Energy conservation and efficiency have always been the quest of engineers concerned with internal combustion engines. The diesel engine generally offers better fuel economy than its counterpart petrol engine. Even the diesel engine rejects about two thirds of the heat energy of the fuel, one-third to the coolant, and one third to the exhaust, leaving only about one-third as useful power output. Theoretically if the heat rejected could be reduced, then the thermal efficiency would be improved, at least up to the limit set by the second law of thermodynamics. Low Heat Rejection engines aim to do this by reducing the heat lost to the coolant. Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBCs) in diesel engines lead to advantages including higher power density, fuel efficiency, and multifuel capacity due to higher combustion chamber temperature. Using TBC can increase engine power by 8%, decrease the specific fuel consumption by 15-20% and increase the exhaust gas temperature by 200K. Although several systems have been used as TBC for different purposes, yttria stabilized zirconia with 7-8 wt.% yttria has received the most attention. Several factors playing important role in TBC life include thermal conductivity, thermo chemical stability at the service temperature, high thermo mechanical stability to the maximum service temperature and thermal expansion coefficient (TEC). This work mainly concentrates on the behaviour of three TBC powders under the same diesel engine conditions. This work finds out the best powder among yttria, alumina and zirconia to be used as a piston coating material i.e., the one resulting in lowest heat flux and low side skirt and bottom temperature has been chosen for the coating purpose. This work then analyses the coated sample for its surface properties such as hardness, roughness, corrosion resistance and microstructural study. This work aims at making it easier for the manufacturers choose the coating material for engine coating purposes and surface properties for operating them in their service period. © 2017 Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd.