Both diesel and gasoline engines suffer damage from overheating, but in different ways. To fix the problem in gas engines, all you'd have to do is add more coolant to the radiator and turn off the engine to give it time to cool off. Unless the gas engine is overheating severely and frequently, it won't suffer permanent damage. The same can't be said about diesel engines.
Why Diesel Engines Are Vulnerable to Heat
Diesel engines don't have any spark plugs like gasoline engines do, but they rely instead on high levels of pressure to ignite the fuel. This pressure is also what gives the diesel engine a significant torque advantage over that of the gas engine. As a downside, however, the pressure makes for an incredible amount of heat. If the engine is turbocharged, the already high level of heat around the diesel engine becomes even more intense.
What's the Worst That Can Happen?
If your engine overheats to the point of causing damage, the first thing to go will likely be the head gasket. This metal barrier is what separates your cylinder heads from the radiator's coolant. If there is even a small crack in the gasket, then coolant will leak into the cylinders. At best, a cracked gasket can produce unpleasant odors. At worst, your radiator, water pump, and cylinders could all be compromised, requiring expensive services to fix your car.
Severe overheating can warp your cylinders and even crack them. If your cylinders are damaged to the point that they can no longer maintain sufficient pressure, then your engine will no longer run until the cylinders are replaced. This problem often leads people to buy a new car, rather than spend so much money to repair a heavily damaged engine.
During routine maintenance visits, your mechanic should examine and top off your car's fluids as needed. However, there are some other possible causes and signs of overheating that are not so closely watched.
- If you notice that your air conditioning is suddenly blowing hot air, stop the car immediately. Because the car's air conditioning parts are located in the engine compartment, extreme amounts of heat under the hood can show up through your cabin vents.
- Watch for oil leaks on your driveway. If your car has been leaking oil for a long time and hasn't been to the shop for an oil change, then your engine may have a leak that needs fixing.
Overheating is one of the most common ways that your diesel engine can become damaged beyond repair. However, if you are careful to monitor your dashboard warnings and the engine compartment's fluid levels, then you will help prevent this disaster from happening.
For more information, talk to your local diesel sales representatives such as Independent Diesel Sales Ltd.