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How Often Should You Do Diesel Engine Maintenance?

Did you know that diesel fuel contains approximately 10% to 15% more energy than gasoline? This means that vehicles with a diesel engine can travel about 20% to 35% farther on one gallon of fuel.

However, to get the most out of your engine, you have to keep up with diesel engine maintenance. Continue reading to learn all you need to know about diesel engine service and regular maintenance.

Regular Maintenance vs. Diesel Engine Maintenance

To understand diesel engine maintenance, you need to understand how it differs from the regular maintenance of a standard gasoline engine. The main differences relate to service costs, service frequency, and engine life.

Service Costs

A diesel engine vehicle may seem like a larger investment than a gasoline engine vehicle. While fuel and repair costs are higher in diesel engines, the overall cost of ownership isn’t higher than a gasoline engine.

The cost of ownership of a diesel engine is roughly the same as a gasoline engine and even lower in some cases. This is due to the service frequency and engine life cycle. 

Service Frequency

One of the benefits of diesel engine service is that it’s needed much less frequently than a gasoline engine. Diesel engines require service less frequently because they have thicker fuel and better thermal efficiency. 

These factors mean better overall performance, which leads to better fuel economy and lower operating costs. Even if up-front costs of ownership are higher, you can expect savings in engine upkeep for the life of the vehicle.

Life Cycle

Gas engines start wearing down between 100,000 and 150,000 miles. This is when the cylinders start wearing and car owners notice signs of decreased efficiency. The engine needs replacing or significant repairs at this point.

Diesel engines have a much longer lifespan and start wearing between 200,000 and 300,000 miles. They also have cylinders with removable liners that can be replaced once the engine starts to wear. 

What to Expect from Diesel Engine Maintenance

The timeline for diesel engine maintenance depends on different factors such as how far or frequently you travel and the type of vehicle you have. However, regular maintenance should include a few standard services.

Time or Miles Traveled

Regular maintenance and an engine tune-up are important for keeping your diesel engine in the best shape possible. You can use time or mileage to determine when it’s time for diesel engine maintenance.

Your overall vehicle should be serviced every 3,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. Some services need to be done less frequently, such as a transmission flush every 30,000 miles. 

Oil and Filter Changes

Some of the most important services for diesel engine upkeep are oil and oil filter changes. These help remove sludge, dirt, and other types of debris from your oil, which means better lubrication for your engine. 

Better lubrication and clean oil promote better efficiency and reduce the likelihood of engine problems. Dirty oil can damage engine parts, reduce fuel economy, and cause your engine to break down faster. 

Fluid Replacement

The cooling system in your vehicle is essential for preventing your engine from overheating. It’s also important to have the right ratio of coolant and water to maintain the right temperature.

Your engine’s coolant should be flushed and replaced every 30,000 miles or every 2 years. This clears the cooling system of debris that can cause damage to internal components.

Belt Replacement

Your engine’s belts keep it running smoothly. A damaged belt can lead to engine damage, especially if it breaks while the engine is running. Regular maintenance keeps belt timing and quality where it needs to be.

Signs of Diesel Engine Problems

While regular diesel engine maintenance helps prevent major problems, you should still understand the warning signs. The sooner you spot an engine problem, the sooner you can get it fixed and the less damage it causes.

Worsening Fuel Mileage

One of the signs that it’s time for an engine tune-up is worsening fuel mileage. If you drive a vehicle with poor fuel mileage you might not notice it getting worse right away. 

Try making a mental note of how often you stop for gas as part of your normal routine. As the number of fill-ups starts increasing, this can be a sign of worn internal components or other problems. 

Rough Idling or Difficulty Starting

Idling is when the vehicle is running but not in motion. Rough idling refers to different problems such as heavy tremors or idling up and down instead of staying consistent. It can also mean the engine is hesitating. 

These issues are caused by extra oil, malfunctioning injectors, problems with fuel compression, and more. They are all signs that it’s time for diesel engine maintenance before the problems get worse. 

Blue Smoke

Blue smoke from the engine compartment or the exhaust is problematic. It means that oil is burning where it shouldn’t be. Blue smoke is especially a problem in older vehicles or vehicles that are heavily used.

Oil leakage can come from a faulty fuel system or another engine component such as piston rings or valve seals. Fixing the issue can be as simple as removing excess oil and cleaning the engine or as complex as a rebuild.

Low Power

A loss or reduction in engine power is usually difficult to miss and is a sign it’s time for engine upkeep. If you’re dealing with low power, your vehicle will have trouble getting started and getting up to speed. 

If the loss of power is gradual, it may go unnoticed at first. The problem can come from worn-out engine components and a loss of compression. However, a diesel engine service can diagnose the issue for you.

Check Engine Light

Whether you notice symptoms of engine problems or not, you should never ignore a check engine light. Even if you think the light is faulty, it’s best to schedule diesel engine maintenance in case there is a bigger issue.

Keep Up With Diesel Engine Maintenance

Keeping up with diesel engine maintenance is the best way to keep your car in the best shape possible and avoid costly repairs. Use this guide to identify signs of problems and to stay up-to-date with your engine upkeep.

Get your diesel engine checked by scheduling an appointment for service.