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Dusting Your Diesel

Most diesel-powered pickups use an air filter restriction gauge (also known as a “filter minder”) that is installed on the engine intake ducting between the air filter element and the turbocharger inlet.  This is intended to give an indication of the condition of the air filter without having to remove it for inspection.

Air Filter Restriction GaugeThe device is actually a vacuum gauge with a twist; it holds the peak reading until it is manually reset by the technician.  As air filter restriction increases, the pressure downstream from the filter will decrease.  This causes the plunger in the gauge to move and indicate the level of air filter restriction as a percentage.  The restriction reading as displayed by the gauge would be achieved at the highest load that the engine has seen since the last time the gauge was reset.  However, if the engine is not pushed particularly hard, it is quite possible for the filter to fill with dirt and not make a significant change in the restriction gauge reading.

If the vehicle is operated in dusty conditions, this could result in a filter that fills completely and then collapses.  A collapsed air filter element can rupture and empty accumulated abrasives into the intake air stream, causing catastrophic wear on the turbocharger compressor wheel and engine cylinders.  Destroying a diesel engine with dirty intake air is known as “dusting your diesel.”  It is quite possible for this to take place with the air filter restriction gauge not reading anywhere near 100%.

Restriction Gauge Reset ButtonWhen performing an underhood inspection on a diesel pickup, take a careful look at the air intake ducting as well as the air filter restriction gauge.  Conventional wisdom would direct the technician to leave the filter alone until the gauge reads 100%.  However, the word on the street is that you should probably inspect the air filter element if there is any noticeable movement in the gauge.  In any case, waiting for a 100% reading could be looking for trouble.

Keeping the intake air clean is critical for any diesel engine.  Extra time spent maintaining the air intake system on your diesel engine will pay off with extended engine life and lower cost of ownership.

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Uploaded By: jatonymartin
2 years ago
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