7 Tips to Keep Your Diesel Engine Running in Tip-Top Shape

Maintaining your diesel engine is different from maintaining the engine in a gas-powered vehicle. Unlike gas engines, diesel engines don’t have electrical ignition parts like plugs and wires, or moving parts like distributor rotors that can wear down. Because of this, diesel engines are overall less costly to maintain.

They do, however, require regular maintenance, mostly in the form of frequent oil and filter changes. Getting lazy with oil changes can prematurely age a gas engine but it can kill a diesel engine. Filter changes are just as important. Dirty fuel can clog a diesel’s fuel injection system so it’s important to have the filters changed regularly.

Here are our 7 tips to keep your diesel engine running in tip-top shape:

1.       As mentioned, get frequent oil and filter changes. Check your vehicle’s manual for frequency suggestions but most diesel drivers agree on somewhere between every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on how you use your vehicle.

2.       Make sure the oil filters you use meet or exceed the OEM filter recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

3.       Whenever you stop at the pump for fuel try to add a bottle of diesel treatment. This helps keep impurities in the fuel from reaching your engine.

4.       Your truck is only as strong as its weakest link so make sure you invest in good diesel performance parts.

5.       Avoid idling for long periods of time.

6.       Have the engine’s water separator drained.  The water separator collects water from the fuel and is usually located near the fuel filter. If your diesel vehicle doesn’t have one, you can have one installed and save money on potential repairs. Airdog and FASS are two great manufacturers of Water/Fuel Separators.

7.       Gaskets are exposed to extreme operating conditions so make sure to check in on them. If you find a leaky gasket, replace as a set. Usually if one is leaky, the others aren’t far behind.

Follow the above 7 tips to not only aid in the performance of your diesel vehicle, but also to improve its longevity.

23 thoughts on “7 Tips to Keep Your Diesel Engine Running in Tip-Top Shape

  • July 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm
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    I agree with the gaskets. It is imperative to change everything even if you notice that just one is leaking. Like the article said, it is most likely that the other will soon leak as well.

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  • January 30, 2013 at 5:55 pm
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    I learned a lot from this site this is very useful to me.

    Reply
  • July 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm
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    Hi there!

    Thanks for the post “7 Tips to Keep Your Diesel Engine Running in Tip-Top Shape”. I found it very helpful and expect other will find it useful too.

    Cheers,
    Mike

    Reply
  • April 24, 2014 at 4:56 am
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    I have just purchased my first used diesel truck. Your tips will be very helpful to me. Thanks!

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  • August 23, 2014 at 5:31 pm
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    I OWN A 2005 F-250 SUPER DUTY FORD 6.0 I REPLACED STOCK EXHAUST TO 4 INCH EXHAUST PIPE KEPT THE MUFFLER AND INSTALLED A COLD AIR INTAKE.I ALWAYS CHANGE OIL AT 3500 TO 4500 MILES AND OIL FILTER ALWAYS. THE AIR FILTER IS CLEANED EACH TIME. STILL HAVE GREAT POWER AND NO SMOKE. I RUN A FUEL ADDITIVE ALSO AND CURRENTLY HAVE 182640 MILES ON THE TRUCK. I WOULD PUT THIS 6.0 AGAINST ANY MOTOR OF SAME SIZE NO MATTER THE MAKE. THANKS FORD!

    Reply
  • September 8, 2014 at 3:54 am
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    Quick question, if I am using performance oil like Royal Purple or Schaeffer’s, can I extend the life of oil changes?

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    • September 8, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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      Hi Brian,
      Yes, you can safely extend the life of your oil changes when using a quality synthetic oil such as Schaeffer’s oil. Give us a call if you have any questions.

