C-15 and C-16 Industrial Engines – Fuel Quality – Test

This test checks for problems regarding fuel quality. Refer to Diesel Fuels and Your Engine, SEBD0717 for additional details.

Use the following procedure to test for problems regarding fuel quality:

  1. Determine if water and/or contaminants are present in the fuel. Check the water separator (if equipped). If a water separator is not present, proceed to Step 2. Drain the water separator, if necessary. A full fuel tank minimizes the potential for overnight condensation.

    Note: A water separator can appear to be full of fuel when the water separator is actually full of water.

  1. Determine if contaminants are present in the fuel. Remove a sample of fuel from the bottom of the fuel tank. Visually inspect the fuel sample for contaminants. The color of the fuel is not necessarily an indication of fuel quality. However, fuel that is black, brown, and/or similar to sludge can be an indication of the growth of bacteria or oil contamination. In cold temperatures, cloudy fuel indicates that the fuel may not be suitable for operating conditions. The following methods can be used to prevent wax from clogging the fuel filter:

    • Fuel heaters

    • Blending fuel with additives

    • Utilizing fuel with a low cloud point such as kerosene

    Refer to Operation and Maintenance Manual, SEBU6251, “Caterpillar Commercial Diesel Engine Fluids Recommendations”, “Fuel Recommendations” for more information.

  1. Check fuel API with a 9U-7840 Fluid and Fuel Calibration Gp for low power complaints. The acceptable range of the fuel API is 30 to 45 when the API is measured at 15 °C (60 °F), but there is a significant difference in energy within this range. Refer to Tool Operating Manual, NEHS0607 for API correction factors when a low power problem is present and API is high.

    Note: A correction factor that is greater than “1” may be the cause of low power and/or poor fuel consumption.

  1. If fuel quality is still suspected as a possible cause to problems regarding engine performance, disconnect the fuel inlet line, and temporarily operate the engine from a separate source of fuel that is known to be good. This will determine if the problem is caused by fuel quality. If fuel quality is determined to be the problem, drain the fuel system and replace the fuel filters. Engine performance can be affected by the following characteristics:

    • Cetane number of the fuel

    • Air in the fuel

    • Other fuel characteristics