First Time Diesel Owner: What Should I know?

Many are making the switch, from gas to diesel. Statistics continually show increases in popularity of diesels in consumer level purchases of clean diesel and SUV purchases. Large-population states like California, Texas and Florida are showing substantial increases in diesel car, SUV, pickup truck and van registrations, with western states like Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho setting the trends with the highest percentage of diesel vehicles on the road. Industry experts claim that many are making the move because clean diesel cars, trucks and SUVs typically achieve on average, a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and 15 percent reduction in emissions when compared to a similar gasoline powered vehicles.

In the workforces of logistics, hauling and fleet duty vehicles, statistics show that over 95 percent of all large heavy-duty trucks are diesel-powered, as are a majority of medium-duty trucks. Diesel power plants are moving an estimated 70 percent of the nation’s freight, as the driving force of goods-movement-by-truck.

With so much movement by diesel, and new owners taking the wheel for their daily drivers as well, many should be aware of some of the differences. Chris Brahs, shop owner of Brahs Solutions (Albuquerque, NM) says, “The first thing noticeable is the power. The amount of torque a diesel produces far out reaches that of a gas motor.” Brahs says that the driver may notice that the diesel motor is not as high revving in RPMs, when under a strain. “When pulling their trailer for example,” says Brahs, “If someone were in a 2500 6.0L gas engine before, but now changing up to a diesel in the same truck, the overall power and torque is going to make the task seem much easier.”

The new diesel owner will also recognize that the actual movement takes place sooner. With more efficiency in torque, the driver will require less input to begin the movement, less fuel, less RPMs and less time will be required to begin shifting the load.

With more efficiency and reliability, the new diesel owner will notice a savings at the pump as well. Brahs says, “If you pull a 20,000-lb. trailer with a gas truck, you’re going to get about 4 or 5 miles to the gallon. You pull the same trailer with a diesel and your fuel economy is multiplied times over.”

Another noticeable difference at the gas pump, other than the fuel handle itself, is that the diesel fuel is not prone to ignition in the same way as gasoline. Where gasoline can ignite by flame, diesel fuel must be atomized prior to ignition.

New diesels also include exhaust brakes to help the heavier loads slow down and stop easier, without the need of the foot brakes.

Diesels are sometimes more expensive in the initial purchase, and maintenance prices are a bit more than gasoline, but the overall cost of ownership is actually less. With less repairs, breakdowns, improved mileage and longer engine life upwards of 300,000 miles, the work duty truck pays dividends in ‘the long run.’

To help prevent the added costs in maintenance however, some simple steps are available to help protect the investment even more. “The biggest thing is keeping up with the manufacturer recommendations,” says Brahs. “Everyone in our shop instructs our customers to change the oil every 5000 miles for example, or follow the direction given by the computer. In my opinion, a $100 oil change is a lot cheaper than replacing a $20,000 motor.”

Brahs also claims that the second biggest pitfall to avoid is bad information. To instead learn from experts. “Dealers unfortunately, sometimes don’t know much about diesels,” says Chris. “If the customer just spent $70,000 on a truck, they should find someone with the expertise to help educate them of the options, the abilities of the engine, the abilities of the vehicle and what to do, when and how. We continually hear that ‘the dealer never told me that,’ ‘they never showed me this,’ on and on.” Especially with a used vehicle, Brahs recommends getting a pre-purchase inspection and take it to the shop for a look. And reiterates, “for the new diesel owner, especially if considering a used one, find a reputable diesel shop, and pay a couple hundred dollars that could possibly save you 10, 15, 20,000 dollars for say, a new motor. The $200 investment could be a huge savings!”

For the new diesel owner however, the most recognizable trait is that a diesel is going to make a difference with a heavy load. “Torque makes things move,” says Chris. “And the torque on a diesel is so much greater than a gas engine.” And with any load, even in consumer based cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, the daily driver is quite a heavy piece of equipment as well. And many are seeing their diesel making the move that much easier.

Brahs refers to the analogy that horsepower is how hard you hit the wall, torque is how far you move that wall; tons of horsepower and no torque, and the wall doesn’t move much. “I own a 2011 Dodge diesel with 210,000 miles on it,” says Chris. “I pull a lot of my ‘toy haulers’ for my veterans-based desert racing organization. I need to be able to pull my 38’ car hauler down the road at 75mph without it taking 10 miles getting to that speed. And I also have the ability to slow down really quick with the exhaust brake, tap shift transmissions and the tow/haul modes.”


“Hot Shots Secret has provided support for Outlaw Desert Racing; helping in the prevention of veterans and first-responder suicide rates.

95% of the racers we work with all drive diesels to pull their race trailers, their race trucks, their buggies, their UTVs, and power their RVs.

And while I instruct everyone to change their oil at 5000 miles, and will continue to do so until all the results are in, I’m now on the Hot Shot’s Secret 100,000 mile oil change challenge. I am working hand in hand with HSS testing their Outlaw 15w-40 oil and TBN Booster trusting that their products are keeping my personal truck in shape. I still change my oil filters every 5000 miles and I’m sending my samples to the lab. They then test the oil to make sure it’s stable and still sustaining all the recommended properties to do its job. I’m now going on 20,000 miles and the Hot Shot’s Secret oil is still holding up. I rely on the product and trust from personal testing.

I also trust in what others say and their testing of the claims that Hot Shot’s Secret says too. Lavon Miller of FirePunk pulling has been using and testing the Hot Shot Secret’s FR3 Friction Reducer on his dyno pulls and checking results too. And it works. People like Lavon Miller are not performing at their best because of shoddy products. He has a hell of an engine program with D&J, he has a hell of a transmission program with his own FirePunk transmissions and he has a hell of an oil program with Hot Shot’s Secret. Lavon has a #1 winning team for a reason!

I opted to work with Hot Shot’s Secret for our Outlaw Desert Racing program and our Class 1 team car because the Class 1 car uses the 15w-40 oil, just the same as a diesel. HSS oils and the FR3 are providing the high zinc properties required of our extreme temperatures and racing conditions in Baja. Not to mention our coolant temperatures are sitting at 220 degrees Fahrenheit. When I can reduce coolant temps as a direct result of Hot Shot’s Secret reduction in oil temps, then it’s a win-win. With HSS in it, I know my car is going to maintain for a 1000-mile race, while the competitors are blowing up.

I use the FR3 on everything! It reduces friction, lowers the temperatures, and makes the thing last longer. I put it in our Can Am racer, I put it in my truck, I put it in my wife’s car, I put it in my lawn mower, I put it in my power steering, I put it in everything I can possibly think of. Electric-driven gearboxes; Hell, I use FR3 on my drill bits!

We have farmers that buy FR3 by the 5-gallon jugs. They put it in every tractor they’ve got.

And I use the Hot Shot’s Secret motor oil in everything I can possibly use.

We have a great customer and very good friend, claiming 5 or 6 miles per gallon improvement in his ‘06 Dodge Cummins 5.9L, by just using Everyday Diesel Treatment. He buys it religiously, 10 or 15 bottles at a time, because his friends are asking him to pick up a bottle for them too.

I believe in Hot Shot’s Secret and their products.”
– Chris Brahs of Brahs Solutions & Outlaw Desert Racing, Albuquerque, NM

duramax diesel

Evolution of the Duramax

As with most pickups in the industry, the Duramax line of diesel engines has come a long way from its inception to modern day. From the introduction of the LB7 almost 20 years ago, the engine output has nearly doubled its torque from approx. 500 lb-ft, to the modern-day workhorse pushing towards 1000 lb-ft, in the L5P engine line.

Though all of the Marketing departments at the big three diesel manufacturers tout the best in trucks, Dan Zelten of Dan’s Service Center (Eagle River, WI) claims he sees the least amount of Chevy’s in the shop for engine repairs. “A lot of Ford’s, however, have provided a good amount of business for us.”

