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Diesel Engine Maintenance: Getting the Most Out of Your Truck

Diesel Engine Maintenance: Getting the Most Out of Your Truck

It’s no secret that the majority of US citizens are better acquainted with gasoline engines than they are with diesels. Only 2.8% of all registered passenger vehicle owners use number 2 diesel fuel, and even fewer know how to keep their diesel engines in good condition.

As all reputable diesel truck repair shops in San Diego will tell you, regular maintenance is critical if you want to keep your diesel engine running smoothly. If you don’t know how to do this, don’t worry. We’re here to help.

The following article will give you some vital pointers that you can use to conduct essential diesel engine troubleshooting and maintenance. We’ll also briefly touch on how often you should change diesel engine oil and how diesel engines deal with low temperatures.

Comparing gasoline and diesel engines

Believe it or not, the fuel being burned isn’t the biggest difference between these two engine types. In fact, their base architecture is mostly the same. What happens within the diesel’s cylinder, however, is vastly different from what occurs inside its gasoline-using counterpart.

The simplest way to explain the difference between gasoline and diesel engines is in terms of “fuel” and “air”. The functioning of a gasoline engine greatly depends on airflow, as it is essentially throttling air. Without the manifold vacuum this process creates, a gasoline engine cannot function.

Diesels are the opposite of that, as they actually throttle the amount of fuel that’s being injected. The air in a diesel engine simply follows suit without any need to be throttled. Unlike the gasoline engine, the diesel never creates vacuum within itself.

Are diesels more expensive to maintain?

Depending on the type of diesel vehicle, diesel engines generally don’t cost more in the long run than their gasoline equivalents. While diesel engines require you to replace oil, fluids, and filters more often, they also have a higher fuel efficiency. On average, a diesel truck gets 25-30% better fuel economy than a similar-sized gasoline vehicle.

What’s more, diesel engines use glow plugs instead of spark plugs. Because of this, they never require ignition tune-ups. Even better, diesel engines are built more sturdily because they have to withstand the rigors of greater compression. This means they don’t need major repairs as often as gasoline engines do.

Due to the way they burn fuel, diesels supply a lot more torque to the driveshaft than a gasoline engine ever could. This not only means they pick up speed faster from a standing start, they can also out-tow gas-powered trucks without losing out on superior fuel economy.

Do diesel engines require more maintenance?

Diesels have an entirely misplaced reputation for requiring more maintenance than gasoline engines. This is mostly because diesel engines need regular filter, oil, and exhaust fluid changes. The reality is that their rugged build saves you much more money in the long run because you don’t have to pay for expensive repairs.

Combined with their 25-30% fuel efficiency advantage, this means that your diesel truck will cost you a lot less to use and maintain than a similar gasoline truck would. Just keep in mind that maintenance schedules differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

For instance, certain Mercedes-Benz diesels utilize urea injection systems that have to be refilled every 10,000 miles. Volkswagen, on the other hand, urges a fuel filter change every 20,000 miles. Always take the time to acquaint yourself with your particular model’s maintenance schedule.

How do you maintain a diesel truck?

While diesels do not require expensive ignition tune-ups, they do need regular low-cost maintenance. This mostly comes in the form of frequent filter and oil changes.

Diesels are designed to be easy to maintain. Consult your owner’s manual for the correct procedure or, if you don’t have one, get a new manual from your local dealership’s parts department.

Typical maintenance procedure involves:

•Replacing the air filter

•Replacing the fuel filter

•Replacing the lubricating oil

•Bleeding the fuel system

•Checking the glow plugs

•Emptying the water separators

A word of warning: you shouldn’t try to adjust a diesel engine’s fuel injectors yourself. Luckily, you don’t have to. In a well-maintained vehicle, these injectors can last for 100,000 miles or more.

Are diesel engines environmentally friendly?

Like gasoline engines, diesel engines emit exhaust gases that can have a negative effect on Earth’s atmosphere. Thankfully, modern heavy duty diesel emission control strategies, such as those implemented by California Air Resources Board, use state-of-the-art diesel particulate filters that greatly reduce the amount of harmful emissions.

Diesel engines in the cold

Some people believe in a frustratingly persistent myth that states that diesel engines have troubles cold-starting in low temperatures. The truth is that diesel tends to jell at very low temperatures. What this means is that, at -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), some hydrocarbons in diesel turn gelatinous.

Many years ago, this may have been a concern. Today, modern glow plug technologies make sure that the battery is heated and that the fuel gets warm enough to allow vaporization. Gasoline doesn’t have this problem because, even at room temperature, gasoline is partially vapor.

This may seem like an advantage over diesel, until you remember that this also makes gasoline much more flammable, and therefore more dangerous to handle and use. Diesel isn’t anywhere near as volatile as that, making it much safer to handle.

Premier diesel truck repair shops in San Diego

Whether you’re a longtime diesel aficionado, or a new trucker looking to get the most out of his rig, you’ve come to the right place. Here at PCE, we take pride in being the best diesel truck repair and maintenance specialists in San Diego. During our 40+ years working in the industry, we have successfully tackled all diesel-related challenges.

Get in touch with us today, or visit the our diesel and motor division near the Southcrest Park Estates. Our polite and experienced representatives will gladly answer your questions and help you get your diesel truck in perfect working order in no time.

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Phone: (619) 235-0961
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San Diego, CA 92113
Phone: (619) 235-0961
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