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Why diesel engines need tender, loving care

Why diesel engines need tender, loving care

Here's what can happen if you ignore simple maintenance on your diesel engines.

You hop in your tractor, self-propelled sprayer or combine and turn the key. The machine roars to life. You head out for a day’s work. If you’re like most people, you never think about the condition of various parts inside the engine just like you never think about telling your heart to beat or your lungs to breathe. You just know those things are going to happen. And you count on your diesel engine running smoothly every time.

ENGINES NEED TLC: All diesel engines need tender, loving care, no matter the color, brand or application. Experts recommend following maintenance procedures outlined in operator’s manuals.

You do take precautions to maintain the health of your heart and lungs. If a doctor prescribes “maintenance” activities, you do them. Experts who work with engines say you should take the same approach there. Otherwise, processes that you can’t say and don’t even know about can cause deterioration of the engine over time. Eventually, when you turn the key and start that machine, it may not sound exactly like you think it should.

John Deere illustrated this point with a display at the 2016 Farm Progress Show. Here’s the commercial plug. The exhibit was designed to promote Deere’s own brand of coolants for use in its engines. But commercial or not, the display provided a peek at inside engine parts that few people ever see.

The display consisted of four pistons. Three were from engines where maintenance had not been followed as well as it could have been. Each piston showed a different type of wear or corrosion. Using the display, here’s a look at three enemies of diesel engines. No matter what brand of equipment you have, you owe it to yourself to follow recommended procedures and use recommended products to maintain your engines.

The three pistons below make the point.

• Cavitation can damage pistons and cause metal loss over time.

John Deere spokespeople define cavitation as pitting on a linear metal surface. It can happen inside an engine in a cylinder when vibration causes a vacuum near the surface. The vacuum forms a bubble. When the bubble implodes, it can cause pitting. Following maintenance procedures is one way to minimize cavitation.

• Scale can interfere with the coolant doing its job.

Hard water in the cooling system can lead to a coating developing on metal surfaces. When this coating, or scale, forms on engine parts, the engine coolant can no longer transfer heat as effectively. Scale acts as insulation and holds heat inside the metal engine parts.

• Rust can take a toll on engine parts.

Rust is a natural chemical reaction between water and metal, John Deere reps say. The presence of moisture encourages oxidation, which forms rust. This is more likely to occur when engine systems aren’t protected properly.

Why diesel engines need tender, loving care

3 ENGINE PROBLEMS: Cavitation, scale and rust each can take a toll on engines over time. Read more about these three culprits in the story.

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