For GM, they set the trend, teaming with Japanese manufacturer Isuzu, making it to market with the first redesign of the current-style high pressure direct-injector diesel engines. Dodge Cummins and Ford Power Strokes soon followed to take advantage of the new common rail injection design.

Prior to the release of the newly designed LB7, the Duramax was delivering 400+ lb-ft of torque. The revised 6.6L V-8 turbo diesel motor came along at the turn of the century featuring aluminum heads and 32 valves. With their high-pressure, common-rail, direct fuel injection mounted under the valve covers.

As the first attempt with the new injector design, one might imagine it had its bugs to squash. “GM tried it, and it was a great motor,” says Zelten. “But the injectors were not.” The remainder of the design however, was on track and began the ascent into better delivery of torque. The LB7 Duramax diesel delivered 235 hp @ 2700 RPM with 500 lb-ft of torque at 1600 RPM.

With the injectors as an issue, the next upgrades came along in 2004, with the new LLY completely replacing the LB7 by middle of the year. The redesign incorporated a revised valve design so the injectors had improved accessibility for repairs, in addition to a turbo redesign improving low-end response. A new exhaust design introduced the recirculation system into the GM motor providing a second burn of the carbons for improved emissions. “They added the VGT (variable-geometry turbo). It was a huge jump up for drivability,” says Dan. The cumulative revisions resulted in an improvement from the LB7 300 hp @ 3,100 rpm with 520 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm, to the LLY delivering 310 hp @ 3,000 rpm with 520 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm.

By 2006 GM had hit stride adding the six-speed Allison transmission. The Duramax LLY included additional improvements in torque, measuring approx. 605 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm.

The LBZ design replaced the LLY by 2007 delivering 360 hp @ 3,200 rpm with 650 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm. Dan says, “They enhanced a little bit more with an updated VGT turbo design, new piston design, and heads that could handle more pressure. That’s when they also began to choke them out with the emissions.” The redesign included improvements to the fuel system with higher-pressure levels through improved injector design. With improved fuel in, a larger EGR cooler setup was implemented to improve exhaust quality leaving the engine. Computerization was also introduced to improve power, efficiency, and emissions.

The LBZ was followed by the LMM, which was essentially the “same motor with more emissions,” says Zelten, “like the passive catalytic converter.” The LBZ added the diesel particulate filter (DPF) to capture up to 80% more soot. With the reduction of harmful particulates, the DPF side effects include reduced fuel economy, blockage within the DPF, and the risk of expensive repairs.

In 2011 the LML evolved next in the Duramax history, incorporating a total redesign. “They drastically beefed up the motor, cooling system, transmission and emissions,” says Zelten. The DMAX combination included new attention to the fuel allowing biodiesel as an option without risk to warranty. The fuel system itself incorporated new piezo-controlled injectors, an additional injector to help DPF regeneration, a cooler-bypass EGR system and a new SCR (selective catalytic reduction) system.

The LML also introduced the smart brake system to automatically begin slowing down a heavy-loaded vehicle without applying the brakes. By taking advantage of the downshifting through the gears, the RPMs increase in the motor providing more exhaust in the turbo, to therefore utilize an internal sliding nozzle to cause backpressure.

Zelten says, “The LML transmission design changed everything over to a control solenoid for better shifting and reduced slipping.” Dan also notes that the CP4 pumps could provide an expensive repair if not maintained properly.”

With the 2017 redesign from turbocharger to injectors, fuel pumps to cylinder heads, the present-day Duramax LP5 delivers approx. 445 hp @ 2,800 rpm with 910 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm from a stock diesel. It also includes enhanced security in the computer preventing the elimination of emissions components.

When asked of any common maintenance required across the entire line of Duramax models, Zelten says, “Protect your investment. Make sure you are running a fuel additive, and change your oil. If hauling a lot, make sure to change your transmission fluid. Do the regularly needed simple stuff that is going to make these engines live and last.

Zelten also advises that while good information is available online, there is too much bad information online that overpowers accuracy. “Talk to an educated person with expertise in diesel,” says Dan. “Don’t fall for the BS posts and comments. Some of the information I read is shocking. With proper knowledge and diagnosis, these trucks are fairly simple to work on. But work with an expert for both advice and repairs. Don’t guess – take it to a shop. You’ll pay far less in the long run.”

Whether stock or modified, for those interested in more towing capabilities and pushing or pulling a heavier load, the diesel truck, regardless of manufacturer,” says Zelten, “is going to be a more reliable vehicle delivering far better gas mileage with less engine and transmission strain.”

“You can’t beat the Allison transmission behind the Duramax. Hook 12,000 lbs. to a gas truck and the driver’s foot is most of the way in it,” says Zelten, “hook on to a diesel and the truck doesn’t even downshift out of overdrive.”


“I’ve never been a big pusher of additives until Hot Shot’s Secret came out.

I now tell everyone to trust in Hot Shot’s Secret additives. It’s the #1 product out there, that I have actually seen make a difference. I use the Hot Shot’s oil, additives, transmission fluid, everything. It’s the only stuff I use!

I’ve used competitor products and it doesn’t do anything. I’ve run other stuff that runs once. As soon as the tank empties, it goes right back to the same problems. Everybody says their stuff is great, and then it doesn’t work! It’s only their Marketing that works.

Hot Shot’s Secret gave me products to try, I won my race, and I bought-in the next race that HSS was in attendance. It actually works, I’ve seen it work and it’s been proven.

I’ve used Hot Shot’s through my semi that used to smoke like no other. I ran all the ‘Hot Shots’ through it and it doesn’t smoke anymore. It’s quieter, and the power is back.

I’ve seen guys out there experiencing better fuel mileage just by running the Everyday Diesel Treatment. I’ve seen injectors clean up with the Diesel Extreme.

I call it ‘Jesus Juice!’

My drag race truck is a Crew Cab short box with a stock LBZ motor pushing 600hp to the tires. We have put ours to the test and it should not be holding up to what we have been doing. We have a stock charger in the valley with a S475 over the stock, and spray a 250 shot worth of Nitrous at it. Our best run, before expectedly burning up a piston, was a 10.5 @ 132mph.”

Dan Zelten of Dan’s Service Center, Eagle River, WI

Avoid Failing a Big-Rig Emission Test

5 Tips to Avoid Failing a Big-Rig Emission Test

Just like your favorite holiday comes around every year, so does maybe one of your not-so-favorite government stipulations to drive a vehicle; the emissions test. And regardless if one feels it’s another governmental strong-arm, or a true help for the planet to keep the air we breathe a bit cleaner, the emissions test is a requirement where failing is not an option. On occasion however, failing does happen, and when it does, the vehicle owner is required to comply before legally able to move forward, both figuratively and literally.

Emission testing checks all of the onboard emissions systems from the EGR system, the diesel particulate filter system, and diesel exhaust and fluid system on the vehicle. Big-rig testing takes place with a “sniffer,” measuring the opacity output of the engine’s exhaust at the stack. The testing agency is also in search of any solvent-particular matter such as black smoke and soot being dispersed into the air.

The difference between a personal day-to-day car and a commercial diesel truck testing typically comes down to the differences in the fuel, with automotive spark ignitions running on gasoline and big-truck combustion based on compression-ignited diesel fuel. The testing practices for on-road diesel pickups are similar to that of the larger-duty trucks as well. Caleb Matzke of Matzke Diesel (Monroe, WI) notes that standardized enforcement is becoming more prevalent in the commercial logistics sector, in continued attempts to help keep our air cleaner. Matzke mentions that “with the massive amount of vehicles on the road, compliance in testing supports the same goals. We all live on the same planet and have to breathe the same air. It’s the only planet we have and the emissions produced, regardless of spark or compression ignited vehicles, can create a real hazard.” The issue came to light in the 1970s with continued attention ever since.

