We Ask the Smartest Folks in the Diesel Market for Maintenance Advice

The heart of a piece of equipment is its engine, and in order to keep that heart healthy and productive you will need to keep your power plant in good running order. For example, failing to maintain and/or replace your engine’s filters on schedule or using filters that don’t meet the manufacturer’s specifications can lead to unwanted debris getting into the engine. And with today’s complex Tier 4-compliant engines, maintenance is more important than ever. So, we reached out to a few of our friends in the engine industry, and they sent along these excellent insights for diesels.

Stop, Look and Listen

Perkins--(Cut-1)Julian Wood, Product Marketing Manager of Service and Maintenance at Perkins

Stop, look and listen is often associated with crossing the street, but it applies to a lot more. In fact, it’s abasic set of instructions for keeping your diesel engines operating at top efficiency.

STOP: Before you turn the key, take a minute to inspect your equipment. Have you checked the oil and coolant levels? Are the air and fuel filters in good condition? How about the water separator? Is anything leaking? How many hours have elapsed since the last scheduled maintenance? And if you’re going to re-fuel, STOP the engine before you do to avoid getting air into the fuel system.

LOOK: When you’re doing routine tasks like adding oil or changing filters, pay special attention to the condition of the O-rings, gaskets and other seals on the caps and plugs. They’re the first line of defense against the dirt that can shorten the life of your engine, and they don’t last forever. It’s a good idea to replace the sump plug seals every time you change the oil. And take a minute to wipe the area around a cap or plug before you remove it.

LISTEN: Today’s diesel engines probably won’t send you “smoke signals” as their predecessors did, but they will still tell you when something is going wrong. It’s up to you to listen for the message.

Definitely Check the Def

Kevan Browne, Cummins Global Off-Highway Communications Director

Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems utilize diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to reduce NOx. All SCR systems require a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) level gauge and a DEF lamp in the cab display to advise the operator when the DEF tank level is running low. The tank must be refilled to ensure that the SCR aftertreatment remains fully functioning and the machine is emissions compliant. If the DEF tank is not refilled, a sequence of caution lamps will illuminate. When DEF falls to a critically low level, the engine power will begin to derate to ensure emissions compliance is maintained. Normal engine power automatically resumes when the DEF tank is refilled. Knowing when to fill the DEF tank is easy thanks to the DEF lamps and gauge located on the dash designed to alert the operator when action is needed.


Check Your Battery Too

JDPS_Electrical-MaintenanceLes Redinbaugh, Supervisor of Large Tractor Publications for John Deere

Because of new emissions standards, electronic engine controls are becoming more common — even in the smaller engines found in compact equipment. Maintaining the electrical system is often more complicated than maintaining some of an engine’s other systems, so most maintenance tasks should be left to a certified mechanic. However, an engine’s electrical system is centered on its battery, and it is always important to check the condition of your battery.

  • ■ Verify batteries are fully charged and the electrolyte is at its proper level.
  • ■ Remove battery cables and clean cable ends and posts.
  • ■ Repair or replace the alternator if it isn’t keeping the battery fully charged.
  • ■ Check all alternator wiring connections for tightness and corrosion and correct as needed.
  • ■ Check all chassis grounding and bonding wires for corrosion and integrity.
  • ■ Check condition and tension of alternator belt and adjust or replace as needed.
  • ■ Check all starting motor connections for tightness and corrosion and correct as needed.
  • ■ Check all fuses and remove any corrosion or replace as needed.
  • ■ If a vehicle will not be used for more than a month, maintain the battery one of two ways: 1) Disconnect the battery at full charge and place it in a dry, cool place; or 2) leave it on the vehicle at full charge and add a battery tender.

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