One of the most popular MCI articles is How Car Engines Work, which explains the basic principles behind internal combustion, discusses the four-stroke cycle and talks about all of the subsystems that help your car’s engine to do its job. For a long time after we published that article, one of the most common questions asked (and one of the most frequent suggestions made in the suggestion box) was, “What is the difference between a gasoline and a diesel engine?”
Diesel’s story actually begins with the invention of the gasoline engine. Nikolaus August Otto had invented and patented the gasoline engine by 1876. This invention used the four-stroke combustion principle, also known as the “Otto Cycle,” and it’s the basic premise for most car engines today. In its early stage, the gasoline engine wasn’t very efficient, and other major methods of transportation such as the steam engine fared poorly as well. Only about 10 percent of the fuel used in these types of engines actually moved a vehicle. The rest of the fuel simply produced useless heat.