Matzke says, “with particulate matter and soot output over the years, well into the 1990’s, we witnessed the development of smog in many urban areas. Emissions testing is the process for us all to do our part, keeping our countries running, but doing so with a concentration on clean air.” With the standards and systems now in place, Caleb states “the reduction of solid output and the Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) from commercial diesel engines has been reduced by leaps and bounds. Today’s air consists of far less pollutants than where we would have been, without the proper systems in place.” For diesel-based manufacturers, the federal government mandated a tiered system of emissions control that started taking place in 1998, with adjustments along the way in 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013. Matzke says “post-2010 diesels are now rolling off the line with exhaust output virtually as clean as the air going in.”

With any mechanical system however, failures can happen, breakdowns can take place and especially for emissions, contaminants can be reintroduced back into the system causing a failed test and worse, a complete shutdown of your truck. Following are a few tips to help avoid the undesired issues:

  1. Check your soot output. If your truck is putting out black smoke, you may be in violation of overage in soot output. Matzke says an easy test is to wipe the stack. When you see a black fingerprint on your hand or a buildup of soot on the rag, there is something amiss in the  regeneration system, where the soot and carbons are incinerated.

  3. Be aware of your check engine light. Fuel systems are very “smart” in monitoring every piece of every operation in the system. When something goes wrong, addressing the alert on the dashboard as quickly as possible. Doing so can very often help reduce the pending magnitude of the issue.

  5. Take advantage of additives. Fuel and oil additives in diesel engines help reduce carbon emissions, rust and corrosion in the system, and improve savings at the pump. Matzke recommends the use of fuel system treatments for many of his customers. “We highly recommend the Hot Shot’s Secret Everyday Diesel Treatment to our customers,” he says. “We have also implemented at our shop, the addition of HSS additives at every service interval. With the lack of lubricity quality contained in today’s ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, we’ve seen HSS product provide a significant uptick in the lifespan of injectors and high-pressure pump systems. By adding product to help keep the upstream components in good shape, the results transfer downstream as well, so that emissions components such as the diesel particulate filter (DPF) and EGR systems remain in good shape too.”

  7. Follow recommended service schedules. Caleb states it’s one of the best ways to succeed in compliance with emissions regulations, and avoid unnecessary expenses and downtime. “For example, the filter and the oxidation catalyst will last a very long time when serviced properly. Keeping the components in check in the vehicle’s exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system provides a tremendous advantage in keeping your truck on the road.”

  9. Avoid idling time. In some areas it’s even a law to turn off the engine when not in operation. But even where it is not law, a diesel engine running at idle can cause hydrocarbon absorption (a composite of cordierite, silicon carbide, or metal fibers) in the DPF. Matzke explains “the filter and the oxidation canals will actually absorb the raw diesel fuel rather than it mixing, reacting and combusting to burn off the soot, creating a heavy load (failure) condition.

Matzke mentions in conclusion to “take the time to do these little things.” With the vast complexity in fuel systems, simply paying attention to your maintenance schedules and taking advantage of additives to help improve fuel system output, makes it’s far easier to pass routine emissions testing. And by doing so, adhering to the standards and systems in place can help improve the own/operator and the Fleet owner’s bottom line.

Caleb Matzke of Matzke Diesel says:

“We use the Hot Shot’s Secret fuel treatments in our daily service regiments. We also have several customers using the EDT.

We just had -32 degree temps a couple weeks ago and tested the winter treatment in quite a few customer vehicles that were gelling up, and we saw great results keeping those vehicles on the road. We had a variety of customers using competitive oils that were clogging up and too thick and heavy in the cold. They were having issues with their intake valve actuator systems so we also added the HSS FR3 as a reduction in oil operating temperature allowing an easier dry start.

I’m now running FR3 in all of my own diesels, from our 12-weld square body up to our L5p Duramax.”

Common Diesel Repairs

With the various advantages of a diesel engine over gasoline, many are making the switch. With a more efficient combustion system, improved torque and a lower cost of ownership for lifetime of the vehicle for example, diesel power plants are becoming more popular in the United States. Making the switch however, does not come with Carte blanche guarantees that everything will run without attention to maintenance.

Common issues do present themselves specific to diesel engines. The good news is that many of these issues are often centered on the difference in the oil and fuel in the vehicles, with some easily preventive measures to help avoid the need for repairs. Below are a few common issues to keep in mind for diesel repairs.

  • Climate can affect your diesel. If in a humid climate, keep in mind that water and oil do not mix well. Condensation in the oil may cause a knock in the motor. If in a climate with high humidity, the motor has not been run in a while, or if a diesel engine often sits at idle, consider an oil change and adding some high-quality oil additives to remove unwanted residuals.
  • Another need for an oil change is when air can get into the oil as well. Oxidation may occur when your vehicle is not used very often.
  • Diesel engines are sometime prone to difficulty in starting. Usually associated with obstructed fuel flow and therefore, a lack of compression to ignite the fuel.
  • Jeremy Wamsley of Wamsley Performance (Cuero, TX) says he often sees a lot of injector failures, most often due to lack of maintenance, and/or poor quality in maintenance provided. “In the customer’s defense,” says Jeremy, “so many people are paying a quick lane lube facility that may or may not provide proper maintenance for a diesel engine.”
  • Diesels can put a lot of strain on the battery. Without a strong battery, the compression ratios may be altered and therefore the starter has a more difficult requirement turning over the engine for ignition.
  • Diesel fuel attracts contaminates. Since diesel fuel is used for ignition and lubrication, the fuel passes through more mechanical parts in the system attracting rust and corrosions from the metal parts throughout. Without the proper reduction of these contaminants, the risk of major repair is more prevalent.
  • High Pressure Pump systems can become clogged and cause damage to a diesel engine. Yet an easy fix is with the addition of a high quality stiction eliminator. “We see an exorbitant amount of high pressure pump failures,” says Wamsley. “The only times we see the good ones come in successfully is when the customer has a rigorous maintenance schedule of replacing high quality fuel filters and including a high quality fuel additive plan. We include for our customers the Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Extreme at every oil change. Lucky for us, when these trucks that we treat come in for repeat maintenance, we already know they are in better condition. We can dose them when they are here, and they can keep up with the Everyday Diesel Treatment in between. Those are the success stories we see pass through.”

Wamsley claims that most of his repair business is due to lack of owner maintenance. “We have many customers that either don’t know the proper maintenance to administer or they are paying someone else that doesn’t administer the proper maintenance, which adds up to about half of our repair sales,” says Jeremy. “We try to explain to our customers that it’s nearly impossible to get a fully protective oil change on any modern-day diesel for $45. We see these customers over and over. And it’s obvious they are not receiving a full-service maintenance plan at their local vendor. For example, when we see these personal trucks’ oil and fuel filters come in, they are literally $3 and $4 filters found on Amazon.”

Wamsley claims that while the price may be low, so is the trust you can instill in it to protect a late model diesel. “One of our most common challenges is informing the personal truck owner that say for example, traded in his half-ton gas pickup for a Duramax diesel and expects their oil change to be the same cost, that they are not receiving the full requirement in their diesel maintenance with that same oil change.”

Jeremy recommends that the diesel truck owner consistently visit a high-quality repair shop for an oil sample review. “Many times we show the owners their oil samples, and they are astonished to find it’s incredibly broken down, incredibly old, and it’s no longer a lubricant, but conversely, it’s an abrasive. We often cut oil filters open to show customers how the filter works and why the correct oils are needed for success. We spend a lot of time educating new diesel owners on the process, the added requirements, why the correct oil change is $150 opposed to $50, and how to best avoid a catastrophic failure.” Wamsley says, “Everybody seems to win when the customer is more involved in their maintenance process.”

Because so many have neglected proper maintenance in fact, Wamsley Performance has rewritten their warranty contracts to include the minimum requirement of the high quality Green Diamond 15w40 semi synthetic oil by Hot Shot Secrets. “As a proven product that won’t break down as easy,” says Jeremy, “this oil instead, continues protecting the engine even beyond a recommended change. With the HSS oil, we know our customers are not going to return with thin, broken down oil that is contaminated and dangerous to their engine.”

