Essential Diesel Tips for Beginners
May 1st 2023
Source: Shutterstock.com / OlegRi
Ready to hit the road with your first diesel engine? Driving a diesel gives you the power to haul heavier loads at lower speeds than you would with a gas-powered vehicle. But all that power comes with extra responsibility.
Diesel engines vary from gas-powered vehicles in several ways. Do diesels have spark plugs? Diesel engines use glow plugs to heat incoming air and fuel, which is what powers the engine. They also require more regular preventative maintenance than traditional passenger cars because they need large volumes of highly pressurized oil to generate mechanical power. You’ll need to take regular steps to avoid damaging your vehicle, such as changing the oil, monitoring vehicle performance, and changing the various filters.
The good news is that diesel engines are extremely durable when they are well-maintained. The average diesel will usually last well over a million miles, which makes them an excellent investment. So, what do you need to know about driving a diesel? Use these essential diesel tips for beginners to start off on the right foot.
Monitor Your Exhaust
The exhaust coming out of the tailpipe can tell you a lot about what’s happening under the hood. If there is anything leaking into your fuel system, it will likely show up in the exhaust as blue or black smoke. All diesel engines use some type of exhaust after-treatment process to remove harmful pollutants and NOx from the atmosphere.
If this system breaks down, toxic smoke can come out of the tailpipe, thus making the air unsafe to breathe. Find out what kind of treatment your engine uses and the maintenance it requires. If the system uses an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler to reduce the temperature of the exhaust gas, remember to replace your EGR cooler when it ages. Excess towing and acceleration can cause the cooler to fail sooner than expected.
Source: Shutterstock.com / Photology1971
Check your coolant levels often to find out if you are leaking coolant into the crankcase or exhaust gas. Excess temperatures can also damage important parts of the engine.
Change Your Filters
Nothing will damage your engines like the spread of dirt, soot, and other particulate matter. The engine uses various filters to remove these particles from the air, fuel, and oil. Be sure to replace these filters at the recommended intervals or your engine will fill with dirt. The filters will eventually clog with time so that air and fuel can no longer reach the combustion chamber, which can cause the engine to seize. The filters are made with mesh wires that let the air/fuel pass through unabated, but excess carbon will stick between the gaps until the path is sealed. Use high-quality fuel to avoid filling your engine with toxic materials.
Check Oil Levels
You’re probably used to changing the oil on your car or truck, but this simple task takes on a whole new meaning when you’re driving a diesel engine. The oil in a diesel engine gets recirculated through the system many times over. It is what powers the fuel injectors that send fuel into the combustion chamber. Check the oil level regularly to avoid running low. And change it out completely six thousand miles or six months by emptying out the used oil and putting in a fresh batch. Don’t forget to change the oil filter as well to allow the recycled oil to move through the high-pressure oil pump. Only use high-quality oil to keep the parts in your engine clean and well-lubricated.
Source: Shutterstock.com / Toa55
You may need to change your oil more often if you do a lot of heavy towing and acceleration. The oil can also get contaminated if parts of your engine are dirty or start to rust. Diesel engines may last a while but the parts that make them run still need to be replaced or repaired at regular intervals. You can either take your vehicle to the mechanic for a tune-up every year or make the necessary repairs yourself at home to save money. Shop for replacement diesel products online to find everything you need to maintain your engine. Keep these tips in mind to avoid running into trouble during your first few years on the road. The more you maintain your truck, the longer it will last.