The total cost of owning a diesel-powered vehicle over a period of five years is reported to be $20,000 less than the cost of owning a gasoline-powered vehicle during this same period. This cost saving is only accruable to owners of well-maintained diesel vehicles. Do not make the mistake of assuming that any type of mechanic can work on your diesel-powered vehicle - diesel engine mechanics are specialists and you can easily find one nearby.
When contemplating the decision of how to select the best diesel engine repair service near you, you should pose the following questions to the auto-mechanics to ensure that you end up with the most qualified one available:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Occupation-specific licensing is not usually required for diesel engine repair. This makes it even more important to make sure that any diesel engine repair technician or mechanic that you intend to hire has been duly certified by a reputable automotive repair and maintenance-related organization. Certification serves as proof that a technician or mechanic has attained a certain level of competence and experience in the area of diesel engine maintenance and repair and it gives you a feeling of confidence concerning the individual's ability to do a good job. While several organizations may offer certification programs to diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics, the most commonly recognized certifications in the automotive repair industry are the ASE certifications that are issued by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. This organization offers certification tests in more than 50 categories of automotive repair and maintenance, including diesel engine diagnosis, repair, and servicing.
Note that the State of Michigan requires mandatory state-issued certification for all individuals that maintain and repair motor vehicles in exchange for a fee, and this includes diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics. Similarly, some states or local governments may require general registration or licensing for facilities that offer vehicle repair services within their jurisdictions. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the consumer protection office that is responsible for your locality to find out whether any requirements have to be met by diesel engine repair facilities, technicians, and mechanics that operate in your area. In addition, you should always validate any proof of certification, registration, or licensing that a diesel repair technician, mechanic, or facility presents to you by contacting the organization that issued these documents.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Diesel Engine Technician or Mechanic?
Diesel engine repair costs typically range from $150 - $500 for minor repairs to $3,000 - $8,500 for an engine rebuild or replacement. The cost of hiring a diesel engine technician or mechanic to repair or replace your faulty diesel engine is influenced by factors like the extent of damage to your engine and the make, model, and age of your vehicle. Some common diesel engine repair cost estimates are listed below:
- Air filter replacement - $25 - $100
- Engine oil change - $70 - $250
- Coolant flushes - $150 - $220
- Fuel filter replacement - $100 - $150 per filter
- Fuel injection system servicing - $250 - $450
- Diesel engine rebuild $3,000 $5,000
- Diesel engine replacement - $5,000 - $10,000
You can save money on costs when hiring a diesel engine repair technician or mechanic near you by taking note of the following tips:
- Carry out regular maintenance on your diesel engine and vehicle as a whole
- Get quotes from more than one diesel engine repair technician or mechanic when you have to do any engine repairs
- Find out the parts of your engine that may need replacement and buy them yourself
- Consider using salvaged or reconditioned parts for your repair or replacement
What Are Common Diesel Engine Repair Expenses?
Diesel engine repair expenses are usually limited to the actual cost of carrying out the required repairs. This includes the cost of buying any parts of the engine that may need replacement and the diesel engine repair technician or mechanic's labor costs. You should always get a detailed estimate of these costs before hiring any diesel engine repair technician or mechanic. Also, find out whether you will have to pay an upfront fee or if payment will be made after the repair job has been completed.
Finally, it is advisable to carry out regular maintenance on your engine, and your vehicle as a whole, after any repairs have been done. This maintenance usually includes oil and filter changes and it can cost you anywhere between $25 and $200. Doing this reduces the chances of your engine suffering a complete breakdown, thereby reducing the total cost of any future engine repairs or replacements.
Who Will Do the Work?
Whether you are dropping off your vehicle at a diesel engine repair facility or you are retaining the services of a particular diesel engine repair technician or mechanic, you should always have a clear idea of who will be in charge of the work that has to be done on your engine. This way, you can verify the credentials of this technician or mechanic and also ensure that any state or local government registration and licensing are duly met. Knowing who is in charge of your repair job also provides you with a specific individual to hold accountable if your diesel engine is not repaired properly or to your satisfaction. This is important, especially if you drop your vehicle off in a repair facility that employs several diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics.
Note that while some repair facilities that display ASE certification logos may claim that this certification covers all their technicians and mechanics, this is not usually the case. If a vehicle repair facility displays an ASE certification logo, this only means that at least one technician or mechanic in this facility is ASE certified. However, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence has a recognition program that issues a customized Blue Seal of Excellence logo to vehicle repair facilities where each area of service being offered is covered by at least one ASE-certified technician or mechanic. As such, if you drop your diesel-powered vehicle off at a repair shop that displays an ASE Blue Seal of Excellence logo, then it is very likely that your repair job will be handled or overseen by an ASE-certified diesel engine repair technician or mechanic. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to get confirmation of this.
What Qualifications Should a Diesel Engine Repair Technician and Mechanic Have?
While diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics typically learn on the job after obtaining a high school diploma or its educational equivalent, many employers usually require these technicians and mechanics to also complete postsecondary education and training programs. These programs, which are usually offered by community colleges and vocational or trade schools, typically involve a mixture of classroom learning with hands-on training. Some diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics also obtain professional certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. In addition to demonstrating the diesel engine repair technician or mechanic's competence and experience to potential employers, these certifications also potentially increase their average income. Note that ASE-certified technicians and mechanics are typically required to pass recertification examinations every five years. Finally, diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics that work on large buses and trucks may be required to obtain a commercial driver's license before they can test-drive these vehicles.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are more than 253,000 bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists currently employed in the country. Many of these individuals belong to trade associations like the Association of Diesel Specialists and the AERA Engine Builders Association. Note that membership in a trade association is not compulsory. However, diesel engine repair technicians and mechanics that belong to these types of organizations are required to abide by a specified code of ethics and this usually makes them more professionally behaved than the technicians and mechanics that are not members of any trade association.
