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A way out of expensive diesel repairs

08.09.2022

Diesel engines owe their popularity among Polish motorists primarily to their lower fuel consumption and the durability and reliability that for years has been associated with the diesel engine. Stringent emissions standards have now made them very complex designs whose maintenance costs can be dizzying. In the following text, we will look at the issue of servicing diesel cars, focusing on how to reduce service costs.

Who is the diesel engine for?

The question of choosing between diesel and gasoline engines must be considered even before buying a car. Diesel engines have their own peculiarities, and without taking this into account, we may be severely disappointed. If the car will be used only for short-distance city driving, diesel is practically always an inferior choice. Buying a diesel car will make sense for people who plan to get longer mileage on a regular basis. Let’s remember that the cost of operating a car is not just fuel. If we drive the car in a way that harms the engine, we will feel it sooner or later in the form of a costly breakdown. Remember to regularly check engine oil levels, refill adblue fluid in vehicles that require it, as well as respond to check engine light illumination or other disturbing phenomena such as performance degradation or abnormal engine operation. Waiting for service until thick smoke is coming out of the tailpipe does not work for modern engines.

We buy a car with a diesel engine

Choosing a particular car, especially for used cars, is very important. If we do not have the knowledge then let’s refer to a competent mechanic. Those thinking of buying a car are referred to the text “Checking a diesel before buying”, where this topic is presented in more detail. Buying a car in poor condition means big costs right from the start of operation.

Costly components

A thorough examination of the technical condition of the car is not the only criterion we should take into account. Since certain components simply wear out, it’s a good idea to get an idea of the cost of replacing/replacing components such as injectors, high-pressure pump, diesel particulate filter or turbocharger. Is the drive unit among those praised by users, what are its weak points? So let’s take a look at the individual components.

Injectors

Common rail system injectors, which have become the leading solution used across the entire range of diesel engines, have been present in passenger cars for more than 20 years. The technology is mature and familiar to the services. It’s worth checking the cost of new injectors – (prices start at less than $1,000, but can go up to $2,000) and whether remanufacturing is possible. Many popular injectors lend themselves well to remanufacturing (costing several hundred zlotys), which can be a great alternative to buying new ones. For remanufactured components, head to specialized workshops that provide warranties for remanufactured injectors.

Common Rail Pump

Another component that underpins the operation of a modern injection system. The pump ensures that high-pressure fuel reaches the injectors. The result of a defective injection pump can be metal filings entering the system, which cause the injectors to fail in a short period of time. The price of a new pump is usually 2,000 – 4,000 zlotys, but the cost of repair/repair is a few hundred zlotys. Check out the range of pumps for your (or the car you are considering). The way to save money is to take care of the pump. The pump is harmed by poor-quality fuel, as it is responsible for its lubrication. In the case of mistakenly filling up with gasoline, it is better to pay for a tow truck than to risk damaging the pump and injectors. Change the fuel filter as recommended. Properly operated high-pressure pumps are among the more durable engine accessory components.

Turbocharger

A modern engine cannot do without a turbocharger, which, due to the harsh working conditions, is subject to natural wear and tear. Its use has reduced the need for larger capacity engines and increased driving comfort. Buying a new turbine is a cost that ranges from a few to several thousand zlotys and is generally higher for variable geometry turbines. The cost of repairing/repairing the turbine is in the order of PLN 1,000, but keep in mind that the service can be performed properly only by a small number of qualified services. Do not be guided only by the price and necessary inquire about the warranty terms. The turbo is harmed by regular driving at too low a speed. Remember to drive quietly immediately after firing up the engine, and don’t turn off the engine immediately after more dynamic driving.

