Diesel engines offer a ton of great benefits. Diesel engines offer a high degree of fuel efficiency, longevity, and, often, torque — important for towing, quick starts, and climbing hills. Still — diesel engines, like their gasoline-powered counterparts, require some important maintenance.
Proper diesel truck maintenance isn’t just about keeping your engine going for a long time, either. With regular maintenance, diesel owners can look forward to vehicles that are safer, perform better, and get better fuel mileage. But what does maintenance in a diesel engine look like? How often does it need to be carried out, and why is it so important? If you’re curious, read on.
The Importance of Regular Maintenance in Diesels
First let’s explore why diesel engine maintenance is so important. Like gasoline engines, diesel engines need to be maintained periodically. The potential benefits of proper regular maintenance can include:
- Engine Life: Maintenance to address common issues such as the buildup of debris in air filters, the thickening of oil as it becomes dirty, inefficient cooling, and other issues that arise over time can help keep your engine functional for a longer time over the lifespan of the vehicle. Diesel engines, when properly maintained, can often outlast their gasoline-fueled counterparts — but maintenance is an essential part of the equation.
- Fuel economy: One of the reasons diesels are so beloved is their potential for great fuel mileage. However, over time as oil accumulates contaminants, air filters become clogged, and fuel filters accumulate contaminants, diesels can experience performance issues including poor fuel economy. Proper regular maintenance can help prevent and address issues such as these, helping you keep your engine running efficiently.
- Safety and Performance: A well-maintained engine is often a far safer engine. Proper maintenance is crucial, not only for ensuring longevity of your engine but safety as well. Regular maintenance can help you identify and address problems sooner, making your vehicle safer.
Common Diesel Maintenance Considerations
So what might diesel maintenance involve? We’ve discussed a few of the factors that can lead to poor performance, reduced fuel economy, and a shorter lifespan, but let’s dive into some of the common maintenance considerations diesel owners might take and why they’re so important.
Cleaning and Replacing Fuel Filters
Since diesel fuel can be prone to contamination, diesel engines typically have fuel filters. These filters are designed to remove harmful contaminants before the diesel makes it into the engine. Still, they require regular maintenance. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often a fuel filter should be replaced, or how it should be cleaned. When in doubt, take your vehicle to an experienced diesel mechanic who can further inform your approach or help you clean or replace it.
Changing The Oil Filter and Oil
Like gasoline-fueled engines, diesel engines require lubrication. Also like gasoline engines, the oil that we use to lubricate the engine is prone to contamination over time, becoming more and more viscous as it becomes dirtier. Regular oil changes are essential, enabling your engine to run easier. Consult your owners manual to determine how often oil filters should be changed. When in doubt, take your vehicle to a diesel mechanic, who can help you determine when the right time to replace it is, and can help you replace it if needed.
Checking The Coolant System
Engine coolant is essential; this fluid helps control heat that your engine generates and keeps the engine from failing due to overheating. However, coolant lines can falter over time. If coolant is allowed to leak into your engine bay, it can quickly cause corrosion and other issues that can significantly damage your vehicle. Be sure to get your coolant system inspected regularly, and when in doubt, consult with an experienced diesel mechanic.
Cleaning or Replacing The Air Filter
Like gasoline engines, the fuel is only part of the equation; internal combustion engines also rely on air to work. Here’s where the air filter comes in — in order to mitigate the risk of airborne contaminants like dust and debris entering your engine, the air filter allows air through while trapping contaminants. Air filters typically require regular maintenance — such as cleaning or replacement. Consult your owner’s manual to determine how often it should be cleaned or replaced, and when in doubt, consult with an experienced diesel mechanic who can help you change your filter out or recommend a frequency.
Exhaust System Maintenance
Diesel exhaust systems can be quite complex, necessitating careful maintenance over time. Many diesel vehicles are equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) system. These can be self-cleaning through a system called regeneration, or they may require manual cleaning. If yours has a regenerative system, consult your owner’s manual to determine how regeneration is achieved; it may be necessary to drive a certain speed or for a certain length of time.
Additionally, regular inspection of your exhaust system and consultation with an experienced diesel mechanic can be important. Other systems that may require maintenance in your diesel exhaust system may include an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System, or a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) System, both designed to reduce harmful pollutant emissions such as that of NOX (Nitrogen Oxides). Consult your owner’s manual to determine how to care for your exhaust system, and when in doubt, be sure to consult with an experienced diesel mechanic who can perform an inspection and recommend maintenance.
The Bottom Line
While diesels offer a ton of great benefits, regular proper maintenance in accordance with recommendations from your owner’s manual and consultation with experienced diesel mechanics can be key to their success. Proper maintenance is an important part of keeping your diesel vehicle running its best and safe.
Some common diesel truck maintenance considerations include fuel filters, air filters, oil changes, the coolant system, and your exhaust system.
In addition to being aware of these considerations, it’s helpful to take your vehicle in to an experienced diesel mechanic regularly for comprehensive inspections and to ensure that there aren’t additional maintenance needs specific to your vehicle. Always consult your owner’s manual for maintenance recommendations, and when in doubt, consult with an experienced mechanic.
If you’re in the DFW area and looking for trustworthy and experienced diesel repair services, don’t hesitate to get in touch. At Hawkeye Diesel Repair, we’re passionate about the unique facets of diesel engines that make them great.
We offer diesel repair services for Dallas, Fort Worth, Denton, and Weatherford, and we even have mobile repair services if you need us to come to you! Call us, or visit us online today to learn more!
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