Top Ten Basic Diesel Engine Maintenance Secrets
Thinking of switching
your gas engine to diesel engine? Consider these advantages:
Most diesel engine
fuel is 30% more efficient than gas powered engines. For example: on
those old Volkswagen diesel engines, they average about 45-50 miles
per gallon while newer models like TDIs can get over 60 mpg!
Unlike most gas
engines, diesel engines likes to run all the time. The engine life can
last between 300-400k miles. The last current world record was made
by MB (Benz) for two vehicles having 900k miles on the same original
Emit less carbon
dioxide and hydrocarbons over gas engines.
Diesel engine does
not require "Tune Ups" because it does not have spark plugs
which is a big plus in maintenance. All you need is to keep regular oil
and filter, air filter change at scheduled interval.
When it comes
to maintenance, how does diesel engine compare? Shown are some important
the gas engines, diesel engine has no electrical ignition parts like
plugs, wires and moving part like distributor rotor which is subject
to wear. These parts have a limited life and have to be changed on regular
basis. Because of this, this is one chore we dont have to worry
engines run at higher compression pressure than gasoline engines. Where
the highest compression for most high performance gasoline engines is
close to 200 psi, diesel runs almost 3 times that pressure. As a consequence,
more heat is generated putting extra demands on the engine cooling system.
Study shows diesel engines usually fail 50% more on cooling related
problems because it cannot stand prolong overheating. This is why the
cooling system is a high maintenance issue.
on basic diesel engine maintenance:
Do you notice that when your gas engine overheats, you can stop it and
rest the engine for a few minutes? Later you can re-start and the engine
will be fine. If similar situation happens with your diesel engine,
the engine is almost always damaged beyond repair. Knowing this tip
can save you a lot of head ache when you owned a vehicle with diesel
On some diesel engines, the cooling system uses a coolant filter to
control the acidity (or ph value) of the coolant. This filter ensures
that the cylinder block does not have a build up of corrosive particles
One advantage of using a coolant filter in your diesel engine is that
besides applying a coat of protective lining to the surface engine metals
(like your engine block), it also has an active anti-foaming chemical
agent that protects the liquid's surface tension and thus reducing the
creation of coolant bubbles. Since this chemical agent depletes over
time, the coolant filter must be replaced periodically.
3.) Gaskets on diesel
on engines must be monitored closely since they are exposed to extreme
operating conditions. If possible, all mounting bolts must be re-torqued
at regular intervals to prevent leaks especially in the combustion mounting
areas. This is also true for coolant hoses which can deteriorate quickly
if not secured properly. A lot of this is also caused by engine vibrations
which is common on diesel engines. Always replace a leaky gasket as
a set. If one starts to leak, the rest is not far behind.
4.) Since diesel
engines use a lot of air, greater attention is paid to the engine air
filtration. A common practice among truckers is to install a tell-tale
plastic indicator on the side of the air filter housing. The indicator
changes color as soon as the engine filter element becomes dirty. Cooling
this air is also critical especially if the engine is turbocharged.
On some high end diesel engines they are fitted with after coolers to
cool the air from turbo charger.
5.) The oil filter
selection is very important on diesel engines because of the bad elements
of sulfur residue and carbon created when fuel is not burn completely.
The filter used must meet or exceed the OEM filter recommended by
the vehicle manufacturer. This will ensure that all corrosive particles
are removed from the oil. Using synthetic oil will also help because
the additives in the oil will resist premature breakdown.
6.) Since the cooling
system is critical on diesel engines, it is important that an early
warning system should be in place. Located in the dash panel, the early
warning device must be easily seen and heard. If the engine has already
overheated and it was not caught on time, the engine could be damaged.
Most trucks have this feature in their dash and must be checked regularly
to see if early warning system works.
7.) The fuel system
maintenance is handled in various ways. Always keep the fuel tank
full to prevent condensation from building inside the tank which can
end up in the fuel injectors. This also requires changing the fuel
filters as recommended to prevent moisture build up. Some diesel engines
use 2 types of fuel filters to control the presence of moisture in
the engine. Some fuel tanks are also design with one way breather
vents for the moisture to escape. This vent should be checked occasionally
if there is a suspicion that it is restricted.
8.) Diesel engine
has very little carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas common to gasoline
engines. However, it produces a lot of black soot which is the result
of incomplete combustion. Most of this is caused by dirty injectors
and faulty injection timing that inject too much fuel. To ward this
off, glow plugs are used to heat the combustion chamber to assist in
burning the fuel. These glow plugs must be checked especially before
9.) During winter,
diesel engines are normally hard to start and the best way to remedy
this is to install an electrical heater to the cylinder block. Another
way is to install a heater element in series with the heater hose.
In extreme cases of hard starting, a starting fluid is sprayed on
combustion chamber but use it sparingly to prevent scoring the cylinder
walls at higher rpm.
10.) To prevent
engine cylinder block scoring, avoid prolong idle of your diesel engines.
A very common habit among drivers especially in winter... diesel engines
are made to idle for long hours to keep the cab warm. When diesel
engines are run longer in cold temperatures, insufficient lubrication
to the piston wall is the result which might lead to piston scoring.
It is better off shutting it down and having it plugged in to a coolant
heater which is a common practice used for gasoline vehicles in Canada.
With the cost
of fuel rising with no end in sight, diesel engine is a good alternative
to gasoline engines that must be considered. Knowing the basic diesel
engine maintenance is essential if you want to save money in vehicle
operation and cost.
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