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Cleaning and Maintenance Guide for Diesel Engines

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Filed under Automotive, Diesel, Editorial, Technical

Investing in a vehicle with a diesel engine brings about several practical benefits such as better fuel economy, lower emission, and less maintenance (in comparison to gas-powered ones). However, the only way you can enjoy these benefits is if you invest time to clean and maintain the engine so that it can deliver optimum performance.

In this guide, you will learn the essential steps you need to take care of a diesel engine, as well as its different parts and components.

Diesel Engine Cleaning & Maintenance

Maintaining a diesel engine begins with cleaning the engine itself. In general, diesel engines have more longevity than gas engines. But this is only possible if you clean it regularly. All vehicles collect dust, dirt, and other debris as it navigates longer distances. If these debris get onto any of the engine components, it can lower fuel efficiency, affect overall performance, and shorten its lifespan. Environmental factors can also contribute to the early deterioration of the engine components.

You can use an old toothbrush or sponge to clean the engine components. The use of a toothbrush enables you to clean the hard-to-reach areas. You will also need a specialized degreaser so you can remove any grease that has accumulated onto these parts, along with easy removal of gunk.

Checking the air filter is another crucial step to diesel engine maintenance. Depending on the model of your vehicle, you can mostly find the air filter under the hood within a rectangular cold air collector box. If the filter is too filthy, it can cause the engine to struggle such that it will require more fuel to achieve power and acceleration. Experts recommend you clean the air filter for every 12,000 miles of distance traveled (or when you notice signs of engine wear).

It’s not just the air filter that must be cleaned and maintained, though. Make sure to check the fuel filters, too. You can get them cleaned or replaced every 15,000 miles of distance traveled.


The radiator is an important component of a diesel engine – make sure you keep it in good condition. It plays a vital role in keeping the vehicle cool while the engine is running. Diesel engines tend to heat up more quickly than gas-powered ones. Use a specialized cleaning fluid that will be pumped throughout the radiator and the vehicle’s cooling system. This will help to get rid of any rust or impurities that might have collected in the radiator.

In addition to the maintenance tips above, make it a habit to carry out oil changes on your vehicle. The engine has many metal components that grind against each other. If you do not change your oil frequently, it can cause damage to those parts due to excessive friction. Finally, you should always keep an eye on your fluid levels. That way, you will know when it is time to replace the coolant and oil on your engine.

Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF): What You Need to Know

A diesel particulate filter (DPF) is one of the most important components of a diesel engine vehicle. As the name implies, it is a type of filter that collects and stores the exhaust soot in order to reduce emissions from your vehicle. It plays a critical role so that any particulate matters that is emitted by the diesel engine is not released into the atmosphere.

DPF cleaning should be performed on a regular basis because the filter only has a certain amount of capacity. Over time, you need to empty the filter out and clean it so that it can do an effective job at reducing emissions.

If not properly maintained, the DPF can fail and this would mean that your vehicle’s engine fails to comply with the EPA emission standards.

DPF Cleaning and Maintenance

In order to avoid problems with the emissions on your diesel engine, DPF cleaning should be given priority as part of your vehicle maintenance procedure.

The first step to cleaning the DPF is with active regeneration. Keep an eye on your vehicle dashboard and the indicator that will tell you it is time to clean your filter. When you see the warning, clean the filter immediately. For the active regeneration, you must drive your vehicle over 40 mph. For this, you must find an open highway that will enable you to drive without slowing down or stopping. This process increases the temperature on the DPF so that the trapped particles can be converted to gas. Do this for at least 15 minutes until you no longer see the symbol.

Another way to do the DPF cleaning is with the use of cleaning additives. The fluid is formulated to break down the soot in order to free up the filter. You can find the cleaning fluid in many car supply stores or local hardware. Simply pour the cleaning additive directly into the fuel tank. This method of cleaning can be done every 3 to 6 months.

When all else fails, you can take your vehicle to an experienced car technician. They can perform the DPF cleaning and maintenance so that you can keep your vehicle engine in top condition and performing optimally.

DPFs are quite expensive. A new one can easily cost up to $4,700 (or more depending on where you buy it from). The older the vehicle, the more costly the DPF becomes. Therefore, make DPF cleaning a habit and you could save a ton of money in the long run.


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