There are plenty of reasons you love your diesel-fueled vehicle such as better fuel economy, lower emissions, and cheaper and less frequent required maintenance checks than gas-powered vehicles.

But just because those maintenance checks are less frequent, doesn’t mean you can’t take care of your diesel engine in the meantime. If you want to keep your beloved diesel truck or sedan running newer, longer, then check out these tips on diesel engine maintenance.

1. Clean your engine.

Since diesel engines tend to have a longer lifespan than their gas counterparts, they may benefit from more frequent cleaning. After all, when a vehicle navigates longer distances and more challenging tasks, dirt and dust have more opportunities to collect on its engine.

When dirt collects on your engine’s components, it shortens their lifespan and can even decrease fuel efficiency. Plus, if you live in an area with harsh winters, your engine’s pieces and parts may wear quicker due to contact with road salt, which intensifies rust and corrosion.

Needless to say, proper cleaning is an easy but important way to care for your diesel engine. You’ll want to consult your owner’s manual before you start cleaning. But most likely, you’ll need:

  • An old toothbrush to help you get into the nooks and crannies
  • A moist sponge to wipe down the engine bay
  • A specialized degreaser to safely dissolve gunk

As always, make sure your engine is cool before you start scrubbing, and wear protective gear like goggles and gloves.

Some engine components may not be waterproof, so check your vehicle’s manual to see what’s safe to hose down. Car and Driver recommends using plastic bags to protect those water-sensitive parts while cleaning.

Pro-tip: If you’d rather not use water at all, consider using the low setting on a leaf blower to dust off your engine bay.

2. Check your air filter.

While you’re under the hood, check out your air filter. On most vehicles, including diesel ones, the air filter is under the hood inside a rectangular cold air collector box that’s located up near the front of the engine compartment.

A filthy filter can “choke” your engine, forcing it to use more fuel to get the power and acceleration that you depend on. Generally, you should get your air filter replaced every 12,000 miles, or have it checked out if you notice decreased engine power, weaker acceleration, or increased engine wear.

3. Take care of your engine’s radiator.

A car’s radiator keeps it cool by transferring heat from the engine to the air. But how does this cooling process work? First, antifreeze (or coolant) travels through the engine “picking up” heat. The hot coolant cycles back to the radiator which dissipates heat into the air. Then, the freshly-cooled antifreeze travels back to the engine, repeating this cycle.

Since diesel engines tend to run hotter than gas motors, their radiators are subject to higher temperatures, which can lead to overheating. Overheating may warp engine components such as cylinders and gasket seals, eventually leading to complete (and potentially irreparable) engine failure.

Proper cooling system maintenance such as regular coolant or radiator exchanges are a great way to help prevent overheating in your diesel engine. Here’s what to expect during a radiator exchange service:

  • A specialized cleaning fluid is pumped through the cooling system and radiator.
  • Rust and impurities are eliminated in the antifreeze.
  • The system is topped off with new antifreeze to help it cool efficiently.

Many automobile manufacturers suggest getting radiator fluid exchanges every 40,000 to 60,000 miles, but it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your diesel car or truck. Get your cooling system and radiator checked out earlier if you notice:

  • Orange- or green-ish fluid leaks on the surface under your card
  • A maple syrup-like smell coming from the engine
  • Steam coming from under the hood
4. Get the fuel filters replaced.

Gas vehicles have a single fuel filter, but most diesel engines have two — a primary fuel filter between the gas tank and the engine, and a secondary filter between the transfer pump and fuel injectors. Due to the less-refined nature of diesel, the fuel tends to absorb more water from condensation in the tank leading many manufacturers to build diesel engines with two fuel filters.

When there are water particles in diesel, a few things can happen to your engine:

  • You could notice a decrease in horsepower.
  • Your engine could stall.
  • Your fuel injectors could explode.

Don’t wait for car problems to pop up! Instead, help avoid them with a Complete Vehicle Inspection and preventative maintenance services. Most diesel engines need fuel filter replacement services every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, but you should check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your make and model. Keep in mind that it is advisable to replace primary and secondary fuel filters at the same time to maximize their efficiency and lifespan.

Source: Firestone Complete Auto Care

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When sitting behind the wheel of a car, there are two things that most drivers want: to reach their destination, and to do so as safely as possible. This means having a car that is in good condition, and that includes its tires. Tires are a part of a car’s foundation. Without them, a vehicle cannot move or otherwise do what it was designed to do. However, not just any tire is sufficient. When getting tires, they must be appropriate for the vehicle type and in good shape to support and transport it.

