Fairbanks, Alaska
711 Van Horn Rd
Fairbanks, AK 99701
(907) 456-2230

3 Common Semi-Truck Engine Troubles October 23, 2018

Fairbanks, Fairbanks North Star
3 Common Semi-Truck Engine Troubles, Fairbanks, Alaska

Engine repair is one of the most costly expenses for truck owners and operators, so it’s crucial to spot warning signs of troubles and have these addressed at a professional auto maintenance shop. Minimize the risks of full-blown breakdowns by ensuring your truck or fleet undergoes preventive maintenance annually. It also pays to know quick fixes to some common engine problems if you’re between visits to the shop, so consider the solutions below.

How to Troubleshoot Common Engine Issues

1. Overheating

Semi-truck engines overheat for a couple of reasons, such as high ambient temperatures, low coolant levels, blocked airflow, or extreme engine strain. If your engine appears to be overheating, pull over safely and give it a once-over. Ensure that airflow to the radiator is free from obstructions like bugs, snow, or ice, and make sure axles, brakes, and tires are moving freely as well. When the engine has cooled down, confirm if there are coolant or oil leaks since these can also cause overheating. If you spot them, bring your truck in for auto maintenance. You may also want to gear down or turn off the air conditioner as you drive on steep roads during hot weather so you don’t overwork the engine.

2. Hard Starting

Diesel engines do not rely on spark plugs to start up, but they do rely on glow plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture. If your engine has issues starting, check the plugs as well as the starter motor and fuel delivery system for any problems such as clogged or dirty filters and blockages in the lines or pumps. Sometimes, hard starts can be traced to loose throttle linkage, excessive lubrication, and problems with fuel injectors. Tighten battery connections to the starter if they appear to be loose, which may also result in delayed starts.

3. Excessive Smoking

auto maintenanceDiesel engines generate more smoke than gasoline engines. If you notice more smoke than usual, it signals bigger troubles brewing under the hood, not to mention hefty fines for violating clean air ordinances. Pay particular attention to the smoke color coming out to troubleshoot correctly. White smoke indicates timing issues or weak compression on the engine. Blue smoke signals damaged cylinders, piston rings, and valves. If the truck is emitting black smoke, the injectors and pumps, air filters, cylinder head, and even turbochargers could be faulty. Because narrowing down the color of the smoke won’t definitively tell you what’s wrong, have an auto maintenance specialist check it out to determine the source of the issue.


At the first signs of engine trouble, it’s important to have your semi-truck checked by a reliable auto maintenance shop. Look no further than Power & Transmission in Fairbanks, AK. For over four decades, they have offered consistent, excellent auto maintenance services and high-quality truck parts for big rigs. Call (907) 456-2230 to schedule service, or send them a message online.

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