Will You Provide References?
You can get referrals on a good diesel engine repair technician or mechanic near you through several methods, which include:
- By asking friends, family, and colleagues
- By utilizing search portals provided by organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and the Association of Diesel Specialists
After getting referrals and reaching out to a technician or mechanic, you should always ask these individuals to provide you with at least three references. Getting references is a good way to make sure that you end up with a professional diesel engine repair technician or mechanic near you. Contact these references and get their honest opinions on the technician or mechanic. Be suspicious of any diesel engine repair technician or mechanic that cannot provide you with up to three verifiable references, and strongly consider hiring a different one. You can also search for reviews and opinions on the technician or mechanic through websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, or Google Review. Finally, it is also a good idea to contact your state's Attorney General's Office or consumer protection agency to find out if any complaints or reports have been filed against the technician or mechanic that you intend to hire.
Quick Facts about Diesel Engine Technicians and Mechanics
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Diesel Engine Repair Services
Can a Diesel Engine Be Rebuilt? When Should a Diesel Engine Be Overhauled?
Yes, a diesel engine can be rebuilt. The terms engine rebuilding and engine overhauling are often used interchangeably, and they involve a process where the diesel engine is disassembled, inspected, and all worn-out parts are replaced. Although many diesel engine original equipment manufacturers recommend that you overhaul your engine every 12,000 to 15,000 hours, with proper use and regular maintenance you can extend this overhaul or rebuild interval to between 20,000 and 25,000 hours. Regardless of this, it is always a good idea to go with the specific recommendations of your vehicle's manufacturer, as well as your professional diesel engine repair technician or mechanic, concerning the overhauling or rebuilding of your diesel engine.
How Do I Know If My Diesel Engine Is Worn Out?
Some common signs that your diesel engine may be worn out include:
- Your engine has difficulty starting
- There is blue smoke coming out of your exhaust
- Your engine has poor fuel economy
- Your engine has increased oil consumption
- There is a loss of engine power
- Your engine makes strange or excessive noises
- Your engine's turbocharger system fails
- Your engine continues running even after you turn it off
- Your engine has a rough idle
- Your engine has excessive blow-by
It is advisable to visit a reputable diesel engine repair shop near you as soon as you notice any of these signs. This way, you can get a proper diagnosis to find out what exactly may be wrong with your engine, and how to fix the issue.
What Can Cause a Diesel Engine to Smoke?
Properly working diesel engines should not produce visible smoke from their exhaust pipes. Therefore, if noticeable smoke is coming out of your exhaust pipes, this is usually an indication that there is something wrong with your engine. While black smoke is the most noticeable color of engine smoke, a faulty diesel engine may also produce white or blue smoke. The most common problems that result in your diesel engine producing visible smoke are:
- Clogged Air Cleaner
- Clogged Air, Fuel, or Oil Filters
- Damaged Crankshaft Keyway
- Damaged Fuel Lines
- Damaged Intercooler
- Damaged Lift Pump
- Damaged/Incorrect Fuel Pump Timing
- Damaged Timing Gear
- Damaged Turbocharger
- Damaged/Clogged EGR Cooler
- Damaged/Faulty Injector System
- Damaged/Worn Piston Rings, Cylinders, Liners, Guides, and Stem Seals
- Excessive Engine Sludge Build Up
- Fuel Mixed with Oil
- Improper Valve Clearance
- Low Fuel Pressure to the Fuel Pump
- Overfilling the Engine with Oil
- Over-Fueling the Engine
- Using the Wrong Blend of Diesel Fuel
- Using the Wrong Grade of Oil
- Water Mixed in the Diesel Fuel
Many of these problems can be avoided through regular engine maintenance. Note that you should never ignore any visible smoke coming out of your exhaust pipes regardless of what the color of this smoke might be. Always get your engine inspected by a professional diesel engine repair technician or mechanic near you immediately you notice this to avoid any further damage to your diesel-powered vehicle.
How Do You Take Care of a Diesel Engine?
You can take care of your diesel engine through proper use and regular maintenance. While it is best to always have a professional diesel engine repair technician or mechanic inspect your engine and carry out any required maintenance, there are certain actions that you can take to make sure that your diesel engine is properly taken care of. These include:
- Keep your engine clean
- Monitor your engine's coolant
- Change your fuel filters regularly. It is recommended that you do this approximately every 10,000 15,000 miles
- Inspect your air filters regularly and replace them if necessary. Note that this replacement should preferably be done by a professional
- Change your diesel engine oil regularly. This should be done after every 5,000 miles or less, depending on how you use your vehicle
Is Rebuilding a Diesel Engine Worth It?
Rebuilding a diesel engine is usually more economical than completely replacing the engine, and in many cases, the rebuilt diesel engine is as good as a new engine. Note that the quality of an engine rebuild is affected by the mechanic that does the job, and so you should always hire a professional diesel engine repair technician or mechanic to do this. In addition to this, you should always compare the cost of rebuilding your engine to the cost of replacing it. If the costs are almost the same, then it might be a better idea to have your diesel engine replaced instead of rebuilt.