Truck Maintenance: How Often Should Your Diesel Truck Get a Maintenance Check?

Sep 18, 2020 | Diesel Maintenance, Diesel Trucks

Are you thinking about getting a diesel truck or have one already and are wondering about its maintenance requirements?

Well, it’s good that you asked the question because diesel trucks come with their own set of requirements when it comes to maintenance. A diesel engine is fundamentally different from a gasoline engine. This means that the engine experiences wear and tear at a different rate to a gasoline engine.

But not to worry, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about diesel truck maintenance and answer the question of exactly how often it needs to be serviced. 

What Makes Diesel Truck Maintenance Different?

First things first, we need to know what sort of machine we are dealing with. The main difference between diesel and gasoline trucks is that a diesel truck uses compression to ignite its fuel, whereas gasoline is ignited by a spark. 

But the fuel itself is also different, and this is important. Diesel tends to leave a build-up of combustion debris in the engine, a lot more than gasoline will. 

You may have been told when you bought your diesel truck that it needs to be driven long distances week to week (usually a 60-mile trip each week is recommended). This is recommended so that the debris is really given a chance to be burned and blown out of the engine system. 

When to Change the Oil on a Diesel Truck

While some aspects of your diesel truck maintenance can wait for longer periods, you really need to stay on top of your oil changes. One advantage of diesel cars, in general, is that they will last longer than gasoline vehicles before the oil needs to be changed.

This is common knowledge but it often leads people to think that they can do anything with their truck and only change the oil once or twice a year (or every 10,000 miles). 

While some types of diesel trucks may get away with an oil change every 10,000 miles, a lot won’t. But it’s not just the vehicle itself—the oil change period depends most on your use of the truck.

Here are the most important factors that will go into how often you change the oil:

  • The type of oil you use (synthetic, conventional, or blended)
  • How much time your truck spends idling with the ignition on
  • The distances you travel on a week-to-week basis
  • Whether you use your truck for heavy hauling
  • Climate

In particular, if your truck spends much time idling, or if you use it to haul heavy materials, it is going to need a more frequent change of oil. If you do these activities a lot, you may need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. If you are somewhere in the middle, think about changing your oil every 5,000 or 7,000 miles. 

When to Get a Maintenance Check on a Diesel Truck

For regular truck usage, maintenance checks should be performed every 6 to 12 months or every 10,000 miles at a minimum. When getting a maintenance check, make sure you:

  • Get the oil changed
  • Get the air filters changed (usually only necessary every 10,000 miles)
  • Get the fuel filters changed
  • Get the engine a full clean and oil run-through
  • Get all essential fluids replaced (exhaust treatment fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant)

The main thing you are doing when you get diesel truck maintenance is not checking that everything is fine, but rather that the engine is staying super clean. If you get your engine cleaned well, and cleaned more often, you will improve the life expectancy of the truck dramatically.

So, remember, 10,000 miles or 12 months is a minimum guide for getting diesel truck maintenance, but the time period is always going to depend on how you use your truck. If you do use your truck a lot, you really can’t afford to miss a maintenance check—not only does your truck need it more than others, but you need your truck more than others too.

Signs That You Need a Diesel Truck Maintenance Check

Although mileage and time are good guides for when to get truck maintenance done, there are also some specific signs that you should look out for. 

The main signs that you want to be looking out for are:

  • Decreased acceleration responsiveness
  • Decreased power output
  • A sputtering engine
  • Unexplained stalling
  • Strong vibrations through the cab
  • Fluid leaks coming from underneath your car
  • Excess exhaust fumes
  • Steam coming out of the engine
  • A strange smell coming from the engine
  • Strange sounds from the engine

All of these are signs that either the engine needs to be cleaned, the filters need replacing, or essential fluids need changing. 

If you notice any of these signs, the time to get truck maintenance done is always now. If you ignore these signs for even a short period, you are going to experience a much more significant build-up of debris in the engine, or individual parts (like fuel injectors) may break. 

Avoiding maintenance checks will ultimately reduce the life of the truck, as well as reduce its value if you are planning to resell it at some point. 

No Simple Answer for When to Get a Diesel Truck Maintenance Check

Hopefully, you now understand a bit more about why it’s important to get diesel truck maintenance done properly and often. But hopefully what you have also taken away from this is that the timeframe for getting truck maintenance is different from situation to situation. 

The biggest factor determining when to get a maintenance check is to look at exactly how you are using your truck. 

If you are unsure about how your usage compares to normal standards, it is best to just go in and get a check. You will then find out exactly how your engine is coping with its workload. If it’s doing fine, then maybe you can leave it a bit longer the next time. 

But it’s always better to be proactive about maintaining your engine than being reactive when it has a problem. Your engine will be better for it and it will cost you less in the long run.

So, if you’re wondering whether your diesel truck needs maintenance work, why not get in touch with us today?

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