Dirt is the deadly enemy of a diesel engine, and it comes in many forms. While nobody would deliberately put a handful of sand in an engine, the truth is that you could be doing something very similar every time you add or change lubricants, fill the fuel tank or just start the engine. That’s why there is an oil, fuel and air filter on every engine, and why using the right filter for each is critically important. And the job of a filter is more complicated than you might think.
Oil, fuel and air filters are all that stand between you and costly engine wear, and each one has a specific range of requirements and roles.
The job of an oil filter is to keep the engine oil clean by extracting particulates such as soot caused by oil breakdown, from the burning fuel and metal contaminants. Without efficient filters and regular oil changes, contaminants build up on engine parts and oil passages causing restricted flow, reduced oil pressure and hot-spots. This can lead to abnormal wear of major components such as bearings, crank and camshaft.
The fuel filter’s main role is to clean the fuel to prevent this damage, but its secondary role as a water separator is almost as important. Water contamination in diesel fuel causes poor fuel burn, reduced power, and cold spots as well as corrosion of sensitive components including injectors and fuel pumps that also impact engine performance. Abrasive wear of fuel injectors is the number one reason for premature replacement, effective filtration is the best way to prevent wear.
Restricted airflow caused by a blocked filter reduces engine power output and increases fuel consumption, leading to a build-up of carbon deposits on overhaul components. Particles entering the combustion chamber through inefficient filtering can cause wear of valves and valve seats, leading to poor performance and potential damage to sensitive components such as turbochargers, piston rings and valves, all of which are expensive to repair