There is one prominent reason that big rigs use diesel engines rather than gas engines; power. A diesel can produce considerable more power while also saving fuel. However, all engines need proper service in order to continue working at top levels. Here are some basic facts about diesel engines and tips for maintenance.
A diesel engine generates more heat than a gas engine due to compression. Diesels operate at higher compression ratios compared to gas engines and the extra compression builds more heat. That is one reason why the truck intercoolers are so important on these rigs. If the engine gets overheated it can be a costly repair.
Watching the Air
Due to the higher compression a diesel engine relies on more air flowing through the engine in order to create combustion. But dirt in the air can cause mechanical problems. In order to make sure the air filter is always clean most tractor trailer operators use some kind of filter indicator outside of the air filter housing. When the indicator turns a particular color then the driver instantly knows it is time for a new filter.
Early Warnings on Heat
Since the truck intercoolers require careful monitoring to protect the engine most trucks are outfitted with some type of warning system. This is usually a gauge in the dash with a light, an alarm or both to warn the driver when the temperature gets too hot. This warning system needs to be checked on a regular schedule to make sure it works properly.
Getting the Right Plugs beforewinter
Although a diesel engine does not have high levels carbon monoxide from its exhaust, they do produce the familiar black smoke. The dark soot is a result of dirt in the injectors that produce less than perfect combustion. Before the heavy winter sets in it is recommended to check the glow plugs and injectors to make sure they are all working properly. Starting a diesel with bad glow plugs can be next to impossible in the winter.
Keeping the Engine Warm
While it is important that the truck intercoolers are working properly to prevent overheating, in the winter the engine may not get enough heat to start. Many drivers hook up an electrical heater that keeps the cylinder block warm during the bitter winter weather. Some truckers prefer to use a heater element that runs along the heater hose.
Maintaining Clean Fuel
In order to avoid moisture in the fuel lines the fuel filters need to be checked and cleaned regularly. Keeping moisture out will prevent condensation in the fuel tank as well as in the cylinder heads which can cause serious damage.
It is important to remember that a tractor trailer is made up of several systems working together. The fuel system, truck intercoolers, and the main drive shaft all need to be working at top efficiency at the same time. If one system is damaged or left un-serviced then it can lead to bigger problems in a relatively short time.