Diesel engines are different than gasoline engines, which means diesel engine maintenance requires a different approach. While gasoline engines use spark plugs to ignite the fuel, diesel engines rely on high compression. Although this means a diesel vehicle can’t speed up as quickly, it does allow for greater torque at a low speed.
Diesel engines are durable and long-lasting, especially when you take good care of them. They require less frequent oil changes and oil filter changes, but many drivers/operators also know the long-term benefits of the towing power, engine durability, and fuel efficiency. Here are a few other considerations regarding diesel engine maintenance and repair.
Diesel Engine Maintenance
To ensure your diesel engine will last longer and run better, follow these key maintenance tips:
Clean the Engine
Removing dirt and stuck-on grease will keep your engine running smoothly and help you avoid major diesel repairs. This is how to do it:
- Remove large pieces of debris caught under the hood or in the grill
- Warm up the engine to loosen the oil and grease residue
- With a plastic bag, carefully cover any sensitive components, like the alternator, sensors, air intake, power steering filler, etc.
- Apply engine degreaser and scrub the affected areas
- Rinse the engine with a hose (avoid power washing, which can damage sensitive components)
- Wipe up any standing water and allow the engine to dry
Check Your Air Filter
Your air filter guards against engine contamination, and if it’s dirty, it can’t do its job. If the engine isn’t receiving a steady flow of clean air, it has to work harder, reducing fuel efficiency and power output. As a general rule, you should replace your air filter every 12,000-50,000 miles or as specified by the equipment manufacturer.
Take Care of the Radiator
Diesel engines run hot, and the radiator’s job is to keep the vehicle cool. The coolant absorbs heat as it moves through the engine, then releases it into the air as it travels through the radiator. If your radiator isn’t working properly, you risk overheating your engine, which can damage various components and cause premature failure, resulting in major diesel engine repairs or irreparable engine failure.
Automobile manufacturers recommend ex-changing radiator fluid every 40,000 to 60,000 miles, though you may need to do it sooner if you notice steam under the hood or an orange or green fluid leak. During the radiator exchange process, your mechanic will pump a cleaning solution through the radiator to eliminate contaminants, then fill the system with fresh coolant.
Replace Fuel Filters
The fuel filters ensure the diesel fuel is clean when it enters your engine. A clogged filter reduces fuel flow to the engine. This will result in a loss of power, hard starting, or possible surging. Continued use of running a clogged fuel filter may eventually cause the filter to bypass and allow contaminated fuel into the fuel system, resulting in costly repairs. Contaminated fuel will damage the engine. This is easy to avoid by changing your filter every 10,000 miles or as mandated by the engine manufacturer.
Common Diesel Engine Problems
Proper maintenance is the best way to avoid major diesel engine repairs, but sometimes diesel engine problems arise despite your best efforts. These are some of the most common issues:
- Black Exhaust. This indicates an imbalance of air-to-fuel proportions, which could point to a problem with the air filter, injector, turbocharger, or EGR valve.
- Glow Plug Failure. These help your engine start in cold weather. The glow plugs may be worn out if you’re having trouble starting your vehicle in the winter.
- Hard Starting. This could indicate low engine compression or a problem with the fuel delivery system or maybe a worn-out battery.
- Loud Noises. Diesel engines are always louder than gasoline engines. Still, if you notice unusual or extra-loud noises, it’s likely a sign of a clogged or damaged fuel injector or a low level of engine oil in the engine.
- Oil Oxidation. If air gets into the oil system, it can interfere with proper lubrication. This is common if your vehicle hasn’t been used in a long time.
- Lack of Power. Several diesel engine problems can contribute to reduced power output, including clogged fuel filters, issues with throttle linkage or fuel injectors, or too much lubrication.
- Fuel Contamination. The most common fuel contaminants are soot, water, dilution, glycol, and high percentage of biofuel and any of them will wreak havoc on your engine. This is why it’s so important to keep your filters clean.
- Malfunctioning Storage Batteries. This can manifest as a problem with the starter system.
- Engine Lubrication of the Wrong Weight Viscosity. If you’re experiencing hard starting, your engine lubrication may be the wrong weight viscosity. Take care if you use a DIY approach to oil changes because winter and summer months require different viscosities in extremely colder climates.
- Increased Compression Ratio. High compression allows for a powerful, smooth-running engine; however, it can also interfere with fuel injection performance and cause the engine to knock more often.
- Humidity. Water in your system can get in the way of proper lubrication, leading to bigger problems and engine damage.
Diesel Engine Repair and Maintenance from Central Diesel
Regular diesel engine maintenance is the best way to ensure a long engine life. Central Diesel is here to provide diesel engine service to keep your vehicle at its best, ensuring safe, reliable transportation and towing for years to come. To learn more about how Central Diesel can help you maintain and repair your engine, contact us today or request a quote.