Friday, March 21, 2014

5 Common Diesel Engine Myths: Debunked

By Jim Thorpe

If you drive a diesel-powered car or truck from 2009 or newer, you most likely have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) installed as part of the exhaust system. The DPF is designed to improve air quality by filtering out harmful particles normally found in diesel exhaust. The particles then accumulate on the DPF until it is cleaned. If you let your DPF get too dirty, it can cause permanent damage. So what do you need to do to keep it clean?

Sometimes truckers are painted as heroic figures, like in Red Sovine's song, "Big Joe and Phantom 309," about a truck driver who swerves to miss a school bus full of children, losing his life and becoming a ghost who picks up hitch hikers. Much like the people who drive them, diesel engines carry their own myths. Here are 5 common myths surrounding diesel engines, and the surprising truth that will have you rethinking the way you view big rigs.

Myth: You need to idle a diesel engine for 5 minutes or more in the morning

The Truth: Idling a diesel engine for a long time can actually harm the engine more than if it were driving down the highway. That's because at low speeds, such as idling, your engine experiences twice the wear and tear. Most owners' manuals recommend no more than 3 minutes of idling before you drive. Even in colder temperatures, when the diesel fuel tends to gel, you can add winter blends to the fuel to make it flow better.

Electric Fans Many have determined that running electric fans while driving your diesel in the city and on the freeway can contribute up to an additional two miles per gallon. Definitely enough to give it a try.

Assuming your car or truck is otherwise problem-free, cleaning your DPF is as simple as maintaining driving patterns conductive to regeneration being performed. As long as you drive at freeway speeds on a regular basis, you shouldn't have any trouble. Problems come into play if you do a lot of city driving or allow your vehicle to idle for extremely long periods of time.

The reason why these two circumstances are problematic for DPFs is because the engine isn't working hard enough to generate the power necessary for regeneration to occur. Most vehicles with DPF systems installed will signal a warning if the DPF is 80% blocked.

The Truth: It's not just trucks and ships that use diesel fuel these days. More and more cars are fitted with diesel engines, and just about every neighborhood gas station has a diesel pump.

Myth: Diesel is dirtier than gasoline

The Truth: There's a stigma that diesel trucks constantly puff out big clouds of black smoke. However, due to recent EPA emissions requirements, diesel engines are held to the same standards as gasoline engines. Now diesel trucks are fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), which removes over 95% of the particles in the exhaust. The result of adding DPFs to diesel engines: no more black smoke bellowing out of trucks. Any short drive on the freeway confirms this fact-you'll be hard pressed to any see smoke coming out of a big rig's exhaust pipe.

Using your EGT gauge can be helpful. They are a good indicator of the amount of fuel your diesel engine is consuming. Tire Pressure. It is recommended to run your tires at 80psi to help you improve your fuel economy. This may affect the ride of your truck, but the trade off of savings can be really nice. Acceleration

So don't ignore warnings. If your DPF gets close to being full, push the engine so it gets enough power for regeneration. If it gets completely full, take it to a shop. Taking care of your DPF will protect the environment and keep your vehicle running at peak performance.

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