9 Most Common Diesel Engine Problems | Easy Way To Avoid

Common Diesel Engine Problems

Invented in the 1890s, by Rudolf Diesel, diesel engines have become an essential part of our lives. They are capable of providing large amounts of power. Several types of diesel engines exist depending on the requirement of the machinery.

Even though initially the efficiency rate was about 26% and 10% under pressure and load, but now it has increased by a significant amount with the revolutionizing of the engines.

With each discovery comes its pros and cons and similar in this case. Some of the Most Common diesel engine problems have been listed below:

  1. Contribution to Air Pollution

Air pollution’s one of the leading causes is the use of fuel in automobiles and industries, among which diesel engine contribute to approximately more than 85%.

About two third of particulate matter comprising of chemicals like ammonium, sulfates, solid carbon, etc. and nearly half of nitrogen oxides, i.e. NO and NO2 are derived from diesel engines.

The reason is due to incomplete combustion of the fuel resulting in lots of useless gasses.

These emissions are mainly responsible for global warming and depletion of the ozone layer, which if not taken care will result in significant loss.

  1. Long-term usage

If the diesel engines aren’t used for some-time, it results in oxidation of the fuel. The harm is that the diesel undergoes changes which completely change the chemical structure.

Moreover, even a small amount of water can completely change the chemistry, and if the machines are to be used in this condition, they would soon become useless. One of the typical examples is crankshaft failure.

  1. Ignition issues

Unlike other engines which use plugs or electric wires for starting and igniting, diesel engines use air compression.

In cold parts of the world and winter season, it becomes cumbersome to use diesel engines because of low compression.

In several cases, they end up not starting at all leading to complete dis-functioning of the corresponding machinery.

  1. Inefficient power supply

A lot of times, despite being used for heavy machinery, diesel engines are unable to meet the power requirements.

This is as a result of clogging inside the engine tubes, dirty filters, injector problems, etc.

This problem is most often detected while starting up the engine or when at peak performance.

In this case, the diesel injector cleaner is used, which helps in restoring engine efficiency and dissolving of the wastes.

  1. Contamination of fuel

Diesel easily becomes contaminated. Several types of contamination are possible among which most are due to soot, water, glycol and thinning of fuel.

Any of these when reacted with fuel results in the formation of a liquid which ends up destroying the engine.

This problem is, however, observed rarely in the other engines like petrol or gasoline engines because they are less viscous about 12%.

  1. Noise pollution

Diesel engine emits lots of noise because of their ignition process. In this case, as soon as the fuel interacts with air under high pressure it auto-ignites.

Some part takes time to come into contact with the air, though the difference of timing is minor it results in the production of a ‘knock’ type sound.

Another reason is that external pressure is less and hence the sound ends up spreading quite far.

  1. Expensive and Costly

The diesel engine, on the whole, is quite expensive. Not only in price but also workload as well as maintenance of the engines.

Since these engines are ecologically incompatible due to their exhaust gasses the catalyst being used are also of very complex structures.

Moreover, the maintenance has to be done at regular intervals, so the engine doesn’t end up in a garage.

  1. Untidiness

Diesel is more viscous than gas and petrol, so it is quite crude and messy.

Secondly, it isn’t very tidy in handling and is also easy to spill.

Hence people using diesel engines have to go through these problems daily.

  1. Glow-plug

Diesel engines work on glow-plugs and don’t use any electric mechanism for starting up.

The problem with glow plus is that after a particular time of usage they become dysfunctional, and without these, the engines become entirely useless.


Although the common diesel engine problems listed above it is still in use because of several benefits, different companies have made their contribution to reducing these problems via different measures, a lot of which have resulted in success.

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  • Hello James, I’m so glad I stumbled into this article because I’ve been having problems with my old 96 Challenger. The ignition’s been giving me problems. It starts okay sometimes but other times fails to start completely. There is a clicking sound when it fails to start. Haven’t taken the it to the repair shop though. At least now I can tell them where to check.

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