Like any mechanical system, wear and tear does eventually take its toll. But with some simple preventive attention, your diesel can prove to be a long and reliable choice in your automotive needs. With so many of the issues originating in the oil and the fuel flowing through a diesel engine, diesel problems can often be prevented in addition to gaining improved performance with high quality additives and fluids for everyday use. Jeremy says, “Today’s additives are such a simple step that can provide so much benefit to keeping your truck on the road.”

Jeremy Wamsley of Wamsley Performance:

“At our shop, we all run the oils and we all run the additives in our own vehicles, where we can personally attest to the validity of these Hot Shot’s Secret products. Many customers have thought over the years that additives are just snake oil. Especially the Stiction Eliminator disbelievers. I’ve had a couple customers in fact, that I had to offer a free oil change to prove the product and ultimately help save their trucks. Within 30 to 50 miles I’m getting their phone call praising that their truck hasn’t run this good since they’ve owned it!

I’m still a believer in 5000-mile oil changes. Oil changes are cheap insurance against engine repairs. But we have customers that push it to 8500 and 9000 miles on the Hot Shot’s Secret motor oils. Even then they still add in the FR3 for added endurance to get more miles. And it works. We have zero engine failures with customers using Hot Shot’s Secret products.

The variety of oil products from HSS is very helpful because some of these motors need higher zinc for example. And Hot Shot’s Secret has a wide array of offerings to fit almost any customer need.

One of our guys in the shop has a 2006 5.9L Cummins with 380,000 miles on it. He pulls his own oil samples and is always working to properly maintain his truck. That truck still has the original injectors in it, the original CP3, the original turbo. When we first took on the Hot Shot’s product line in the shop, he dosed his truck with the Diesel Extreme. By the time he was pulling in to the shop the next morning, I could hear a difference in his truck running better. He claimed he could feel an improvement in the truck running, but I could actually hear it when he pulled in.

I have a 2014 Ram that had 60,000 miles on it when I bought it. And that was the first thing I did too, and I could tell the improvement. I have a customer that bought an Eco Boost with 20,000 miles on it. Same thing. Picked up the maintenance regiment with Hot Shot’s Secret and he could tell the difference too.

It’s so helpful when we all have our own personal success stories with the Hot Shot’s Secret products.

The customer service is there, the quality of product is there, and our customers’ satisfaction is there too.”

Can Seasonality Affect Diesel Lubricity?

Lubricity is a need within any engine where mechanical motion requires or produces contact of two or more elements. Be it in a car, truck, tractor, lawn mower, generator, snowmobile, motorcycle, large equipment to small, consumer engines to high performance, lubricity can affect the wear and tear on your engine, future repair costs, and the overall life of your motor. The more impactful the demand on the engine, the more impactful the demand for lubricity.

The need increases because the higher the RPM, or the greater the consistency in strain on the motor, the more the engine parts are challenged to move through their cycles thereby, applying more and more pressure on the parts in contact. Be it through repetitive motion or compounded pressure part to part, the lubricity in motor oil and diesel fuel works to provide a barrier between the two parts in contact, helping reduce the actual contact time and compression.

Gecovey Coffman of Coffman Customs (Amarillo, TX), explains lubricity as the measurement of friction-reduction provided by a lubricant. “Proper lubrication,” says Coffman, “reduces the detrimental wear of friction. The more lubricity in a product, the better it protects the moving parts of an engine.”

Every internal metal on metal component of the engine requires lubricity in either the fuel or the motor oil. For example, the reduction of friction is required for an engine’s range of parts from the camshaft, pistons, rings, injectors, and bearings in the lower end to the variety of high pressure pumps required in power steering, turbos, fuel systems, and oil transfer. Without the proper lubricity within these systems, friction will cause catastrophic failure to the parts. Stipulations and government regulations determine minimum amounts of lubricity in a product, at times, based on external factors other than the core function. For example says Coffman, “The Clean Air Act is probably one of the most recognized, that impacted diesel operations by demanding an ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. Removing sulfur in petroleum refinement process removed a lot of the lubricity that was naturally occurring from the baseline crude.” During treatment for sulfur in #2 diesel fuel, proper bonding agents and detergents are removed, imperative to the needs of diesel fuel systems. With varying degrees of compliance, different vendors began delivering differing fuels to the tanks, containing inconsistent measurements in lubricity.

Weather and the seasons also affect an inconsistency in diesel fuel. For the winter months a blend is available with the addition of Kerosene to help reduce the freezing of the paraffin in diesel fuel. Diesel #1 is available more in the north than the south areas of the country. #1 Diesel can also include varying ratios of Kerosene to #2 Diesel as well. “We use a mild blend here,” says Coffman. “Ours is usually around 80/20 #2 fuel to kerosene, to prevent gelling. Some up north even measure 50/50 to keep the fuel flowing in the harsh cold. Added kerosene however, involves more dilution and more residue in the motor. Coffman says, “It’s a much dirtier fuel combination. It’s less processed so it creates more carbon build-up in the fuel and oil systems, causing a lot more friction and wear to the engine components.”

In the winter months, the regulations may vary based on the manufacturers and fuel vendors compliance in the quality of the fuel and the transportation thereof. “Semi’s and big commerce allowances for transport from point A to point B, as I understand it,” says Coffman, “are held to varying standards, especially up north with the struggles that winter weather adds in the mix.” Coffman notes that “during the winter months, from a performance-diesel perspective, we see a higher rate of catastrophic fuel system failures in the newer higher-pressure vehicles, lead by a lack of lubricity from poor quality fuel.”

Coffman recommends the Everyday Diesel Treatment from Hot Shot’s Secret to help stabilize diesel fuel and combat the questionable fuel blends in distribution. “Especially in the wintertime, the EDT boost helps at the pump as well as rejuvenating the fuel back to regulatory standards,” he says. “The Hot Shot’s Secret cetane additive helps return the lubricity back to your diesel that could have been over processed out of the fuel at the manufacturing plant. We call it ‘cheap insurance’ when we never really know what quality we are getting at the diesel pumps.”

Coffman in his own business uses the Hot Shot’s Secret Green Diamond 15w-40 for the majority of his customers, standard with the FR3 friction reducer included, for higher lubricity. “For the DIYer we recommend the FR3 friction reducer when they are not using Hot Shot’s Secret oil products. When using a conventional oil, the FR3 is a must to help protect your engine,” he says. “For all of our repeat customers, and our fleet maintenance customers, in every third oil change, we add a quart of Stiction Eliminator as a detergent, cleaning the carbon and stiction deposits on the cylinders, cams, lifters, turbos and anything else the oil system reaches, thereby allowing the new oil to flow easier and provide additional lubricity to all of the parts.”

“I’ve been in the diesel industry for the last 14 years. Up until a few years ago, I’ve always felt that fuel and oil additives are basically snake oil. That was until I met the Hot Shot’s Secret reps at the NHRDA Diesel World Finals three years ago. I spent a couple hours at the booth learning a vast amount of proper education in the line of their products. I am a very results-oriented person and the HSS reps gave far more facts and data, than sales pitch about their additives. They provided the scientific proof and results from their testing, and we have been selling nothing but Hot Shot’s Secret additives, oil, treatments and more since then.

I was instantly convinced and have been a believer from that day on. We signed up on the spot as a reseller and we have not looked back. We host a huge display in our lobby and always stock 300 gallons of Hot Shot’s Secret motor oil. It’s the only oil we use for our customers’ oil changes.

For diesel fuel system preventative and maintenance, we offer the full line of products and our customers could not be more happy with the results. We show them how the products help coat the tank, clean out the carbon build up on the injector nozzles, and improve fuel flow, cold starting, black smoke reduction, and that the products simply provide a high-grade detergent for the entire fuel system.

I was the biggest critic before. I didn’t do additives. There is a lot of misdirection in the performance diesel industry over the last many years, keeping us on our toes avoiding another scam. Hot Shot’s Secret has provided a pleasant surprise for us in the last three years. They had the facts and the data, and I’ve seen the results ever since.

