Run out of diesel?
What are the ramifications, and what should you do?
Run out of diesel?
Running out of diesel – what are the ramifications, and what should you do?
When a diesel engine runs out of fuel, it sucks air into the fuel system. Even if you add fuel to the fuel tank, a diesel engine will probably not start while there is air in the fuel system. To restart the engine after running out of diesel, you’ll need to prime the system. We asked Grant Thomson, the Manager for the Technical Area of the T-CoTE (Toyota Centre of Technical Excellence), for advice on how to get a car started after running out of diesel. Here are his words of wisdom:
“If your vehicle runs out of fuel and stalls, please do not crank the engine and continually pump the priming pump, hoping the engine will start. This could cause damage to the fuel system and the engine.
The first thing you need to do is add fuel. Once you have added fuel, press the priming pump (as illustrated in the photograph of a Hilux’s priming pump) until the priming pump cannot be pressed any more (hard to depress).
Now try to start the engine. If the engine starts, allow the engine to idle for a short period then depress the accelerator pedal lightly. If the engine runs smoothly then you may continue to drive the vehicle.
If the vehicle does not start, the priming pump will need to be repressed a few times until it cannot be depressed again. Then try to start the vehicle.
If you’re not successful in starting the vehicle, contact your closest dealer for assistance.
Please do not make running out of diesel a regular activity.”
Note: Do not crank the engine for longer than 30 seconds at a time; this could overheat the starter and the wiring system.
While being stranded on the side of the road can be scary, even scarier is that when a diesel engine runs out of fuel, it can damage the fuel injectors and fuel pump. These systems have moving parts and need a regular supply of lubrication, which comes from the fuel. Without fuel there is no lubrication, and so these parts can get damaged, which can lead to very expensive repair bills.
This can actually happen just before you run out of fuel, as the engine starts to suck in small amounts of air with the last remnants of fuel, reducing lubrication and increasing heat and therefore wear and tear.
The bottom line is this: try to make sure you never run out of fuel! In fact, try to make sure you never run your fuel tank down to the last couple of litres.
Fun fact: Can you believe that in some countries, such as Germany, it is actually illegal to run out of fuel?