Diesel or Petrol? It is a question that every prospective car buyer is faced with. Almost every other car maker has a separate diesel and petrol engine option for its lineup of cars and in the end, it all comes down to personal choices, driving needs and the economy. Rule of thumb here says that though expensive upfront, Diesel engines are known to provide better fuel economies than their Petrol counterparts. Add to that the fuel rate difference between the two has always been north of Rs. 10/litre and for big tank fuel guzzler diesels that does matter. All that makes diesel a very tempting prospect.
Honda learnt it the hard way when it lost a lot of market owing to the absence of a diesel engine from their portfolio and had to give in finally, with the introduction of its i-DTEC diesel engine, which now does rounds in its current offerings. In a market as diverse as ours, there’s a fair share of both petrol and diesel on the roads. Petrolheads argue that diesel engines tend to die out early, are eerily high on NVH levels and need regular maintenance to keep sailing. Better or not, we love our diesel cars and in this section we talk about how you can happily (and easily) maintain your diesel car.
But before beginning on our tips lets first understand how and why are diesel engines different from petrol or any other gasoline engines, for that matters.
Diesel engines are, like petrol, based on the principle of internal combustion. The same drill, air goes inside the chamber, gets compressed, the temperature is raised and the fuel subsequently injected burns to move the pistons. While a normal petrol engine compresses the air by around 10 times, a Diesel engine does even more work to compress it by a factor of 25-30. This produces enough heat to ignite whatever little fuel is injected into the system in accordance with the power demanded by the driver. In the process, the need for spark plugs is also bypassed.
Since it does more work, there’s an exponential increase in the wear process that the car manufacturers have to counter. Better mechanics and high-grade materials translate into increased costs and thus, the engines powering the pricier cars in the segment churn out relishing performances on the roads.
Every car needs maintenance and it holds good for our beloved diesel cars as well. There’s just this set of general advice/tips for keeping your car immaculate and registering more miles in the odometer. These are, of course, general advice, which hold good for most diesel cars out there but not all, as the difference in mechanics and engine components exist among different manufacturers.
Changing your Driving Practices
Diesel engines don’t have spark plugs and ignition relies totally on the battery power, so it becomes all the more important to use minimal of the car’s electricals (most importantly the AC) while turning on the car.
Your diesel engine needs to build some initial heat to work optimally. Most cars now come equipped with a preheating mechanism and all you need to do is wait for the ‘preheat’ indicator to go off before turning on the ignition. During winters, it helps to heat the engine for 5 minutes before gaining momentum.
Engage the clutch during Ignition
This helps lessen the load on the starter motor, which has the work of kick-starting the heavy diesel engine to life. Helping the motor by engaging the clutch will ensure long term longevity and a lower maintenance bill in the future.
Optimal Rev range
Higher revs above the 4000-5000 mark generate more sound, kill fuel economy and don’t generate equivalent power to low rev driving. Keep the revs low around 2000-3000 rpm mark and you can be sure of keeping your engine happy.
Service & General Maintenance
Every once in a while your car needs to juice up, and not necessarily on diesel only. Bi-annual or quarterly service schedules should be followed to top up on engine oils, coolants and for changing of air and oil filters. Gaskets need special attention during these services.
Tyre pressure vastly impacts the kind of performance you get from the engine and hence, it is highly advisable to keep the tyre pressure maintained at the optimal level suggested in the car’s manual.
The golden rule about maintaining your diesel is to never let the engine run dry of fuel. A dry engine can stall any time and the fuel pump stops. Manual supply of fuel to the engine is needed to start the engine again. There’s also a risk of rusting associated with running a dry engine. Some modern engines now cut-off the supply below 2-3 litre of fuel as a safety mechanism.
With proper maintenance and regular service, diesel cars can give their petrol counterparts a run for their money. But having said that, Diesels are taxing on the environment and petrol cars are much cleaner and greener in that sense. Old diesel engines are a menace for the atmosphere and so, a vehicle which has passed its life is better disposed of.
Fancy Diesel Cars?