The Basics of Diesel Truck Maintenance

NWMS shows you the basics of diesel truck maintenance

Don’t Skimp on Diesel Truck Maintenance

No matter what kind of vehicle you drive, there are a lot of moving parts that you need to take care of. This is especially true for diesel engine maintenance. Diesel trucks sport a number of benefits over gasoline-powered trucks, like longer lifespans, better fuel economy, and improved torque. However, that means they need a little more care. If you want to learn some tips and tricks about diesel truck maintenance, keep reading!

The Difference Between Gasoline Engines and Diesel Engines

what's the difference between diesel and gas engine trucks?

Before we get into what you should do to improve the lifespan of your diesel engine, we should note what the difference is between diesel engines and their more common counterparts, gasoline engines.

Both engines are internal combustion engines, which means that they change fuel into energy through combustion. Three things happen in gasoline engines: fuel mixes with air, that mixture is then compressed by the engine’s pistons, and then it is ignited when it meets the sparks created by the spark plugs.

However, in diesel engines, the operation is a little different. Before anything is introduced, the air entering the engine is compressed. At this point, fuel is injected. This works because air heats up when it’s compressed, which then causes the fuel to ignite.

It’s up to you to decide whether a gasoline-powered vehicle or a diesel-powered vehicle is a better fit for your needs, but there are a few things you should know. Diesel engines tend to last longer than their gasoline counterparts, but in turn, they require more intensive maintenance. 

Between the improved fuel efficiency and better torque, many people decide that a diesel engine is worth more regular maintenance. If that person is you, let us pass along some essential diesel truck maintenance tips! 

Keep Your Engine Clean

ask NWMS about diesel truck maintenance

Many people consider cleaning an engine to be a nuisance chore, so it tends to go overlooked. But trust us, this part of your diesel truck maintenance is absolutely vital to making sure you get the most out of your engine!

Dirt and grime build-up is terrible for your truck engine. They have a major effect on the engine’s lifespan as well as fuel efficiency, which was probably one of the reasons you decided to get a diesel engine in the first place. If you live somewhere that deals with harsh winters (like our native Washington State), you’re also prone to more salt exposure. Salt is truly a truck killer because it intensifies rust and corrosion on any metal surface it touches.

diesel truck maintenance is no joke

Have we spooked you enough? Keeping your engine clean is no joke, and at the end of the day, it’s worth the effort. So, what tools do you need to keep in your engine cleaning kit?

  • A toothbrush will go a long way in cleaning all the twists and turns and hard-to-reach spots in your engine bay.
  • Similarly, you need a moist sponge to help wipe down dirty areas. Make sure to consult your owner’s manual about parts that are sensitive to moisture.
  • You also want a special degreaser that is sensitive enough to degunk your engine without dissolving anything else.

This should go without saying, but don’t dive in until you’re sure everything is cooled down in there. Also, make sure to wear things like gloves and googles- your truck engine is important, but your safety and health are more important!

Change Your Oil, Often

be sure to change your oil as often as possible as a part of your diesel truck maintenance

You have to keep current with your oil changes as part of routine maintenance, no matter what kind of vehicle you drive. The reason we bring it up here is that, typically, if you drive a diesel vehicle, you have plans to make use of its improved fuel efficiency and towing capacity. In other words, you want this truck to be a workhorse or you want it to be an offroad beast.

If you look at most owner’s manuals, they will tell you to change your oil between every 5,000 and 6,000 miles. However, when you use your truck for heavy-duty purposes, we recommend changing it closer to every 3,000 miles. The last thing you want is overused oil to gunk up your engine because replacing a diesel engine can be outrageously expensive.

Keep an eye on Air and Fuel Filters

keep an eye on air and fuel filters with your truck maintenance

Because of the way diesel engines work, replacing your air and fuel filters becomes twice as important. There’s no recommended mileage for changing your air filters, so you have to keep a close eye on it yourself. Depending on where you live or work, there may be more or fewer contaminants in the air which will affect how often you change them.

Keep in mind that many diesel engines have two fuel filters. If you replace one, you should replace both. This gives you the most optimal output from your filters. Like any step in your diesel truck maintenance, you should check your owner’s manual for how often you should change them (most recommend every 15,000 miles). 

Other Important Fluids

there are other important fluids to keep an eye on as a part of your diesel truck maintenance

Your oil isn’t the only fluid you should keep an eye on. Because of the way they work, diesel engines run hotter than gas-powered engines. This heat can cause parts to warp in a way that can cause irreparable engine failure. In other words, stay current with your coolant!

As usual, check your owner’s manual to learn about the recommended coolant, how often it should be changed, and how often you should perform radiator exchanges. Coolant, if left sitting too long, can become acidic and cause just as many problems as an overheating engine. Don’t neglect your cooling system.

Some other fluids you should watch out for are:

  • Brake Line Fluid
  • Exhaust Treatment Fluid
  • Auto Transmission Fluid
  • Rear Differential Fluid
  • (For 4×4’s) Transfer Case Fluid and Front Differential Fluid
  • Window Washing Fluid

Take Diesel Truck Maintenance Seriously

Questions to Ask When Buying a Used Truck at Northwest Motorsport

It may seem like there is a lot of regular maintenance involved in taking care of a diesel truck, but auto maintenance is always cheaper than auto repair. Want to save time and money over the life of your truck? Be sure to stay on top of your diesel truck maintenance!

We’re passionate about trucks at NWMS, so naturally, our inventory is well equipped with trucks that run on diesel fuel. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered- check out this blog if you want to learn about the diesel trucks that will give you the most bang for your buck!