When buying tires, there are several things to consider prior to making a purchase, such as the type of vehicle, the road and weather conditions they will be used in, and one’s driving style. Popular tire choices include all-season, all-terrain, winter, and performance tires. All-season tires are good for cars and minivans and are suitable for both wet and dry conditions, although they are best for areas that do not regularly go below freezing. Winter tires are designed to handle the cold conditions that are associated with the winter months and can handle freezing temperatures. Both all-season and winter tires are also available as performance tires. The performance version of these tires offers a bit more than the standard versions. For example, performance winter tires have improved grip, while performance all-season tires have a higher speed rating and offer better handling and braking. For people who drive trucks or SUVs, there are also truck versions available that can handle the heavier loads associated with these types of vehicles. All-terrain tires are also ideally suited for SUVs and trucks and are designed with a more rugged tread for both paved roads and mild off-road driving.

Providing one’s car with the right auto care is also crucial. A part of that care is regularly inspecting and maintaining the tires to ensure that they are roadworthy and safe. People can do part of this important maintenance themselves with little more than their observational skills, a penny, and a tire pressure gauge. To start, inspect each tire for cracks, bulges, separation of tread, or anything that may be embedded in the tires. A puncture by a sharp object can cause a slow leak, even if it is still embedded. Look at the tread of the tires to ensure that the depth is adequate enough to provide the proper amount of traction, which is necessary for safe driving. To check wear, take a penny and insert it upside-down into the groove of the tread. When looking at the penny, the top of President Lincoln’s head should not be visible. If it is visible, the tread is low. Tires also have built-in wear bars that will show when the tread is worn down enough to be replaced. If the tread seems to be wearing down on the outer edges of the tire, it could be a sign that the alignment of the car should be checked or that the tires should be rotated. Failure to properly inspect tires can result in a blow-out or hydroplaning or otherwise cause an accident that could result in serious injury to oneself or others.

While performing an auto maintenance check on the vehicle’s tires, one of the most important steps is checking their inflation. Under-inflated tires are problematic in several ways: they reduce a vehicle’s gas mileage, cause additional wear on the tires, and most importantly, they are one of the leading causes of accidents on the road. Because tires lose roughly one pound per square inch of pressure a month, it is crucial that they are checked at least monthly even if they appear well-inflated. To check tire pressure, start by checking the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) that the manufacturer gives in the car’s manual. If the vehicle manual cannot be located, the necessary information may also be found on a placard or sticker that is inside the door frame of most cars. The ideal time to check the pressure is in the mornings when the tires are cold. If this is not possible and the car has been driven, wait until they cool down, at least a half-hour, as pressure cannot accurately be checked on a hot tire. When ready, remove the valve cap, place it in a safe location, and firmly press the tire gauge to the stem of the valve. If using a digital gauge, a reading will show within a few minutes; with a standard gauge, a small bar will push out to display the results. Compare the information on the gauge to the manufacturer’s recommended amount and add air as necessary. Recheck the pressure after adding air, and replace the cap when done.

Source: yourmechanic.com

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Customer Service Week is a celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support our great customers on a daily basis. Customer service professionals play a vital role here at LeasePlan. They are the face of our company and the impressions they make have a lasting and long reaching effect. It is no wonder there is a full week set aside to acknowledge these outstanding professionals and their work!

Here are just a few members of our incredible team:

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Unscheduled vehicle downtime is not only a maintenance issue, it is also an accident-avoidance issue since, on average, 20% of a fleet’s vehicles annually incur downtime due to accidents. While many vehicle downtime events are unavoidable, downtime can be managed and minimized by adopting a proactive versus reactive maintenance program and by implementing a driver-based versus asset-based fleet safety focus.

The bottom line is you can’t change the fundamental requirements of your business, which necessitates specific asset requirements. The best way to minimize preventable accidents (and by default vehicle downtime) is by modifying driver behavior. In addition to maintenance and accident-related issues, downtime is also caused by numerous other circumstances ranging from tires damaged by road debris, to recalls, vehicles booted for unpaid tickets, to expired license tags.

The end result is that vehicle downtime negatively impacts the ability to perform service jobs, complete deliveries, or make sales calls, all of which result in a loss of productivity and revenue. Reducing downtime will reduce overall operating expenses and optimize vehicles productively, which increases fleet uptime.

Reasons for Downtime

With fleet budgets tighter than ever, it makes it imperative to track all expenses associated with downtime. However, not all fleets track downtime costs, one estimate showed only 36% of the fleets do so. Also, because there is no universally accepted industry definition of downtime for light-duty fleets, benchmarking downtime with peer fleets is difficult.

For instance, should downtime include all repair events? Or, only unscheduled events? Also, downtime metrics vary widely. Should you track cost of downtime hours per day, vehicle downtime per month, total downtime costs per event, or something else? Regardless, one thing is true, fleets generally underestimate the total cost of downtime, but it can be managed. For instance, vehicles participating in a scheduled preventive maintenance (PM) program experience about 20% fewer maintenance-related downtime days than those that aren’t.

