How to Prime Diesel Engines

Written by marissa robert Google
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There are a few circumstances where you might get air in the fuel lines of a diesel vehicle: when you replace parts of the fuel system, and when you run out of fuel on the road. In either case, to get running again, you need to prime the diesel engine.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Determine what kind of fuel primer is installed in your car. You may have a self-priming motor, a manual pump, a plunger style priming pump or a priming lever. If you have a self-priming motor, move on to Step 2. If you have a manual pump, move on to Step 3.

  2. 2

    Insert the key into the ignition. Turn the engine to start and allow the engine to turn over several times. Repeat this process until the car starts. The self-priming engine pulls fuel from the fuel pump through the lines into the engine without any manual help.

  3. 3

    Open the bonnet and find the lift pump in your engine set up. It installs somewhere between the fuel tank and the fuel filter, and it is probably close to the fuel filter, depending on the make and model of your diesel engine.

  4. 4

    Identify what kind of primer is on the lift pump. It might be a lever on the side of the top of the pump or a cylinder with a rubber button that plunges. Open the air valve on the out going fuel line, and pump the lever or button plunger until fuel spurts out without air gaps. Close the air valve.

  5. 5

    Get into the driver seat and turn the ignition to start to ensure that the motor catches. If it does not, repeat Step 4. There might still be an air pocket in the line.

Tips and warnings

  • Your owner's manual tells you what kind of primer is in your diesel engine, and there may be a diagram to locate it in the event that you run out of fuel and need to prime the engine.

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