Fleet Management


Firstly the word goes out to Mr Uli Schaaf at DaimlerChrysler: “….All I know is that water contamination costs us and the industry a lot of money and nobody is ever responsible!

Perhaps the chemical industry can come up with a Litmus type of test that can easily be done by anyone, including the drivers at the pump….”

Anyone who works with diesel fuel, stored or otherwise, knows that water comes with the territory. Water can cause problems all year round, but when the weather turns colder, you can get new problems and also amplifications of other issues.When drivers call in at the start of their trips reporting loss of power, excessive white exhaust smoke and engine misfiring combined with erratic idling, you know it will be a bad day.

Anyone who has experienced water contamination in diesel fuel supply tanks knows this can cost anywhere upwards of R15 000 per engine in damage to fuel injection systems – and then add to that figure for the day or two off the road in lost production. If the water has been able to by-pass the water trap separator on a Cummins N14 engine, the damage to fuel injection systems will cost in the region of R30 000 and more. If you need to protect your fleet against slimy Humbugs, engine misfires and disastrous downtime, then you need to look at an issue that normally only receives attention when it is too late – water in diesel fuel

The good news is that Fleet Owners can be much more proactive by installing the Rigana Water Spy unit, which detects free water in fuel, alerts driver by light and warning buzzer. The water is separated and dispersed via a spring loaded release cap. The water in fuel also favours the growth of Humbugs – yes there is such a term – that shortens filter life. Don’t be a victim – fight the slimy Humbug urges Rigana Manufacturing’s Len Brown.

Beyond the issues of darkened fuel and microbes, there are performance indicators that can speak clearly to water problems. When the engine tries to inject water with the fuel, you will erratic idling and performance, or the engine may cut out momentarily, especially during acceleration. Any pressure indicators will show a varying of pressure in the common rail system if you have one of those. Not only this, but you’ll get either black or white smoke during engine operation. All of these are reliable symptoms of water in diesel fuel.Diesel fuel acts as lubricant for injector pumps and injectors and the presence of water causes rust and seizures. Electronically managed engines experience spring breakage inside the injectors. What stares at you through all of this is the replacement of injectors, fuel pipes, fuel pumps and trucks limping home on reduced power. The effects of poor combustion will also lead to burning of pistons and rings. The multiplying effect of water contamination in a fleet of diesel powered vehicles is horrific. It can, in fact, bring a business to a smoky halt. Whether the fleet is young or old, the fact remains that this type of damage is not warrantable. You are on your own with the consequences.

Newer Diesel Engines Have More Water Problems than Older Ones.

Many newer diesel engines utilize common rail injector systems. A poor description of such a system would be that the diesel fuel is cycled through a rail system that fits over top of the pistons, with the injectors hooked into the rail. A computer controls which injectors fire at what time, for how long, and how much fuel they’re injecting. Common rail injection systems operate at very high pressures. If you get a little bit of water in them, it can cause big problems, not the least of which are blown injectors.