We don’t have a lot of displays built in our lobby, but the one we do have is a Hot Shot’s Secret display, stocked full of their additives. The stuff flies off the shelves because we pass along the same educational information that they passed along to us. And the product results back it up.

I don’t sell anything I can’t stand behind. It’s my name on the building and I push the products that I know work. I run Hot Shot’s Secret products unanimously in my own truck. I use their product for every application they offer. If there was something better, I’d sell that instead.”

Gecovey Coffman
Coffman Customs (Amarillo, TX)

How to Improve Fuel Efficiency on the Road

Ever heard the statement, “It takes money to make money?” As with any industry, capital investment can greatly affect revenue. Ask any successful Owner/Operator or fleet manager working in commercial transportation, and they will be the first to tell you how true this statement can be. For a tractor/trailer owner, their first consideration in logistical transportation for example, includes the truck cost ranging anywhere from $50,000 for a current-decade used model, to $150,000 and up for an over the road sleeper. For investment in a fleet it could range from 10’s of thousands into an astronomical number depending on the size of a fleet. Consider a nationwide utility company for example, with thousands of vehicles across the country.

Depending on who you ask, these types of numbers may be a reasonable investment, and some may consider the expenditure out of reach. Everyone would probably agree however, that there are areas to save, once the investment is made, and perhaps one of the easiest could be in fuel savings.

Even with fuel prices at a moderate level these days, diesel fuel is still an expense of transportation always impacting the bottom line. Whether a light or medium duty truck on a local route, or a big-rig traversing the interstate system coast to coast, fuel consumption alone is a great place to start on ROI. Below are a few tips to help:

Acceleration: Avoid the need to rev the engine when slamming through the gears. Passing through the gears a little slower gives the transmission the time to do its job. When transferring less task on the engine and lower RPMs, more fuel stays in the tank to get the wheels rolling.

Tire Maintenance: As the actual component transferring the vehicles mechanical energy to the road, tires can have a great impact on fuel economy. Optimized tread design and rubber compound can greatly affect the coefficient of slip, and therefore the propulsion of the vehicle. Improper wear can alter the course of the vehicle requiring extra fuel to remain correctly on course. Proper alignment as well as the inflation of the tires provides more efficiency and traction to the road allowing the tread to provide better grip and move the vehicle forward.

Make Stops at the Top of a Hill: For truck stops and weigh stations, seek out those at the top of a hill. By utilizing the down-hill gravity to get your truck back up to speed, returning to the roadway requires less fuel for acceleration. Restarting at the bottom of the hill compounds the work of your engine and burns more fuel when returning to speed.

Fuel System Maintenance: Good fuel provides more efficiency in combustion and clean fuel filters allows the fuel to flow freely through the system. For diesel, the fuel mixture also includes lubricity to reduce friction, wear and deterioration to engine parts continually in motion against each other such as gears, pistons and rings, lifters and so much more. Clogged filters and injectors require more fuel to be forced through the entire system.

Engine and Fuel Additives: To help reduce carbon build up, dirt, grime, injector stiction and other residuals of an engine, adding the proper fuel and oil additives help dissolve foreign deposits, reduce friction, improve protection of metallic deterioration and corrosion, and improve viscosity indexes. Bradon Mass, owner of Mass Traction, tours the country prepping race tracks. He claims “We’ve crunched a few numbers and by using Hot Shot’s Secret, we have been able to save $4000 in fuel costs this year, and we have the added protection of our engine and better power.”

Specific to diesel fuel gel, additives help reduce the winter freezing of paraffins that gel into a thick wax clogging the entire fuel system.

Sitting at Idle: Minimize the amount of time with the engine running while sitting idle. Of course warm ups and stop overs are sometimes required, but when the possibility exists, turn off the motor to conserve more fuel.

Look ahead to Intersections: If knowing when stop lights, and any other hesitations in traffic flow are ahead, plan the juncture so you can continue rolling. When making a complete stop, more fuel is required to restart forward headway. If slowly rolling into the intersection and properly timing the stoplight to continue momentum, the truck is already in motion with the weight of the load already moving forward. A complete stop discontinues the inertia of the vehicle, requiring a restart from zero.

Cruising Sweet Spot: Also related to inertia and the weight of the load moving forward, find the sweet spot in cruising speed where it requires the least amount of acceleration and higher RPMs. Allow the inertia to remove the stress of the powerplant and the fuel required for acceleration. When you find the sweet spot, set the cruise control to speed and watch the mileage increase from your fuel tank.

Change the Oil: Fresh motor oil provides more lubricity allowing the mechanical parts in the engine to move freely. With less resistance on the movement of the parts, less fuel is required to power the transduction of chemical energy (fuel combustion) into mechanical energy. The investment in high grade motor oil proves to be worth the small investment providing increased oil flow, less friction on moving engine parts, a better seal on piston rings, and transferring heat. The right oil helps provide more horsepower per fuel burn, less repairs and extends the life of the engine.

Reduce the load: Extra weight burns extra fuel. When at all possible clean out the cab of the truck and remove unneeded weight constraints. Perhaps fill the tank less for shorter commutes? If the weight of the vehicle itself overreaches the need of the job, perhaps consider a smaller vehicle for the smaller jobs. Regardless of the size of the vehicle all the above information pertains as well.

Tony Lewis of Powerhouse Performance Diesel (Mount Holly, AR) mentions that one of the most common oversights in fuel economy and costly mistakes in available maintenance is when people don’t use additives. “I’m a firm believer,” says Lewis, “that including additives early on in the life of the vehicle, helps prolong the life of your engine, less repairs and savings in fuel economy. I’ve seen for myself many improvements in injector life for example, by keeping the entire chamber cleaner. I’ll take apart the top ends of motors from customers using the Stiction Eliminator from Hot Shot’s Secrets, and it’s so much cleaner than the others that have never used anything.” When fuel is required to pass through the gunked up system sans-additives, more fuel is required to actually get past the build up, costing more at the gas station.

With a few simple steps, the proper maintenance, a look ahead in the road and some added patience in our routines, fuels savings can become a sizeable benefit to the road-bound business. With the the tips above, drivers should see immediate results. Have more tips of your own? Feel free to share with us at our Hot Shot’s Secret Facebook page.

“We’ve been using Hot Shot’s Secret for trucks that come in with complaints about cold starts in the morning, and we offer Diesel Extreme for improved cold starting. Several of our customers are using the Everyday Diesel Treatment reporting back mileage improvements after their own tracking and testing in their diesel pickups.

I’ve used the Stiction Eliminator for probably 15 years in my own vehicles. Since I’ve become a dealer, I’ve put it in a whole lot of pickups, especially the 6.0 diesels, and more so than not an oil change with Stiction Eliminator has definitely made improvements in cold starting and issues with missing in the trucks. It definitely buys some time for your engines.

I’ve used other products, but for me personally, I’ve had better results out of the Hot Shot’s Secret products. When I visited my first NHRDA race and visited the HSS booth, I saw the engine oil for sale too. I asked the folks in the booth how can I get on board? I said I didn’t need any proof because I was already a customer and believer. And I’ve become the dealer in Arkansas for the motor oil. Every one of my customers has been more than happy with the product.

I’ve conducted my own personal tests on Hot Shot’s Secret Oils and it’s topped the other oils I’ve compared in the tests. I’ve had a lot of Dodge 5.9’s come in ‘missing’ in the cold. I treat them with Hot Shot’s Secret and then I don’t see them very often after that. The 6.7’s seem to have a better injector in them. When I use Hot Shot’s Secret on them, they are done. I haven’t seen them come back. I have a couple fleet trucks that come in on occasion and it’s been over a year now, and we haven’t had to touch the injector system since. It’s just a great product.

Plus, nowadays, there are some good parts, products and ideas out there everywhere. But the part left out is customer service. With Hot Shot’s Secret, however, I can get on the phone with any question, be it pricing, or shipping or product, and in a short matter of time, I am getting a call back with someone helping me almost immediately. The product speaks for itself, but the service is outstanding. For me, if you don’t have customer service, you don’t have much at all. With Hot Shot’s Secret, we do!”

