Smoke Signals

Dec 2, 2009

Ask any convertible or motorcycle driver about a diesel truck and they’ll all say the same thing: “I hate being stuck behind them.” Diesel trucks are easy to spot on the road because of the black soot they blow out from their exhaust. And most diesel trucks love to “smoke” the occasional double-parker, annoying kid on a scooter, or rich doctor in a convertible. Soot may be fun, but sometimes it means your truck is not running as efficiently as it could be.

Watching your truck’s smoke hue can help you gauge how your truck is running. For example, colorless or light grey smoke is normal and held as a diesel industry trademark, but if your truck has a heavy black smoke it may be suffering from restricted air flow, overload, or improper injection. If your smoke has a blue tint to it, it may have worn or stuck piston rings, worn valve guides and stems, or a high crankcase pressure. If your truck has a white smoke it may be afflicted with misfiring cylinders, water or air in the fuel, or lack of compression.

Finding a Fix

Each diagnosis is an inefficient waste of fuel and needs to be remedied. Solutions such as installing a tuner, turbo, installing an intake and exhaust, replacing the injectors, and using an additive can turn that waste into power. We’ve talked about installing a tuner in a previous issue.

Tuners advance timing, increase duration by holding the injector open for a longer period of time, and they add pressure to get better fuel atomization. They help your engine run at top performance. Remember to always tune for your vehicle’s needs and not just the max on each option.

Turbos can boost your engine’s power without increasing its weight, which is partly why they are so popular. They squeeze more compressed air into the cylinder which in turn allows more fuel to be pumped into the cylinder. More fuel and air in the cylinder means more power coming from each explosion in the cylinders. This helps the engine perform at its optimum ability.

Installing an intake and exhaust system will help as well. Your engine is like an air pump, it needs as much air running through it as it can get. Intakes and exhaust systems are designed to help your engine breathe and get as much air as it needs to get the power you want.

Another remedy for your diesel truck efficiency would be replacing the injectors. It is recommended that you replace your injectors every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Faulty injectors can cause poor fuel economy, hard starting, and a rough idle. If your car starts and runs fine when cold and terrible when warm, a fuel smell lingers inside the car, or if you have a loss of power in acceleration, you may want to replace your injectors. Replacing injectors can get your engine running smoothly again.