Skip to content

Problems with Diesel Generators: Dirt Simple Solutions

    diesel generator sample image

    diesel generator sample image

    Diesel generators are a reliable source of backup power, but they can experience problems over time. This article discusses the most common problems with diesel generators and how to prevent and fix them.

    Problems with Diesel Generators

    Noise Pollution

    Problem: Diesel generators are notorious for their noise levels, which can be a concern for both residential and commercial settings where noise pollution is unwanted.

    Solution: To mitigate noise pollution, consider installing soundproof enclosures or placing the generator in an area where the noise won’t disrupt occupants. Additionally, opting for generators with noise-reduction technology or investing in soundproofing materials can significantly dampen the noise.

    High Upfront Cost

    Problem: Diesel generators often come with a higher upfront cost compared to other generator types, such as gasoline or natural gas generators.

    Solution: While the initial investment may be higher, diesel generators are known for their durability and longevity. Evaluate your long-term power needs and consider the cost-effectiveness over the generator’s lifespan. If your budget allows, the initial cost can be offset by the generator’s reliability and performance in the long run.

    Expensive Maintenance

    Problem: Regular maintenance is crucial for diesel generators, and this can add up in terms of costs, including oil changes, filter replacements, and professional servicing.

    Solution: Factor maintenance costs into your overall budget when considering a diesel generator. However, keep in mind that proper maintenance ensures optimal performance and can extend the generator’s lifespan. Regularly changing the oil, filters, and addressing minor issues promptly can prevent major and costly repairs down the line.

    Fuel Availability

    Problem: Relying on diesel fuel means you need access to a steady supply, which might not always be available during emergencies or in remote areas.

    Solution: To address fuel availability concerns, ensure you have a backup fuel storage plan. Consider maintaining a reserve supply of diesel fuel for emergencies. Additionally, explore alternative power sources, such as solar panels or battery storage, to supplement your generator during fuel shortages.

    Emissions from Diesel Generators

    Problem: Diesel generators emit pollutants, contributing to air pollution and potential environmental harm.

    Solution: While complete elimination of emissions is challenging, consider using emissions-reduction technologies, such as exhaust after-treatment systems, to minimize the generator’s environmental impact. For environmentally sensitive areas, exploring cleaner energy alternatives like natural gas or renewable sources can be beneficial.

    Leaks in Diesel Generators

    Problem: Leaks from diesel generators can pose safety hazards and environmental risks due to fuel, oil, or coolant leakage.

    Solution: Regularly inspect your generator for leaks and address any issues promptly. Proper installation, routine maintenance, and routine checks can help prevent leaks and minimize associated risks. Ensure that any leaks are contained, and perform repairs using appropriate materials and techniques.

    Failure for Diesel Generators to Start

    Problem: Diesel generators can fail to start due to various reasons, such as low battery charge, fuel quality, or component malfunctions.

    Solution: Regularly test and maintain your generator’s starting system, including the battery and starter motor. Keep the battery charged and replace it as needed. Perform routine inspections of fuel quality and cleanliness. Ensure that all components are in proper working condition to avoid starting issues.


    Problem: Overheating can occur if a diesel generator is overloaded or improperly maintained, leading to engine damage and reduced lifespan.

    Solution: Adequate ventilation and cooling are essential. Maintain proper cooling system function, including coolant levels and radiator cleanliness. Avoid overloading the generator beyond its rated capacity, and ensure that the generator is used within recommended load limits to prevent overheating.

    Tips to Extend Your Diesel Generator’s Lifespan

    If you want to have your diesel generator’s running for a very long time, follow this tips below to extend your generator life.

    Choose a Properly Sized Generator

    Selecting a generator that matches your power needs is crucial to prevent overloading and ensure efficient operation.

    Avoid selecting a generator that’s too small for your needs, as this can lead to performance issues and potential damage. Conversely, a generator that’s too large might not run efficiently and can waste fuel.

    Calculate your power requirements accurately and choose a generator that meets or slightly exceeds your needs.

    Regular Professional Servicing

    Schedule routine servicing by a qualified technician to keep your generator in optimal condition. Professional maintenance ensures that your generator’s components are inspected, cleaned, and repaired as needed.

    Technicians can identify potential problems before they escalate, ensuring reliable performance when you need it most. Regular servicing includes oil changes, filter replacements, coolant checks, and overall system inspections.

    Use the Correct Fuel and Oil

    Always use the recommended fuel and oil types specified by the manufacturer.

    Using the correct fuel and oil prevents engine damage and ensures optimal performance. High-quality diesel fuel and the right oil grade contribute to efficient combustion and lubrication, extending the generator’s lifespan. Consult your generator’s manual for fuel and oil specifications.

    Regular Inspection for Leaks

    Routinely inspect your generator for fuel, oil, or coolant leaks. Leaks can pose safety hazards, damage the environment, and reduce the generator’s performance.

    Regularly check for any signs of leaks, such as puddles or strong odors. If you notice a leak, address it promptly and consult a professional technician for repairs.

    Proper Ventilation

    Place your generator in a well-ventilated area to prevent overheating and ensure proper airflow.

    Adequate ventilation is crucial for the generator’s cooling system to function effectively. Ensure that the generator has enough space around it to allow air to flow freely. Avoid enclosing the generator in tight spaces that could hinder airflow and lead to overheating.

    Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

    Adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines for operation and maintenance. The manufacturer’s instructions provide valuable insights into how to operate and maintain your generator correctly. They often include recommendations for load management, starting procedures, and safety precautions.

    Following these guidelines can prevent avoidable problems and ensure safe and efficient generator usage.


    While diesel generators come with their own set of challenges, understanding and addressing these common problems can help you maximize the benefits of this reliable power source.

    By implementing the solutions mentioned above and investing in proper maintenance and precautions, you can enjoy consistent backup power and extend the lifespan of your diesel generator while minimizing its drawbacks.


    Q1: Can I use biodiesel fuel in my diesel generator?

    A1: Biodiesel can be used in some diesel generators, but it’s essential to consult the generator’s manufacturer guidelines and ensure compatibility. Biodiesel blends can have different properties that may require adjustments to the generator’s settings.

    Q2: How often should I change the oil in my diesel generator?

    A2: The frequency of oil changes depends on factors such as the generator’s usage and the manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, oil changes are recommended every 100 to 250 hours of operation or as specified in the owner’s manual.

    Q3: Can I run my diesel generator continuously?

    A3: While diesel generators are designed for extended operation, it’s important to allow the generator to cool down periodically to prevent overheating. Regular maintenance and monitoring are essential for extended use.

    Q4: What’s the lifespan of a diesel generator?

    A4: The lifespan of a diesel generator can vary based on factors such as usage, maintenance, and quality. Well-maintained generators can last anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 hours or more.

    Q5: How do I prevent fuel contamination in my diesel generator?

    A5: To prevent fuel contamination, use high-quality diesel fuel from reputable sources. Regularly inspect and replace fuel filters. Consider using fuel additives that improve fuel stability and deter microbial growth.

    Q6: Can I perform generator maintenance myself, or should I hire a professional?

    A6: Basic maintenance tasks, such as checking fluid levels and cleaning components, can often be performed by owners. However, more complex tasks and troubleshooting should be handled by qualified professionals to avoid potential damage.

    Q7: Are diesel generators noisy?

    A7: Diesel generators can be noisy, especially under heavy loads. Consider purchasing generators with noise-reduction features or enclosures if noise is a concern.