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How altitude affects diesel engine performance

Altitude affects the performance of all engines, this page provides some insight as to how.

Diesel engine manuals and specifications

at Barrington Diesel Club

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Your Detroit Diesel Specs

Basic specs are open to everyone and include images, displacement, dimensions and weight, essential bolt tightening torques, the characteristics of the engine like its power and torque.
Essential bolt tightening torques are the main bearing cap bolt torque, the connecting rod cap bolt torque and the cylinder head bolt torques.

Some Popular Engine Specs

Altitude corrections for diesel engines

Essentially, the higher one goes the thinner is the air. If you go high enough a carbureted engine stops working, that's at about 4000 meters or 12,000 feet. Any higher than that you'll need fuel injection. Try climbing a hill at that altitude, and most of us will be puffing and panting after 50 meters or so.
So too diesel engines lose power with altitude.

image-power at altitude
Rough altitude power corrections
Detroit NA 2-Stroke engines:
  • 2.5% Reduction in power per 1000 ft
  • 0.8% Reduction in power per 100 m
4-Cycle Naturally aspirated engines:
  • 3% loss in power per 1000 ft
  • 1% loss in power per 100 m
All turbocharged engines
  • 1.5% loss in power per 1000 ft
  • 0.5% loss in power per 100 m

Barrington Diesel Club
Phone: +27 72 754 4660
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Page Revision #10.1R 02-17