Particulate filter

The task of the diesel particulate filter (DPF/FAP) is to trap soot particles from the exhaust gas. When driving with diesel engines equipped with such a filter, we must allow the firing process, which the controller performs automatically (usually without informing us) during dynamic driving on the road. If we drive only short distances, the clogged filter will not be able to be cleaned, and the engine’s performance will deteriorate. Replacing the filter costs from two to several thousand zlotys. Often, the filter can be cleaned with a special machine and chemicals – the cost of such a service (so-called service filter burning) starts at several hundred zlotys. The way to save money is to ensure that the car is in proper operating conditions, i.e. to make longer trips on a regular basis (e.g. once a week). Less susceptible to clogging are the so-called “clogs”. Wet FAP filters, in which soot firing occurs at a lower temperature. In wet filters, this is achieved with a special fluid, which, although expensive, lasts a long time (refill interval of about 100,000 km). The practiced procedure of removing the DPF cannot be recommended, because such a car does not meet the declared emission standards and should not be allowed to enter traffic.

Dual-mass clutch

A clutch mechanism equipped with a dual-mass flywheel has become standard on modern engines. Its job is to offset torsional vibrations in the drivetrain between the engine and transmission. To put it more bluntly, the dual-mass wheel has helped reduce the weight (and cost) of the gearbox. We are talking about manual transmissions, because cars with automatic transmissions rarely use this solution). Its failures are, unfortunately, quite frequent and costly (the cost of a branded set is PLN 1000 – 4000). Saving money can involve extending the life of parts by handling the clutch skillfully, knowing that rapid acceleration from low revs is disadvantageous. Turning the engine on and off too often also shortens the life of the component. If you feel a pronounced vibration, as well as jerking when starting and find it difficult to shift gears smoothly, the dual-mass rubber may be the culprit. Some people replace the clutch with a kit that includes a regular flywheel with a conventional clutch with enhanced vibration damping capabilities. Such a conversion will work well for engines that are not very powerful and for higher mileage (we replace the clutch itself at subsequent replacements) or in cases of extremely unreliable dual-mass wheels. It may turn out that a possible reduction in the life of the gearbox will not be a problem considering the cost of used parts.

Diagnostics a way to cheaper repairs

The described examples of components show that we do not always have to pay the full cost of new parts. Professionally remanufactured parts not only save , but reduce energy and material consumption, so they are good for the environment. But in fact, the basis for reducing expenses is good diagnostics. Without this, we will be replacing functioning components, which you can see are many and expensive. It may also be that the failure of one component will lead to the failure of others (as in the described case of the common rail pump). If we do not remove the correct cause of the failure, the check engine light will soon come on, and we will return to the workshop, being often at the starting point. For example, a damaged (“funneling”) injector can lead to turbocharger failure, and can also damage the EGR valve. Soot produced in excess will fill up the DPF too quickly, which can even lead to filter damage.

edia pro connection

EDIA-PRO the way to diesel

The EDIA-PRO diesel diagnostic system, despite the passage of time, not only has not lost its relevance, but the current trend by automotive companies is bringing a renaissance to this method. Independent testing of the system’s operation without using the OBD connector makes us independent of the controller’s software and gives us an additional source of information about how the injection system works. For mechanics, the fault signal was often incorrect injector adjustments, which could be confirmed, for example, by overflow diagnostics. Today, in some controller models, injector adjustments are not available. Using the EDIA-PRO device, we can indirectly obtain this data. By being able to determine non-invasively what is happening in a diesel engine during operation, we significantly reduce repair time. By disassembling the injectors themselves that already have significant mileage, we are almost certain that they will not pass the test on the test bench. However, it is often the case that they work properly due to adaptation features in the engine. Avoiding the removal of working components has a significant impact on the final cost of repair.

Summary

Although diesel engines as a type of car propulsion seem to be in retreat, properly operated ones still have many advantages. Engines of this type achieve greater efficiency, and thanks to supercharging and accurate metering of fuel doses by modern injectors, they provide comfortable operation over a wide rpm range. When using cars with diesel engines, remember to take care of their technical condition and follow maintenance recommendations that will extend their life.

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