Driving comes with many risks, but the simple task of fuelling up isn’t risk-free either. If you’ve ever put petrol in your diesel vehicle, you’re not alone in making that mistake. According to the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA), 7500 misfuelling events, of people doing just that, occur every year nationally. This mistake could cost you your engine if you don’t deal with it properly, however, there are actions you can take to minimise the cost of repairs.
The Petrol Vs Diesel debate is a never-ending one. No matter where you stand, there is truthfully no clear winner. Your champion will depend on what you need your car for and what you want from your vehicle. Do you want a vehicle to help you run quick errands? Or, do you want to go on long drives dragging a trailer behind you? Each engine type has unique benefits, but many do not realise how diesel could better cater to their needs.
Diesel vehicles are more fuel efficient and emit less CO2 than petrol engines which is better for the environment. Efficiency will vary from vehicle to vehicle, but owners can generally expect fuel efficiency to be 24 to 30 per cent better than petrol equivalents. Diesel engines have more compression, so the expansion part of the cycle occurs over a greater range, delivering more usable power and better economy. Ultimately, this means that diesel vehicles have to refuel less.
Diesel engines operate at higher pressures when compared to petrol engines. This means that structurally, the engine needs to be significantly stronger. Their hardiness makes them ideal for drivers covering rough terrain, particularly off-road. This strength also means better longevity and dependability.
Torque and power
Recent additions to the diesel market have developed diesel engines that are more powerful and responsive than ever – and many now outperform their petrol-powered equivalents. Diesel engines deliver substantially greater low-speed torque at about 2000rpm at three or four times the torque of a petrol engine. Diesel vehicles are therefore better-performing on the freeway as they provide strong overtaking agility and can often do so without changing gears; they can scale hills effortlessly, are ideal for towing, and generally move without complaint. For those who regularly tow caravans, boats, trailers, general heavier loads or carry more people than average, diesel is the better choice.
The distinctive ‘rattle’ generated by large diesel engines have been virtually eliminated in most modern passenger vehicles. When the engines are cold and near idle, they can sometimes generate more noise than a petrol engine. But at suburban or highway speeds, diesel engines are mostly quieter and smoother than ever.
In the end, you need to think about what you want to use your car for and what you want it to do. Diesel may not be the perfect fit for everyone, but they are a fantastic choice for the drivers who cover long distances, venture off-road frequently or want superior torque.
Regular maintenance is essential to ensuring the longevity of your diesel engine. If you have a diesel vehicle that you often use for transporting loads, then there are a few maintenance tips you can be following to ensure your vehicle remains effective. The typical maintenance tasks include changing the diesel oil, inspecting the filters, checking the engine’s coolant, draining the water separators, and taking care of your turbocharger.
Diesel Oil Changes
As diesel engines are high heat running motors, diesel oil changes are critical. By checking and changing the oil, the engines will continue to work efficiently and smoothly. If the oil is not replaced it will block the heat transfer and hamper the oil’s cooling function. Oil changes are recommended every 6 months or 10,000 km. However, if you use your vehicle for hard-driving and towing then it becomes necessary to change oil more frequently.
Inspect your Filters
Inspecting and replacing diesel fuel filters is crucial to the welfare of your vehicle. It is usually located within the engine bay. With today’s diesel fuels the filters need to be changed at certain intervals. It should be a priority to change the oil filter each time the oil is changed.
The air filter is one of the areas of a car that can accumulate the most dirt due to the engine. If you don’t keep it in good condition, you run the risk of poor performance and it increases your fuel consumption. Air filters need to be changed every 10,000 km to 15,000 km or every 12 to 18 months (depending on conditions).
Check Your Engine’s Coolant
Engine coolant maintenance is equally as important as an oil change, and more than 40% of diesel engine maintenance problems can be attributed to engine coolant negligence. An engine’s cooling system runs off coolant, which is a mixture of water and coolant additive. However, the coolant can often become acidic over time and can cause major problems. It is important to replace the coolant filter and top off the cooling system at every oil change, test the coolant twice a year, and replace the coolant every two years. Plus, make sure the coolant you are running in your engine meets the original equipment’s manufacturer specifications.
