Diesel trucks are awesome, we can all agree on that. But we can also agree that they’re a little more complicated than gasoline vehicles, and that would mean that caring for a diesel motor is crucial. It’s so crucial in fact, that a neglected diesel won’t last more than 300,000 miles, while a diesel truck that’s been properly cared for can run well even after 1 million miles.
Let’s get right into how to care for your diesel motor, so that your truck can reach the 1 million miles mark.
Having a regular maintenance schedule for your truck is the best way to make it last longer. Not only that, but your diesel is going to be much more reliable as well as powerful.
The oil and oil filter change is the most important piece of basic maintenance you can perform.
Over time, the thin oil particles that give the oil its viscosity get burned off easier than the thick particles. The oil then becomes thicker and because it cannot properly lubricate a diesel engine, which creates friction, the components start to rub against each other, and slowly break down. — Not changing your oil on time is a surefire way for premature engine failure.
The oil filter itself doesn’t have to be replaced every time you change the oil in your diesel engine but it is good practice. Many diesel truck owners replace the filter every other time they replace the oil. An oil filter costs next to nothing, and replacing it every time will help your engine operate more efficiently.
There are those who inspect the air filter for dirt and debris, and then decide whether a replacement is necessary, and there are those who follow a schedule. Either is fine, just make sure that you get the correct air filter for your conditions. Driving on dirty and dusty roads will require a filter with more folds in it and that has a lower rating for the size of particles it will filter out, but if you mostly drive on the pavement you can choose a less restrictive version.
Regularly replacing the fuel filter might even be more important than regular oil changes. Due to the nature of diesel fuel, it gets dirty more easily (particularly from condensated water), so a failure to replace the filter can cause engine stalling and jerking, poor performance, and in worst-case scenarios fuel injector explosions.
Additionally, most diesel engines require coolant replacements after 40,000 to 60,000 miles, but taking the cap off and checking to see whether the coolant’s topped off and clean during every oil replacement doesn’t hurt. Doing this can prevent many different issues, and more importantly, you won’t get stranded due to engine overheating.
Controllers, monitors, and gauges are incredible for caring for diesel motors. Essentially they will tell you everything you need to know about how your diesel motor is operating. Monitors and gauges can track and display almost every engine parameter in real-time and that can help you prevent any issues before they even occur. Even better, a monitor can help you optimize your truck for perfect performance. — Monitors and gauges are especially important for modified diesel trucks.
Throttle and boost controllers are also great additions for diesel trucks. Boost controller, in particular, is not only nice to have as it allows you to change your boost and have multiple boost settings prepared and ready, but it also lets you track two of the most important diesel engine parameters, boost psi and EGT. EGT, or exhaust gas temperature can easily cause various problems if it gets too hot, and by tracking the boost pressure you’re making sure that the engine isn’t over-boosting.
It doesn’t matter which car you’re modifying, if you’re not detailed and careful, your vehicle could get destroyed in a matter of minutes. Diesel engines, or diesel trucks in general, are a bit more delicate, so you’ll have to be even more careful about what you’re doing with them.
A second fuel filter is an excellent modification for caring for your vehicle. If your truck doesn’t already come with a 2nd filter, installing one can prolong the life of many different engine parts. Since you can install a 2nd fuel filter before or after the original one, it’s best to do some research and find out which option is better for your diesel truck in particular.
A proper tuner (preferably with a monitor) that’s appropriate for your diesel, whether that’s Powerstroke, Cummins, Duramax, or others, is a great way to increase power as well as make your truck run optimally, in turn, making it more reliable and durable.
You have to be extremely careful which additives you actually put into your diesel truck’s tank. Just as much as the good ones can help, the poor ones can destroy your engine in a matter of months, if not sooner. Carefully research additives and their brands before using them.
Anti-gel additives are the ones you’ll need in extreme colds because diesel fuel tends to turn into a gel, glue-like substance which can damage the entire fuel system.
Diesel fuel stabilizer additives are used to help the diesel fuel itself become more stable in varying weather cycles. These stabilizers help the fuel become more stable so that it doesn’t degrade as easily.
There are quite a few additives that promise various performance, fuel economy, reliability, and other benefits. Once again, be very careful with what you’re putting into your diesel truck. As long as you use fuel additives correctly and responsibly, they’ll be a great help with caring for your diesel motor.
What’s the best way to care for your Powerstroke, Duramax, Cummins, and other diesel engines? Head studs. Head studs alone can turn an unreliable diesel engine bulletproof.
Because of their consistent clamping force, head studs properly seal your engine block, head gasket, and cylinder head together, making them inseparable from engine stress. Almost every 1 million mile diesel engine out there is running aftermarket head studs instead of the stock bolts.
They’re also excellent for performance application, because of the amount of pressure the head bolts can sustain, as well as the other benefits that they offer. You can learn more about the benefits of aftermarket head studs here.
TrackTech head studs are of the highest quality possible. We’ve searched the entire planet for the strongest alloys, created head studs, and tested them under the harshest conditions. We weren’t satisfied until we made the best head studs on the market. After installing TrackTech head studs, you can be confident in your diesel engine and its reliability.
We’ve talked about what you should be doing with your diesel truck to make it a reliable workhorse that’s going to run for a long time, but what about the things that you shouldn’t be doing, or maybe you’re just doing them wrong?
If you’ve just purchased a brand new diesel truck, properly running it in can make an unfathomable difference on its reliability and longevity. For the first 1,000 miles, the RPMs should be kept below 3,000, with no sudden acceleration, and under 80 or so miles per hour. After that, you can slowly start to increase the RPMs, the speed, and the acceleration, just don’t make any major leaps such as from 3,000 to 4,000 RPMs, for example. The engine isn’t completely broken into until roughly 30,000 miles, and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to cater to your diesel motor until then.
Diesel trucks need to reach their operating temperatures to run properly and if you’ve ever tried to run a diesel engine on a cold start, you’d know exactly what we mean; it feels like the engine is dying. So, it’s best to turn your car on and let it idle for a few minutes before you start driving.
Letting your engine idle for a few minutes, while you’re picking up something from the store, for example, is a great idea. Diesel engines dislike sudden temperature changes, so letting the engine idle and keep its operating temperature can make it last much longer.
Just like the engine components need to warm up, they also need to cool down. Before shutting off your truck, let it idle for a few minutes to allow the turbocharger, the valves, the pistons, and other components to cool down.
Caring for your diesel truck, keeping up with a regular engine maintenance schedule, and avoiding common mistakes is hard. However, it’s rewarding more so than it is hard, and diesel engines will usually treat you exactly how you treat them. So as long as you follow the advice given above, your engine will run reliably for a very long time. If you’d like to make sure that it does indeed run reliably for a long time, take a look at our head studs, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about diesel engines and trucks in general.