Understanding the Difference Between Gas and Diesel Engines

image with text understanding the difference between gas and diesel engines

If you drive a vehicle with a gasoline engine, a diesel engine might seem like something from another universe. There are actually quite a few similarities between the two, with a few vital differences. The experts at Performance Auto Repair are available to help you learn the differences between the two engines so that you’re prepared for any future vehicle maintenance situation. 

The Difference Between Gas and Diesel Engines

Different engines require different types of fuel based on how they power your car. All engines work similarly to convert fuel into energy to produce movement. The power creation process is the same for each engine. Things change, however, when you look at how your motor executes each of the four internal combustion steps:


Intake: This is the first step. In a gas engine, contents made up of a mixture of fuel and air are let into the engine cylinders.

Compression: When contents are heated up and squeezed together before ignition in a gas engine, the compression is lower so that the fuel won’t self-ignite and damage your engine.

Ignition: This step is the most different between the two engines. In a gas engine, your spark plugs will create electricity that will light the air and fuel inside your cylinder.

Exhaust: Finally, fuel fumes are released through a valve and the entire process starts over.


Intake: During intake in a diesel engine, only air is released into the engine cylinders. The fuel is added later.

Compression: A higher compression threshold is allowed in a diesel engine because the cylinders only hold air. In fact, the contents need to be able to reach self-ignition at this stage.

Ignition: Once the contents have reached self-ignition, the fuel will ignite due to heat and pressure as it’s injected. No spark plugs required!

Exhaust: This process is very similar to a gas engine. While the fuel is combusting to release power, the fumes need to be let out through a valve so the process can begin again.

Now you understand why you can’t put diesel fuel into your gas engine; it would cause extreme damage to your engine because it’s designed to run your vehicle differently! Understanding how your engine works can help you take the best possible care of your vehicle. For an expert opinion, trust the automotive technicians at Performance Auto Repair!

Contact Performance Auto today to speak with our honest and qualified team. Let us take care of your car repair today!

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