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Hey Engine Man: Should I Test My Diesel Fuel to Find a Sludge Problem?

Successful Farming Engine Man Ray Bohacz has engine grease and field dirt under his fingernails from a life spent repairing vehicles and running a farm. When he’s not busy in the shop, he’s working on maintenance articles and videos for Successful Farming magazine and answering questions from readers. The following is a letter the Engine Man received from Sam Hubbard:

I recently sent you a e-mail about our problem with some sludge buildup in our fuel filters – we could not figure out where it was coming from. You replied that we should have the oil tested. We agree, but we don’​t know where to send a sample. Could you send us an address or a company name?

Response from the Engine Man:
Polaris Labs ( or 877/808-3750) is an excellent facility to check your fuel and determine what you are actually finding in the tank. It is more costly than I first implied when I made the suggestion to you. The basic test kit, which I believe is all you need and was confirmed by Polaris when I spoke with them on your behalf, is just under $350. The advanced test is just shy of double that.

My advice: If you decide to invest in the basic kit, call them and speak with a representative so that you can explain what you are trying to identify is the fuel tank. I would hate for you to spend the money and not send them the proper sample. I do not suggest doing this over the Internet. Instead, talk to a live person before you spend your money.

As you know, it does not take much to spend $350 on a diesel repair – just opening the hood costs almost that much. 

Do you have a maintenance question? Email Ray Bohacz

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