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Student Workbook

LV24
Diesel Fuel
Systems (2)

LV24/SWB
Student Workbook for Technical Certificates in
Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair

MODULE LV24
DIESEL FUEL SYSTEMS (2)

Contents
Page Page
Safety Precautions: 3 Control Cable Adjustment: 22
Foreword 3 Pre-checks- throttle cable 23
Cable adjustment 24
Routine Maintenance: 3 Drive belt adjustment 25
Filter replacement 4 Adjustment mechanisms 26
Filter construction 5 Timing errors 27
Filter replacement notes – applicable Drive belt tension adjustment 28
to all types 6
Filter replacement – paper type Injector Maintenance/Cleaning: 30
element 8 Fuel additives 30
Filter replacement – cartridge type 10 Chemical cleaners 31
Filter replacement – sandwich type 11 Ultrasonic cleaning 31
Water contamination 12 Stripping and cleaning 32
Draining water 13 Injector testing 32
Additional fuel filters 14 Nozzle opening/break-off pressure 33
Injector noise 33
Fuel System Bleeding: 15 Spray patterns 34
Low pressure system – vacuum Nozzle leakage 34
type 15 Leak-back 35
Low pressure system – pressure type 16
Bleed points 17 Compression Testing: 36
High pressure system 17 Manual method 36
Bleeding the system 18 Electronic method 37
Bleeding procedure – vacuum type
systems 19
Bleeding procedure – high pressure
system 20
Progress check 1 21

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
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Page Page
Servicing/Maintenance Checks: 38 Environmental Issues: 51
Pipelines 39 EU emissions standards for
Checking pipelines 39 passenger cars 51
Return pipe/hoses 40 Carbon monoxide (CO) 52
Progress check 2 41 Nitrogen oxide (NOx) 52
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 52
Glow Plug and Circuit Testing 42 Particulate matter (PM) 52
Hydrocarbons (HC) 53
Fuel Injection Faults: 44 Principles of combustion 53
Failure to start 44 Ignition delay 53
Engine starts then stops 45 Flame spread 54
Difficulty starting 45 Direct burning 54
Erratic running/surging 46 After burn 55
Bluish/white exhaust 47 Progress check 3 56
Black exhaust smoke 47
Diesel knock 48

Diesel Fuel and Emissions: 49


Boiling point range 49
Cetane number 49
Flash point 50
Cold flow properties and filtration 50
Other additives 50

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Safety Precautions

Foreword

Diesel fuel systems operate at both low and extremely high pressures. Some
components have fluid connections to both low and high-pressure sections
and it is sometimes easy to confuse the two, especially in adverse working
conditions. A leak in the low pressure system can produce an intense spray
of fuel and it is therefore advisable to apply the same precautions to all parts
of the fuel supply system.

Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance of diesel engines is an important factor in the reliability


and longevity of diesel engines. With proper maintenance these engines will
run for many thousands of miles, often under harsh driving and environmental
conditions. If they are not looked after however, small faults can lead to
serious engine damage in a very short time. Many diesel engines are fitted to
small commercial vehicles (mainly light vans), which may be driven by a
number of people who do not actually own the vehicle or have an interest in
its running. This can lead to longer than normal service intervals and missed
maintenance.

Routine maintenance is much more than simply following a list of “things to


do”. A skilled technician will spot potential problems early, allowing prompt
action to prevent more complicated faults developing.

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Filter replacement

Fuel filters prevent potentially damaging particles getting into the sensitive
components of the diesel injection system and as such are a vital part of the
diesel fuel system, and they need to be replaced at regular intervals. Just by
doing the job they were designed to do, that of preventing anything other than
clean fuel proceeding further along the fuel system towards the engine, they
retain these particles and will eventually become clogged.

Filters will naturally retain almost any foreign bodies entering the fuel system
including particles of dirt, fluff from rags and paint flakes from the inside of
tanks and cans. In some cases, when the temperature is very cold, typically
below –15°C, the filter may also retain crystal deposits formed from natural
waxy elements within the fuel itself.

Over time the flow of fuel through the filter will be reduced by the particles
retained within the element, and when this flow reduction reaches a critical
point the lack of fuel flowing to the injection system will eventually promote
engine misfiring, stalling and even non-starting. This is the point at which the
filter is often described as being “blocked”. In many fuel injection systems the
fuel serves as a lubricant and damage can be caused to vital components if
the fuel flow is sufficiently reduced by blocked filters. Service intervals are
designed to help ensure that the filter is replaced before the build-up of dirt
etc. within the filter becomes excessive.

Water is often present in diesel fuel, normally caused by condensation in the


vehicle fuel tank and in tanks where the fuel is stored prior to reaching the
vehicle. Most filter assemblies incorporate a drainage system to allow water
to be removed at regular intervals and to drain the assembly when replacing
the filter. Water collecting in the system is damaging to injection system
components and may cause engine running/starting problems.

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Filter construction

Diesel fuel filter construction varies between manufacturers and three main
types are in use today.

Paper element type – disposable paper element enclosed within a sealed filter
housing or bowl. The housing may be screwed directly to the filter head or
secured by a bolt between the housing and the filter head.

Cartridge type – disposable, metal cased cartridge screwed directly to the


filter head.

Sandwich type – disposable, metal cased cartridge with exposed ends,


clamped between the filter head and sediment bowl by a long bolt.

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Rubber sealing rings are normally fitted between the filter or filter bowl and the
filter head. Filter elements may have rubber seals attached to them and
sealing rings are also normally installed where bolts pass through the filter. It
is normally recommended that these seals are replaced at the same time as
the filter and in some cases they may be included as part of a replacement
filter kit.

Filter replacement notes – applicable to all types

Before any dismantling is attempted remove the fuel filler cap – during normal
running a small amount of pressure may build up in the tank and fuel lines.
This pressure may force fuel out of the system when components are
removed with an associated risk of injury. Removing the filler cap first will
ensure that this pressure is released before any dismantling takes place.

Disconnect any electrical cables which may be attached to switches/sensors


on any part of the filter assembly which is turned or unscrewed when the filter
is removed – some filters require many turns to unscrew them fully and wiring
or components may be damaged if they are twisted during filter removal.
Additionally, disconnect any wiring attached to components in the area if there
is a risk that they may be damaged in the filter changing process.

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Place a suitable container beneath the filter bowl to catch any fluid drained. In
some cases it may not be possible to catch the fluid directly beneath the filter
due to lack of space. In these cases it will difficult to prevent fluid splashing
onto other mechanical and electrical components and/or paintwork. Where
spillage is unavoidable the use of rags in the area may be necessary to
reduce splashing and a drip tray should be used to prevent fluid reaching the
floor. Clean any spillage from vehicle components and the working area.

Take careful note of the position and orientation of any clips, springs and
washers during dismantling so that the assembly can be re-built correctly – it
is possible that incorrect assembly can cause blockages, air leaks or even a
total lack of filtering.

