What Should a First-Time Diesel Owner Know?
Whether you’re planning on buying your first diesel vehicle or have recently bought one, you likely have some questions about how you can make it run at its best. Since diesel engines are different than gasoline engines, they have some unique needs that every owner should know. By understanding how diesel engines are different and some tips for maintaining them, you can get the most out of your investment and increase its performance.
Find out why more people are turning to diesel vehicles and the main differences between gas and diesel engines. If you own or plan to purchase a diesel vehicle, you can follow our primary tips for owning a diesel truck to ensure you get the most out of your vehicle.
Why Do People Choose Diesel Vehicles Over Gasoline Vehicles?
Many drivers are switching from conventional gas vehicles to diesel-powered ones. The growing interest in diesel vehicles around the country can be largely attributed to these vehicle’s ability to reduce fuel usage and emissions. Many consumers and companies are moving to diesel because clean diesel cars, trucks, and SUVs deliver greater fuel economy. In fact, diesel engines are 29% more efficient on the highway and 24% more efficient in the city when compared to gas engines.
Alongside their better fuel economy, diesel engines also appeal to eco-conscious consumers, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently mandated the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel. This fuel runs much more cleanly than diesel of the past, helping diesel engine owners reduce their emissions and give them an edge over gas-powered vehicles.
Noticeable Differences Between Gas and Diesel Vehicles
If you’re considering moving to a new diesel-powered vehicle, you should know how it will differ from your past gas-powered vehicle. Find out more about the primary differences between gas and diesel vehicles below:
- Greater power: Chris Brahs, shop owner of Brahs Solutions (Albuquerque, NM), says, “The first thing noticeable is the power. The amount of torque a diesel produces far outreaches that of a gas motor. When pulling their trailer, for example, If someone were in a 2500 6.0L gas engine before, but now changing up to a diesel in the same truck, the overall power and torque are going to make the task seem much easier.” This greater power translates to lower revs in RPM when diesel engines are under strain.
- Faster shifts: Besides having more power at their disposal, the new diesel owner will recognize that the actual movement takes place sooner. With more efficiency in torque, the driver will require less input to begin the movement and less fuel. These engines also need fewer RPMs and less time to begin shifting the load.
- Increased fuel savings: With more efficiency and reliability, the new diesel owner will notice savings at the pump as well. Brahs says, “If you pull a 20,000-pound trailer with a gas truck, you’re going to get about 4 or 5 miles to the gallon. You pull the same trailer with a diesel truck, and your fuel economy is multiplied times over.”
- Safer fuel: Another noticeable difference at the gas pump, other than the fuel handle itself, is that diesel fuel is not prone to ignition in the same way as gasoline. Where gasoline can ignite by flame, diesel fuel must be atomized prior to ignition.
- Easier braking: New diesel trucks also include exhaust brakes to help the heavier loads slow down and stop easier, without the need for the foot brakes.
- Higher initial costs and lower cost of ownership: Diesel trucks are sometimes more expensive in the initial purchase, and maintenance prices are a bit more than gasoline. Though the initial cost and maintenance expenses can be more expensive, the overall cost of ownership is actually less. Since diesel vehicles are less likely to break down and require fewer repairs, they have reduced ownership costs. They also have improved mileage and a longer engine life upwards of 300,000 miles, making it so diesel trucks pay dividends over time.
While a new diesel owner will notice all of the above differences, the biggest change they’ll see is that a diesel truck will perform differently with a heavy load due to its torque. While you might think that horsepower is all that matters when choosing a vehicle, torque actually matters a great deal.
When you want to know the difference between horsepower and torque, think of it like this — horsepower is how hard you hit the wall, and torque is how far you move that wall. If you have tons of horsepower but no torque, you’re not going to move the wall very far.
Brahs explains more about why torque matters and how diesel engines give drivers an edge, stating, “Torque makes things move. And the torque on a diesel is so much greater than a gas engine.” Even drivers of consumer-based vehicles can benefit from diesel engines, as their vehicle will still have to account for the weight of the driver, occupants and any objects inside. The high torque of diesel engines makes it easy for vehicles to transport anything, from passengers all the way to heavy equipment and materials.
