Picture this: You’re finishing a long day on the road operating your diesel truck after several long days in a row. You’ve worked hard and you’re ready for a rest. But suddenly, you lose engine power, start hearing sounds from inside the engine, and your check engine light comes on your dashboard.
As drivers, we all know that sinking feeling, and it always seems to happen at the worst possible time.
Your diesel engine works as hard as you do. And just like pain or discomfort could mean a trip to the doctor for you, warning signs from your semi-truck or other diesel engine vehicle could be a warning sign of a potentially serious problem. However, being aware of these warning signs will allow you to be better able to identify an issue before it gets worse.
Check engine light
Let’s start with the most obvious warning sign. The check engine light is designed to alert you when there’s an issue arising in your engine, and you should not dismiss it. Ignoring the issue could cause more damage to your engine and other parts of your vehicle over time. Some common issues for the check engine light to come on include:
– Oxygen sensor needs to be replaced
– Mass-airflow sensor needs to be replaced
– Catalytic converter is damaged
– Spark plugs are damaged or worn, causing engine misfires
– Fuel cap is loose and needs to be tightened
If your truck is continually cranking and not starting up, especially in cold weather, this could be a sign of any number of issues. The most common problem in this situation for diesel engines, however, is low compression. Your diesel engine vehicle is powered by combustion in order to run properly. A diesel engine is all about achieving the right pressure to cause the combustion explosion created to run. An aging vehicle may start to leak air around the combustion chamber seal, which can prevent your engine from starting.
Smoke from the exhaust
Smoke coming from your engine exhaust is a serious warning sign. Blue smoke means that your engine is burning oil, and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This can come from worn components (like a piston ring or valve seals) that cause oil to remain on the walls of the cylinder and be burned along with the fuel.
Black smoke is a warning sign as well and could indicate a problem with damaged fuel injectors, malfunctioning sensors, damaged air filter, clogged fuel return line, or mechanical damage in the engine.
Gray smoke can be a variety of issues, including a stuck PCV valve, problems with transmission fluid, or excessive oil consumption.
Poor gas mileage
It’s painful to watch the gas needle fall toward empty on the best days. But when you’re truck is using more fuel than normal, it’s time to identify a problem before you lose more money at the pump.
Poor gas mileage could be a sign of wear in the injectors, which need to be repaired as soon as possible. Leaking fuel into the chamber can cause a wide range of problems, including complete engine failure.
Lost engine power
With pulling heavy loads consistently, you’ll likely identify this issue quickly. There are few worse feelings for a diesel truck driver than pulling a trailer up a steep highway and your engine is losing power. Components will wear over time and cause a loss in power in your vehicle from when you first started driving it. As you lose compression and your turbocharger and related components wear down, you will see a significant drop in power.
Increased oil consumption
Having to top off with oil more than usual? It could be a sign you have a leak somewhere in the engine, and that’s going to become a significant problem if it’s not one already. Check under the vehicle when it’s idle for oil patches on the ground. However, even if you don’t spot an obvious leak, it doesn’t mean your oil isn’t leaking somewhere else within the engine.
Noises coming from inside your engine should be considered a significant warning sign. A knocking noise, for example, could be caused by damage to the engine’s mechanical parts such as bearings, pistons, or other moving parts. Different sounds may indicate different problem areas, including:
– Clunking sounds can be caused by wear to main or rod bearings.
– Pinging sounds can be caused by leaking injectors.
– Tapping noises can be caused by valve clearances losing their proper clearance.
Black smoke coming from under the hood is always a bad sign. If you see black smoke, it could be from leaks within the turbocharger system or caused by clamps and pumps that may have become weak due to damage or wear.
At a stoplight, are you a little embarrassed by how your engine sounds? Do you feel like you’re bouncing around the vehicle like you’re in a pinball machine? Don’t brush this off as your vehicle’s personality or that it’s just old. Rough idling could indicate a number of problems, including leaking injectors or fuel pump wear.
Certified Diesel Solutions in Knoxville, TN
Maintaining your diesel truck or fleet of diesel engine vehicles is critical to running your business effectively. Knowing the warning signs of potential problems can go a long way toward improving and extending the life of your diesel truck. When you see these signs, don’t hesitate to have an ASE certified diesel technician diagnose and repair the problems when they occur. By trusting the advice of an experienced diesel mechanic, you will be saving time and money.
At Certified Diesel Solutions, we pride ourselves in providing the best service and care for your truck or fleet. We provide fleet management, maintenance, and repair services for both diesel and gasoline engines in Knoxville, TN. We are committed to keeping your vehicle on the road and in good working order. Contact us online or by calling (865) 964-6598 to make an appointment for a repair or preventative maintenance visit.