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Common Issues With Small Diesel Engines

Did you know that diesel fuel produces 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline? And besides the fuel economy, diesel engines are easier to maintain. However, if you are the owner of a small diesel engine, there are some things that you should be aware of.

For instance, small diesel engines can be temperamental. So if you don’t care for them well, they can cause many problems. Also, smaller diesel engines are more prone to wear and tear because they have fewer cylinders.

But with proper maintenance, small truck engines can be tremendously reliable. So what are some of the most common problems with diesel engines?

Black Exhaust

Modern small diesel truck engines are much more efficient. They do not produce a lot of black smoke like older models. If you see black smoke coming from your exhaust, it is an indication that there is incomplete combustion happening in the cylinders.

In other words, fuel and air are not mixing in the proper proportions. When this happens, your small engine will burn more fuel and produce less power. If this is your current predicament, check the air filter to see if it is dirty.

If the filter is dirty, then clean or replace it.

The problem could also be emanating from a faulty fuel injector. Alternatively, dirt and debris could be clogging it. Whichever the case, have a professional take a look at it.

Difficult Start

Other common diesel engine problems revolve around hard starts. If your truck machine takes longer than usual to fire up, there is a problem. In most cases, this results from a glow plug not functioning as it should.

Usually, these plugs heat the air in the cylinders so the fuel can ignite easily. If they are not working, the fuel will have difficulty igniting, and your engine will take longer to start. If you think this is the problem, check the glow plugs and replace them if necessary.


Depending on how you use our diesel engine, it could be prone to overheating.

Overheating happens if you use it for long hours or under strenuous conditions. When this happens, the engine will lose power and eventually stop running.

To avoid this, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. If it starts to climb, shut down the engine and allow it to cool.

Coolant leakage is also common in diesel engines. So, check beneath the vehicle for leaks if your truck starts overheating.

 Apart from that, your thermostat or a faulty cooling fan could also lead to overheating. And seeking the help of a diesel engine expert can prevent misdiagnosis.

Loss of Power

Whenever you push down the accelerator, you expect your engine to respond. Unfortunately, you might notice that the response is not as immediate as it used to be. Nonetheless, this is a typical issue with small diesel engines and can be caused by a few different things.

The most likely culprits are a dirty air filter or fuel filter. A clogged air filter will restrict the amount of air flowing into the engine, which means less oxygen for the combustion process. A dirty fuel filter can have the same effect because it will restrict fuel flow to the engine.

Regardless of the cause, this is an issue you want to resolve quickly. Otherwise, your vehicle can lose power when you need it the most. If this happens on the highway, you risk getting involved in an accident.

Noisy Engine

A diesel engine will undoubtedly be much louder than its gasoline counterpart. However, you should still be able to hear it running smoothly. If it starts making strange noises, it indicates something is wrong.

The most common issue is the turbocharger, which can start whistling or whining if damaged.

Other potential causes of noise from engines include worn piston rings, failed bearings, and excessive buildup of carbon deposits. These issues can cause engine problems, so fixing them as soon as possible is essential.

Contaminated Fuel

Diesel engines are pretty sensitive. If you use the wrong fuel type, you will most likely get an unpleasant reaction from your machine. For example, using biodiesel in an engine that’s not designed for it can lead to catastrophic failure.

Using contaminated fuel will lead to your engine running erratically. It could also cause damage to the injectors, fuel pump, and other components. To avoid this issue, always check the quality of the fuel before putting it in your tank.

Even if you use regular diesel fuel, water or other particles can contaminate it. The recommendation is always to buy fuel from a reputable source. And seek expert help whenever you suspect your truck’s fuel might be contaminated.

Contaminated Lubricants

When your diesel truck sits idle for a long time, humidity can enter the crankcase and mix with the oil. This will cause the oil to become cloudy and can lead to sludge buildup. The sludge will eventually clog up the oil passages and prevent the oil from reaching critical components.

Furthermore, this could damage your engine and lead to costly repairs. To avoid this, always change your oil according to your owner’s manual schedule. And be sure to use high-quality lubricants to protect your engine.

Also, try and keep your truck active, circulate the oil and prevent it from breaking down. When not using it for a lengthy period, start the engine frequently. And allow it to run for a few minutes. The objective is to help keep the oil circulating and prevent sludge buildup.

Give the Best Care to Your Small Diesel Engines

In terms of power and reliability, there is no doubt that small diesel engines are formidable. But like any machine, they are still susceptible to common issues.

If you’re experiencing any of the issues we’ve outlined in this post, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We have a team of experts who can diagnose the problem and get your engine running smoothly again.

In addition, we also offer a wide range of diesel engine parts so you can keep your engine well-maintained and running like new. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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