In essence, the objective of a PM program is to ensure a vehicle is able to operate without any break in service until its next PM. A scheduled PM program helps to identify service issues before they become major problems. Follow-through on fault codes and alerts from onboard diagnostics and telematics systems will fix small issues before they become major, more costly, issues.

In addition, many incidents of unscheduled downtime can be avoided using predictive maintenance, namely forecasting when components are near the end of their useful life based on historical maintenance data rather than waiting for component failure. Developing a maintenance schedule to replace or rebuild components before the end of their expected lifecycles, fleets can offset higher expenses incurred from unscheduled downtime. Vehicles have a limited lifetime, and the frequency of breakdowns and cost of repairs goes up proportionately as vehicles age.

Even vehicles that have provided years of reliable service will sooner or later experience component failures. The rule of thumb is the older the vehicles, the more the problems and greater the risk of catastrophic failures. One analogy is with a person’s health. Approximately 80% of a person’s lifetime medical expenses occur in the last years of life — a similar ratio is true with vehicles.

A vehicle replacement policy, based on mileage or months in service, allows you to systematically phase out older vehicles that have a greater propensity to have problems, which will proactively help to lower incidents of unscheduled downtime.

Another cause of unscheduled downtime is vehicle overloading. Fleet maintenance surveys consistently show that overloading is the No. 1 cause of unscheduled maintenance for trucks. When a vehicle is overloaded, its emergency handling capability is reduced, which can contribute to an accident. For instance, braking distance increases, which can cause drivers to misjudge stopping distances, and tire failure rates are higher because tires run hotter.

Hard Costs vs. Soft Costs

Downtime costs are typically broken into two categories: tangible costs of downtime (hard costs), and intangible expenses (soft costs) due to driver inactivity.

Hard costs related to downtime include lost revenue, towing charges, temporary rental, and employee overtime. Soft costs are those incurred during driver downtime such as lost employee productivity, lost revenue-generating opportunities per day, and delays in delivering the product or service your company provides to its customers.

Key components to calculating the total cost of downtime are:

  • The costs of repairs necessary to get the vehicle back on the road again. This includes the cost of labor, replacement parts, diagnostic fees, and towing costs,
  • Know the approximate compensation costs of drivers to fully calculate employee soft costs, along with employee productivity costs. When drivers are not able to work due to a vehicle problem, they cannot produce revenue. This is a lost “opportunity” cost that impacts current and prospective customers.

In summary, you need to track downtime in detail. Don’t accept “repair time” as downtime, rather downtime should extend from the moment a vehicle is pulled out of service until the driver is able to get back on the road to resume work. Sometimes, the largest expense of downtime isn’t related to the actual repair, but other related soft costs, such as employee compensation and the lost revenue generation from the product and service provided.

Fleet data analysis can identify recurring downtime issues. It’s important to determine the causes of downtime so procedures can be developed to minimize such problems in the future.

Source: Automotive Fleet

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Amazon’s plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030 will include 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans, which the e-commerce giant will purchase from Rivian Automotive Inc.

CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled plans to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian that will be custom-built for Prime deliveries. This deal follows a $700 million investment in Rivian by Amazon earlier this year. The first Rivian vehicles would arrive in 2021. 

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon — which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”

With this plan, Bezos said Amazon would reach 80% renewable energy use by 2024 and 100% by 2030, up from 40% today. 

The electric Rivian Prime vans will be assembled at a 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing plant, previously owned by Mitsubishi, in Normal, IL.

The Amazon order is a big contract for Rivian, which is aiming to launch its R1T plug-in pickup and R1S sport utility vehicle late next year. Those Rivian vehicles are projected to offer a range of more than 400 miles per charge, and have a base price between $68,000 and $72,500, the company said in February. The R1T pickup can tow 11,000 lbs., and go from zero to 60 mph in 3 about seconds, company officials said.

Financial terms of Amazon’s van deal were not released. 

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” said Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ former climate change chief and founding partner of Global Optimism. “With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization. If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge.”

Amazon Employees for Climate Change has been pressuring Amazon this year to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and detail how it’s preparing to deal with business disruptions caused by climate change. Inside Amazon’s annual meeting in May, an employee speaking on behalf of the group asked for the opportunity to share her concerns with Bezos directly but was denied. Shareholders later voted down their proposal for Amazon to disclose a comprehensive climate change plan. 

The employee group on Thursday called Amazon’s pledge “a huge win.” 

“We’re thrilled at what workers [have] been able to achieve in less than a year,” the group said in a statement. “But we know it’s not enough.”

Amazon has already launched 15 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects that will generate over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of clean energy annually — enough to power 368,000 U.S. homes. Amazon has also installed more than 50 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe that generate 98 MW of renewable capacity and deliver 130,000 MWh of clean energy annually.

Source: Fleet Owner

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