Ready for a Diesel Resurgence? - Engine Builder Magazine

Ready for a Diesel Resurgence?

Diesel engine building will soon see an increase in numbers – very soon!

Why do I say that?

In an effort to eliminate smoking engines and reduce emissions, the EPA came down hard on tuner manufacturers just a few months ago, issuing warning/cease notices on diesel particulate filters (DPF) and EGR delete tunes/kits. This crackdown affects diesel trucks from 2008 and newer with OEM DPFs and EGR emissions equipment.

Bypassing the OEM emissions equipment, diesel trucks can get 19-20 mpg (16-18 mpg under load). With the emissions equipment left on the trucks, these vehicles average 12-13 mpg (about 8-9 mpg under load).

You may be scratching your head about these calculations – doesn’t this mean newer diesel trucks will use almost double the fuel with the OEM equipment left installed? And won’t burning twice the fuel cause more pollution, more fuel cost, more processing to make the fuel and more trips to the station to get fuel?

This is why I?believe we are going to see a resurgence of older trucks that will need rebuilt engines. Consumers will want to keep their older diesel trucks in order to get more power and miles per gallon – and they’ll be willing to invest in the engine build to get what they want.

Now your opportunity exists to add to the build and make them happier about their diesel engine choice.

New technology has been implemented by National Association of Diesel Motorsports (NADM) partner companies for the diesel community since the OEM equipment was originally bolted on the truck. MAHLE Clevite has new lightweight steel pistons that can withstand the heat and heavy use. Their sister companies have other great products for builds like Victor Reinz’s gasket/rebuild kits and Clevite’s bearings for the diesel trucks.

With the big power of new diesel trucks, they require extra heavy-duty components, and Carrillo offers some of the toughest rods in the industry, made to fit perfectly and perform for many years. Another quality company that stands behind their parts is ARP, no one makes better head studs and other bolts needed for rebuilds.

Some of our diesel performance part suppliers have specialized engine parts designed for performance in high horsepower diesel engines as well. Industrial Injection has many customized parts that will reinforce the block and engine components during high torque and horsepower use. Its girdle engine block kits are a must if your customer wants to build more than 600 hp. Plus, for those needing custom turbos and injectors, Industrial Injection is BorgWarner’s largest Master WD in the country.

These are just a few cases – there are actually many different options available if you know where to look. However, networking can be difficult if you are tied to the shop all of the time trying to complete jobs in order to get paid.

You must stop for a moment and ask yourself how you can expand your business to include new prospects and more profitable jobs. Upselling is always easier than selling a less expensive product. There will always be someone cheaper out there, and your profits will continue to shrink.

Adding value to a job gives your shop credibility and makes the consumer willing – even eager – to spend more for the work they want.

Example: “Well yeah, I CAN build that motor to match the other guy’s lowball price, but did you know that for just a few dollars more you could get the next step up that would make your engine go another 75,000 – 100,000 miles? And it won’t take any more time than the other build!”

Quality is a frame of mind that helps you sell with confidence – consumers can see it and will want the quality. If you are always quoting cheaper parts and downplaying quality do you really think they will feel good about choosing you to do the work?

Upselling is always the answer in a consumer market and this is no exception. The diesel crowd wants “Made in America” and quality parts with a company that stands behind them.

I know of two companies that make parts for diesels in the U.S. and they both only have 2-year warranties. However, they carry the highest marks for standing behind their products even past the two years if it involves product quality issues.

On the other hand, I know of companies that offer lifetime warranties but don’t stand behind their  warranties or help the consumer with faulty equipment when they call in for help. Multiple excuses and/or no callbacks are the usual response from these companies.

Represent your business best by buying and installing quality products from reputable companies who you know can help you when you need it. It doesn’t do you much good when you install a part or engine on a consumer’s vehicle only for him to return in a few weeks for you to redo the work for free! Sure the part is usually a switch out, but look at your lost labor and time.

Diesel engines are built for longevity and if proper maintenance is performed they can last a long time. Make sure you keep a log record either by hand or computer as to whether your customer needs maintenance and when, then call or send him a notice to get to your shop. This makes you look professional and you are giving him/her personal service!

Again, it may be work that you are not used to doing but your business will grow when you spend the time to properly service and market to the customer. Do you have banners of the products you rely on hanging around your shop? Many of the manufacturers offer these for free or low cost if you ask for them. Do you have your industry credentials displayed at the shop or your employee’s credentials?

Consumers are now looking for validation that they are spending their money at a reputable and stable business so if there is trouble they feel good about coming back for repairs or maintenance.

I’m voicing some of the basics here based on calls I’ve taken from diesel consumers asking these questions for recommendations on where to take their trucks.

They may be basics that we all take for granted but you should be asking yourself these simple questions about your business. Am I doing the right things to attract customers to my business in order to do the work that is needed by diesel consumers?

We will attempt in future issues to go over some diesel performance issues, and also detail items that surround diesel engine building and service for the shops.

Yes, it’s very hard work but no one said it would be easy. We hope we can help you network with some new suppliers along the way.

Ron Knoch is president of DIESEL Motorsports, a marketing company for the diesel industry that is also the only sanctioning body for diesel motorsports. For more information and a scchedule of events, visit www.DIESELmotorsports.US.


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