ALMOST EVERY TRAILER truck you would come across is probably powered by a diesel engine and there is a good reason why. These engines are fuel-efficient yet powerful. If you’re moving a vehicle as huge as a trailer truck, you need all the power you can get for as little fuel as possible. 

What makes these engines good, though?

How the diesel engine works

Diesel engines work their magic by using the heat from compressed air to ignite the fuel being injected into the combustion chamber. This differentiates the diesel engine from non-diesel engines that use spark plugs to ignite the fuel being injected into the engine’s combustion chamber. The use of hot compressed air for ignition makes lean burns and heat is easily dissipated by the excess air. 

The high compression ratios and long drive strokes that the diesel engine runs make more power than the gasoline engine, making the former more appealing to truck manufacturers. 

Origins of the diesel engine 

The namesake of the diesel engine is Rudolf Diesel (not Vin Diesel apparently), a German mechanical engineer. Back in the late 1800s, steam engines were the thing but they were very inefficient in using the heat they produce. Only 6-10% of all the heat a steam engine produced back then was converted to work. So, Diesel thought of an engine that is so efficient, only a little percentage of heat is wasted from all that it produces. In 1893, Diesel produced the prototype of the diesel engine and improved upon it since then. 

Cummins diesel engine 

The widespread use of the diesel engine can be attributed to the work of Cummins, both the company and its namesake. If you are to think of a brand associated with the diesel engine, the first name that probably comes to mind is this well-known engine manufacturer. Diesel invented the engine, but Cummins perfected it. 

The Cummins diesel engine can be found in trucks of many sizes, from your ordinary tough pickup to asphalt-crushing ten-wheeler trailer trucks. 

At the time of the company’s founder Clessie Cummins, the diesel engine was almost unheard of. It only gained attention after its inventor Rudolf Diesel mysteriously disappeared at sea while aboard a steamer. 

In 1919, Clessie Cummins opened Cummins Engine Company. To prove the efficiency of the diesel engine versions he developed, he fitted a cargo truck and a bus with his engine and drove them between New York and Los Angeles. 

In Cummins’s time, General Motors held a record for driving between New York and Los Angeles with a gas engine car which took them 103 hours and 59 minutes. Cummins decided to beat the record using a cargo truck fitted with his engine. In 1931, he drove the truck between New York and Los Angeles for only 97 hours and 20 minutes, beating GM by 6 hours and 29 minutes. The feat was possible partly because the fuel-efficient diesel engine truck took fewer refueling stops than the GM gas engine vehicle. In the following year, we repeated the drive, this time, with a bus and he did it six hours faster.

In 1989, Dodge introduced the RAM pickup truck with a Cummins diesel engine. The truck produced 160 horsepower and 400-foot pounds of torque, numbers which are unheard of among pickup truck developers back then. 

Diesel engine in trucks today

The efficiency due to high compression ratios is the most notable characteristic of the diesel engine. This is mainly due to diesel engines’ reliance on compressed air for ignition rather than spark plugs. For huge vehicles that consume more fuel than lighter ones, efficiency can be a big deal that is why the diesel engine saw widespread use in trucks in all sizes from pickup-types to heavy ones. 

Diesel engines in heavier trucks are also commonly turbocharged and aftercooled to enhance their performance. Doing so improves the power of the truck, as well as its efficiency. 

Cummins and Yuchai are some of the diesel engine brands that are seeing widespread use in trucks, buses, and other huge vehicles today. Dongfeng uses both of these engines in the trucks and buses that they manufacture. If you need a vehicle that carries the power of a diesel engine, contact Autokid Truck Solutions and we will help you find the right vehicle to drive your business. Give us a call at +639176530000.