Exploring opportunities for performance diesel engine work
By Ron Knoch
With all of the bolt-on diesel components that are available on the market these days, why would you get into offering performance engine rebuilds for the diesel market? I’m sure you are asking yourself this question every time you get a call from someone with a diesel engine asking how they can get more power. But believe me when I tell you it is a growing market. And better yet, it’s one that can make you money!
Over the last three years the used diesel truck market has seen a yearly increase in sales of about 10-12 percent and is slightly above new diesel trucks sales. This tells you the older trucks are still in use and require more maintenance from the local diesel shops or garages.
If you are familiar with diesel engines, and how they work, you know diesel engines last longer than their gasoline engine counterparts IF they are maintained properly throughout their life. Like any good technician will tell you, whether it’s gas or diesel, an abused engine will fail when you need it most.
Today’s diesel enthusiast often knows the basics of how to work on his diesel engine, but when something goes wrong internally, that’s when he will seek you out for repairs. This is a huge opportunity for a local shop to step up and solve your customer’s problem.
The common theme that we see over and over with diesel guys is that they add bolt-on performance items without thinking of reinforcing the internal parts of the engine or drivetrain. Bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to diesels, you upgrade one component you had better upgrade other important parts of the engine as well.
I get calls all of the time from people who have a blown engine, blown the turbo or blown tranny. I ask them immediately, “Did you turn your tuner up all the way and floor it?” And most answer, “Yeah, sure did!”
Yes, many bolt-on components can produce extra horsepower and torque, but the problem is the original stock engine is not rated for that much power, so when it is pushed to the limit, parts start breaking.
I will cover some of the engine parts that break easily when this happens, and I’ll cover a few each month in my Diesel Motorsports column in the pages of Engine Builder until we have explored all aspects of a performance diesel engine.
One of the first questions I ask is, do you have performance head bolts installed? If your customers are increasing the power through various bolt-on components, the heads and rods are the first to cause significant problems inside the engine.
In fact, many turbo suppliers are now recommending that customers install performance head bolts before using their products!