheaper than the former. Even better you can save time when you choose to repair damaged parts of your engine rather than use a new one entirely.

Dollar Considerations

On average, diesel cars cost $700 more than their gasoline-guzzler counterpart. But that initial cost could be covered by the more efficient run that a diesel engine gives you. As diesel cars can give you more distance at far less fuel use, things should balance out. A 6.0 L diesel, for instance, will give you as much power as an 8.0 L gasoline engine.

It’s funny how Europeans tend to use smaller more fuel-efficient cars. Americans, on the other hand, gravitate towards the SUV and driving off-road cars in major superhighways.

However, there’s another key aspect when you use a diesel engine that you must consider. As a rule, diesel fuel costs a bit more than gasoline. American government tends to tax diesel fuel more than gasoline. Lest you forget, diesel engines outlive their gasoline brothers so that it could add up to your savings and give you a better perspective overall.

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