Tony Lewis
Powerhouse Performance Diesel

Winter Maintenance Reminders – Are You Winter Ready?

For much of the United States, winter 2018/2019 has been a comparatively mild one (*until the last week of January). Consider the fact that the far north has only been in single digit temperatures compared to 10’s, 20’s and 30’s below. Instead of many regions buried in deep feet of snow, many are covered in multiples of inches instead. And while some still endure the blistery cold, snow and ice that winter brings to their doorsteps daily, none should let the mild winter-to-date be a distraction from proper preparation for winter maintenance on your vehicle. Colder temps, more snow and more ice are still on the way.

Every vehicle owner can mitigate their risk of being stranded roadside in the cold, with a few easy steps of prevention. Codey Lowe of Triangle Diesel in Kankakee, IL says that a quick and easy pre-winter inspection can make the difference in getting through the cold successfully, or breaking down on the side of the road. Codey says, “it’s never too late to prevent a breakdown. It’s only too late after it happens.”

Below are a some tips to keep your vehicle running better in the cold:

1. Check Your Battery –The summer months are very tough on a car battery and by the time the temperature plummets, batteries are often weak and drained of water. Routine inspection of the water level in your battery can help with not only avoiding a hazard, but also extending the life of your battery. Check your fluid level and if low, add distilled water until full. Distilled water helps against evaporation, the erosion of the internal battery plates, and it helps extend the charge of the battery.

Maintenance-free batteries often provide an easy-to-read indicator for battery ‘juice’ levels as well.

If unable to check the battery, service stations and auto parts stores often offer a service to check your battery as well. If the results of either of these methods indicate a weak or depleted battery, your best insurance is to replace the battery and eliminate the unwanted need for jumper cables and/or a tow.

2. Check Your Tires – Before the slick roads cause you to spin out of control due to minimal traction from your tires, inspect the tread and the proper air pressure of your tires before you head out into the tundra. Tire manufactures offer both seasonal and multi seasonal tires with variances in rubber compounds and tread design. Tires specific to winter optimize tire design to help with traction in snow and ice conditions. When able, it is always best to purchase all four tires together and continually rotate them to the manufacturer’s mileage schedule. Lowe says that “adding air to your tires as the cold sets in helps fight the deflation that the cold will cause.”

3. Antifreeze – It’s no news that water freezes. What may become new news however, is finding that your engine has been ruined because the water that flows within it to keep it cool, has frozen. A cracked block is not only a hazard to your vehicle, but also quite a hazard to your pocketbook for the repairs and replacement costs. Antifreeze is imperative to avoid not only a cracked block but also a frozen radiator as well. By simply adding antifreeze to your radiator water level the freezing point within your cooling system drops to a point lower than the ambient temperature (and raises the boiling point in the summer). Many products are available online and at your local parts store like O’Rileys, Summit, Pilot Travel Centers, WalMart and more.

Many products also make it an easy process by premixing the antifreeze and the water ratios for the proper temperature protection. Products like Hot Shot’s Secret antifreeze now offer mileage specs for the life of the antifreeze as well.

4. Change the Oil – Both the motor oil and transmission fluid are often an overlooked opportunity to ensure reliability of your vehicle during the winter months. Oils thicken when the temperature drops causing an added resistance in the lubrication of moving parts in your engine and transmission. Winter conditions also wreak havoc on the oil filters as well, where the thickened oil is continually forced through the filter.

Check your owner’s manual for the correct listing of oil viscosity indexes required. With a “W” included, such as 5W-20, 5W-30, and 10W-30, the oil is rated for winter use. A variety of motor oil products exist specific to your vehicle. With scientific upgrades improving lubrication and oil flow, these upgraded products continually reduce wear and tear, thereby extending the life of your vehicle. When driving within extra-duty demands of heavier loads and terrain, consider enhanced formula transmission fluid for similar advantages. When changing out the fluids and the engine oil, it’s always best to change out the dirty filters as well.

5. Fuel and Oil Winter Additives – Fuel and oil have been created to serve their purpose. Fuel to ignite the combustion needed and oil to lubricate moving parts. But with so many demands from the mechanical parts, additives can add many improvements to help increase the inefficiencies of the core element. For example, consider in your fuel, there is added condensation and dirt. Condensation builds from differing temperatures and dirt builds from not only by products in the fuel, but even scenarios where a new load of fuel is pumped in the storage tank at the station. Lowe cautions that “if you see a semi dumping new fuel at the gas station, perhaps drive on by, to the next one.” He says, “it’s churning all of the existing fallout from the fuel in the tank, which could then end up passing through your vehicle’s fuel system. The churning dirt clogs up your filter, your fuel lines and your injectors.” With a variety of additives however, condensation, dirt, and even the residual effects of ambient factors like freezing temperatures are reduced providing greater efficiency in your mileage, mechanical maintenance, and extending the life of your vehicle all together. Making sure to have plenty of additives for winter auto maintenance, like the diesel winter stock up bundle from Hot Shot’s Secret, can make the difference between a successful winter and a troublesome one.

Codey mentions that we are also wise to consider the traffic at the fuel station. With a higher traffic fuel station, the fuel is probably less cold than one that has fewer customers. “The lower traffic gas stations have fuel that has set in their tank longer,” he says. “The higher traffic stations have a cleaner, fresher fuel to offer, less susceptible to freezing, condensation and dirt.”

Other easy tips to consider are:
Avoid diesel gelling and change your fuel filters. Lowe claims that it’s an often overlooked and underrated need to change fuel filters. “As soon as the first cold sets in, our phone starts ringing from customers with trucks that won’t start or that have died on the road,” he says. “The biggest mistake we see is lack of maintenance on the fuel filters.” Much like antifreeze protects the cooling system from frozen water, diesel powered vehicles require an additional ‘anti-freeze’ protection for the fuel system. To help with fuel freezing in diesel engines, products and information are available to prevent and de-gel a fuel system as well.

Check the wipers on your windshield and make sure to have plenty of windshield wiper fluid. With the snow and ice on the ground, the dirt from roadways covering your windshield causes a hazard to you and the surrounding traffic on the roadway.

Keep an eye on the belts and hoses. You’ll want to check for any cracks and leaks around the radiator and heater hose clamps. Hoses in good condition will remain firm but still pliable when you squeeze them. Check belts for any cracks and hardening from the cold to help ensure a belt doesn’t break while the engine is running.

Lowe advises to keep the fuel tank as close to ‘full’ as possible. When the tank is depleted during winter months, condensation can build up in the tank resulting in more water to fuel ratio. A full tank helps reduce the amount of water and dirt that can line the tank. Biofuel is something to avoid in the winter as well, since added algae can grow faster in the cold.

Lowe also says to let the vehicle warm up a few minutes before driving. “Even with a block heater,” says Lowe, “it’s a lot easier on your engine to drive once it’s warmed to 80 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit vs. minus 20.”

Codey says the many that run successfully through the winter are the ones that “come in late fall for their winter readiness, and those that carry a couple fuel filters and some extra additives along with them in the truck.”

“I run everything Hot Shot’s in my own truck: In my 2013 Duramax I run the oil additive, the fuel additive, stiction eliminator, the coolant and the engine oil.

I’ve put the friction reducer in my wife’s 2017 Ford Fusion and you can tell in the mornings when it’s cold, that her car takes off a whole lot smoother. Before it was more lagging and sluggish. We’ve been running that in there for every oil change. I’ve used it in GM pickups and it usually clears up the lifter ticking, and smoother idling in those trucks.

I was never an additive believer, and never trusted until I came across Hot Shot’s Secret.”

