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26 Jun

What happens if a Diesel Generator is left to run out of fuel?

Internal combustion engines, as are used in diesel generators, have always required maintenance and servicing to keep them running at optimum efficiency. If a generator is left to operate unattended, it will eventually grind to a halt. One of the most common reasons for this can be forgetting to check if the generator has fuel. This then begs the question: What happens if a diesel generator is left to run out of fuel?

Is it bad if a Generator runs out of fuel?

You might expect that when a generator runs out of fuel, all you need to do is fill up the tank, press start, and the diesel generator fires back up again. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and if you are not so lucky the consequences of an empty fuel tank can be complicated, time-consuming and costly.

If your generator has cut out because it ran dry, Power Electrics recommends that checks are done to the generator prior to start-up, including air, damage, and sediment.

Air in the Generator fuel system:

One of the first things you should be checking is air in the system, due to a lack of fuel in the tank, air can be sent in through the fuel system instead. Predictably, this can cause the engine to shut down and not start up again until the air is removed, and the generator refuelled.

Similar to bleeding a household radiator to remove air, the generator will need to be bled to remove the air from the fuel system, and depending on the generator it can take several hours for an engineer to attend and then to remove the air. This removal process should be done by a trained generator engineer.

Damage due to running out of Diesel:

The next check should be on the various parts of the fuel system. These can be damaged as a result of the diesel no longer lubricating the mechanisms that make up the system.

Sediment in the fuel system:

When a generator runs out of fuel, sediment can be drawn into the system. This is usually due to the fuel at the bottom of the tank being the poorest quality. This can cause damage to the system as it’s not designed for bigger particles beyond regular fuel.

When this sediment is sent through the fuel system, it can clog the filter or break the fuel pump and injectors requiring these parts to be replaced.

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We can help!

Power Electrics has recently invested heavily in its fuel management service to ensure its customers don’t have to face the consequences of running out of fuel during a project.

We recommend regular checks, such as fuel levels, as well as ensuring generators are regularly serviced.


If you have any questions or would like to speak to a member of our team about fuel management on your next project, please contact us using the links below.


Fuel Management Fuel Management

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