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Driving Diesel on a Budget? 3 Tips to Keep Your Vehicle out of the Shop

Diesel cars can seem like alien technology to someone who usually drives gasoline vehicles, and it's easy to rack up the service bills if your car is ill-maintained. Before you do too much driving around in your new diesel vehicle, make sure you're doing what you can to help it run smooth. Here are some tips for new diesel drivers on how to keep your car happy and keep cash in your pocket.

Take Occasional Long Drives

Because diesel fuel has different impurities than gasoline, it needs to be filtered several times as it goes through your car. This ensures that your engine doesn't wear out early, and also keeps your emissions as clean as possible. One of the key filters in this process is the diesel particulate filter, or DPF, which is situated inside the engine. Because of its location, replacing a clogged DPF is very costly, but it's unfortunately easy to accidentally clog this filter if you aren't careful. 

Most diesel engines have a self-cleansing process to prevent filters from clogging up as you drive, but this process isn't very effective for short-range or stop-and-go driving. If you mainly drive a diesel car in town, you're likely depriving it of the chance to wash out its filters. Prolonged short-range driving very often results in a clogged DPF and a repair bill in the thousands.

Preventing a DPF clog is simple: you just have to take long drives once or twice a week. Taking your diesel car on the highway for a half hour or so will give it time to self-cleanse properly, significantly lengthening the lifespan of your fuel filters.

Clean Up Your Emissions

Much of the regular maintenance your car needs is to help it maintain good emissions quality. If you're a frequent driver, souping up your emissions cleansing system on your own could help you save money in regular check-up costs. Here are a couple of ways you can purify your emissions without the help of professionals.

Learn how to top off your diesel exhaust fluid. When your car generates exhaust, its filtration system transforms pollutants into benign compounds by making them react with diesel exhaust fluid. As a consequence, your fluid will eventually start to run out. Fortunately, putting new fluid in your car is as simple as putting in new fuel. Just buy some from your local auto store and use your owner's manual to locate the exhaust fluid port. Check the level weekly and top off when it gets low, and you've just saved yourself a few bucks in service charges.

Another great way to avoid costly filtration part replacements and space out your maintenance visits a little is to have a purifier installed in your car. A fuel purifier helps to reduce the workload the rest of your filtration system has to handle and ultimately adds a line of defense between the fuel and your car's engine and filters. The cost of parts and installation for a purifier isn't insignificant, but you get to postpone filter changes and other repairs much longer as a result. 

Learn Some Simple Maintenance Skills

The trend with diesel engines is that they require frequent small maintenance in order to stave off bigger problems. While regular oil changes and air filter replacements aren't needed much more often than gasoline cars, other services should be performed weekly. These include bleeding the lines of air, emptying out the water separator, and emptying out the fuel purifier.

Bleeding the fuel line is necessary every few hundred miles in diesel cars, and should also be done any time you run out of fuel. If your lines are never bled, they're more likely to leak, and the air bubbles will wear on your engine. The water separator and fuel purifier both need to be emptied when they fill up so they can continue to take water and impurities out of the fuel. 

When you look for instructions in your owner's manual, you'll see that each of these services takes only seconds to do, and each requires little more than opening a valve or pushing a button. Why pay service fees for something you can do in just a few moments?

Professional maintenance is important for all cars, and diesels are no exception. Even if you are meticulous, you'll still need the occasional part replacement or fluid flush. All the same, if your do your part to keep your vehicle running as cleanly and smoothly as you can, your wallet will thank you. For more tips or assistance, contact diesel fuel filter experts.