– Codey Lowe
Triangle Diesel
Kankakee, Il

Three Easy Solutions to Prevent Diesel Fuel Gelling

As the cold sets in for the winter, many around the country start thinking of their vehicles and the need for winter maintenance. Unless one lives in Florida, southern California, or perhaps Texas, the chances are good that temperatures are dipping below freezing and affecting the performance of your vehicle. For those driving a diesel, there is a unique risk of diesel fuel gelling adding one more checklist item to consider for preventive maintenance.

We recently caught up with someone who is an expert on winter maintenance to get his advice. David Berg of BayBrook Solutions lives in Mandan, North Dakota, where at the time of this writing the weather was a balmy 5°F with a 20 mph wind. “I’m wearing my gloves rated for 40 degrees below zero, and my hands are still very cold,” says David. “We’ve been lucky this year though. So far we have only been down into single digit temps. By now it’s often 20 degrees below zero here for days and days on end. Brain freeze can happen just by being outside. We used to own a towing company and unfortunately for our customers, we have seen plenty of gelling causing vehicles to not start in the winter.”
Diesel fuel, especially #2 Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel that is common to all services stations, will ‘gel’ as the paraffin in the diesel fuel starts to crystallize and freeze. With enough cold it will produce a solid wax-like substance that can clog the entire fuel system. It is similar to how a candle once it is lit warms the wax and the wax becomes a free-flowing liquid, then as it cools it becomes solid again. A similar process takes place when diesel fuel begins to crystalize during cold weather. When the weather is close to 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit*, gelling starts to occur and can clog the fuel system (*depending on the source and quality of fuel, gelling can occur as high as 20 degrees Fahrenheit) .

Berg mentions that there are a few telltale signs when diesel fuel is gelling, and it’s all primarily based on the loss of power and compression, because fuel is failing to reach the combustion chamber. If you could see the fuel, it will have a cloudy appearance; which is an indicator that gelling has already occurred. Other signs to look for is white smoke exhaust when trying to accelerate, or if you are sitting at idle trying to throttle and the engine stops running. Also, if the vehicle starts, but won’t continually run, then this too could be a sign. Whether it’s the lack of RPMs when an engine is running, or it’s one of those cold winter mornings and the truck just won’t start at all, gelled diesel fuel is probably the culprit.

When it doesn’t start at all, many make the mistake of grabbing a can of ether to begin the combustion process. There are some risks however with this solution as there may be no fuel to ignite.  Over spraying and having un-contained ether spray creates problems. Un-contained spray could ignite hot components causing engine damage, or putting too much ether in the fuel line could simply ignite air in the lines rather than fuel which could also badly damage the engine. Fortunately, options exist that are much safer than spraying ether. Here are a few preventive tips:

  1. Heat:
    The best line of defense is to apply heat. Storing your vehicle in a climate controlled garage or heated environment prevents susceptibility to freezing temperatures. Other tactics can range from a series of light bulbs under the vehicle emitting heat, wrapping the vehicle in a tarp with a heater blowing heat, to the modern day block heater installed on the engine, keeping the vehicle from the frigid temperatures. The utility companies will love you too, while racking up the electric bills.
  2. Kerosene:
    With the challenge of staying warm at 20 degrees below zero, folks still have a couple other options by modifying the fuel mixture itself. The most common use is pouring kerosene into the fuel tank to lower the point of freezing. To further take advantage of the lower freezing point of kerosene many often mix #1 diesel, which blends kerosene with #2 diesel fuel. The northern regions of the country often provide this blend but in the southern regions of warmer temperatures, the #1 diesel may not be available. In either case, the kerosene has its disadvantages as well, more than anything reduced fuel mileage and efficiency. If however, the truck stops running and the use of kerosene is the choice, it is highly advisable to let the engine run long enough to combine the fuels providing a steady flow of the mixture. Consider in a semi-truck for example, when working with 100’s of gallons of fuel in a tank, the time it takes for the kerosene to thaw the tank. But then kerosene also has to thaw the clogged fuel filter and frozen lines. It may take an hour of idle to thaw the entire line from the fuel tank, to the filter, to the injectors.
  3. Fuel Additive:
    There are now additives that can provide easy, low cost, and a no hassle solution to prevent gelling; one that any vehicle owner can do on their own. “When considering an additive, be sure and do your due diligence and compare all the products and claims,” Berg says. “It’s sometimes worth a little extra time and attention to find the best product. Just like wearing layers of clothes in the cold, additives are a way to add an extra layer of prevention to prevent the wax in diesel fuel from getting thick.” Berg warns that many products use alcohol, and to research a product that provides not only adequate temperature coverage, but also protection for the full system including lubricity, cetane, water dispersion and a guarantee for success.

    Many preventive offerings are available with some top choices immediately available such as Diesel Winter Anti-Gel promoting coverage down to -40°F.

So why take the time to prevent diesel fuel gelling? Berg says, “If a tow truck is called, you may still be stuck with a vehicle that won’t run after paying the tow fee. In the case of a personal or small-duty vehicle, you can save yourself the lost $80 and the hassle, or in the case of a semi, the $500 price tag for a tow and lost time headed down the interstate. Instead, for only a few dollars in prevention and an easy pour into the tank, taking advantage of the top scientific additives could keep you from being stranded in the cold.
For those unable to heed the warning, no prevention has taken place, and gelling remains a possibility, or it has already taken place, emergency additives are also available. For example, Diesel Winter Rescue is a formulated product that reliquifies gelled fuel and de-ices frozen fuel filters to restore the flow of diesel fuel to the engine allowing the vehicle to be fully operational again. Products such as Diesel Winter Rescue are a helpful option to carry in your vehicle during the winter months, just in case.
“I sell quite a bit of Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Anti-Gel additive. It’s a tough sell because of all the diluted products out there on the market. I just tell people this works and it has a 100% money back guarantee. I wouldn’t be selling this product, and I’ve never sold a product, that doesn’t show results.”   – David Berg

Let’s talk fuel economy and engine emission reductions

I feel like Diogenes, the Greek philosopher who walked around with a lantern searching for an honest man. As a physicist, I forever search for the truth, but I’m often disappointed.

Many people would have you believe that the truth is variable depending on your point of view, but that just isn’t the case. Science will eventually point out the truth if experiments are properly conducted, but we must be careful what we read, because journalists aren’t technically trained, and R&D is sometimes financed by those protecting their business interests.

For example, I keep reading that corn-based ethanol reduces CO2 emissions and can enable better fuel economy. Corn-based ethanol was initially a stop-gap energy independence measure until cellulosic ethanol could be commercialized. The science simply doesn’t support what “Big Agriculture” and farmers would have you believe.

I have considerable experience with fuel economy, so I feel qualified to speak on the subject. Fuel economy is very vehicle/operating condition specific, so let’s separate highway and urban operation for purposes of this discussion. It will simplify matters somewhat.

Want more insight from John Martin? Click here to see all of his columns.

Only 35% to 40% of the energy engines produce actually produces usable work. Significant fuel economy gains can be realized by improving engine efficiency. Since the fleet operator can’t legally alter the performance of an existing engine design, improvements are left to the engineers. However, run your engines as slowly as possible to reduce pumping losses.

Pure science sometimes gets bastardized because of government regulations. An excellent measure of engine efficiency is NOx levels, but California and other areas such as the Northeast have found a relationship between NOx and smog formation. Their constant pressure to reduce NOx levels has an adverse effect on vehicular fuel economy that all Americans must pay for.

Our federal government should devote billions of R&D dollars to the development of NOx absorbers. NOx absorbers would lower the amount of NOx in the exhaust stream thus enabling engines to operate more efficiently. Hopefully, development will happen if an NOx absorber champion starts the R&D ball rolling.

Over-the-road fuel economy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, places almost four times as much emphasis on aerodynamics and almost two times as much emphasis on rolling resistance as does urban operation. You can debate the numbers, but you can’t debate the directional correlations.

We’ve done a lot of work with bearings, drivelines and tires to reduce rolling resistance, but we’ve barely scratched the aerodynamics surface. Let’s see a lot more truck and trailer manufacturer cooperation to develop some really slick vehicles. I know we can do it. Truck builders may have to sacrifice a little weight, and fleet operators may have to take a little more time changing tires.

