Gas-to-diesel swaps are becoming more common, thanks to the low-maintenance quality of diesel fuel. However, diesel continues to endure negative publicity due to its environmental impact. As such, fleet operators who use gas often enjoy more perks from the government. On the other hand, those who use diesel have to comply with emission reduction guidelines to receive grants and rewards as well.
But any fleet operator would know that gasoline engines cost more to run than diesel ones. This is why most trucks are diesel-powered. But with the increasing number of shipments and worsening traffic, it’s getting harder to stay within the emission limits. Many truck drivers also idle, further increasing emissions and fuel costs.
These problems all have easy solutions, though, and using a gasoline engine isn’t one of them. Fleet operators can make the most out of their diesel trucks without sacrificing job quality. Plus, diesel fuel may not be as bad as it’s portrayed, after all. But before making the switch, get to know these facts first:
Advantages of a Diesel Engine
High Thermal Efficiency
Thermal efficiency determines how efficiently an engine can convert heat energy to mechanical energy. Since diesel engines have a relatively higher compression ratio, they outperform gas engines in this department. Though compression ratios vary per diesel engine, they’re typically in the 16:1 to 22:1 range. Gasoline engines, meanwhile, are only in the 9:1 to 12:1 range. Such is the case because gasoline engines are prone to detonation, which is when the fuel ignites prematurely. In comparison, diesel engines face no such risk because they don’t mix fuel with air.
The higher compression rates of diesel make its exhaust gas cooler, resulting in higher thermal efficiency.
Many gasoline engine users believe that diesel engines produce more emissions, but this turns out to be false—with modern diesel engines, at least. Diesel engines were actually promoted as an environmentally-friendly fuel in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. While they indeed contain more carbon, their emissions are less than those of a gas engine’s.
To address the environmental impacts of diesel, users can employ particulate matter (PM) filters. With good maintenance, these filters can reduce PM emissions by 90%.
Muted Noise and Vibration Qualities
Gone are the days when diesel engines are noisy and dirty. Newer engines now come with noise and vibration reduction technologies. The Chevvy Equinox turbodiesel engine, for example, has been dubbed the “whisper diesel” because it’s 65% quieter than the Jaguar F-Pace Diesel.
Signs of Serious Engine Trouble
A better reason to change to a diesel engine is when your gas engine starts showing major problems. Making the switch when there’s no urgent need for it unnecessarily uses up resources.
Consider changing when you notice the following signs:
Jerking, Stalling, and Surging
Your trucks shouldn’t jerk, surge, or stall while it’s being driven. If this frequently happens, your gas engine can have spark plug issues. The fuel lines or fuel filters could also be clogged. You can’t neglect this problem, because it can affect the safety of your driver. For instance, a truck that takes too long to accelerate may get crashed by the vehicle behind it.
Tapping or Popping Noises
These noises could be a sign of detonation, which is—as we’ve just discussed—the premature igniting of gas fuel. This results in piston damage. Grinding noises are a possible sign of detonation too, but often, it’s just the starter motor requiring adjustment or replacement.
Foul smells that have nothing to do with your cargo may indicate burning gasoline or diesel. If not, it could be leaking coolant or dangerous exhaust gases. The worst-case scenario is that it’s carbon monoxide emissions. Switch off the engine immediately if that might be the problem.
Making the Switch
There are countless engine manufacturers to choose from as you make the switch. To ensure a high return on investment (ROI), choose Cummins. Cummins engines and heavy-duty parts are recognized as superior in the trucking scene. Like the Repower’s turnkey R2.8L, some of their turbodiesel engines are ideal retrofits for compact pickups or any vehicle with less than 4,000 lbs of curb weight.
Cummins also dominates the market, guaranteeing quality and fuel economy. It would give your fleet higher torque and a boosted overall performance. As a result, your fleet can stay in tiptop shape and last longer than its average life span. But of course, ensure that your drivers are experienced and disciplined on the road as well. Bad driving habits, like idling, will ultimately make your switch useless.
Note, however, that changing a gas engine to a diesel one is a tedious process. So prepare a plan in which part of your fleet can continue operating while the rest undergoes the change.