Before disposing of the old filter element and seals, use them as patterns to
check that the replacements are of the same size and type. Dispose of the
old filters according to local regulations and procedures.

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Filter replacement – paper element type

See the filter replacement notes above.

Some filter bowls incorporate a drain plug or tap and in certain cases a drain
hose may also be fitted. Where possible, drain the fluid from the filter into a
suitable container by partly unscrewing the plug/tap. Tighten the plug/tap
when all the fluid is drained in order to prevent spillage of any remaining fluid
when the filter is finally removed. Tightening the plug/tap at this stage has the
added advantage of reducing the chance of forgetting to tighten it later.
Remove any drain hoses at this stage if there is a chance they may be twisted
during filter removal.

Where the filter bowl is screwed directly to the filter head, unscrew the entire
bowl and remove it to a drip tray. If the bowl is too tight to remove by hand,
use a strap wrench. Alternatively, the filter bowl may be held in place by a
bolt, fitted either downwards through the filter head into the filter bowl or
upward from the bottom of the filter bowl into the head. Remove this bolt,
noting the position of the filter and that of any seals or washers and place the
filter bowl in a drip tray.

In some cases, the filter element is held in place by the filter bowl itself and
removing the bowl will normally allow the element to be removed at the same
time. Sometimes however, the filter element will remain attached to the filter
head by a bolt, threaded sleeve or nut after the bowl is removed. Where
applicable remove the fixing and filter element, noting its position and avoiding
any fuel spillage. Note the position of any seals or washers during removal.

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Clean the filter bowl, seal recesses and fixings with a lint-free rag and replace
any damaged seals or gaskets. Some seals are normally replaced as a
matter of course even if they appear undamaged, particularly the seal
between the edge of the bowl and filter head.

Before disposing of the old filter element and seals, use them as a pattern to
ensure that replacements are of the same size and type.

Fitting the new filter is the reverse of removal. Apply a smear of clean diesel
fuel to the seal between the filter bowl and the filter head to help the bowl seat
itself properly.

To save time and effort when priming the system later, partly fill the filter bowl
with clean diesel fuel at this stage, allowing for displacement of fuel by the
filter itself. This may not be possible, especially when the bolt securing the
filter bowl passes all the way through the bowl.

Carefully fit the filter and bowl, ensuring they seal together properly without
over-tightening. Make sure the filter is fitted the correct way up – some filters
will be marked. Use the manufacturers’ recommended torque settings when
finally tightening any securing nuts or bolts. If the whole filter bowl is screwed
on, use hand effort only.

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Re-connect any switches/sensors that have been removed and connect any
drain hoses, ensuring they are secured correctly both to the filter bowl and to
any fixings along their length.

Bleed the fuel system to remove any air.

Filter replacement – cartridge type

See the filter replacement notes at the beginning of this section.

Many cartridge type filters are sealed, one-piece units with no drain tap. It is
sometimes difficult to remove these without fuel spillage as they are normally
full of fuel and care should be taken to prevent too much splashing.

Some cartridges are fitted with a removable drain plug or tap and a drain hose
may be fitted. In these cases, drain the fluid from the filter into a suitable
container by partly unscrewing the plug/tap. Tighten the plug/tap when all the
fluid is drained in order to prevent spillage of any remaining fluid when the
filter is finally removed. Remove any drain hoses at this stage if there is a
chance they may become twisted during filter removal.

Unscrew the filter cartridge, by hand or by using a strap wrench where


necessary, ensuring the old seal is removed at the same time.

Clean the filter head including the seal recess with a lint-free rag.

Remove any drain plugs/switches etc. attached to the old filter cartridge that
are needed on the new one and secure them to the replacement cartridge
using new seals where appropriate.

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Ensure the seal is correctly attached and properly located on the new filter
cartridge and apply a smear of clean diesel fuel to the seal. As before, it may
be possible to partly fill the cartridge with clean diesel fuel at this stage.
Screw the filter to the head using hand effort only.

Re-connect any switches/sensors and connect any drain hoses, ensuring they
are secured correctly both to the filter bowl and to any fixings along their
length.

Bleed the fuel system to remove any air.

Filter replacement – sandwich type

See the filter replacement notes above.

Some filter sediment bowls incorporate a drain plug or tap and in certain
cases, a drain hose may be fitted. Where possible, drain the fluid from the
filter into a suitable container by partly unscrewing the plug/tap. Tighten the
plug/tap when all the fluid is drained in order to prevent spillage of any
remaining fluid when the filter is finally removed. Remove any drain hoses at
this stage if there is a chance they may be twisted during filter removal.

Remove the bolt clamping the assembly together; noting the position of any
seals or washers and place the filter and sediment bowl in a drip tray.

Clean the filter head, sediment bowl, seal recesses and fixings with a lint-free
rag and replace any damaged seals or gaskets. Some seals are normally
replaced as a matter of course even if they appear undamaged, particularly
those seals between the sediment bowl and filter, and between the filter and
filter head.

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Fitting the new filter is the reverse of removal. Apply a smear of clean diesel
fuel to the seals and ensure the filter is fitted the correct way up; it may be
marked. Tighten the fixing bolt to the correct torque as described by the
manufacturer.

Re-connect any switches/sensors that have been removed and connect any
drain hoses, ensuring they are secured correctly both to the filter bowl and to
any fixings along their length.

Bleed the fuel system to remove any air.

Water contamination

As previously mentioned, water is often present in diesel fuel and most diesel
primary fuel filters incorporate some form of water trap to contain water
separated from the fuel during the filtering process. It is important to prevent
water contamination reaching the fuel injection system in order to reduce the
risk of corrosion of finely machined parts.

As fuel passes through the filter element, any small particles of water carried
with it tend to combine into larger, heavier droplets in a process called
agglomeration. This is why the filter assembly is sometimes known as an
agglomerator. As water is heavier than the fuel, the fuel droplets sink to the
bottom of the filter bowl and remain there until removed during servicing.
At pre-determined service intervals or when excessive quantities of water
have entered the system, it will be necessary to remove the water even
though filter replacement may not be specified or necessary at that time or
mileage. Water can usually be drained through a tap or drain plug at the base
of the filter bowl. The low pressure caused by water leaving the bowl should
ensure that fresh fuel is drawn into the filter.

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Draining water

Place a clean container beneath the filter bowl to catch any fluid drained. In
some cases, it may not be possible to catch the fluid directly beneath the filter
due to lack of space. In these cases, it will difficult to prevent fluid splashing
onto other mechanical and electrical components and/or paintwork. Where
spillage is unavoidable, the use of rags in the area may be necessary to
reduce splashing and a drip tray should be used to prevent fluid reaching the
floor.