Urban operation requires a different tack. Weight is the primary factor influencing fuel economy in these operations, or, as Isaac Newton would say, “F=ma.” (Force acting on an object is equal to the mass (m) of an object times its acceleration (a).)

I like to use UPS as the example. UPS uses only a large enough vehicle to handle the number of packages on a given route to maximize fuel economy. They also use four-wheel disc brakes on most of their package cars to both speed up/simplify maintenance and improve fuel economy.

A fleet operator can learn a lot by simply observing UPS. Don’t carry unnecessary weight!

View the original article and related content on FleetEquipmentMag

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Trey Sikes

Trey Vs. The World

You may have heard of Trey Sikes, 2-time champion diesel drag racer, in the last issue of LSI Innovation Magazine: an unassuming BMW diesel sedan in a sea of lifted pickup trucks. Now, it is a new year, new look and new records on the horizon for the 2009 335D.

The car has custom hybrid twin-turbos, methanol injection and proprietary tuning. This combination gives it daily-drivability, but also the potential for breaking records. Which is exactly what Trey did. Last fall, with the help of an extremely aggressive dose of EDT EVERYDAY DIESEL TREATMENT, Mr. Sikes broke the North American record for the BMW 335D M57 platform. The next step? The WORLD record.

After this feat, the car was overdue for a new wrap, and a Hot Shot’s Secret Everyday Diesel Treatment theme became obvious. The loud carbon/yellow design debuted at the first Outlaw Diesel Super Series (ODSS) event of the season, with overwhelming love from media and fans.

Trey continues to commute ~50 miles a day, plus races in the 7.70 index class of ODSS and NHRDA, nationwide. Not only this, but any drag racing event in his home state of North Carolina is fair game. Two class wins early in 2018 prove that the car is not only quick, but consistent. Now, the race is on for the world record; stay “tuned” …

What makes the BMW 335d so special? Andrew Barnes, moderator of Facebook group North American BMW Diesel Owners, explains: “There were only 11,000 335d sold in the United States, which makes the following pretty small and almost cult-like. We have expanded to 1800 members total in a year. Everyone wants to see the platform pushed forward in every way possible, which is why a car with such a limited production run has a large aftermarket.”

Originally published in LSI Innovation Magazine – Issue 108

ck4 oil

Motor Oils Keep Changing, Improving And Oil For Diesels Is No Exception

“The new API ratings began to appear on motor oil containers in December 2016. The new CK-4 rating is backward compatible and replaces the previous CJ-4 rating. It is intended for use with low sulfur (15 ppm or less) diesel fuels. The oil can be used with ultra low or low sulfur fuels, and will be available in familiar 15W-40, 10W-30 & 10W-40 viscosities, plus 5W-30 and 5W-40 depending on the supplier.”

Motor oil may seem like a fairly static product in terms of product evolution, but it certainly isn’t. Like almost every other aspect of automotive technology today, motor oils keep changing and improving to keep pace with advancements in engine design, fuel economy and emission requirements.

Motor oil viscosities have been getting thinner and thinner in recent years as automakers look for ways to boost fuel economy. During the Obama administration, new rules were put in place that will require automakers to achieve Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Only a handful of hybrids and plug-in EVs can achieve or surpass those kind of fuel economy numbers now. Automakers are downsizing engines and lightening bodies to improve efficiency. They also will receive credits for other changes, too, in order to meet the goal. But for now, thinner oils are an essential part of the solution to squeezing the most mileage out of internal combustion engines, gasoline or diesel.

Although diesels are not a large segment of the North American passenger car market (less than 3 percent, with probably half of those being various VW models), diesel engines are popular in many light trucks, a large percentage of medium-duty trucks and more than 95 percent of all heavy-duty trucks. The bigger the truck and the harder it works, the less miles per gallon it gets. A fully loaded 18-wheeler may only get 5 to 7 miles per gallon, so even a marginal improvement due to friction reduction can have a significant impact on operating costs.

To this end, the American Petroleum Institute (API) announced last year that it was approving two new diesel oil service classifications: CK-4 and FA-4 (previously known as PC11A and PC11B). The new ratings are the result of years of development effort between the API’s Lubricants Group, the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA), and the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

The new diesel oil service classifications improve upon existing standards by providing enhanced protection against oil oxidation and engine wear, longer drain intervals, greater protection against exhaust particulate filter plugging, extended catalyst life, reduced piston carbon deposits and greater resistance to high temperature thermal breakdown. Fuel economy improvements on the order of 0.5 percent to as much as 2.2 percent are possible depending on the “before” and “after” viscosities of the oils used.

The new API ratings began to appear on motor oil containers in December 2016. The new CK-4 rating is backward compatible and replaces the previous CJ-4 rating. It is intended for use with low sulfur (15 ppm or less) diesel fuels. The oil can be used with ultra low or low sulfur fuels, and will be available in familiar 15W-40, 10W-30 & 10W-40 viscosities, plus 5W-30 and 5W-40 depending on the supplier.

The new FA-4 rating will have a red donut label to help distinguish it from other service ratings because it is not backwward compatible with previous diesel oils.

FA-4 oils only will be used in 2017 and newer diesel engines, and primarily for on-highway use although some engine manufacturers may approve the oil for off-road equipment and agricultural use. Engines that are engineered for the new lower viscosity FA-4 oils will typically have tighter bearing clearances and other features that help them meet the latest Greenhouse Gas emission requirements.

FA-4 oils are formulated for use with ultra low sulfur diesel fuels only that do not contain more than 15 ppm of sulfur.

Several viscosities of FA-4 oil will be available from familiar brands such as Chevron Delo, Mobil Delvac, Shell Rotella and others including 10W-30, 5W-30 and even 0W-30. These thinner oils should NEVER be used in older engines that are not designed for such low viscosities. 

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Fuel Gelling in the Common Rail Engine

BY MIKE KOCHHEISER, Lubrication Specialties, Inc.
The efficiency of fuel filters has come a long way over the past decade. In fact, most common rail engines being produced today include a factory fuel filter rated at a 2-5 micron efficiency, while just a few years ago were being produced with a 10-20 micron rating. Although the tighter tolerances of the fuel filter offer better wear protection to the engine, it provides a much greater risk of becoming plugged with gelled diesel fuel even sooner (at warmer temperatures) than before.

The quality of today’s diesel fuel varies from one station to the next. Diesel fuel is a very complicated mixture of many different compounds. Some of these compounds are referred to as paraffins, which solidify once they reach their “freeze” point. The solid form of these hydrocarbons is a thick, waxy substance that is referred to as the “gelling” of diesel fuel. Every hydrocarbon has its own freeze point, making it difficult to know the exact quality of the fuel when it leaves the pump. Due to the variances of wax content from one batch of fuel to the next, there is not one exact temperature that the fuel begins to gel. However, the threat of fuel gelling typically presents itself around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

When it comes to fighting fuel gelling, there are a few inexpensive options that will save you from headaches and even maintenance expenses. If you are lucky enough to have a heated garage, storing your vehicle in a temperature controlled environment is the easiest way to keep the fuel from reaching its freeze point. If heated storage isn’t an option, another way to consistently increase the quality of fuel and decrease the freeze point is to use a diesel fuel winterization additive like Hot Shot’s Secret DIESEL WINTER ANTIGEL. The DIESEL WINTER ANTI-GEL will lower the freeze point to approximately -40° and reduce fuel line freezing. A quality diesel anti-gel treatment will not only decrease the gel point, but it also contains a wax anti-settling agent to keep the wax dispersed, which keeps your engine running longer.

With the common-rail engine beginning to become the normal for most diesel engine manufacturers, it is important for drivers to thoroughly understand the threats of fuel gelling, and how it can affect the performance of these engines during the winter months. It is worth making an extra effort to prevent this issue and protect the machines you rely on with diesel anti-gel treatment.

Originally published in LSI Innovation Magazine – Issue 107