6 Major Differences Between Motor and Diesel Oils


There are different formulations for engine oils specific to operating conditions. The base oils and additives typically used in engines, as well as hydraulic and transmission oils are blended in order to deliver the intended lubricant performance for various environments. It’s important you use the correct oil for your engine so that your vehicle can receive its benefits such as longer engine life, smoother running, and better return on your investment.


Motor Oil vs. Diesel Oil

Just like regular gasoline engines, diesel engines also need regular maintenance. One of the tasks that need to be performed is changing the lubricating oil to ensure that your vehicle’s parts run smoothly. If you can change the oil on a gasoline engine, know that it’s possible to change the oil on a diesel as well. You only need to know of its differences.

1. Purpose and Function

The main function of engine oils is to protect your engine from wearing by reducing the friction between its parts. Other than that, engine oils can also neutralize acidic degradation, remove contaminants, prevent the formation of deposits, protect against rust and corrosion, and cool down lubricated surfaces.

Due to the fact that diesel fuel is also called diesel oil, it’s important you are aware that the oil you have to change is not the fuel oil but the oil that serves as a lubricant for the engine. This means having to use lubricating oils that are formulated specifically for diesel engines and not gasoline engines. Once you realize the difference, it worth mentioning that the process is actually similar to conventional vehicles but on a diesel, you’ll have to do it more often.

2. Catalytic Converter

The porous metal filter found along the exhaust line between the muffler and the engine is called the catalytic converter. This quickens the process of converting toxic emissions into benign products. However, some emissions can change the ability of the converted to perform this catalysis, such as phosphorous, zinc, and lead. When the catalytic converter malfunctions, expect your car to fail on emission testings.

Diesel engines don’t use the same catalytic converter type, which means that diesel oil has higher amounts of zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate (ZDDP) compared to gasoline engine oil. ZDDP has both phosphorous and zinc, and this is the reason why diesel oil shouldn’t be used in gas engines.

3. Viscosity

Diesel oil is more viscous, which means it is thicker or heavier. It needs to be more viscous because there’s more space between crankshaft and rod bearings in a diesel engine. If you use thin oil, it will only drain from these wide space. On the other hand, using an oil that’s too thick on a gas engine will make it run hotter. Know that heavier viscosity is damaging for a gas engine in low temperatures and on startup. There’s also a chance of losing the oil’s compression, which means its circulation into the engine will become slower than usual.

4. Replacement Intervals

Diesel oil lasts longer because it contains more additives. With more additives, diesel oils can make your vehicle run farther before it lowers to a level of insufficiency for a gas engine. The right viscosity at the right temperature prevents strain and engine wearing.

5. Level of Additives

As mentioned, diesel oil has more additives and detergents. This is because it needs to battle out the higher soot levels common in diesel engines. In a gas engine, the high concentration of detergent allows for the removal of deposits on the cylinder wall that helps seal the combustion gases, which is bad news for your vehicle. When this happens, there’s a chance you’ll damage the catalytic converter or cause your engine to smoke from the inside.  

6. Application

If your gasoline engine is heavily modified in order to produce more horsepower, a diesel oil can be very beneficial. Modified engines often need higher viscosity in order to handle the increased force your vehicle is trying to put out. If you have these needs, you can always rely on diesel oils.

If you have a gasoline-powered application, however, you best stick with motor oils. This type of oil is formulated specifically for this application enough to get your engine up and running.


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