Partly unscrew the cap or plug, allowing the fluid to drain into the container.
Water will be seen as clear, bubble-like droplets within the coloured diesel
fuel. Continue to drain the liquid until no more droplets of water can be seen,
then turn off the tap. If a lot of water has been removed, it may be difficult to
determine if water is still leaving the filter. Empty and clean the container then
repeat the process to check. Try to drain off only as much liquid as is
necessary to remove the water in order to minimise the need to bleed the
system later.

Start the engine and check that it runs smoothly at all speeds. It may be
necessary to bleed the fuel system if the engine does not run properly.

Run the engine for a few minutes to ensure the system is completely filled
with fuel. Sometimes, after draining water, the engine will start and run for a
short time even though excessive air has entered the system. This may give
the impression that all is well until later when the engine may not start.

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Additional fuel filters

Many diesel fuel injection systems are fitted with additional filters, normally
located in the connection where the fuel feed pipe reaches the high pressure
fuel injection pump. These filters are the final opportunity to prevent
potentially damaging particles of dirt etc. reaching sensitive components.

Theoretically, the main filter should prevent all foreign objects reaching these
additional filters but it is possible that dirt can enter the fuel lines after the
main filter, particularly during routine maintenance or when the system is
dismantled for repairs.

Most of these filters are of the wire or plastic gauze “basket” type and usually
form part of the fuel pipe connector bolt assembly or become accessible
within the pump when the bolt is removed. As with all filters, they will
eventually become blocked if not maintained correctly.

At specified intervals, the filters should be removed and cleaned. The


connection bolt and pipe should also be cleaned before re-assembly, taking
special care to ensure that dirt or cloth fibres do not enter the pump or pipe-
work. Cleanliness is essential here as these filters are normally the last
chance to protect the pump and injectors.

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Fuel System Bleeding

Bleeding becomes necessary when air enters the fuel system. This can
happen when the vehicle runs out of fuel, during servicing/repair of
components anywhere in the system or when leaks occur. In the majority of
cases, air in the system will give rise to rough running and very often, the
engine will not start at all. This is because the lift pump providing fuel to the
high-pressure fuel injection system is not normally designed to pump air. Air
may be present in both the low-pressure and high-pressure parts of the fuel
system and different procedures are required to remove it from these areas.

Low pressure system - vacuum type

Many fuel supply lift pumps are fitted on the engine or fuel injection pump
assembly and fuel is drawn through the system from the tank, as pump action
reduces the pressure in the pipe work/fuel lines, including the filter. Fuel
reaching the pump is delivered under low pressure to the high-pressure fuel
injection pump. Leaks between the tank and pump will allow air to be drawn
into the system, which will subsequently pass through the pipe work with the
fuel until it reaches the pump. Air reaching this point usually means the flow
of fuel will cease.

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In a few cases, where very small quantities of air are involved, the air will
remain mixed with the fuel and may eventually bleed itself out when the
engine is cranked or as it runs. Small leaks in this type of system are difficult
to detect because the pressure in most of the fuel lines is lower than
atmospheric pressure when the engine is running and leakage of fuel may not
be obvious.

These systems often incorporate a hand operated priming pump. This pump
may be fitted anywhere between the tank and the engine but it is commonly
incorporated into the filter assembly, low-pressure pump or the high-pressure
pump assembly. A large button, a lever or a plunger assembly, may be used
to operate the priming pump.

Low pressure system - pressure type

Some systems use an electric feed pump mounted within, or close to the tank,
which supplies fuel to the high-pressure injection pump. The electric pump is
capable of supplying enough fuel to cope with maximum engine speed and
load and any fuel not required under less stressful conditions (low speeds and
loads) is returned to the tank unused.

This circulatory type of system does not normally need bleeding as the system
is always operating above atmospheric pressure and full of fuel, preventing air
getting into the system. Leaks are easily noticed as fuel is normally forced out
of the system where they exist.

Repairs to the low-pressure supply side of these systems do not normally


mean that special bleeding procedures are required and as such, they are
rarely fitted with a priming pump. It is usually sufficient to switch on the
ignition or crank the engine to operate the feed pump and re-fill/bleed the
system.

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Bleed points

Most systems incorporate bleed points between the priming pump and the
engine-mounted high-pressure pump. The valves operate in a similar way to
those used in braking systems or household central heating systems. They
may be fitted to the filter, priming pump and the high-pressure fuel injection
pump and in some cases, the bleed valves will be fitted with drainage pipes.
Vehicles with electric feed pumps may also be fitted with bleed valves.

High pressure system

The high-pressure system includes all components and connections between


the high-pressure pump and the injectors. It is critical to effective engine
operation that high pressure is maintained in this part of the fuel system at all
times. Bleed valves are not normally fitted in these areas.

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Bleeding the system

Once repairs have been carried out and the system is sealed, the following
generalised procedure should enable the system to be purged of air.

Pre-checks

Ensure the fuel tank has sufficient fuel to allow the engine to run.

Check to see if the fuel system actually needs bleeding by attempting to start
the engine – if it starts, allow it to idle for at least five minutes and then
gradually increase the engine revs. If the engine accelerates to maximum
rpm cleanly, it is not necessary to bleed the system. If the engine does not
run smoothly after ten minutes running, the fuel system probably needs
bleeding.

It is always advisable to research the manufacturers’ own recommended


procedures as some systems are notoriously difficult to purge of air and much
time can be wasted if incorrect procedures are used.

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Bleeding procedure – vacuum type systems

Locate the priming pump and any bleed valves fitted between the pump and
the engine.

Operate the priming pump steadily, using the full stroke. Initially there will be
little resistance until the system between the tank and the pump is completely
full of fuel, at which point the resistance will increase and the pump may
appear to stop working.

Open the bleed valve closest to the priming pump, keep a rag near the valve
to soak up any spillage or arrange a container to catch any fuel and continue
pumping. Close the valve when bubble-free fuel is seen escaping from the
valve.

Repeat step 3 for any other bleed valves in order, finishing at the one nearest
the high-pressure fuel injection pump. When you are sure that, the system is
completely free of air attempt to start the engine and run it as in the previous
pre-checks.

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Bleeding procedure – high-pressure system

If the engine does not start or runs roughly it may be because the high-
pressure part of the system also needs bleeding.

Slacken all the fuel unions at the injectors by about one turn and use rags to
prevent splashing. Ensure the pipes are now loose; sometimes the pipes will
remain sealed to the injectors even when the unions are loose.

Use an assistant to crank the engine until substantial quantities of fuel are
seen leaking from the unions and then tighten each union in turn.
Be prepared for the engine to start. Allow the engine to run as in the previous
pre-checks section.

Cleaning up any spillage on the engine will aid future leak detection.

