How to Troubleshoot a Detroit Diesel Engine

by Jeff Woodward
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Detroit Diesel is one of the three major heavy duty engine manufacturers in the United States alongside Caterpillar and Cummins. As engine components start to fail due to age and wear and tear the owner will eventually need to troubleshoot the causes of the problems to ensure that the correct repair procedures are followed. Self troubleshooting minor problems will save the owner time and money. Some problems though will require a factory trained technician with the proper diagnostic equipment.

Step 1

Check the color of the smoke coming out of the stacks. White smoke will indicate that the engine is running too cool to burn the proper amount of fuel needed in normal engine operation. If the smoke is black the engine is burning off too much diesel fuel possibly pointing to a fuel pump or injector failure.

Step 2

Turn on the engine ignition. If the engine does not turn over the starting system may be failing. Turn on the headlights. If the headlights turn on this indicates the batteries are not drained and the starter may be the problem.

Step 3

Start the engine and let it gain normal operating temperature which is around 190 degrees Fahrenheit. If the engine starts to overheat shut it down. Open the engine hood and inspect the coolant lines for leaks. Check the coolant reservoir or surge tank to be certain that coolant is filled to specifications. If the coolant level is correct this indicates that a thermostat may be stuck in the open position.

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