If you’re thinking about a diesel engine, consider some of the ways Brahs receives major benefits from the extra torque. He says, “I own a 2011 Dodge diesel with 210,000 miles on it, I pull a lot of my ‘toy haulers’ for my veterans-based desert racing organization. I need to be able to pull my 38’ car hauler down the road at 75 miles per hour without it taking 10 miles to get to that speed.”
Besides the extra hauling power, Brahs points that he also has “the ability to slow down really quick with the exhaust brake, tap shift transmissions, and the tow/haul modes.” With all of the noticeable differences between diesel and gas vehicles, you can likely see why so many drivers are making the switch.
Tips for First-Time Diesel Owners
If you’re a new diesel owner or plan to make the switch soon, you can get more out of your diesel vehicle by following a few main tips every diesel engine owner should know. Review some of the top tips for diesel owners below:
1. Follow Manufacturer Guidelines to Lower Maintenace Costs
Some simple steps are available to reduce your maintenance costs and protect your investment even more. “The biggest thing is keeping up with the manufacturer recommendations,” says Brahs. “Everyone in our shop instructs our customers to change the oil every 5,000 miles, for example, or follow the direction given by the computer. In my opinion, a $100 oil change is a lot cheaper than replacing a $20,000 motor.”
2. Pay Attention to Your Fuel Filter
Since diesel fuel doesn’t have the same purity as gasoline, your diesel engine’s fuel filter is essential to your vehicle’s long-term performance. While your vehicle will have a sensor that warns when the filter becomes clogged, some new diesel owners ignore it. When you don’t take action on a blocked fuel filter fast, the clog could end up damaging your vehicle and making it break down unexpectedly.
If you want to ensure you get the best performance out of your vehicle, it’s best practice to immediately change out your fuel filter whenever a warning pops up. Also, schedule regular fuel filter replacements to prevent clogs from ever occurring in the first place. Since diesel fuel filters have to work harder than gasoline filters, you can expect to change your filters more regularly, and you shouldn’t be surprised if you get a warning signal ahead of your replacement schedule.
How often should a diesel truck be driven? It’s important to run your truck at least once a month until it warms up to ensure components like your fuel filter stay in top shape.
3. Regularly Check Your Oil Levels
Unlike gas engines, diesel engines tend to burn their lubricating oil throughout their daily use, leading to oil levels dropping faster. Since oil levels decrease faster in diesel engines, it’s crucial to check your levels in between oil changes. You can easily check your levels after you’ve let the engine cool for 30 minutes and left the car on flat ground. If you need to add new oil, follow your owner’s manual’s instructions to ensure you do it correctly.
4. Ensure You Have the Best Information Possible
Another main concern you’ll want to avoid when owning your new diesel vehicle is bad information. Brahs points out that, “Dealers, unfortunately, sometimes don’t know much about diesel vehicles. If the customer just spent $70,000 on a truck, they should find someone with the expertise to help educate them of the options, the abilities of the engine, the abilities of the vehicle and what to do, when and how. We continually hear that ‘the dealer never told me that,’ ‘they never showed me this,’ on and on.”
Besides turning to experts to help you maintain your vehicle and educate you about it, you’ll want to receive an expert opinion when purchasing a used vehicle. Brahs recommends getting a pre-purchase inspection and taking it to the shop for a look. He also recommends that you should “find a reputable diesel shop, and pay a couple hundred dollars” for an inspection, as it “could possibly save you upwards of 20,000 dollars for, say, a new motor. The $200 investment could be huge savings!”
5. Protect Your Engine in Cold Weather
Owning a diesel truck in cold weather is different than owning a gas-powered truck in similar conditions. When a diesel engine is exposed to freezing temperatures, it’ll warm up slower than a gas engine and have a harsh start. If the temperature dips below zero, it can even cause your diesel engine to not start at all.
Prevent freezing temperatures from harming your diesel engine by using your vehicle’s block heater. All you have to do is plug the block heater into your home’s electric system, and the heater will keep your engine warm. After using your block heater, you can expect your engine to warm up much faster and have greater protection. Check your owner’s manual for the block heater’s location and its proper operation.