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Progress check 1

Answer the following questions:

1. Name the three types of fuel filter most commonly fitted to light
vehicles?

2. Why should the fuel filler cap be removed before replacing a fuel filter?

3. What should be done to the filter bowl before refitting it after filter
replacement?

4. What commonly needs to be carried out after replacing a fuel filter?

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Control Cable Adjustment

Most diesel fuel injection systems use a system of cables and linkages to
connect the driver’s controls to the high-pressure fuel injection pump. Some
systems have cable-operated controls to stop the engine or to adjust the
injection timing, fuelling and exhaust emissions. As fuel injection systems
become increasingly sophisticated, these controls will be gradually
superseded by electronic control systems although many of these may still
incorporate mechanical linkages as well.

Occasionally it may be necessary to adjust these cables, perhaps after repairs


have been carried out or simply because wear has taken place. The most
common adjustment is carried out on the throttle cable and the following
section covers this procedure. It can be used as a basis for other cable
adjustments.

Fuel injection pumps often have a number of externally accessible adjustment


points including idle speed, fast idle (used when the engine is cold) and full
throttle, no load speed. The majority of these adjustments are factory-set by
the pump manufacturer using specialised equipment not usually available in a
vehicle workshop. In normal service, most of these settings will remain fixed
for the life of the pump.

It is possible that over time, the idle speed setting will reduce and the full
throttle speed setting increase due to constant “hammering” wear at contact
points on the pump where the adjusting screws or linkages hit their stops.
Some of this wear can be accentuated by incorrect cable adjustment.

Wear at these points may have a knock-on effect on the cable adjustments
between the pump and the driver operated controls, resulting in symptoms
such as variable idle speed, highlighted by varying under-bonnet temperature
conditions or engine movement due to an over-tight throttle cable. Cables
may also need adjustment when they are disconnected or replaced.

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Pre-checks – throttle cable

If it is suspected that throttle cable adjustment is required, it is first necessary


to check the idle and full throttle engine speeds, under “no load” conditions.
Adjusting cables without carrying out these initial checks may result in further
problems. A tachometer is required for this check and a number of different
types are available. If fitted, the vehicle’s own rev counter may be used if it is
considered accurate enough, although some manufacturers specify a
maximum speed to an accuracy of ± 25 RPM, which is difficult to determine
on most vehicle instruments.

Always refer to the manufacturers’ procedures and specifications for the


actual engine/vehicle involved. The engine must be hot with all components
such as the air cleaner and vacuum hoses fitted, correct valve clearances and
injection timing and all Loads switched off with a neutral gear selected.

Disconnect the accelerator cable at the fuel injection pump and start the
engine. Check that the idle speed is within specification and adjust if
necessary.

Operate the pump lever manually to full throttle and compare the maximum
speed with the manufacturers’ specifications. Adjust the maximum speed if
necessary.

Do not be tempted to increase the maximum speed, which is set to ensure


engine safety and acceptable exhaust emissions. Allowing the lever further
movement rarely increases engine power or speed without seriously
compromising these features.

Re-connect the cable.

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Cable adjustment

The most common cable adjustment routinely carried out on diesel engines is
for the connection between the accelerator pedal and the fuel injection pump
and this procedure is described below. Routines for other cables use similar
principles.

The general aim for all types should be to provide full movement without
applying excessive stress to the cable or linkage.

Ensure that soundproofing material, mats and carpets are not fouling the
accelerator pedal or linkages. Ensure the accelerator pedal assembly is
properly secured to the floor/bulkhead and the cable is connected correctly at
both ends.

Make sure that all springs and links are fitted properly and are not excessively
worn.

Replace the cable if it is frayed, sticking or if the outer sleeve is worn through.

Ensure that all clips/ties are in place to secure the cable throughout its length.
These should hold the cable in place without kinking, crushing or allowing it to
contact moving/hot parts (pulleys, exhausts etc).

Some accelerator pedal assemblies incorporate a pedal height-limiting stop,


which has the effect of adjusting the total movement of the cable. If one is
fitted, slacken this stop.

Use an assistant to press the accelerator fully down without applying


excessive force. Check that full throttle is achieved at the fuel injection pump
without applying excessive stress to the cable. If necessary, adjust the cable
(adjustment methods will vary) to achieve full throttle without stressing the
cable. Ensure the adjuster is locked when the adjustment is completed.

Release the accelerator pedal and check that the pump lever returns fully to
the idle position, leaving a small amount of slack in the cable.

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If a pedal height adjuster is fitted, adjust it to take most of the slack out of the
cable, leaving approximately 5mm of free play at the pedal pad (check
manufacturers’ specifications).

Start the engine and re-check the idle and the maximum, no load engine
speeds.

Drive belt adjustment

The high-pressure fuel injection pump may be driven from the engine
crankshaft using gears, roller chains or flexible, toothed rubber belts. The
pump is usually turned at half engine speed by its own, dedicated drive or by
a device, which drives other items as well, including the water pump, camshaft
and accessories such as air-conditioning compressors. Where belts are used
to drive multiple items, including the camshaft they are commonly referred to
as “cambelts” or “timing belts”.

Whereas gears and chains rarely require adjustment during routine servicing,
drive belts are much more susceptible to dirt/oil contamination and their failure
often results in serious damage to the engine. Accordingly, toothed belts
need to be replaced at regular intervals as determined by the vehicle
manufacturer.

Naturally, the belts require adjustment only when they are renewed and
although it is not normal practice to adjust used belts there may be occasions
when a belt is removed and re-fitted as part of repairs to other components.
In these cases, it may be acceptable to re-fit the old belt, adjusting it as
required.

Toothed drive belts will usually stretch a small amount during service but
unless they are over-tightened, they will not normally stretch enough to affect
their operation.

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These belts do not need to be excessively tight as the teeth on the belt and
pulleys drive the pulleys in a similar way to pairs of gear wheels. As long as
there is enough tension on the belt to ensure that the teeth remain engaged,
that is normally sufficient. Excessive tension may stretch the belt to a point
where the distance between the teeth on the belt is different from the gaps
between the teeth on the pulleys. This is likely to lead to belt failure, which
can have serious consequences for the engine so it is very important that the
belt is not over-tightened, especially when a used belt is re-adjusted.

Some manufacturers specify different tensions for used and new belts. An
over-tight timing belt is often noisy when the engine is running.

Adjustment mechanisms

Manufacturers employ differing methods of adjustment for their engine timing


belts, ranging from fully automatic hydraulic or spring-loaded devices to a
simple tensioner pulley locked in position by a bolt. The variations are almost
endless and this makes it extremely important that the manufacturers’
information is consulted before attempting to adjust these belts. Most belts
are enclosed within a protective cover, which can be removed to gain access
to the adjusting mechanism.

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Timing errors

As the name suggests, a timing belt controls the relationship (timing) between
the crankshaft, camshaft and high-pressure fuel injection pump pulleys.
When adjusting the tension of a timing belt it is extremely important that the
relationship between these pulleys is maintained. This is normally carried out
by aligning factory markings on the relevant pulleys when fitting the belt. It is
often the case that the timing marks on the pulleys have been correctly
aligned, but the timing on one or more teeth is out when the belt has been
adjusted. If this error is not spotted it can have consequences for the engine,
ranging from poor fuel consumption and noise, to major engine failure.

