Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Gasoline vs Diesel Engines

During the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk with several former diesel truck owners. Each of them had succumbed to last year’s high fuel prices and to a feeling that owning a diesel was simply too expensive – they had swapped their diesel-powered vehicle for a gasoline-powered counterpart. While I empathize with the feeling that something must be done when fuel costs double – a statistic that means thousands of dollars in additional fuel expenses per vehicle even for relatively low mileage drivers – but better to go do something benign, like write your elected officials, than to switch from diesel power to gasoline; at least if the desired result is to save money on fuel as well as on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your vehicle.

Lube Notes: Gear Lubes and Synthetic Gear Oil

In this issue of Lube Notes, I will respond to the numerous questions I receive from month to month about gear lubes. From the questions I receive, I realize that folks are not really sure what gear lubes are or exactly why they are different from motor oils. I want to briefly introduce gear lubes and discuss their classification system. Then we will look at proper applications for gear lubes.

Das Kommandofahrzeug (6.5L Diesel Suburban Command Vehicle)

She hated it... of course she would... It is a real man’s truck: huge, ugly and loud – naturally, it was love at first site for me. I bought it from friends we consider family in Columbus, Ohio. They purchased it brand new on November 24th, 1993 at a downtown dealership for $26,934.72. I knew the truck had a 100% vehicle history, had never-ever been smoked in and if there was any question ever, about anything, it was a phone call away.
The only diesel vehicle I owned before was a VW Lupo 1.4 liter TurboDiesel – the only vehicle that it made any sense to own when you lived in a place like downtown Munich.

EFILive Diesel Tuning for a Common Rail Diesel Engine

We buy diesel pickups because we appreciate the simple pleasure of push-you-back-in-your-seat torque. As long as it smokes, whistles and stinks, we assume it is running like it should. The details of engine operation are somebody else’s job. Why worry about how long our fancy electronic injectors pulse open or how our variable geometry turbos go about tightening their exhaust housings to supply our engine with just the right amount of boost? The answer is because now you can control it! Lean in a little closer… Enthusiasts no longer have a screwdriver-carburetor relationship with the power parts on their diesel trucks. Long gone are the days of throttle cables, wastegates and mechanical injectors. Computers are officially running the show.

Diesel Timing

Maybe you have seen the closed circuit gas pump film clips on reality TV? The vehicle at the gasoline pump suddenly bursts into flames while the owner is refueling. Usually the driver starts pumping gas and then goes back into the car to get something. After sliding across the seat, creating a static buildup within his body, he touches the pump handle again with enough stored static spark energy to light the volatile air/fuel mixture at the filler neck. POOF. Then the understandably panicked operator instinctively, but mistakenly, pulls the nozzle out of the filler neck, spewing fuel all over the vehicle and the ground: he has just re-invented the garden hose flame thrower.

Heath Diesel’s 6.5L Diesel Heavy-Duty Cooling System Upgrade

The GM 6.5 L diesel truck has a reputation of overheating when towing or hauling heavy and uphill. Those models built prior to 1997 were supplied with a cooling system that, even under the best of circumstances, provided only a marginal performance. Most of these vehicles were not able to maintain coolant temperature at or below the maximum – in my book – allowable 210°F. The normal accumulation of bugs, dirt and crud in the radiator and A/C core made a bad situation worse. Beginning with the ’97 models, GM increased the water pump flow, added a dual thermostat setup and a slightly improved fan clutch in an effort to make things better. These improvements affected a bit of an improvement.
Through years of experience with the 6.5 L diesel, working it hard under towing conditions, Heath Diesel has determined some important and effective remedies for the cooling inadequacies that plague these trucks.
Heath Diesel had long known that retrofitting the ’97 high-output water pump with the dual thermostat onto older models did not provide a meaningful improvement in temperature control and, while we found ways to improve the cooling system performance, the system as a whole did not deliver good and reliable temperature control under tougher towing conditions.