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Q. I have just purchased my first diesel 4WD – it’s a 1987 MK Patrol turb0-diesel. I have to admit that I know nothing about diesels. I come from a V8 background... I can just about rebuild a 350 Chev with my eyes closed, but when it comes to diesels I don’t really know what I’m doing except the basics. I’m mainly concerned about maximising the life of the engine so I can reliably take it out 4WDing, as I have moved away from rock-crawling and want to start doing some long-distance 4WD touring. In particular, what’s the best way to warm up a diesel engine in the morning? Should I let it sit and idle, or use the hand-throttle to bring the revs up a bit? Or is it best to just get on with driving it and let it naturally come up to temperature as I go?
A. Good choice of vehicle and if it’s in good condition you will have a long service life from it. Warming up has many beliefs but in my 24+ years as a mechanic I have found that the best way to warm up any engine is to start it up, get your seatbelt on and drive normally up the road. This action allows the initial oil pressure to get around for 10 -15 seconds while you organise your seat and belt and then by driving off in a leisurely, but close to normal, manner the engine ‘warms up’ in the quickest possible time. If you just leave the engine idling for 5-10 minutes there is no combustion load and very little warm up so the engine is running inefficient. This inefficiency can allow higher than usual contaminants into the oil. Backed on this will be the fact that you always change your oil regularly and use the correct grade as stipulated in the owner’s manual. Keep to that and you could see 1M km out of the old girl!