You probably rely on your diesel truck to ensure that your business operations run smoothly. Or you use the truck as a recreational vehicle. Perhaps it does it a bit of both for you.
Diesel rigs are prized for their amazing power to haul goods and materials, their indomitable pulling power, and great strength and powerful action. On the flip side, breakdowns are a possibility, repairs could be expensive, and downtime can spell disaster for your business.
Whatever the nature and extent of use, every diesel truck owner expects reliability, performance, and endurance. Typically, these giants are expected to run over 200,000 miles, but you may be able to extend their life with a few clever hacks such as bulletproofing.
This term “bulletproofing” has been trending since 2009, when BulletProof Diesel, a Mesa, AZ based company, saw the opportunity to fix commonly occurring problems in the Ford 6.0L Power Stroke engine. The company owners identified five main points of failure in this engine and developed their own patented replacement solutions that successfully addressed these specific issues.
Today, the brand name has become synonymous with replacing OEM parts prone to failure in diesel engines with more sturdy and reliable parts.
Diesel engine manufacturers, like all businesses, have to balance manufacturing costs with expected profits. This means they may have to look at material and labor costs, performance, compliance with government regulations, reliability, safety, among other factors, while implementing any engine design.
This balancing act may result in products that don’t meet high standards in performance and reliability. The answer is to opt for selected upgrades in the areas that are most vulnerable to breakdowns. These upgrades involve replacing less effective and cheaper parts with superior products that may come with a higher price tag, but would protect the engine and prevent problems in the long run. Installing the complete kit could ensure that the engine may remain protected for a very long time. That means paying a bit more today to save your tomorrows.
Typical Pain Points In Diesel Engines
The most common problem area in diesel engines is the failure of the EGR cooler system. The Exhaust Gas Re-circulation system addresses the control of harmful emissions from diesel engines. Today, there is intense pressure to reduce emissions from governments, environmental activists, and the general public. As a result, several regulations have been imposed on auto manufacturers to ensure that emissions are kept at the lowest possible levels.
Auto manufacturers may seek to reduce manufacturing costs by installing EGR produced using less expensive materials, using cost-effective making processes. Typically, the EGR casing is flat and thin, with narrow passages that are quick and simple to manufacture. The downside is that these products tend to be less sturdy and may fail quite swiftly due to the build-up of soot in the exhaust passages. Another probable issue is repetitive thermal stresses due to constant heating and cooling. This results in splitting and cracking of the passages.
When the engine coolant and exhaust gases mix, several issues may arise. The exhaust gases may intrude into the coolant, forcing it out, resulting in the engine’s loss of coolant and overheating. If the coolant contaminates the exhaust system, it can cause a range of engine problems, including blown gaskets and hydrolocking. Reduction in power, acceleration, and low fuel efficiency with higher emissions is a result of EGR valve failure.
Other parts prone to failure within the EGR system include the head studs, water pump, fuel injection control module, and fan clutch.
The later models of the Ford Power Stroke diesel engine did attempt to address these issues. As a result, there are fewer failures, but an upgrade may still be required to ensure that the system works optimally and is more reliable.
Symptoms of EGR Valve Failure
Though the symptoms could vary, the most common red flags to pay attention to include:
Rough Idle: If your engine doesn’t feel smooth or feels bouncy when idling or when the engine is running, this could indicate EGR valve problems.
Performance Issues: If the engine power seems low, it uses too much gas, or is frequently stalling, these engine performance issues should not be ignored.
Poor Fuel Economy: When the EGR valve is constantly in the Open position, the fuel doesn’t burn off at the right temperature. This could result in excessive consumption of fuel.
Fuel Odor: If you get the smell of gas in the vehicle, it’s because the EGR valve remains open, allowing the continuous flow of exhaust gases into the intake.
EML problems: If your Engine Management Light remains on, check the EGR valve immediately. This is because the EML may not respond instantly to failure, and if you delay in attending to it, you could face serious problems.
Regular cleaning of the cooler is one way to tackle the problem. The issue is that there’s no definitive schedule that has been agreed upon by vehicle manufacturers. If your vehicle has long downtime periods where it is not being run, soot can rapidly clog the EGR system. With vehicles that are extensively used, thermal stresses can warp the cooler casing metal.
One method that could forestall a breakdown or expensive repairs is to bulletproof the engine. Replacing vulnerable OEM parts with sturdy, better designed ones helps to prevent clogging and EGR system failure.
Cost Of Bulletproofing
While bulletproofing benefits may be widely understood, when it comes to implementation, customers may have several queries about the process and the costs involved. In general, the costs may be in sync with your own unique requirements, preferences, and budget.
The broad range of costs is between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars, based on the kind of parts you have replaced. While the initial outlay may seem to be on the higher side, in the long haul, the aftermarket fitments would pay for themselves in terms of reduced downtime, fewer repair expenses, and better fuel economy and performance from your diesel engine.
Labor costs are not generally added when switching, repairing, or upgrading to an improved EGR cooler or head gasket studs. Although the Ford Power Stroke engines may be most frequently subjected to bulletproofing, the process can be extended to any diesel engines to improve their reliability and performance.