6. Use Diesel Fuel and Oil Additives
Another way you can protect your diesel engine is by using fuel additives to increase its performance and ensure it runs cleaner. Some of the top benefits of diesel fuel additives include better fuel efficiency, cleaner engines, reduced vehicle ownership costs and smoother engine starts.
Oil additives are also crucial for diesel engines, as these engines tend to push oil harder. When you use oil additives, you can stabilize engine oil, increase fuel economy, return lost compression, extend service intervals and lower engine heat.
Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Fuel and Oil Additives Testimonial
At Hot’s Shot’s Secret, we’re proud to offer premium-quality diesel and fuel oil additives to help our customers get the most out of their engines. As a leading oil and additive manufacturer and seller, we’re confident our products can raise your diesel engine’s performance. Don’t just take our word for it, though — take Brahs’s. He raves about our additives, saying:
“Hot Shots Secret has provided support for Outlaw Desert Racing — helping in the prevention of veterans and first-responder suicide rates.
95% of the racers we work with all drive diesel trucks to pull their race trailers, their race trucks, their buggies, their UTVs, and power their RVs.
And while I instruct everyone to change their oil at 5,000 miles, and will continue to do so until all the results are in, I’m now on the Hot Shot’s Secret 100,000 mile oil change challenge. I am working hand in hand with HSS testing their Outlaw 15w-40 oil and TBN Booster, trusting that their products are keeping my personal truck in shape.
I still change my oil filters every 5,000 miles, and I’m sending my samples to the lab. They then test the oil to make sure it’s stable and still sustaining all the recommended properties to do its job. I’m now going on 20,000 miles, and the Hot Shot’s Secret oil is still holding up. I rely on the product and trust it from personal testing.
I also trust in what others say and their testing of the claims that Hot Shot’s Secret says too. Lavon Miller of FirePunk pulling has been using and testing the Hot Shot Secret’s FR3 Friction Reducer on his dyno pulls and checking results too. And it works.
People like Lavon Miller are not performing at their best because of shoddy products. He has a hell of an engine program with D&J, he has a hell of a transmission program with his own FirePunk transmissions and he has a hell of an oil program with Hot Shot’s Secret. Lavon has a #1 winning team for a reason!
I opted to work with Hot Shot’s Secret for our Outlaw Desert Racing program and our Class 1 team car because the Class 1 car uses the 15w-40 oil, just the same as my diesel. HSS oils and the FR3 are providing the high zinc properties required of our extreme temperatures and racing conditions in Baja. Not to mention our coolant temperatures are sitting at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
When I can reduce coolant temps as a direct result of Hot Shot’s Secret reduction in oil temps, then it’s a win-win. With HSS in it, I know my car is going to maintain for a 1000-mile race while the competitors are blowing up.
I use the FR3 on everything! It reduces friction, lowers the temperatures, and makes the thing last longer. I put it in our Can-Am racer, I put it in my truck, I put it in my wife’s car, I put it in my lawnmower, I put it in my power steering, I put it in everything I can possibly think of. Electric-driven gearboxes; Hell, I use FR3 on my drill bits!
We have farmers that buy FR3 by the 5-gallon jugs. They put it in every tractor they’ve got. And I use the Hot Shot’s Secret motor oil in everything I can possibly use.
We have a great customer and very good friend, claiming 5 or 6 miles per gallon improvement in his ‘06 Dodge Cummins 5.9L, by just using Everyday Diesel Treatment. He buys it religiously, 10 or 15 bottles at a time because his friends are asking him to pick up a bottle for them too.
I believe in Hot Shot’s Secret and their products.”
– Chris Brahs of Brahs Solutions & Outlaw Desert Racing, Albuquerque, NM
Choose Hot Shot’s Secret for Your Diesel Oil and Fuel Additives
Now that you know all about owning a diesel truck or other diesel vehicle, you may want to experience Hot Shot’s Secret’s diesel fuel and oil additives for yourself. You can find several additives specially formulated for the unique needs of an engine, giving you the opportunity to better protect your engine. We also have a money-back guarantee if you’re not totally satisfied.