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

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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.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.



  4. Quick question, if I am using performance oil like Royal Purple or Schaeffer’s, can I extend the life of oil changes?

  5. 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!

  6. 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

    1. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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 .

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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.

  14. That’s nice that these seven tips also help increase longevity. I’ve heard that it helps to get your engine checked up annually. My father used to tell me that the best way to know when something is wrong is your vehicle is by simply taking the time to understand and pay attention to how it works.

  15. I can definitely see why you would want to have your oil filter changed out regularly. Our diesel engine has started to break down because I have neglected to have it serviced for quite some time. I think that we should find some professionals to fix it before there is any permanent damage.

  16. Really needed this article. i drive a F250 super duty diesel. year model 2008. sitting at 114000 miles. just spent 4000 on repairs to engine. not all was necessary but thought since mechanic was having to go in i should have extra done. There was a lot of carbon build up. I want to prevent this in the future. So will follow your suggestions. will consider adding water separator and using oil additive and diesel treatment.

  17. Really needed this article. i drive a F250 super duty diesel. year model 2008. sitting at 114000 miles. just spent 4000 on repairs to engine. not all was necessary but thought since mechanic was having to go in i should have extra done. There was a lot of carbon build up. I want to prevent this in the future. So will follow your suggestions. will consider adding water separator and using oil additive and diesel treatment.

  18. Thanks for your tip to add a bottle of diesel treatment every time you stop at the pump for fuel. I wouldn’t have thought to do this, but I can definitely imagine how it would help extend the life of your machine. My son is thinking of buying a diesel engine and asked me for tips about how to keep it going and in good shape. I’ll share your article with him.

  19. You have some great tips for diesel maintenance. I like how you said that these trucks are like cars when it comes to oil changes because they need one every 3,000-5,000 miles. My brother is looking to get into trucking, so I’ll show him this.

  20. Thank you so much for everything that you shared here on how to take care of your diesel engine. One thing that I thought was really important was that you should get a frequent oil and filter change. The reason is that it can help keep your engine running smoothly. For a little while now, I have thought about buying a diesel car because I figured that it could last me a bit longer and that I could save some money on gas. Thanks again for the information, and I will look into how much a filter change can cost!

  21. I wanted to make sure I got the most out of my diesel truck and I wanted to look up some tips. I really appreciated how this article talked about getting frequent oil and filter changes. I will have to keep this in mind and find a good place to take my truck to do needed upgrades.

  22. Much appreciated. These are very useful tips! I am using Cummins DPF delete kit for my Cummins diesel truck engine and I am getting the best desired performance from it. I am thankful to my service boy which recommended me to use the Cummins DPF delete software to enhance the performance.

  23. I found it helpful when you explained that it is important to use OEM filters when owning a diesel truck. In addition to that, I would imagine that it would be important to change out the exhaust fluid regularly as well. That way you can get maximum efficiency when it comes to mileage.

  24. Thanks for sharing these tips. After reading your blog, I’ve found many useful things to make my diesel engine better. I have a 6.7 Powerstroke diesel engine. I am definitely following your guide to keep my engine healthy.

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