First Time Diesel Owner: What Should I know?

March 13, 2019

Many are making the switch, from gas to diesel. Statistics continually show increases in popularity of diesels in consumer level purchases of clean diesel and SUV purchases. Large-population states like California, Texas and Florida are showing substantial increases in diesel car, SUV, pickup truck and van registrations, with western states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho setting the trends with the highest percentage of diesel vehicles on the road. Industry experts claim that many are making the move because clean diesel cars, trucks and SUVs typically achieve on average, a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and 15 percent reduction in emissions when compared to a similar gasoline powered vehicles.

In the workforces of logistics, hauling and fleet duty vehicles, statistics show that over 95 percent of all large heavy-duty trucks are diesel-powered, as are a majority of medium-duty trucks. Diesel power plants are moving an estimated 70 percent of the nation’s freight, as the driving force of goods-movement-by-truck.

With so much movement by diesel, and new owners taking the wheel for their daily drivers as well, many should be aware of some of the differences. 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 out reaches that of a gas motor.” Brahs says that the driver may notice that the diesel motor is not as high revving in RPMs, when under a strain. “When pulling their trailer for example,” says Brahs, “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 is going to make the task seem much easier.”

The new diesel owner will also recognize that the actual movement takes place sooner. With more efficiency in torque, the driver will require less input to begin the movement, less fuel, less RPMs and less time will be required to begin shifting the load.

With more efficiency and reliability, the new diesel owner will notice a savings at the pump as well. Brahs says, “If you pull a 20,000-lb. 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 and your fuel economy is multiplied times over.”

Another noticeable difference at the gas pump, other than the fuel handle itself, is that the 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.

New diesels also include exhaust brakes to help the heavier loads slow down and stop easier, without the need of the foot brakes.

Diesels are sometimes more expensive in the initial purchase, and maintenance prices are a bit more than gasoline, but the overall cost of ownership is actually less. With less repairs, breakdowns, improved mileage and longer engine life upwards of 300,000 miles, the work duty truck pays dividends in ‘the long run.’

To help prevent the added costs in maintenance however, some simple steps are available to help protect the 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 5000 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.”

Brahs also claims that the second biggest pitfall to avoid is bad information. To instead learn from experts. “Dealers unfortunately, sometimes don’t know much about diesels,” says Chris. “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.” Especially with a used vehicle, Brahs recommends getting a pre-purchase inspection and take it to the shop for a look. And reiterates, “for the new diesel owner, especially if considering a used one, find a reputable diesel shop, and pay a couple hundred dollars that could possibly save you 10, 15, 20,000 dollars for say, a new motor. The $200 investment could be a huge savings!”

For the new diesel owner however, the most recognizable trait is that a diesel is going to make a difference with a heavy load. “Torque makes things move,” says Chris. “And the torque on a diesel is so much greater than a gas engine.” And with any load, even in consumer based cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the daily driver is quite a heavy piece of equipment as well. And many are seeing their diesel making the move that much easier.

Brahs refers to the analogy that horsepower is how hard you hit the wall, torque is how far you move that wall; tons of horsepower and no torque, and the wall doesn’t move much. “I own a 2011 Dodge diesel with 210,000 miles on it,” says Chris. “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 75mph without it taking 10 miles getting to that speed. And I also have the ability to slow down really quick with the exhaust brake, tap shift transmissions and the tow/haul modes.”


“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 diesels 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 5000 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 5000 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 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 a 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 lawn mower, 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