The main cause of this error is small amounts of slack left in the belt between
some pulleys whilst the belt is being fitted. With the belt properly located on
the pulley teeth, the only slack in the belt should be on the belt “run”
containing the adjusting device between two pulleys when adjustment is
carried out. The following simple method will ensure this is always the case:

• ensure the adjuster mechanism is free to move, with any locking bolts
loosened.

• hold the crankshaft steady with its timing marks properly aligned.

Some manufacturers recommend using a crankshaft-locking tool.

The crankshaft and camshaft pulleys effectively split the length of most belts
in half, with the adjusting device between these pulleys on one side. Using an
appropriate tool, attempt to turn the camshaft pulley in whichever direction,
will result in slight tension in the belt between the crankshaft and camshaft on
the side without the tensioner.

If this action results in the timing marks on either the camshaft or fuel injection
pump pulley becoming mis-aligned, it will be necessary to remove the belt, re-
align the marks and re-fit the belt, repeating the above procedure.

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This should ensure that any slack in the belt is now in the area of the adjusting
device and the manufacturers’ procedure for tensioning the belt can be carried
out.

Drive belt tension adjustment

As previously, suggested, correct tensioning of the belt will go some way to


ensuring its reliability. A number of methods are commonly used to ensure
correct adjustment, ranging from simply applying pressure by hand, to
complicated electronic devices. The manufacturer will normally specify the
position on the belt where the check should be carried out and this may mean
that any slack in the belt is moved from the “adjustment” position to the
“checking” position. In some cases, the engine crankshaft should be turned
over by hand a few times in its normal direction of rotation to “settle” the belt.

Twisting – the belt is adjusted so that when the belt is grasped between a
thumb and forefinger, usually in the centre of its longest run, it can only be
twisted through approximately 90 degrees without excessive force. An over-
tight belt will be very difficult to twist this far and a slack belt will easily twist
more than 90 degrees.

Belt deflection – again, normally in the centre of its longest run, the belt is
pressed with a finger. The belt should deflect a measured amount without
excessive force.

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As will be appreciated, the manual methods above are unlikely to result in the
same, accurate adjustment every time. A number of special tools are used to
ensure repeatable results, depending on the manufacturer.

Pressure deflection – this type of tool is mounted on the belt. It normally


contains a mechanical or electrical pressure-measuring device and a scale to
determine the distance the belt is deflected. The manufacturer will specify the
deflection allowed at a certain pressure.

Torque deflection – a special torque wrench is mounted on the belt. The


wrench is in two parts, which can move separately with a torque/pressure
measuring device between them. The fixed part of the wrench is attached to
the belt and the moving part is rotated. The torque, needed to deflect the belt
a fixed amount, is measured and compared with manufacturers’
specifications.

Tensioner torque – In this case, a torque wrench is used to turn the actual belt
adjuster against the belt. The adjuster is mounted eccentrically and moves
away from or towards the belt when turned. When the correct torque is
reached, the tensioner is pressing against the belt at a specific pressure and
can be locked in this position.

The slack in the belt must be in the area of the tensioner for this procedure to
work effectively.

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
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Injector Maintenance/Cleaning

Over time, diesel injectors may become partially or completely blocked and
their operation may well be adversely affected. Deposits in the fuel, breather
fumes and oil contamination as well as carbon deposits from the combustion
process can all contribute to this degradation in injector performance. Some
injectors incorporate tiny filters to help prevent dirt deposits getting into the
unit and these may also become blocked.

Partially blocked injectors will restrict the flow of fuel and cause poor fuel
atomisation resulting in a lack of power, smoke and high fuel consumption.
Proper maintenance can help prevent blocked injectors but a number of
methods can be used to clean them if necessary:

• fuel additives

• chemical cleaners

• ultrasonic cleaning

• stripping, cleaning and re-assembly.

Fuel additives

These chemicals are usually added to the fuel in the vehicle’s tank at regular
intervals. This is a simple task and has the advantage of keeping the fuel
clean at all times. In some cases however, the additives can disturb deposits
in the fuel system and allow them to be transported with the fuel to vital
components.

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Chemical cleaners

These chemicals are normally used when the vehicle is serviced, using
special equipment attached to the fuel system. The equipment circulates the
cleaning chemicals through the fuel system, often whilst the engine is running.
The chemicals are designed to soften deposits to aid their removal or help the
combustion process burn them off during cleaning or when the vehicle is
driven afterwards. They normally provide sufficient lubrication to allow the
vehicle to be run in the workshop but not on the road. Because the chemicals
are normally added to the system after the main fuel filter, they do not disturb
deposits in the tank or fuel lines before the filter. There is a small risk of
allowing dirt to get into the system when the connections are made to the
servicing equipment.

Ultrasonic cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning is used when components have been removed from the
vehicle. Ultrasound is created by generators which produce high frequency
electrical signals which are converted to mechanical energy or sound waves
through a transducer, which literally makes the waves vibrate.

As these vibrating sound waves travel through water, cavitation is promoted


forming microscopic bubbles which repeatedly impact upon the surface to be
cleaned. This powerful action removes visible and even microscopic dirt
particles cleaning a dirty or greasy part better than most alternative methods.
Not only is this ultrasonic cleaning method completely user-friendly and
extremely effective but it is fast, safe, and gentle on the components. Some
systems use chemicals instead of water for even more effective cleaning.

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Stripping and cleaning

The injectors must be completely dismantled during this process and


chemicals or fine abrasives are used to clean the individual parts. The
process is effective when carried out properly but time-consuming. A big
advantage over all the cleaners is that the condition and level of wear of
internal components can be assessed. Once this has been carried out it is
necessary to re-assemble the injector ready for testing.

Injector testing

Injectors are normally tested in a special testing rig with which the operator
can apply pressure to the injectors, simulating levels found on the engine.
These pressures can be measured and the spray patterns of injectors can be
visually assessed. The rig consists of a manually operated pump and a
pressure gauge with the injector under test, fitted to a pipe from the pressure
pump. This assembly is normally enclosed in a glass or clear plastic box to
allow visual assessment and safety. Oil similar to diesel fuel is used in the
test rig system.

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Using the test rig, an operator can check the following injector functions:

• injector nozzle opening pressure (break-off pressure)

• injector nozzle noise (“buzz”)

• injector spray patterns

• nozzle leak or dribble

• injector leak-back.

Nozzle opening/break-off pressure

This is the pressure at which the injector starts to open and allows fuel to pass
through the nozzle opening. Up to this point, no fuel should be forced from
the injector. The vehicle/engine/injector manufacturer specifies this pressure
and most injectors are adjustable using screws or shims. Incorrect pressures
may also be caused by a sticking needle valve or blocked nozzle (too high) or
by a broken pressure spring or stuck open valve (too low).