Draining the Water Separators
One of the important reasons to drain water and dirt from a diesel engine is that diesel fuel becomes contaminated easier than gasoline. This can cause corrosion in the fuel delivery system. To avoid this, many diesel cars install a water separator. This small filtering device is used to remove the water from the diesel fuel before it reaches the sensitive parts of the engine.
Save your Turbocharger from Failing
A lot of things happen in a matter of seconds when you turn on your car, and one of the most crucial ones is the flow of oil coming from the oil pump to the turbocharger. You should always allow your vehicle to start up and idle for a few minutes before departure. In this way, the engine oil has time to reach the turbocharger. So, the worst thing you could do to a cold engine is mashing the accelerator as soon as you start your car.
Today’s cars are constantly changing. Computers are slowly taking over while we just sit back and enjoy the ride. They are completely unrecognisable from cars just 15 years ago and have completely changed the industry and what it takes to look after them. But we haven’t stopped yet, cars will undoubtedly become autonomous in the not-too-distant future, rewriting the rule book all over again.
Computers in cars today
While they may not be driving us around, computers are already very much a part of our driving today. We may see the satnav, the parking sensors and the TVs in the back of the headrests for the kids but the real stuff is happening under the hood. Modern cars utilise what is known as an Engine Control Module (ECM) which is an electrical system that manages the main functions of the engine. The ECM is in charge of injecting the right amount of fuel to the pistons, cooling the engine to the right temperature and the right voltage, just to name a few features.
How is it changing the skills of repairers?
Because computers are an integral part of today’s engines, you cannot just simply be a mechanic anymore. Today, engine technicians must be trained to understand how computer systems like ECMs are programmed and how to re-code them. They must also know how to run diagnostic checks and diagnose issues regarding the entire electronic network that runs throughout the car, otherwise you will just have a very expensive driveway ornament.
Cars of the future
It’s no secret that the plan for the cars of the future will be to have self-driving capabilities. PwC predicts that by 2030, 15% of cars sold will be self-driving. But what will happen to those in the automotive industry? For one, without humans who are prone to making poor decisions and damaging the car, behind the wheel, there will be less accidents. Repairers such as panel beaters could face a huge loss in business as a result. However with any new technology, there are always new opportunities. The cars will still breakdown and someone will still need to fix them. New jobs markets will open requiring people with that knowledge. Also, until fully electrical engines are viable, engines will still have issues and still need modifications.
Technology is rapidly changing the automotive industry as we know it. It’s important we keep on top of the changes so that we don’t get left behind.
Although modern Diesel fuel injection systems have less moving parts than traditional mechanical systems they are more prone to damage due to the much smaller manufacturing tolerances.
Since Diesel fuel injection systems were first invented and used to control engine operation, water in the Diesel fuel has been the biggest contributor to the failure of such systems. Repairs are generally expensive due to the hi-tech nature of components and the amount of parts that can be affected by the contamination.
When cars are brought in for repairs, the type of replacement parts you get can depend on the service department you visit. Local dealerships use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts, whilst you may get a choice between OEM and aftermarket parts from independent shops. OEM parts are built by the original car manufacturers, meaning they are generally the same part as that found in your vehicle. Aftermarket products, on the other hand, are ones generally produced by a company other than the original manufacturer. Typically, aftermarket is cheaper than OEM.
Diesel fuel has been the main choice of transportation and industry transport services, as well as regular consumers for decades. This is due to fact diesel engines last longer than spark-ignition engines in demanding applications and the diesel fuel offers a greater power density than other fuels, therefore packing more power per volume. The farming and construction industries benefit greatly from the efficiency and high power. Refined from crude oil, diesel fuels tend to produce many harmful emissions when burned. The cost for more power has been harmful pollutants to the environment and as such, Australians had taken more interest in alternative fuels in recent times. Among the most popular has been biodiesel.
