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Is it safe to increase power on a diesel engine?

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Updated 1 Nov 2019

Clinton Brett

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When a vehicle is deemed unreliable, it is not necessarily the vehicle’s fault. Key contributors can be the owners, mechanics or even the manufacturer, and if you have read some of my articles, you’ll be aware of the importance of looking after your diesel - servicing and driving habits are key to owning a reliable diesel.

A growing trend in Australia is the massive sales of 4WD vehicles and their subsequent modification. The market has always been exposed to modifications and a popular one is to increase power and speed.

To achieve this these days, a popular upsell is ECU Remapping – a modification often installed on recently purchased vehicles or ageing vehicles with underlying problems not seen by the inexperienced diesel mechanic.

The headline might be ‘Improved economy’ and the added bonus of ‘Improved performance’. So that means bang for your buck, right? Or does it mean more bucks for a big bang?

Modifying means the vehicle is being pushed beyond the manufacturer’s limits and is more likely to become less reliable, especially if that modification is not done correctly, and especially when it’s on the verge of breaking down.

Every diesel engine is different and it’s worth keeping in mind that the other parts connected to the engine have all been manufactured to suit the original setting. It’s only a matter of time before things start to break, so if you decide to make modifications, ensure your diesel is in fit working condition and make sure the person performing the modifications carries out all necessary tests and checks first.

It’s also worth ensuring that your mechanic is trained to service and diagnose diesel engines. Find out their experience first before trusting them with your vehicle. When they do know what they are doing, trust their recommendations.

If you choose to ignore their advice and your vehicle becomes unreliable, don’t sledge them to another mechanic because you chose to purchase a new set of LED bar lights or a hair-do rather than fix that current wearing part!

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Written By

Clinton Brett

Clinton Brett is a qualified Heavy Vehicle Mechanic and Diesel Fuel Injection Specialist.

In 2013, he established Diesel Help Australia, an innovative business providing cost effective diagnostic and repair solutions for the automotive industry.

DHA delivers on-vehicle common rail diesel diagnostic training across Australia to the light and heavy industries.

Clinton is a Technical Writer for The Automotive Technician, Australian Workshop Manager and Australian Diesel Mechanic Magazine, as well as the Diesel Guest Speaker for the AAAA Conventions for the last 3 years.