Low maintenance doesn't mean *no* maintenance. Feel free to ask us about anything related to your vehicle, it's our job to keep you on the road, running safely and efficiently!
Diesels. Diesels are different than gasoline engines in many ways. They require different fuel, different lubricants, different driving and maintenance procedures. Two critical systems in a diesel engine are the fuel system (pumps, filters and injectors) and the oiling system. Both are highly specialized, and require their own kind of care.
Fuel. A big change that happened a few years ago has likely been responsible for many of the diesel repairs we see here: reduction in fuel sulfur content. Sulfur contributes to emissions, so fuel sulfur content has been reduced by law to reduce emissions... at the cost of lost lubricity in the fuel. Engines built after 2007 are ready for the ultra low sulfur fuel, but earlier vehicles *must* use additives to maintain the lubricity required to keep fuel pumps and injectors in good operating condition. While all fuel sold should be adequately treated with additives to replace the lost lubricity of sulfur, simply relying on your fuel distributor to ensure sufficient fuel lubricant is asking for a very expensive repair. A simple 50:1 mix of regular diesel to 100% soy biodiesel provides the best lubrication, but it may not work for you for other reasons; ask us for a specific recommendation for your vehicle. Another rule of thumb is NO ALCOHOL or emulsifiers: they can carry water through the water separator, and into your fuel pump and injectors where it can do nasty chemical tricks. Cetane levels in your fuel should match what is required for your engine by the manufacturer. Just like too much octane for gasoline, too much cetane for diesel can cause problems, as the fuel ignition delay no longer matches how your engine was designed. Just like gasoline, only buy high quality, fresh fuel that is replenished regularly by the supplier.
Oil. Diesel engine oil is also specially formulated to handle the different chemistry and loads that a gasoline engine would not typically see. Some oils are compatible with both types of engines, but make sure what you use is compatible with what you drive; the API label on your oil container (and in your owners manual) will tell you, or just ask us for a specific recommendation. The viscosity grade should also match your engine to provide maximum protection for the way you use it.
Common problems. If you're seeing white smoke from the tailpipe of your diesel, there's a really good chance that you've got an injector going bad. If you don't fix this soon, you run the chance of diluting your oil excessively and ruining your engine, not to mention the poor fuel economy, hard starting, and rough running you're probably experiencing. Hard starting can also be a symptom of a clogged fuel filter, failing fuel pump, failing battery, or defective glow plug.