Incorrect injector opening pressures will affect the injection timing and it is
important to check/adjust the timing after the re-conditioned or new injectors
are fitted.

Injector noise

As fuel leaves the nozzle, the pressure inside the injector drops rapidly,
allowing the needle valve to close. Immediately, the pressure rises again and
the valve opens. This cycle continues until the pump cuts off the high
pressure supply to the injector and produces a noise known as “buzz”.

In the test rig the noise can be assessed by applying steady pressure with the
pump. The lack of buzzing or intermittent noise can normally be attributed to
a sticking needle valve or worn nozzle.

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Spray patterns

At the same time that the injector noise is tested, the spray pattern can be
assessed. The spray pattern from each hole in the injector nozzle should be
cone-shaped and the fluid evenly distributed in a very fine spray. Some
injectors have more than one hole, each producing a fine spray of fuel and
these holes may be designed to eject the fuel at an angle.

It is very important to understand the type of injector under test and the spray
patterns expected.

Poorly distributed fuel sprays normally result in smoky exhaust emissions and
a lack of power.

Nozzle leakage (dribble)

Pressure to a specific value should be applied to the injector and held for a
specified time. During this period the tip of the nozzle should remain sealed
without leaking any fuel.

Use a piece of tissue to ensure the nozzle is dry at the start of the test and to
spot any dribble.

Injector nozzle leakage will also cause smoke in the exhaust.

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Leak-back

The procedure for a leak-back test is similar to the nozzle leakage check.
Pressure is applied (normally just below the break-off pressure) to the injector
for a specified time. Excess internal wear will allow fluid to pass through the
injector via the leak-off port (return to fuel tank), allowing the pressure applied
to reduce. The time taken for the pressure to drop from the initial value to a
specified lower pressure determines the internal wear of the injector. Fix any
nozzle dribble first. Leak-back cannot be assessed if the injector nozzle is
leaking.

Excessive leak-back means that pressure within the injector is lost between
injection pulses. When injection takes place, this pressure must be restored
before the needle valve will open, leading to retarded injection and smoke.

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Compression Testing

Compression testing may be necessary when the condition of the engine’s


valves, pistons, piston rings or head gasket is suspect. The process is similar
to that used on petrol engines although diesel-specific equipment is required.
Manual methods are normally employed but increasingly, electronic test
equipment is capable of carrying out this check.

Manual method

This process normally involves removal of the injectors or glow plugs to allow
access to the cylinders/combustion chambers. A pressure gauge is installed
in place of one of the cylinders’ injector or glow plugs. The engine is cranked
on the starter during the test and it is desirable to remove all injectors or glow
plugs to reduce the drain on the battery during the test. If the engine speed is
too low a poor result may be obtained from cylinders which are, in fact,
serviceable.

Removal of the injectors means that the fuel lines are disconnected and it will
be necessary to disconnect the fuel shut-off solenoid or operate the pump
shut-off control cable during the test to prevent fuel loss. If the gauge is
installed in place of a glow plug, the same precautions should be carried out
to prevent the engine starting.

The air cleaner must be clean and if the engine is fitted with a throttle plate
(not all diesel engines have this feature), the throttle must be held fully open
during the test to allow sufficient air into the engine.

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Electronic method

Electronic engine test equipment has been capable of measuring the relative
compressions of petrol engines for many years and this technology has
gradually transferred to diesel engines.

A current measuring device is used to measure the current drawn by the


starter motor in amps during cranking. A high compression cylinder will place
a larger load on the starter (current draw) during its compression stroke than a
low compression cylinder allowing comparisons to be made between
cylinders. The actual compression pressure is harder to assess as it depends
on many factors, including piston temperature and cranking speed, although
with experience an operator can determine this with a fair degree of accuracy.
One difficulty often encountered is identifying exactly which cylinders are good
or bad. Many diesel engines, unlike petrol engines, have no form of electrical
cylinder identification, on which the test equipment can use the ignition signal
to determine the cylinder number(s). In these cases, removal of an injector or
glow plug will produce a low compression and identify that cylinder. Once
identified, the other cylinders can also be determined from the firing order.

The engine must not start during the test and maximum air should be allowed
to enter the engine, so the same precautions should be carried out as in the
manual testing procedures.

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Servicing/Maintenance checks

In addition to the previously mentioned servicing requirements a number of


areas in the fuel system should be looked at during routine maintenance.
These are areas that do not normally require adjustment but should be
checked for:

• presence

• security

• physical damage/wear

• function

• suitability.

Once checked, a technical assessment must be made as to whether the item


should be repaired, replaced or simply noted for observation (always apply a
time limit). This assessment will depend on:

• the item’s safety implications for the operator and others. Is there a risk of
fire, injury or serious engine/vehicle damage?

• the effect on reliability

• the effect on exhaust emissions

• legal requirements

• repair costs versus remaining component life.

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Pipelines

Diesel fuel high pressure pipes are normally made of seamless steel tubing,
with an internal diameter of around 1mm. Pressures within these pipes can
easily reach 100 bar and the walls of these pipes are very thick (around 2mm)
to withstand this type of pressure. Even with walls of this thickness, the
injection pulses can be felt through the pipes by the human hand. In fact,
some complex test equipment uses these pulses to help diagnose faults.

When fuel is injected a shock wave is set up within the fuel in the high
pressure pipes which takes a certain time to travel from the delivery valve in
the pump to the injector. It is important that this time is the same for all the
injectors as the time taken for fuel to travel along the pipes has an effect on
injection timing and for this reason they are all of the same length, regardless
of their physical position.

Checking pipelines

When checking or replacing high pressure pipelines the following points


should be taken into consideration:

• length – all equal length

• internal diameter – all the same and as original specification

• the radius of any bends should be at least 50mm – tight bends can lead to
broken pipes, particularly at the unions

• the pipes should be securely clamped – missing clamps can cause


cavitation/aeration through vibration.

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Return pipes/hoses

Small diameter rubber hoses normally connect the low pressure return port of
the injectors and fuel injection pump to steel pipes delivering excess fuel back
to the tank. These hoses and pipes should be checked for leakage,
particularly close to the injectors where they are subjected to heat and
vibration.

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Progress check 2

Answer the following questions:

1. Name two other commonly used terms used when referring to drive
belts?

2. List four methods of cleaning diesel fuel injectors:

3. Using a test rig, what injector functions can be checked?

4. Where would you attach a mechanical compression gauge to a diesel


engine (two possibilities)?

5. Why should the radius of bends be at least 50mm?

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Glow Plug and Circuit Testing

Diesel fuel does not ignite particularly easily in cold conditions. The electrical
glow system is designed to pre-heat the combustion chamber in order to
assist starting, particularly when the engine is cold.

