Ask The Experts: When Is It Time To Overhaul My Detroit Diesel DD15?

Overhauling your engine can be a large and costly job. And we know that choosing the right kit for your engine can sometimes be difficult.

DD1501001 Detroit Diesel DD15 Inframe Engine Kit

Different engines can use different components, even within the same model. You might notice this of the pistons in the Detroit DD15 kit.

In this post, we're looking at the different types of pistons and how they've changed over time.

If you're worried about finding the right kit for your engine, Highway & Heavy Parts is here for you! Our team of experts can help you find the right kit for your engine so you aren't wasting time and money on the wrong parts.

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What Symptoms Tell Me It's Time to Overhaul My DD15?

You might be wondering what symptoms indicate it's time to overhaul your DD15 diesel engine.

Some things you should keep an eye out for include: 

  • Excessive Blow-by
  • Poor Performance
  • Poor Fuel Mileage
  • Rough Running
  • Oil Consumption

What is Blow-by in My Diesel Engine?

Blow-by, one of the biggest indicators that it's time for an overhaul, is the amount of gases that pass the pistons and the rings. 

Excessive blow-by, where more gases are allowed to escape because of piston and piston ring wear, can cause a higher rate of oil consumption.  

Other causes of blow-by might be turbo issues, worn valve guides, or problems with your cylinder head.


What's the Job of Diesel Engine Piston Rings? 

The main job of the compression ring is to seal the gas above the piston and the lower ring is the oil control ring. The rings are attached to the piston and the piston slides up and down in the cylinder. 

The cross hatch is the machining marks in the cylinder that allows the piston rings to seal. This is what makes the finish on the liner so important. The piston ring and the liner seat themselves together and work together to create the seal.

Every time the piston comes up and compresses the air, we rely on the piston rings to seal the air above the piston.

What Kind of Rebuild Kit Should I Get?

The condition of your pistons can help you decide what kind of kit you should be looking at for your diesel engine.

When fuel is injected into the cylinder, it causes an explosion and forces the piston back down. But we're asking the piston ring to seal the compression and to seal the oil. 

That's why with a re-ring kit, we'll reuse the pistons if they're in good shape, but we won't reuse a liner or ring set. Those are nearly always going to be worn out.  

When you start to get excessive blow-by, it most likely means that the ring can no longer hold the compression above the piston and it's burning. That's when you'll really start to see problems.

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How Diesel Piston Designs Have Changed

Through the years, pistons have changed to meet the different demands of changing engines. 

Both cast and forged steel designs have been around for quite a while, but when we started getting into the EGR engines, we started to see the one-piece forged steel pistons. 

Prior to that, we saw a lot of one-piece aluminum pistons, but then manufacturers realized that the piston needed to be stronger to keep up with the demands of the engine. 

So, then they moved to a steel crown and aluminum skirt. Then those pistons evolved into the 

one-piece forged steel pistons, which we typically see in the EGR engines, like the 14L Detroits, C15 ACERTS, C13 ACERTS, Cummins ISX, and the DD15s.

Recent Changes to Pistons

More recently, the piston material has changed again to friction welded steel. That's because with the newer emissions requirements, we're seeing higher pressures and temperatures in the engines, which require stronger pistons. 

The EGR systems are used to cool temperatures, but, in the end, the engine is trying to burn exhaust gas under higher pressures and temperatures to come out cleaner. Everybody had to increase the compression ratio and change the pistons to squeeze it tighter so that it would fire cleanly. 

So, when the pistons couldn't handle it, the first move was from a one piece aluminum to a two-piece piston, then to a one-piece forged steel piston, and then to a friction welded one-piece piston.


HHP Can Help You Get the Best Kit for Your DD15

If you're looking for an overhaul kit for your DD15, Highway & Heavy Parts can help make sure you're getting exactly what you need. 

The type of piston you need is dictated by your engine's manufacturing date, so it's important to know it to ensure you're getting the right one when you order a rebuild kit. 

You can count on quality with HHP. We sell the same pistons in our kits that the OEM does. Our pistons have evolved right along with them.

Where Do Our Pistons Come From?

With some aftermarket companies, you don't know what you're getting out of the box, but we use the same technology as the OEM, so you know you're going to be getting a piston that works on your engine. 

There are only a handful of piston manufacturers out there, so in most cases, we're actually getting our pistons from the same supplier as the OEM. We only source from the most reputable manufacturers. 

You don't have to worry about whether the piston is the right material for your engine—we're sticking with what the OEM is using, to make sure you're getting the best quality parts. If they're using forged steel pistons, then so are we!

The Advantages of Shopping With HHP

And you'll be getting them fast! When you call for a DD15 overhaul kit from Highway & Heavy Part, not only will you be talking to our team of experts who can help make sure you're getting the kit with the right components for your engine, you'll also have access to our huge inventory of parts. 

You won't have to wait as long to get your parts, meaning you can get back up and running sooner! Many of our kits and components ship in two days or less!

Don't sacrifice quality to get the best price possible! We have it all right here— the best value, high-quality replacement parts, backed by an industry-leading warranty. 

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