Fleet Maintenance


What’s Under Your Hoods?

When it comes to maintenance, keeping one diesel running can be a chore, much less a group of them. Maintaining your fleet is one of the most important tasks of a business owner, however, as down trucks mean lost time and lost revenue. We’ve logged a few miles in the diesel industry, so here are some tips and tricks to keep everything running smoothly.

Mileage Isn’t the Only Concern

Almost everywhere you’ll hear about oil being changed at certain mile intervals, transmission fluid, and coolant also. One thing to remember though is that a lot of engine hours can be just as bad as excess mileage, or be even harder on the truck’s powertrain. In applications that have high a high idle time like tow trucks, oilfield rigs, or welding trucks, oil coolers, EGR systems, and DPF’s (if equipped) can become clogged if left unattended for too long. After all, a truck that idles for hours a day can be quite hard on parts.

Talk to the Drivers

Oftentimes, drivers can be nervous to report issues, or will say “That’s just the way this truck is.” We rode it one diesel tow truck that was vibrating so bad, we could barely see the road. “It only does it above 70 mph or so,” was the driver’s response. The lesson here is to report problems when they arise, rather than waiting until something falls off, as that’s almost always the more expensive route to take.

Charge it Up

One of the most common issues we see on fleet vehicles is low battery voltage or poor or corroded connections. It’s sad to say, but batteries are most often replaced when the vehicle “won’t start anymore,” and electrical connections are almost never maintained. While it’s sort of a thankless procedure, it can save you from being stranded.

Keep an Eye on Your Fluids

Changing fluids is very important if you’re running a fleet of vehicles, and we don’t mean just the oil. We’ve seen vehicles stall out because of clogged fuel filters, or air filters that have been so neglected that there was a rat’s nest in the airbox. So check your oil, coolant, fuel, and air filters whenever you can.

Improvements over the Factory Parts

While we’d all like to think that new pickups come engineered with the best possible setups, costs and ergonomics are always a concern. Sometimes it’s just plain worth it to upgrade to a deep pan to extend the life of your fluid, or a larger filter for your fuel, or a washable air filter. Sometimes these little changes can make quite a bit of difference.

Keep it in Stock

If there’s a final note on any of this, it’s that parts on hand is worth quite a lot. If you’re looking to stock up, give Pure Diesel Power a call and we can help you find all the right parts you now need or will need in the future. For those looking online, there are “Filter and Maintenance” sections, as well as “Upgraded and Replacement Parts,” “EGR Components,” and “Sensors and Pigtails.” After all, without a reliable fleet, there’s no reliable business!

Which Tuner is Right for You?

Since the late ’90’s, virtually all diesel trucks (and even some cars) have been open to computer programming. As time went on, these simple devices that did one thing (tuned the vehicle) have developed into powerful tools that can be used by any diesel enthusiast to extract more performance out of their vehicle. From the weekend warrior who is hooked to a trailer, to a competitive sled puller, a tuning device can be an extremely powerful tool.

Tuning 101

 Today’s modern tuners, programmers, and monitors are very different from those of yesteryear. Not only can they recalibrate the computer for more power, they can compensate for changes in tire size, clear trouble codes, and read a variety of engine functions such as engine coolant, exhaust gas temperature, boost, and much more. Building a sled puller or drag racer? Tuners are available for competition use that are able to make any exhaust system work with the factory engine and turn off the EGR, all while giving the custom tune you’ll need for maximum performance.

 Turning up the Power

 If you’re the owner of a newer GM, Ram, or Ford truck, good news–these things are turned way down from the factory. On most of these trucks, 400 to 500 horsepower at the rear wheels is easily achievable, even though the truck might only make 250 rear-wheel horsepower stock! There are certain models that are more capable than others, but adding a solid 100 to 200rwhp is very commonplace. With custom tuning, it’s possible to dramatically increase a truck’s performance. We know of one 6.7L Ford that went 16.3 in the quarter-mile stock, then dropped to a 15.0 with an aftermarket tuner. The customer still wasn’t happy with the performance, and another custom tune was added that dropped the otherwise stock truck to a 13.8! Not bad for an 8,200-pound truck.

 Common Mistakes

 One of the biggest mistakes we see when it comes to tuning concerns power level settings. Contrary to how a lot of people use them, many tuners have their “max power” setting designed for short bursts, like sled pulling, drag racing, or passing that slowpoke in the left lane. We’ve seen cracked heads, smoked turbos, and blown head gaskets from people racing their buddies up hills with 20,000 pounds in tow. It’s possible to make 400 to 500 sustained horsepower, but this requires a concentrated build effort including head studs, an upgraded turbocharger, and improved cooling.

 Another common error is running a mis-matched combination on a pickup. We saw one VP44 truck that had huge injectors (200hp) but had a factory turbocharger. The programmer was at the highest setting for both fuel and timing. On the dyno, the truck made a lot less power than he thought it should. “Let’s try tuning the fuel down,” suggested the dyno operator. Sure enough, the truck made more and more power, ending in a 40-hp gain with the fuel setting on “Level 1.” With a different turbo, the truck definitely would have made more power, but with the stock turbo setup the tune definitely wasn’t matched to the engine.

 Where do I go from here?

 Whether you’re someone with a stock truck, or you’re that sled puller looking for the last few inches, there’s always room for improvement. The Pure Diesel Power staff will help in whatever way we can, to get you the combination that’s right for you and for your truck’s usage. We have the latest updates for most software, custom tunes from a variety of manufacturers, and the exciting new EZ Lynk technology that allows for custom tuning or diagnostics via smartphone! Need help with tuning? Give us a call–that’s what we’re here for.

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