Simple versions of the system are powered from the vehicle battery and
consist of a relay, necessary due to the high current often involved and a
number of glow plugs/heating elements with their tips protruding into the
engine’s combustion chambers. In most systems, sophisticated timer/control
units are used to improve the efficiency of the system.

Testing the glow system consists mainly of checking that power is reaching
the various components at the right time, ensuring earth connections are in
good condition and all components are operating as expected:

• Main relay – normally has a permanent power supply, a switched power


supply (when the ignition is on), an earth and a power output to the control
unit.

• Timer/control unit – needs a power supply from the main relay output, an
earth connection and controls the power output to the glow plug relay (this
relay is often incorporated in the control unit).

• Glow plug relay – receives power from the timer/control unit and switches
the high current required by the glow plugs. This has a power feed from
the battery and an earth connection.

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Testing varies from vehicle to vehicle but is normally carried out using a
voltmeter, ammeter and ohmmeter in the following general order:

1. Ensure the battery is in a good state of charge.

2. Check for a power supply (voltmeter) at the glow plugs when the glow
system is on (only for a few seconds after the ignition is turned on). If
power is not available here it will be necessary to check the relay and
control unit power supplies and earths.

3. Check the total current drawn by all the glow plugs together using an
ammeter. Most ammeters utilise a clamp which should be fitted around
ALL the wires to the glow plugs.

4. Disconnect ONE glow plug, leaving the clamp in place. If that glow
plug is good, the current should drop in proportion to the number of
cylinders, i.e. 25% on a four-cylinder engine. Disconnect a second
plug; the current should drop by a further 25% in this case. If
disconnecting a glow plug produces no current drop, the plug is not
working.

Remember that the ignition should be turned off between each


disconnection to allow the system to re-set itself and reduce the chance
of accidental short circuits.

5. If an ammeter is not available it will be necessary to disconnect all the


plugs and check the resistance (ohmmeter) between each plug’s wiring
connection and the body of the glow plug or cylinder head. Compare
the resistance with specification, a faulty plug will normally be open
circuit.

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Fuel Injection Faults

Diesel engines have no ignition system, therefore engine combustion


problems can be generalised into the areas of:

• Too little fuel.

• Too much fuel.

• Fuel arrives in the cylinder too early.

• Fuel arrives in the cylinder too late.

• Insufficient compression.

Failure to start

• Insufficient fuel in tank - ensure that there is enough fuel in the tank. Be
careful when the vehicle is not on level ground, if the fuel level is low fuel
may not reach the pick-up pipe.

• Faulty stop control cable/solenoid operation - ensure that the engine stop
control operation is functioning, and is in the "running" position.

• broken fuel injection pump drive - check by removing the fuel injection
pump drive cover, turning the engine to check that the pump drive/belt is
serviceable.

See also “Difficult starting”.

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Engine starts then stops

• Insufficient fuel in tank - ensure that the fuel level in the tank is sufficient.
A low fuel level may allow air to be drawn into the system only
occasionally, stopping the engine.

• Air in fuel system - bleed the fuel system as instructed in the relevant
service literature. Check low pressure fuel pipes on suction side, for
hairline cracks or loose connections allowing air into the system, rectify as
necessary.

• Blocked fuel tank vent - check and rectify as necessary.

• Blocked fuel filter/s - check and renew as necessary.

• Restriction in fuel return pipe - ensure that the fuel return pipe from the
injection pump to the tank is not damaged or partly blocked, restricting fuel
return.

• Restriction in the induction system - check air cleaner/element, re-new if


dirty. Ensure that no restriction is present in air induction piping

• Sticking injector/s – clean/overhaul/replace .

See also “Difficult starting”.

Difficult starting

• Air in the fuel system - bleed the system of air.

• Restricted fuel feed pipe or blocked vent in the fuel tank - trace and rectify
restriction or blockage.
• Blocked fuel filters - renew fuel filter element(s).

• Defective fuel lift pump - check lift pump operation, if insufficient fuel is
flowing, repair or replace fuel lift pump.

• Incorrect fuel pump timing - check all aspects of fuel pump timing
according to the relevant manual.

• Defective or incorrect injectors - Replace or service all the injectors.

• Defective fuel injection pump - remove pump for attention by specialised


workshop or fit replacement pump.

See also “Failure to start”

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Erratic running/surging

• Defective stop control cable/solenoid operation, sticking throttle or


restricted movement - ensure that the operation of these is free, and are
not fouling in any way.

• Restriction in the induction system - check air cleaner element, renew if


dirty ensure that no restriction is present in induction piping and manifold.

• Air in the fuel system - bleed system.

• High pressure fuel pipes - ensure that these are of the correct type and are
fitted in the correct firing order.

• Blocked fuel tank vent – rectify.

• Restricted fuel feed pipe – repair.

• Blocked fuel filter – replace.

• Defective fuel lift pump - check lift pump operation, if insufficient fuel flow is
evident, remove lift pump and rectify or fit replacement.

• Incorrect fuel pump timing – check and adjust as necessary.

• Defective injectors – clean/replace as necessary.

See also “Difficult starting".

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Bluish/white exhaust smoke.

Incorrect fuel pump or valve timing – typically retarded. Check/adjust timing


according to appropriate service literature.

Defective or incorrect injectors – clean/replace as required.

Water in the fuel – will also cause misfiring. Drain water from system.

Black exhaust smoke

• Restriction in the induction manifold - check air cleaner/element condition.

• Check for dents or kinks in the hoses or pipes and examine the induction
manifold for any obstructions.

• Fuel injection pump fuelling settings incorrect – re-calibrate pump.

• Incorrect fuel injection pump timing - check all aspects of fuel pump timing
according to the service literature.

• Defective or incorrect injectors – clean/replace as required.

• Restriction in the exhaust system.

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Diesel knock

• Incorrect fuel pump timing – check/adjust the timing according to


appropriate service literature.

• Defective or incorrect injectors – clean/replace as required.

• Incorrect type or grade of fuel - check that the fuel being used is the
correct specifications. See appropriate service literature. Some operators
still add petrol to diesel fuel in winter to aid starting/running. When using
modern diesel this is no longer necessary and may lead to injection
system damage.

• Defective (leaking) or incorrect type of injectors – to determine if an


injector is responsible, slacken off the high-pressure pipe of each injector
in turn to eliminate "knocking" whilst running engine at high idle. If the
knock ceases when loosening a particular injector fuel pipe then that
injector is probably faulty. Repair/replace injectors.

• Incorrect fuel pump timing or incorrect valve timing - check all aspects of
fuel pump and valve timing according to the relevant service literature.

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Diesel Fuel and Emissions
Boiling point range

Hydrocarbon (HC) based fuels are normally made up of a mixture of different


basic hydrocarbon elements. Each hydrocarbon element has a different
boiling point and in diesel fuels these mixtures usually result in the boiling
point ranging from around 180ºC to 380ºC.

