One word you can use to describe a diesel engine is “longevity.” No matter what make or model you have, we think of diesel engines as these powerful, sturdy, reliable machines that last decades. The best thing is that these views aren’t unfounded, and we can make diesel engines last for that long.
As long as you take good care of your machines and perform regular maintenance, it may surprise you how much longevity you can get out of your engine. To truly get the most out of everything your machines have to offer, here are some of the most important maintenance tips for diesel engines and how they can help you keep things running.
Regularly Clean Your Engine
It's always a good idea to keep your engine clean. No matter what type of vehicle you're driving, you will kick up dirt, dust, and other debris from the road. Your engine also has a lot of fluids and oil running through it, which may cover your machine in layers of soot and other irritants you don't want to deal with.
Aside from maintaining the good condition of your engine, it’s advantageous to keep it clean to identify any future leaks or problem areas that may arise.
Salt is a common concern if you use a diesel engine in your boat or drive in colder climates with a lot of snow. Clean the salt off your engine to reduce the exposure time and help reduce the risk of rust and deterioration. This will increase the overall lifespan of your engine significantly.
Maintain Your Radiator and Coolant
Remember that diesel runs hotter than gasoline, so it’s imperative to take precautions and avoid your engine overheating. Overheating can cause immediate and long-term damage to your engine and create costly problems that shorten its lifespan.
To avoid warping and damaging parts of your engine, you want to keep your radiator in good condition. As your engine uses coolant to pick up the heat, it goes through the radiator, which cools down by air blowing through your vehicle's front grill. Because the radiator takes in all the heated coolant, it's likely to wear down over time. We recommend checking your radiator and flushing out your coolant system every 50,000 miles.
Coolant becomes more acidic the longer it runs through your system. When you inspect your radiator, it’s a good idea to flush out your coolant. Replacing it keeps your system in better condition.
Fix Your Filters
When you consider the most important maintenance tips for your diesel engine, you don’t want to neglect your filters. Your air filter is the first one you want to keep an eye on. The air that runs through your engine combines with the fuel, and that's an essential part of the combustion that keeps your engine running. Naturally, the air filter helps remove dirt and grime from the air so that what goes into your engine is cleaner.
The more your air filter collects, the harder it is for air to go through it, which means your engine puts out more power than it needs to in order to achieve a weaker result. Frequently, you may notice your engine feeling a bit weaker than expected, and sometimes that's a simple matter of cleaning or replacing the air filter. A good rule of thumb is to clean out the air filter every 10,000 to 12,000 miles to help ensure the clogs don’t become too much of a burden.
Your diesel engine also has a fuel filter. Newer engines may have two separate fuel filters that collect different amounts of pollutants and irritants found in the fuel. It's also a good idea to separate these filters every 10,000 to 15,000 miles and check for any solid contaminants in your fuel. While your engine may have two filters, and one may have a more considerable build-up, we recommend changing both filters simultaneously to maintain consistency between the two and reduce any potential confusion about when you changed one but not the other.
Get Oil Changes
Oil is an essential feature of any engine. The oil typically acts as a lubricant to keep vital pieces moving smoothly; without fresh, clean oil, the parts may grind together. That grinding quickly causes damage and can lead to costly repairs, so it's something to avoid.
Diesel engines may require more frequent oil changes than traditional gasoline engines, but a safe window to consider is every three months or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you perform more labor-intensive driving or use your diesel engine for heavier equipment, we suggest aiming closer to the 3,000-mile mark.
Always Mind Your Fluids
Many of the essential maintenance tips for your diesel engine are things you want to check after thousands of miles, but some things you should always keep a closer eye on it. Aside from your oil and engine coolant, several vital fluids help keep your engine running.
You want to maintain diesel exhaust fluid and even wiper fluid in the event of a dusty road or other obstructions while you’re driving. We suggest opening the hood and checking that your engine’s vital fluids are at suitable levels every two to three weeks.
Maintain Your Exhaust System
In many ways, what comes out of your engine is as important as what goes into it. Watching your exhaust system can help you identify specific problems. Do you notice more smoke than usual, or is it an unusual color? When particles in your engine heat up, they may expel as ash and carbon monoxide. Like your air and fuel filters, your diesel engine has a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that helps maintain your exhaust. If you notice any abnormalities, you may need to take care of them.
When you need diesel engine parts, ATL Diesel is here for you. We have several helpful blogs that cover proper maintenance, care, and history of diesel engines and a catalog with replacement parts, in-frame kits, and other essentials. For more information or to ask one of our specialists about a specific question, please contact us anytime, and we'd be happy to assist you.