The reliability of diesel engines has led to their use in a multitude of transportation vehicles, such as passenger cars, trucks and buses, aircraft, marine vehicles and motorcycles. Diesel tends to be more economical at regular driving speeds, which is part of the reason for its widespread use. Anyone who has taken auto mechanic courses knows that diesel has its own distinctive maintenance needs, which are different from a gasoline engine. Knowing what these needs are is an important responsibility for anyone who owns or services diesel engine vehicles.
Oil and Filter Changes
Diesel is high in sulfur, and as we all know, sulfur smells terrible. The oil filter system is very important on a diesel engine, because of the sulfur residue and carbon which are created when fuel does not burn completely. A good filter will ensure that all corrosive particles are removed from the oil. Failure to change the oil routinely in a gasoline vehicle will cause the engine to age prematurely. In a diesel car, this same negligence can clog the fuel injection system, requiring owners to seek repairs from an automotive service technician. When changing the oil filter, it is important to ensure that it meets or exceeds the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) filter recommended for your vehicle type.
Early Warning System
The early warning system warns the driver of engine overheating due to a clogged oil filter—an issue which must be investigated and resolved as soon as possible. While a gasoline engine will generally shut off when overheating occurs, a diesel engine is more susceptible to damage. An overheated diesel engine can be caused by a low or exhausted supply of coolant, which may in turn be caused by a coolant leak. It’s important to check the early warning system on a regular basis to ensure that it is functional, as driving with an overheated engine may lead to damages that can run as high as 5,000.
Bleeding the Fuel System
Along with changing the fuel filter to prevent build-up in the fuel injectors, it is crucial to the longevity of your diesel engine that you bleed the fuel system. When you change a diesel fuel filter or disrupt the fuel system, air gets trapped. If you try to start the engine when air is trapped, this air will act as a lock and prevent the proper amount of fuel from going into the cylinder. Diesel engines on marine vehicles will often have a self-bleeding system; however, for automobiles, the process may involve loosening the air bleed plug to ensure that fuel has a free flow.
Diesel engines are already present in 25% of the vehicles driven in Europe. Although there are fewer diesel engines in use in North America, anyone pursuing an auto career will tell you that those numbers are on the rise. It’s more important than ever for technicians and mechanics to understand the difference between servicing diesel and gasoline engines.