Adjusting the proportion of the hydrocarbons in the fuel to reduce the boiling
point improves the fuel’s operating properties in cold conditions but may
reduce its lubricating qualities, risking increased wear of the fuel injection
system. The ignition quality of the fuel is also reduced (see “cetane number”)
Conversely, increasing the boiling point of the fuel improves the lubrication
quality and ignition quality but usually results in higher soot emissions and
carbon contamination of the engine components.

Cetane number

The cetane number is a measure of the ability of a diesel fuel to burn


spontaneously and immediately when injected into the hot, compressed air in
the combustion chamber (ignition quality). National and international
standards apply to the cetane rating, which is determined by testing in a
standard test engine. For clean, smooth engine operation a cetane number
above 50 is necessary for fuel supplied in Europe. The cetane number may
be as low as 45 when the fuel is used in arctic conditions as the processes
used to make the fuel flow in cold conditions usually reduce its ignition quality.

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Flash point

The flash point is the temperature at which vapour emitted to the atmosphere
from a liquid fuel can be ignited by a spark. This has implications for transport
and storage of diesel fuels and they must not have a flash point below 55ºC.
It used to be commonplace for operators to add petrol to diesel fuel in cold
conditions in order to improve the cold starting of some engines. Adding just
3% petrol is sufficient to reduce the flash point to around room temperature,
making storage and handling of the fuel extremely hazardous. Fortunately,
modern fuels conforming to legal standards contain chemicals which make
adding petrol to diesel fuel unnecessary.

Cold flow properties and filtration

Diesel fuel contains paraffin, which at low temperatures can crystallise and
result in blockages in the vehicle’s fuel filtration system. This paraffin crystal
precipitation is sometimes known as “waxing”. Under some conditions waxing
can occur at ambient temperatures as low as 0ºC, making the addition of cold
flow-improving chemicals necessary even in temperate, European climates.

These additives are normally added to the fuel at the refinery in the country of
use and do not actually prevent waxing but they do limit the size of the
paraffin crystals, allowing them to pass through the filtration system without
causing blockages.

Other additives

A number of additives are necessary to improve the performance of diesel


fuels in specific conditions. These are added as packages depending on the
expected operating conditions in the country of use. The total concentration
of these packages rarely exceeds 0.1% of the fuel and has little effect on the
fuel’s physical characteristics, e.g. density, viscosity and boiling point range.

• detergents – used to help keep the intake system and prevent deposits of
carbon on the injectors and in the combustion chamber.

• corrosion inhibitors – help prevent corrosion of metallic components


caused by moisture entering the system.

• anti-foaming agents – used to reduce the tendency of diesel fuel to froth or


foam when agitated, e.g. during re-fuelling.

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Environmental issues

Various countries have promoted the use of more environmentally friendly


diesel fuel. In these fuels the aromatics and sulphur content is reduced and
the boiling point is lowered. However, the use of special additives is required
to prevent wear and other damage to diesel fuel systems caused by some or
all of these changes.

EU emission standards for passenger cars, g/kg

Exhaust gas Units Euro Euro Euro Euro 3 Euro 4


1 2- 2-
IDI DI
Year Parts/million 1992 1996 1999 2000.01 2005.01
(ppm)
Carbon g/kg 2.72 1.0 1.0 0.64 0.50
monoxide(CO)
Hydrocarbons+oxides g/kg 0.97 0.7 0.9 0.56 0.30
of nitrogen (HC+Nox)
Oxides on nitrogen g/kg - - - 0.50 0.25
(NOx)
Particulates (PM) g/kg 0.14 0.08 0.10 0.05 0.025

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Carbon monoxide (CO)

This gas is considered the most deadly of the automobile emissions. There is
a very good reason for this as it hinders the blood’s ability to carry oxygen
throughout the body, and high exposure can lead to death. CO is created by
the incomplete combustion of fuel. CO emissions increase in cold weather
due to more fuel being required by the engine, and the catalytic converter and
oxygen sensor work less effectively at low temperatures.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx)

NOx is the collective name for the gases containing nitrogen and oxygen.
These gases tend to be colourless and odourless and are formed when diesel
is burnt. When these gases are combined with hydrocarbons and are
exposed to sunlight, ground level ozone is formed which is the main
component of photochemical smog. Photochemical smog causes and
exacerbates respiratory problems and stings the eyes. It also damages plant
life, including crops for human consumption.

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

This comes from burning fuel and is a leading contributor to the greenhouse
effect that is starting to destabilise our planet. The greenhouse effect leads to
an increase in the global temperature that amongst other things melts the ice
caps and raises sea level.

Particulate matter (PM)

This is the solid matter and liquid droplets found in the air. The individual
particles are extremely small and can access our lungs, aggravating asthma
and other respiratory problems. High long-term exposure can result in
premature death.

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
All Rights Reserved
Hydrocarbons (HC)

Hydrocarbons are blends of hydrogen and oxygen that in many instances are
carcinogenic. They mix with oxides of nitrogen and in the presence of sunlight
form photochemical smog. Hydrocarbons along with other exhaust emissions
are believed to contribute to acid rain and global warming.

Principles of combustion

There are four phases of combustion that occur within the diesel engine,
ignition delay, flame spread, direct burning and after burn. They all occur over
a very small crankshaft angle and the amount of time in between the following
phases would have to be measured in milliseconds.

Ignition delay

Ignition delay is the phase where the diesel has just been injected into the
swirl chamber in various sized droplets. None of the droplets have ignited yet
as they are still in the process of absorbing the heat that has built up inside
the swirl chamber. The smaller droplets rise in temperature at a quicker rate
than the bigger droplets due to their lesser ability to dissipate heat due to their
smaller surface area.

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
All Rights Reserved
Flame spread

Flame spread is the phase where the smaller droplets of diesel have actually
ignited and they are in the process of rapidly increasing the temperature of the
swirl and the combustion chamber. This is going to warm up the larger
droplets to a sufficient temperature where they are just about to ignite.

Direct burning

During this phase all of the fuel in the swirl and combustion chambers has
been ignited. Any fuel that is injected into the swirl chamber is igniting
instantaneously due to the very high temperatures present, typically 500 -
800°C.

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
All Rights Reserved
After burn

During this phase the diesel has stopped being injected and due to the swirl
that is occurring throughout the combustion chamber the flame is travelling
around mopping up left over patches of unburnt fuel. This burning is occurring
as the piston is moving down the cylinder. There is a small amount of
pressure still acting upon the piston at this point, driving it down before it gets
to the exhaust stroke.

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
All Rights Reserved
Progress check 3

Answer the following questions:

1. Why are glow plugs commonly fitted to light vehicles?

2. What is a cetane number?

3. List three commonly used additives to diesel fuel?

4. Is there any flame within the swirl chamber during the after burn phase
of diesel engine combustion?

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Copyright © Automotive Skills Limited 2003 LV24: Diesel Fuel Systems (2) Issue 1
All Rights Reserved

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