      Reply
  • November 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm
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    I have had my 2011 Silverado 2500 Duramax diesel for ~ 6 weeks and I love it. I bought it to haul my trailer (a fifth wheel) and right now I am getting ~ 15 mpg, not hauling. This article is just what I needed, besides my owner’s manual, to help me maintain the truck in tip top condition. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • January 27, 2015 at 8:28 pm
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    I never had a diesel before I want one but not sure if it’s for me can I get some feed back on should I get gas are diesel I also pull a bumper pull horse trailer

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    • April 7, 2015 at 11:30 am
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      Diesel is the best option for anyone towing. A diesel engine is designed to do work and most people see significant fuel savings running a diesel vs a gasoline truck. Gasoline engines are not quite as efficient when towing plus diesel has 15% more energy per gallon of fuel. That is one of the reasons diesel is more expensive, it is a heavier fuel and costs a bit more to move truck around.

      Reply
  • March 24, 2015 at 12:54 am
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    I just bought my first diesel truck. It is a 95 gmc 1500 with 96,xxx miles. As far as im concerned it runs perfectly but i dont know anything about diesel engines or proper maitenance. These tips helped a lot but im curious as to what “tune ups” i should get done to make sure it is running at its best. Thanks

    Reply
    • April 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm
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      Hi Aaron,
      I would recommend giving us a call. Our diesel techs can give you some additional tips and explain the “tune ups.”
      888-99DIESEL(993-4373)

      Reply
  • August 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm
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    This is great tips. I’m picking up my 2006 Ford F250 Lariat diesel. This will be my first diesel truck.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2015 at 8:31 pm
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    This information has helped a lot towards my gas vs diesel dilemma. A friend claims there are different types of diesel fuel and I should get a truck that is a 2005 or earlier because that diesel fuel is easier to find. Any truth to this? I’m looking to buy a truck to haul a camper across the US and Canada. I’m currentlylooking at a 2005 F350 6.0
    Thanks

    Reply
  • November 12, 2015 at 6:53 pm
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    Planning on buying my first diesel the day after tomorrow! 1991 F-250 International 7.3! This is my first exposure to diesels. We pull horses all the time and I’ll be using it as a plow truck as well. All of the above is what persuaded me to go the diesel route. Any advice for checking this truck out? It’s got 70k miles on it, a little rusty (in Michigan), but sounds great. Could use a few words of wisdom for my first look at it though.

    Reply
  • January 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm
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    This artical is amazing I dont drive a truck but i drive a hachback with 1400cc diesal engine its only done 30000 km i drive it very carefully keep cheking things what i find might be incorect . change my oils and filters on time clean the air filter my self when i get time or after a long drive. every thing is perfect but sometime i feel my engine gives me a lot of Knoking sound . and i dont know why . even i dont know is it good or bad . please help .

    Reply
  • June 1, 2016 at 3:01 pm
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    I love your tip about making sure that you have the best parts for your diesel because your engine is only as strong as the weakest link. I drive a Ford F-150 and I know that I need to replace a belt on the engine along with the fuse box. I’ll have to do some research to find quality replacements so that it can run properly and to its full potential.

    Reply
  • August 8, 2016 at 8:28 am
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    Hi
    I recently bought a second hand diesel Truck…
    this article is a great guide, however, kindly explain a little more on “5. Avoid idling for long periods of time.”

    i usually idle the engine for about 5-7 minutes in the morning for it to warm up since i read in another forum that driving a cold diesel engine is bad for the vehicle.

    so what is considered a long time for idling?

    Reply
  • October 17, 2016 at 6:10 pm
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    I just got my son an old Ford p/u. It has a diesel in it. So here’s my question. This may be stupid, but I’m being serious. I read that it’s important to not let the fuel get too low – that it’s bad for the engine. Is this true? Thanks for the help.

    Reply
    • October 28, 2016 at 9:11 am
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      The main reason you would not want fuel to get to low is to not have the chance for air to get into the fuel system. Especially these newer trucks that are running high pressure common rail fuel systems. The air can be detrimental to the fuel system.

      Reply

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