Diesel fuel is the number one means of transportation across Australia. From trains, agricultural equipment, to trucks, diesel fuel is used for long distance journeys. Although consumers may find diesel to be relatively expensive, it provides its regular users with a range of benefits. It also has environmental benefits that makes it superior to petrol and gas used in everyday vehicles.
Diesel cars offer better mileage
Although you may be paying a couple extra dollars to fuel your tank, you will gain extra mileage compared to gas and petrol powered vehicles as diesel fuel produces and provides motorist more kilometres per litre than petrol or gas. Diesel powered vehicles can provide 25 – 30 % better fuel economy compared to petrol and gas which translates to an overall saving.
Diesel is an efficient and dense fuel
The compression of air to fuel ratio of a diesel engine produces fewer emissions, the lowest emissions of any oil based fluids. Vehicles run on gas have an emission rate that is 10 times greater than a modern diesel engine, meaning there are more harmful chemical products releasing pollutants into our air. Diesel power also releases minimal amounts of carbon monoxide, making it safer than both petrol and gas.
Diesel vehicles utilise more usable energy compared to other fuelled vehicles. They can generate 30% better fuel economy. While eliminating all emissions and pollutants would require the removal of all fuelled vehicles, diesel powered engines are essential to transportation and business purposes and are still required on our roads.
While you may say all fuel consumption is bad for the environment full stop, we are now in a society where transportation is a critical part of life. By changing over to diesel fuelled cars we have the opportunity to decrease the amount of emissions and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere which helps to reduce the impact of vehicle emissions on the environment.
How much has the diesel industry changed within Australia? Have prices continued to rise or have they fallen? Are their more consumers now using diesel powered vehicles or has the industry started to decline?Over the past few years, diesel powered vehicles have become extremely popular in Australia with registered diesel vehicles accounting for 19.7% of all cars compared to to 13.8% in 2010. Also, the number of registered diesel vehicles increased by more than 60% between 2007 to 2012.
A key reason why diesel vehicles have become popular amongst the Australian public is due to the cost effectiveness of diesel power. It has become apparent amongst Australian consumers that diesel engines offer great fuel economy savings compared to petrol and gas, as savings have been seen to reach from 5-20%.
To gain a greater understanding of how the industry has changed over the past 10 years, here are some key facts about the diesel industry:
- Previously Diesel engines were designed to empower, heavy equipment and machinery, however this has translated into everyday work vehicles and standard passenger vehicles due to its cost benefits as well as vastly improved driveability and performance.
- Diesel fuel prices are now competing with regular unleaded prices.
- Out of the 18 million registered vehicles in Australia, 20.9% are now diesel vehicles.
- Due to innovations in research and development of diesel technology it is now possible to drastically reduce noise and emissions that were associated with early diesel engines.
- Australia has the fifth lowest diesel prices, amongst the OECD group.
- In Victoria diesel prices have decreased from $1.53 per litre (2014) to $1.16 per litre (end of 2016)
With this in mind having a diesel vehicle provides some great added value and features that is appealing to a large majority of the Australian public. Not only are their great savings for motorists but the relatively higher torque of a diesel powered car improves the overall driving experience.
When it comes to most diesel vehicles, the recommended service period is every 5,000 km or 6 months, whichever comes first. However, this service interval can differ quite significantly depending on the make and model of your car, as well as how much you drive on a regular basis. More of a city driver? Driving short distances on a regular basis can cause the oil in diesel cars to accumulate gunk or other contaminants. This means you may need more frequent oil changes than your highway and long journey driving counterparts. It can be tricky to determine when to bring your car in for servicing. So to make that thought process a little simpler; here are 5 key signs that your diesel car needs to be serviced.