Three Preventable Diesel Engine Problems

A recent study, released in 2013 by the Car Care Council, shows that 77% of vehicles on the road today are in need of servicing. Neglecting maintenance efforts and expenses can lead not only to higher repair costs later on, but even to complete breakdowns that strand you miles from cell service. Diesel engines are relatively quite durable, but care and regular checkups are still necessary to keep them reliable and healthy. Here are three engine problems you can prevent and the steps you can take to do so.

1. Fuel gelling

When the temperature drops low enough to cause your fuel to gel, solidified diesel can clog up your fuel system (including the fuel pump, fuel filter, and fuel injectors). To prevent this, fuel providers typically "winterize" diesel by incorporating additives so it can withstand colder weather. The ratio of additives is adjusted according to the local climate, but in an unusually cold year this may not be sufficient to keep the fuel from gelling. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and keep an anti-gel additive on hand so you can mix it in before uncharacteristically cold temperatures arrive. Using a block heater as an additional precaution is also recommended.

2. Excessive Engine wear

Oil changes are one of the most frequently recommended maintenance steps, and with good reason. Failing to change your oil frequently enough leads to faster wear on vital engine parts, causing them to fail and potentially racking up a really big repair bill. Despite the necessity of keeping engine oil in good shape, many drivers neglect it altogether. According to the Car Care Council, engine oil is one of the top problem areas, with 22% of cars requiring oil maintenance. This means that potentially one in five cars on the road needs an oil change and their owners don't even know it.

If you're new to diesel engines, you may not be aware that they can require more frequent oil changes and oil filter changes than gasoline-powered cars. This is because a diesel engine gathers more "blowby" (contaminants created when oil mixes with water condensation inside the engine), so the oil goes bad faster. Schedule oil changes with your mechanic so you won't accidentally neglect this all-important step.

3. Engine overheating

Rings, pistons, cylinders, and other engine parts can all be damaged when a diesel engine overheats. The good news is that one of the commonest causes of engine overheating is low coolant. So don't let your car be the 1 in 5 that has "low, leaky, or dirty" cooling liquid. You can check your coolant yourself or ask your mechanic to check it while your car is in the shop for an oil change.

With these maintenance practices, you can keep your engine out of the high-risk zone for fuel gelling, excessive wear, and overheating. Schedule oil changes at the frequency recommended by your manufacturer, and to guard against less common problems, use the opportunity to include regular check-ups by your trusted mechanic, one like Independent Diesel Sales Ltd, while the car is being serviced.