If you've recently purchased your first diesel work truck, you might not be familiar with the unique requirements to maintain these vehicles. Although diesel engines have much in common with their gasoline counterparts, they aren't identical. Higher engine compression ratios and the nature of diesel fuel mean you'll need to keep a few extra things in mind.
On the other hand, diesel engines can be incredibly reliable, long-lasting, and efficient, making them worth the extra effort for trucks that need to work hard. Keep reading to learn about three unique service requirements that will keep your diesel truck putting in the work for years to come.
1. High Oil Capacity
Diesel engines require internal lubrication, just like gasoline engines. However, you may be surprised the first time you change the oil on your truck. Many diesel engines have drastically larger oil capacities than gasoline engines. For example, the 6.7L Cummins, a common engine found in various trucks, requires twelve quarts of oil for a routine change.
The high oil capacity in diesel vehicles is necessary to keep the engines reliable and efficient. High internal compression, greater likelihood of gas contamination, and high heat all add extra stress to the lubrication system. By using more oil, manufacturers can compensate for these drawbacks to keep your engine's internal parts safe for hundreds of thousands of miles.
2. Fuel/Water Separation
Fuel filters are another item that exists on both diesel and gasoline engines yet serves slightly different purposes. You can usually smell gasoline at the pumps because gasoline has a high vapor pressure. This pressure helps prevent water contamination from becoming a significant issue for most cars, but diesel engines don't have the same advantage.
Since water contamination can be an issue with diesel fuels, your filter needs to help keep this water from reaching the rest of your fuel system. Water can damage fuel lines or ruin expensive components such as injectors. As a result, changing your filter is crucial to keeping your diesel running. You may also need to empty your filter's water separator occasionally.
3. Diesel Exhaust Fluid
Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is part of the emissions system on any modern diesel truck. While fluid in your exhaust system might sound strange, it's a critical element for controlling emissions. In most cases, you can expect your truck's computer to prevent you from operating your vehicle if you run too long on DEF, even though its presence doesn't substantially impact engine performance.
How often you'll need to add DEF will vary depending on your driving habits and fuel capacity. Diesel engines "dose" DEF based on fuel usage, so you'll need to add this fluid more often if you drive more. Once your low DEF light comes on, add more exhaust fluid as soon as you can since your truck may enter a reduced performance mode when the level drops too low.
For more information regarding diesel service, visit an auto service.