What’s the Deal with Diesel?

Note: this is what I know up to this point.  I have a basic grasp of the diesel concept, but have never owned a vehicle with a non-gasoline engine.  For now, my opinions here are going to have to be based on simple observation and not life experience or concrete evidence.  Thanks for understanding.

My current truck has a regular gasoline motor.  I run it on 87 octane which as of today is $2.99 a gallon at the 7-11 on the corner of Main and Northwest Highway in Grapevine Texas (just outside of Fort Worth).  My wife’s car is a jeep with another gas engine.  The majority of the cars at work run on gas (as close as I can tell).  In fact, if you want to buy an automobile with a diesel engine, you severly limit the choices available to you.  Why is that?

From everything I’ve read about diesel engines – running on standard diesel fuel - they’re more reliable,  less prone to failure, and get good overall mileage.  Many diesel owners report that half a million miles on their engines is nothing unusual.  Of the four cars I’ve owned in my life, none of them have come anywhere close to that!  And I’ve always been proud of my car maintenance routine – regular oil changes, tune-ups on the older models, etc.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any downsides to having a diesel engine.  The list is short but logical:

Availability – gas stations that carry diesel oil are not as prevalent.  The 7-11 over there doesn’t carry it for example.

Selection – as mentioned above there’s some extra effort required to find a diesel powered auto that fits your tastes.

Complexity – fewer diesels on the road may also mean fewer mechanics and a reduction in the availability of parts.

Mystery – this one is most intriguing to me and I’m hoping will turn into one of the more interesting discoveries I’m going to make.

With the last point in mind, I wonder if people are looking at the ratio of gasoline:diesel cars on the road and decide on the former because everyone else has one, or if they’re actually weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the two.  I’ll hold my opinion on this until I do a little more research – I don’t want to stray too much further into conjecture-land right now.

So, with the exception of those who enjoy the inner workings of cars, most people who have a basic understanding of what makes a car go wouldn’t be able to you what makes a diesel engine different and the question remains: Why are the majority of automobile owners choosing gasoline engines over the diesel?

 I think it’s time for me to learn a little more about what makes a diesel engine work and how it’s going to affect my life.

Begin at the Beginning

This site is intended to chronolog my adventure into the world of hybrid fuels, bio diesel, and readily available gasoline alternatives.  Why? Because gas costs too much and smog sucks.

Sitting at home, watching one of my favorite shows, Mythbusters, I was stunned and awed when the typical fuel used in their old diesel Mercedes was successully replaced with vegetable oil as a fuel alternative.  The car ran, seemingly with no problems, and I started asking questions.

Why didn’t I know about this before?  Why don’t all cars run on vegetable oil?  Why am I paying so much for gas?

The next logical step was to try it for myself.

My plan over the next few months is to purchase a diesel automobile, modify it to accept a vegetable based fuel and report on the results.