Diesel-powered Engine Maintenance Tips: Essential Things You Need To Know If You Own A Diesel-powered Vehicle

 If you own a diesel-powered vehicle, then chances are you chose it because of its power, durability, and better fuel economy. However, diesel cars require regular maintenance to run better and last longer. How you handle and take care of your vehicle will determine the kind of service that vehicle will give you.

Diesel vehicles are usually used for heavy-duty work. Some of these tasks include pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy loads. If this is an example of how you use your diesel vehicle, then you must ensure that you put in extra care for your car to remain in excellent performing condition.

The maintenance of diesel-powered engines is slightly different and cheaper than gasoline-powered vehicles. This is because there are differences between the two types of engines. For example, diesel-powered engines don’t usually use electrical parts in the ignition, nor do they contain moving parts like the distributing rotors that usually wear quickly.

While you can take your diesel car to a professional mechanic for servicing and maintenance, it’s always better to know some of the daily maintenance basics. These maintenance basics will ensure your engine is running at full capacity and ensure your engine lasts longer. They will also save you some dollars and downtime when you have to take it to be repaired when the car breaks down.

In this guide today, we’ve put together a summary of everything you need to know about a diesel engine and how to maintain it to ensure it works at full optimum level.

Major components of a diesel engine

Diesel engines are usually known for their durability and ruggedness, so they are mainly used for heavy-duty work. So what gives a diesel-powered engine its power?

A diesel engine is made up of three sections that allow it to function well. These are:

The structural parts – the structural part are essential because they provide a protective casing for the running parts and their functions to ensure the components are in place.

The running parts function is to convert power produced during combustion in the cylinders to ensure the engine is running.

The system – the system creates the conditions for the proper functions of the diesel engine. It also supplies air, turbocharging, removes the exhaust fumes, supplies, and injects fuel, cooling and lubricating the engine.

And here are the components of the diesel engine:

The engine block is made up of castings and plates, usually welded horizontally and vertically to increase strength and lend more support to your engine cylinder liners, heads, and crankshafts.

Bedplate is a metal plate that forms the foundation, which the diesel engine is created. The construction and the design of the bedplate must be stable and durable enough to ensure that it supports the crankshaft and the engine.

Cylinder liners – the cylinder liners are a type of bore where the engine’s pistons move back and forth, and they are made of materials strong enough to maintain high pressure and high heat,

Valves – the valves are located on the cylinder head, and their work is to ensure the smooth running of the diesel engine. It regulates the flow of fuel and air mixture inside the cylinder and expels gas outside the cylinder.

Valve guides – the valve guides are cylindrical-shaped metal used to conduct heat from the combustion process by expelling it out of the exhaust valve and into the cylinder head.

Piston – the diesel engine components compress the fuel and air mixture, then convert the fuel energy into mechanical energy. The power is usually transmitted to the crankshaft.

The fuel injection system – this component is made up of the fuel tank and the injector system. The diesel fuel system provides fuel to the engine for combustion during the stroke.

All these components are essential for the engine’s proper function, and if any of them are damaged, the diesel engine working process will be disrupted.

How to maintain your diesel engine

Although diesel engines don’t have spark plugs or distributors and therefore don’t require ignition tune-ups, you still need to ensure you have regular servicing for your vehicle to ensure it’s running at optimum levels.

Even with cleaner diesel fuel available today, which no longer requires diesel vehicle owners to bleed out excess water from the system, some cars need their water separators to be manually emptied.

It’s also recommended to have your diesel truck or 4WD checked by professionals as they usually have the proper diagnostic equipment, parts, and accessories, including the experience to do what’s required for your specific vehicle. Remember, for any parts and accessories, get them from a genuine dealer. They provide all the details and accessories you will need for your vehicle.

However, it is also suitable to conduct your share of ensuring your diesel truck stays on the road and in good working condition by doing the following:

Change the oil and oil filters frequently.

In a gasoline engine, failing to change the oil and oil filters frequently can wear down the engine quickly. However, if you fail to change the oil and oil filters in diesel-powered vehicles, it can destroy the engine. Old and dirty oil contains particles that can clog up and cause unnecessary friction on your engine’s system. It can also cause the engine to overheat because it can clog up the system disrupting fuel, oil, and water movement. 

It s recommended that you change your oil or oil filters every 3,000 to 5,000 miles; however, confirm with your vehicle’s manual to be sure. Signs that need you to change your oil are:

  1. If you notice an oil smell in the cabin of your vehicle
  2. If you hear a loud noise from your engine. This means that there’s friction between the metal parts of your engine.
  3. If the check engine light goes on
  4. When you dip the dipstick and notice that the color of your oil is not amber but dark

Inspect the glow plugs

Properly functioning glow plugs are essential to the well-being and performance of your diesel engine. The diesel engine system usually relies on glow plugs to produce the right amount of heat required for ignition. Inspect your glow plugs regularly, especially during the colder months. Here are few indicators that you have faulty glow plugs;

  1. The engine is hard starting – the first sign of faulty glow plugs is when your engine fails to start. In lower temperatures without proper functioning glow plugs, the engine may not reach the required heat to ignite the fuel and start the engine. If you check and notice no problems with your fuel or battery, check your glow plugs; it may be time for a change.
  1. Engine misfiring – the combustion process in diesel engines requires a high compression rate where fuel is injected at the right time and the correct amount. Then the diesel fuel is ignited, resulting in combustion. With faulty glow plugs, the engine chamber will not reach the required temperature.
  1. Decreased fuel efficiency –  if the engine cannot reach the required temperature because of faulty or damaged glow plugs, then the engine will work extra hard while using more fuel to meet the road’s demands. 
  1. Rough idling – if you have faulty glow plugs, then the engine becomes even harder to start as the temperatures drop, causing the engine to idle roughly.
  1. White smoke or black smoke emitted from your exhaust pipes

Monitor the engine’s gaskets

The gaskets on your diesel engine usually operate under pressure, so they should be checked on frequently. To ensure no leaks and complications, you should inspect all the mounting bolts regularly. 

If you notice that you have a leaking gasket, you should change all your gaskets because if one has started leaking, then the others are not too far behind.

Watch your coolant

The coolant in your diesel engine usually becomes acidic over time. Ensure that you change your coolant because it will start to rot out some of the cooling system parts, such as the radiator, which may add more repair costs when left for a long time. 

Check your owner’s manual the intervals you are supposed to change the coolant in your diesel engine. You can also check your coolant’s acidity levels to be sure if it’s time to flush it out.

Change your air filters regularly.

Air filters are used to prevent debris and particles from getting into your engine. a clogged and dirty air filter will let some of these particles pass through and get into your engine and may cause your engine to misfire. 

Depending on the environment you drive in, you may need to change your air filter more frequently. Don’t try to clean the air filter as this may prove ineffective you should always replace a dirty or clogged air filter with a new one.


To ensure that your diesel-powered vehicle lasts longer, it is always essential to maintain it. Check your oil, gaskets, air filters frequently to avoid the car breaking down or having problems.