Diesel Engine Not Starting: Troubleshooting Guide

Published on 12/07/2021

diesel engine not starting troubleshooting guideThe last thing you want to deal with is engine problems when your diesel engine won’t start. There are many factors that can cause problem starts with your diesel engine. Learn about diesel engine repair with All Bay Diesel.

When your diesel engine won’t start, you might wonder how your trained diesel mechanic will troubleshoot and repair the problem. Trained diesel engine technicians follow a process to eliminate potential issues and hone in on a working solution.

Checklist For Diesel Engine Not Starting

When you start your diesel engine, two essential components interact to create usable energy: compression, which produces heat, and fuel, which combusts upon interacting with heat. When something goes wrong in either of these essential systems, your diesel engine won’t start.

Starter system

Your mobile diesel mechanic may begin the repair process by checking the starter system and cranking speed. These starting systems move the crankshaft, which produces the mechanical compression that combusts the diesel and powers your engine. Your trained diesel technician may inspect the following:

  • Battery strength
  • Voltage drop
  • Current draw
  • Starter condition

Compression and combustion systems

If your starter system and cranking power are up to par and your diesel engine won’t start, the next step is to inspect for compression leaks. A leak means your engine is losing pressure and that it won’t be able to compress the air in the air-to-fuel ratio. Your technician may find these leaks in the following areas:

Glow plug could be the reason for your diesel engine not starting

The diesel glow plug is different from a gasoline spark plug. Glow plugs are only necessary to start the engine of a diesel vehicle in temperatures under 40°F, while spark plugs are constantly firing during gasoline engine operation in all climates.

Diesel fuel tends to become more like gel in lower temperatures. The glow plug helps to warm the diesel to a usable temperature. When a diesel engine won’t start in cooler temperatures, it may need a glow plug replacement.

Troubleshooting Diesel Fuel Systems

While diesel engines run on a fuel-lean ratio, they do require fuel to fire up. If the engine compression and cranking capability are fully functional but your diesel engine won’t start, the next area for your mobile diesel mechanic to troubleshoot is the fuel system.

Fuel injection types

There are multiple modern diesel fuel injection systems that control fuel injection and fuel pressure. Some common diesel engine fuel injection systems today can include:

  • Common rail
  • Hydraulic unit electrical injection (HUEI)
  • Pump-line-nozzle (PLN) variations
  • Unit injector (UI)

Advances in diesel technology and particulate filters have made fuel system diagnosis more technologically dependent. Your diesel mechanic will have the appropriate scan tools and training to understand the scan data.

Fuel injection pressure

If your diesel engine won’t start, the problem could be the amount of pressure in the fuel system. The engine may not start if the fuel pressure is too low. Fuel pressure that is too high can cause damage to the exhaust system while also increasing soot pollution in the exhaust.

In some cases, the fuel injector may be stuck in a closed position, which prevents the fuel from reaching the combustion chamber. This issue is a likely factor if the pressure is ideal and there are no other identifiable problems with the compression or fuel systems.

Fuel contamination

In some cases where your diesel engine won’t start, there may be contaminants in the fuel that aren’t capable of working in a diesel engine. Contaminants can include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Air in the fuel line (indicating a leak in the closed system)
  • Improper fuel or contaminated fuel (gasoline, water, etc.)

These contaminants can cause significant damage in some cases. Your repair technician may recommend replacing the fuel lines, fuel filters, or other portions of your fuel system. In severe fuel contamination cases, your tech may need to replace the engine and fuel system entirely.

Repairing A Diesel Engine That Won’t Start

When your diesel engine won’t start, your mobile mechanic will thoroughly inspect each system. Each part of the inspection will rule out or confirm potential causes for the diesel engine failure. A well-trained and experienced mobile diesel technician can perform these repairs quickly.

The team at All Bay Diesel offers a complete range of personal and commercial fleet diesel engine care and repair to Berkley and the surrounding areas. Our mechanics are fully mobile and travel to your location to perform inspections, maintenance, and repair services.

Our team is ready to service your diesel vehicles today. When your diesel engine won’t start, call (925) 522-1780 for commercial truck repair in Berkeley with All Bay Diesel.

Call Now: (925) 522-1780