Do This, Not That, When Servicing The Diesel Engine Fuel Filter

Diesel fuel has caught the attention of fleet managers. As diesel prices rise, it’s important to keep a close eye on your fuel filters to ensure your trucks’ diesel engines are running as efficiently as possible. While it may seem simple (check the fuel filter, included), maintaining fuel filtration gets… tricky.

“Fuel filtration is a very tricky area,” confirmed Donald Chilton, Director, Product Management, WIX Filters. “The filter does its job of stopping contamination, water, etc. Most people don’t drain the water fast enough or wait too long for their maintenance to change the filter before there is a problem with engine performance. So be consistent in your fueling and maintenance schedules.

This is our first “Do”: be consistent. Often the biggest challenge with fuel filtration is simply remembering to check it during preventative maintenance. And that’s our first “Don’t”: Don’t neglect the fuel filter in the PM program. Of course, it is not changed as often as an oil filter, but this is no less important.

Another must, as Chilton alluded to earlier, is knowing your fuel supply.

“Different fuel sources treat the fuel filtration process differently. Some filter before loading the tank, some use water absorbers, some filter at the pump and some do nothing,” he said. “Old fuel is still bad and water is one of the biggest problems today.”

So mark this under the “To Do” category: Use the same fuel sources if possible.

Admittedly, this can be difficult to do when your trucks are crossing the country and diesel prices continue to rise. So when you can’t control your fuel supply, you definitely want to control your maintenance practices.

“Be sure to follow a maintenance schedule that’s right for your fleet,” Chilton recommended. “Try using water absorbers if you have water problems as these fall into the tank of the truck or at the supply point.”

Water is a major maintenance culprit, as diesel fuel tends to accumulate contaminants during storage and transportation. When these contaminants meet the water in diesel fuel, they form a sludge-muddy marriage that can cause all kinds of problems. Clogged fuel injectors and carburetors mean loss of engine power and potentially more catastrophic problems. Unfortunately, fleet managers can’t do much about water in diesel. It’s just a certainty. Your best defense is a strong MP attack.

“You can’t see the water in the fuel like the good old days. Modern low sulfur fuels attract and hide water,” Chilton said. “You can’t see anything smaller than 100 microns and we try to stop 2-3 micron particles from reaching the injector. Think how small that is.

Fun fact! Human hair is about 70 microns (plus or minus 20 microns) to give you some perspective. Two microns is the size of bacteria like e. coli. It is little. Here’s your next “Don’t”: Don’t assume the fuel filter is good just because it looks good.

Part of your fuel filtration PM should specify a high quality fuel filter. The main fuel filter in any diesel engine should always be a fuel/water separator, as noted by Chilton. Water removal with the separator ensures longer diesel injection system life and productive engine uptime. Plus, there’s new filtration technology that keeps your truck engines running efficiently. WIX fuel filters feature a new synthetic/cellulose media and Quickvent system for improved particle retention efficiency and water removal capabilities.

Click here to learn more about the WIX fuel filter range.

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