What Common Problems Will You Face With A Diesel RV Engine?

Since RVs are large, heavy vehicles, diesel engines are a common option on many models. Diesel motors offer superior fuel economy and a potentially longer lifespan but also come with their own unique set of potential maintenance issues. If you haven't owned a diesel engine before, you may be unfamiliar with some of the more usual problems.

While a well-maintained diesel engine should give you many years of reliable service, it can still pay to recognize when something may be wrong. Below you'll find three RV repair issues that sometimes occur with diesel engines that are less common on gasoline motors.

1. Fuel Contamination

While it's sometimes possible to get fouled or contaminated gasoline, this problem is somewhat more common with diesel fuel. Diesel is highly sensitive to moisture, so contaminated fuel can quickly cause noticeable driveability problems. For example, you may notice poor idling behavior or find that your RV suddenly lacks the power to pass or climb steep grades.

Fuel contamination in diesel engines is a significant problem. Not only does it affect how your vehicle drives, but it can damage engine components or lead to fuel tank corrosion. At a minimum, repairing this problem will usually require you to replace your fuel filter. If the problem persists, you'll most likely need an experienced shop to flush and evaluate your entire fuel system.

2. Over Fueling

Like gasoline engines, your diesel engine relies on a careful fuel to air ratio to provide optimal power and efficiency. Unlike a gasoline engine, diesel motors inject fuel directly into hot, compressed air, and don't require a spark plug for ignition. Although gasoline engines can over fuel (a condition known as running rich), it's a somewhat more common and visible problem on diesel motors.

When your RV's diesel motor has an over-fueling problem, you're likely to notice black smoke from the tailpipe when accelerating. This condition occurs because the excessive does not thoroughly burn, leaving particulate matter in the exhaust stream. If you notice significant black smoke from your RV, always have it checked by a mechanic experienced with diesel engines.

3. Long-Term Storage Issues

If you don't use your RV often, then you may run into some storage issues. Fuel contamination is more likely since there's more time for moisture to enter the fuel system, and moisture or oxidation can also be an issue with oil. In general, you shouldn't have a problem with leaving your RV sitting for several months at a time, but you should still be aware of these potential issues.

With extended storage (a year or more), you should consider performing a full service before putting the vehicle back on the road. Replacing the oil and fuel before driving your RV again will ensure that the engine and fuel system do not suffer damage from contamination.