What To Do If Your Diesel Engine Has Been Sitting For A Long Time

Published on 12/15/2021

what to do if your diesel engine has been sitting for a long time

After a diesel engine has been sitting for a long time, there’s a good chance it won’t start up the next time you go to use it. This happens when the liquids used to run the engine dry out and corrode essential engine components. It happens quickly, as the oil, coolant, and diesel fuel start to break down in a matter of weeks, causing enough damage that the engine won’t start.

The damage begins with the liquids evaporating, leaving behind a thick substance that clogs the engine’s moving parts. Ultimately, these parts will stick and begin to deteriorate. If given enough time, the engine will rust and fail to start. At that point, you'll need heavy maintenance to get your diesel engine functioning again.

Steps To Bring A Diesel Engine Back To Life

Whether you have a diesel tractor or a truck sitting too long at home, there are several steps you can take that may bring the engine back to life. Each step can also help to pinpoint the problem area so you can assess the damage.

Drain the coolant

Before trying to get the engine started, drain all fluids beginning with the coolant. You can do this using a coolant flush kit that attaches to most garden hoses. Once it’s entirely drained, fill it back up with fresh coolant.

Replace the oil filter

To ensure the oil pump is functioning, drain and scrape the oil pan. Once it’s clean, carefully examine the oil pan for any particles or pieces of metal. Thoroughly wash the oil pickup screen, and we suggest replacing both the oil pan gasket and the oil filter.

Clean the fuel tank

Remove the fuel in the tank, flushing it out until it’s entirely clean. Take apart the sediment bowl, thoroughly clean it, and replace both the fuel tank screen and the gaskets. Once you’ve done this, we recommend flushing the fuel lines as well.

Flush out the radiator

After removing all of the water from the radiator and block, flush it out with clean water. We recommend using a pressurized hose if possible to ensure it’s clean.

Clean the covers

Remove and clean the side covers, the valve cover, and the cover from the governor. Be sure to remove any buildup.

Pour kerosene on the rocker arms

Pour kerosene over the rocker arms, allowing it to flow through the return lines and into the oil pan. Do the same with oil, ultimately cleaning the rocker arms.

Clean the oil fill point

Pour kerosene into the oil fill point, allowing it to drain into the oil pan again. At this point, you can refill the oil receptacle.

Remove glow plugs

Each engine cylinder has a glow plug in the pre-chamber or combustion chamber. Temporarily removing the glow plugs will make it easier for a diesel engine that’s been sitting a long time to start. 

To better maintain your vehicle that operates on a diesel fuel system, we recommend starting the engine at least twice a month. Ideally, you would do this once a week.

Reasons A Diesel Engine Won’t Start After It’s Been Sitting

If your diesel engine has been sitting a long time and still won’t start after following our recommended steps, there are several possible causes. The most common are interrupted fuel delivery, problems with injectors, or a contaminated fuel line. 

Interrupted fuel delivery

Various engine issues can lead to interrupted fuel delivery. You can assess some on your own, but you may need a professional to do the repairs. Here’s what to look for:

  •     Incorrect injector timing 
  •     Leaks on the fuel lines
  •     A fuel pump that pushes air into the fuel
  •     Clogged fuel filters
  •     Clicking noises upon startup

Problems with fuel injectors

Fuel injectors require regular maintenance. We recommend you often check that the pressure levels aren’t too high or too low, as either extreme can lead to problems down the road. If you experience white or black smoke coming from your exhaust, you may be dealing with:

  •     Dirty fuel injectors
  •     Leaking fuel injectors
  •     Extreme pressure

Contaminated fuel line

Unfortunately, diesel fuel creates the ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Here are signs that your fuel line is contaminated:

  •     A green or black coating in your fuel tank
  •     Sulfur smell

Truck Preventative Maintenance In Berkeley, CA

When you need honest and reliable truck preventive maintenance in Berkeley, reach out to us at All Bay Diesel. Our diesel engine and automotive repair experts are trained to work with all vehicles, offering solutions for diesel truck owners and enthusiasts.

If your diesel engine has been sitting for a long time and will no longer start, have a professional look at it before corrosion escalates. As a mobile repair service, all of our automotive professionals come right to you. Call All Bay Diesel's mobile truck repair now at (925) 522-1780 to schedule your appointment.

Call Now: (925) 522-1780