Alldiesels' tips to avoid engine issues

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Alldiesels general manager Byron Ansiewicz provides expert advice on aspects to avoid when purchasing a new truck engine

Over its 25-plus years of experience and after helping tens of thousands of Australians and Australian businesses keep their operations running, second generation family-owned business Alldiesels Australia is well placed to be an authority to both the good and the bad of buying a new, used or rebuilt diesel engines, and shares insight into challenges.

Alldiesels general manager Byron Ansiewicz

Top 11 mistakes (not to make) when buying your next diesel engine:

1. Thinking the day you have a problem, you will be able to buy the exact replacement engine you need

Particularly in the current environment with supply chain issues and slower and more expensive freight, there is less stock on the market and longer lead times.

If you anticipate you are going to have requirements for a replacement engine, the sooner you have that discussion and source the engine, the better placed you are going to be.

Having an engine sitting in surplus is often a lot cheaper and less stressful than being down on a piece of equipment or machinery for an extended period of time – right when you need it.

2. Only contacting the new dealers and not understanding the industry

Another mistake would be only contacting the branded dealers and distributors, and not considering that there is a market of independent engine sellers.

Alldiesels is the largest independent seller in Australia that specialises in heavy US and European diesel engines, though there are also large dealers that specialise in Japanese makes or lighter engines that are worth exploring if those are your requirements.

Similar to a branded car dealership, branded dealers such as Caterpillar or Cummins are often limited in the stock they can supply (generally new engines), and will have a less extensive range, not to mention typically limited to one brand, than an independent dealer.

Engine brands Alldiesels deals in, for example, include: Caterpillar, Cummins, DAF, Detroit, Iveco, John Deere, Mack, MAN, Mercedes, Perkins, Scania, Volvo and more. This also means Alldiesels has expertise across a broader range of engines and can provide unbiased advice as it is not limited to just one brand or solution.

3. Not understanding the difference between buying from a wrecker vs engine builder

A wrecker or dismantler will often buy a wrecked vehicle or piece of machinery, knowing that they need to dismantle and sell each component of that wreck, including the engine to make a profit.

A wrecker is, more often than not, not an engine builder. They will have some mechanical understanding, though, typically, will not have the expertise or specialised equipment to be able to properly inspect an engine, run diagnostics and test an engine under load in proper simulated conditions.

You’re often buying blind. Expert advice and buying an engine that has been thoroughly inspected and tested under load will save you both time and money. A wrecker also may not have the capability to resolve warranty issues if they arise.

Exercise caution when buying a used engine to ensure it has been properly load tested. Simply running an engine at idle, or even through its rev range with no load, is as good as useless.

To test an engine properly you need to be able to get everything up to temperature and operate under load, as that is when most issues become apparent and can be diagnosed.

Alldiesels has have a team of specialised engine builders and sales and support team who build engines all day, every day.

4. Not realising that the same engine often has multiple specifications

The same engine make and model will often have a number of different specifications. For example a Cummins M11 will come in the base spec, as well as Celect or Celect Plus variants.

These different specifications can be due to updates over the time the engine was manufactured, have different horsepower ratings, or have differences that make them suitable for different applications.

Matching the serial number from your existing engine is the best way to ensure you are buying the correct engine.

5. Not considering the difference between new, used and rebuilt

There are pros and cons to buying a new, used or rebuilt engine, such as warranty, history and budget. The decision comes down to the buyer’s circumstances and requirements for the engine, though it is worth considering which of these options is relevant to you.

6. Not all rebuilds are created equal

When comparing rebuilt engines, it is critical to ensure you are comparing apples with apples.

The term ‘rebuilt’ does not have a single generic meaning in the industry. Often engines marketed as ‘rebuilds’ have had a very limited build and few new/replacement parts.

Often, components such as turbochargers, injectors and air compressors are not rebuilt or replaced with new in these ‘rebuilds’.

There is nothing necessarily right or wrong with purchasing a partial or full rebuild, but no two rebuilds are the same and often buyers are not aware of the differences.

Most importantly, the buyer needs to understand the extent of the rebuild and the quality of the parts used in the rebuild. Have genuine parts been used? What is the quality and reputation of the parts if non-OEM have been used? There is a long list of questions that a buyer needs to be asking to know the extent of a rebuild.

7. Buying with no warranty (or a warranty not worth the paper it is written on)

Typically this will apply when buying from a wrecker or if buying a one-off piece from a small seller of an engine surplus to their requirements.

What is the fallback if something does go wrong?

Buying from a business with decades of experience and a track record of supporting customers provides for a lot of peace of mind that a warranty will be honoured and expertise is available when unforeseen challenges arise.

8. Not understanding that the same engine can be manufactured by multiple manufacturers

Often, engine manufactures will share the research & development cost and production costs for engines through collaboration projects – for example the Mack MP8 and the Volvo D13 are the same engine with only a different rocker cover and inlet manifold, and are interchangeable in the vast majority of applications.

If you are looking for a replacement engine, you can often find an identical specification engine that has been built in the same factory with a different brand marking on that engine.

9. Not understanding the tax benefits available

It is always worth speaking with your accountant when buying an engine to understand the tax benefits available from purchasing a new, used or rebuilt engine. If you are financing the engine for your business, the interest is often a deductible expense too.

10. Trying to import an engine yourself

The internet has opened the door for people to try to self-import engines. Alldiesels imports hundreds of engines every year; and know first-hand it isn’t for the faint of heart.

As a do-it-yourself buyer trying to figure it all out, there are the added logistics (time and cost) of trying to ship an engine into Australia, pass through quarantine, and then what is your recourse when the engine turns up in Australia after waiting for months and it is either the wrong specification, has been damaged in transit, or doesn’t run properly?

Is it all worth the time, effort and uncertainty when you can buy from a supplier such as Alldiesels Australia, with stock landed in Australia and tested, with warranty and a team of experts on the ground?

11. The cost of sitting on a decision and down-time

One of the most common costly mistakes is simply sitting on a decision.

Sure, if your engine has failed on you, no-one looks forward to the expenditure on the replacement, but the downtime can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars for every day that people sit on their hands and don’t get things moving along.

So, making decisions and keeping things ticking along is often the less expensive way to go about it in the long run.

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