Understanding Contaminants in Diesel Fuel

Understanding Contaminants in Diesel Fuel

If you have operated a diesel-powered vehicle for several years, you have probably noticed that fuel for it is becoming more refined. As engine manufacturers strive for fuel efficiency, they also lower tolerances for contaminants in the fuel systems. Here are some tips to help you understand the contaminants in your fuel and what to do about them. 

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Water is perhaps the most dangerous thing that can get into your fuel system. It contracts and expands under temperature changes, making it dangerous to internal engine components. Expanding water can easily lead to cracked injectors. Unlike diesel fuel, water is corrosive, so it can also cause rust on internal engine parts that are not designed to withstand the moisture. If you suspect water in your fuel system, take steps to remove it as soon as possible. 


While this may seem like something more out of a science fiction film, microorganisms can live in your fuel tanks. They enter through vents or your filler cap and settle to live at the line where the fuel and water separate. When you add fuel to the tank, the microorganism can get dislodged and enter the fuel lines of your vehicle. If you have installed a high-quality fuel filter, then they will likely get caught in that. Microorganisms can cause a filter to clog prematurely, though, so if you notice that your airdog fuel pressure is suddenly low, you might want to check it for their presence. 

Sludge and Particulates

Sludge in fuel tanks can lead to smaller pieces of debris getting into your fuel lines. Because of the tight restrictions in newer engines, these can cause trouble. However, most fuel filters both at distribution points and in vehicles are designed to mechanically filter them out. That is why it is vitally important to change filters regularly. 

Sometimes it is the little things that can gum up a project, and that is no different when it comes to diesel fuel systems. If you have noticed performance or efficiency drop lately, it may be time to check and replace your filters. You might want to consider using a fuel additive to help remove moisture and prevent freezing as well.