Why Do Semi-Trucks Use Diesel?

Have your ever wondered why semi-trucks use diesel? We have the answers.

Have you ever wondered why semi-trucks use diesel? We have the answers.

Have you ever wondered why semi-trucks run on diesel engines? There are many benefits of using diesel in semi-trucks, mainly because they are so much heavier than cars and often carry heavy loads. Here are some facts about diesel engines, the difference between diesel and gas, why semi-trucks use diesel.

History Of Diesel Engines

The diesel engine was designed during the industrial revolution (in the late 1890’s) by a man named Rudolph Diesel. After he passed away in 1913, the diesel engine changed to burn fuel more efficiently and was used in trains, construction vehicles, and trucks. Today’s diesel engines are much different than the originals, as they are much more efficient and are built very differently.

Diesel Fuels

There are two types of diesel fuels- Diesel One and Diesel Two. Most diesel fuels have a Cetane rating of 40-55, but Diesel Two is most used for normal driving conditions. Diesel engines can actually be powered by any fuel, as they do not require spark plugs initiate the combustion process. If the fuel can be injected into the combustion cylinders under pressure and create the hot temperatures needed for complete combustion, then they can be used in a diesel engine. Some fuels that have been experimented with include vegetable oils or Biofuel diesel- a combination of diesel fuel and plant-based oils.

Why Semi-Trucks Use Diesel Over Gas


Diesel produces more energy overall than gas does, as diesel produces about 147,000 BTU of energy while gas only produces about 125,000 BTU of energy. This is very helpful for semi-trucks as they are often carrying heavy loads and need the extra energy to drive further on long hauls. A semi-truck would need more gas than diesel for carrying the same load over the same distance, so diesel is an obvious choice. Also, diesel engines can operate for around 12,000 to 30,000 hours before needing maintenance, while gas-powered engines can only run an average of 6,000-10,000 hours before maintenance.


In addition to efficiency, diesel fuel is much cheaper than gas for semi-trucks. Since diesel produces more energy than gas, diesel produces more mileage overall and allows the truck driver to drive more distance between filling up their tank. Also, semi-trucks do not need as much maintenance with a diesel engine.

Power To Weight Ratio

Since many semi-trucks travel all over the U.S., they need to be able to carry heavy loads over all kinds of terrains. Whether the truck is driving in the mountains or on flat roads for hours at a time, they require engines and fuels that produce a high amount of torque. Diesel engines and fuel produces the amount of torque semi-trucks need, which also allows the engine to have a higher power to weight ratio.

For All of Your Trucking Needs

Evan Transportation provides trucking and transportation services for clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. All of our drivers and staff are offered competitive salaries, benefits, and are guaranteed to be home every day. Interested in finding out more? Visit us online or give us a call at 443-673-3365. For even more information, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 19th, 2018 at 8:48 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.