Caterpillar 3406E Diesel Engine – Things You Should Know

If you’re planning to buy a Caterpillar 3406E diesel engine for your truck and are wondering what’s so great about this engine, here is an insight of the engine for you. It will help you out to know your engine better, understand its history, what improvements it has gone through and how to deal with its common failures so as to work with it smoothly.

Caterpillar – The History

cat 3406e

The history of Cat 3406E goes long back i.e. around 150 years ago, when a major tool used in agricultural processes was used to be steam tractors. These tractors were huge and worked excellently for most areas of the USA, but not for the western parts of the country. California’s soft earth was not firm enough for these tractors to work on. As a result, these tractors kept sinking. Several efforts were made to overcome this problem but none of them was successful regarding time consumption or cost-effectiveness.

However, in 1904, Benjamin Holt found a wonderful idea to deal with it. The idea was to use a track system in place of the wheels of the tractor. Caterpillar got its name from this very track system because the specific way the machine moved resembled much with the movements of caterpillars. The product soon started selling like hotcakes for Ben’s company, the Holt Manufacturing Company.

However, the company had a strong competitor, C.L. Best Tractor. Both these companies did well during the early 1900s due to the WWII. But they collapsed severely after the war. Finally, both the giants came together to overcome their financial problems and merged in 1925. The name of the new organization was inspired from the innovative design of Benjamin Holts and thus Caterpillar was officially born.

However, the merger wasn’t quite successful in increasing finances. As a first measure in recovery was the manufacturing of diesel engines since 1931. The next big measure was to emphasize on building and manufacturing construction equipment. That was the best timing because constructions had boomed after the World War II because of which Caterpillar was highly successful and still it is.

When the company fully conquered the construction market, they started branching out during the late 1900s. They started developing truck engines for on- as well as off-highway applications and made an entry to the international market. The environmental standards that came up in 2008 caused Caterpillar to walk out of the on-highway diesel engine sector, although that affected only a small portion of their business anyway.

About Caterpillar 3406E

3406e cat engine

The production of Caterpillar 3406E started first in 1993. Its predecessor was the 3406C and it was the last 3406 model engine. Reportedly, the company skipped the production of D in the series, because their marketing division warned that the letter D could be associated with too many negatives. The A and B in the series were totally mechanical, and the C was almost mechanical with an electrically controlled fuel pump, depending upon the year in which it was manufactured. The E received the honor of being the first successful completely electronic motor.

What’s more, the 3406E Cat engine was one of the best engines that Caterpillar manufactured. It has the dependability of the older, mechanical engines, and it also has the benefits of being an electrical motor. Being a pre-emission engine is also its plus point as it’s preferred by several people that drive and work with these heavy duty diesel engines, but is forbidden in the state of California.

The 3406E didn’t last till the new millennium. Its last year of manufacturing was 1999. The C15 took its place which resembled much with it in parts and horsepower. You’ll often notice that a same part will work for the 3406E, C15 and C15 ACERT. However, you should always be careful while ordering parts and ensure you get parts with the correct part number.

3406Es can often be found in Freightliner and Peterbilt vehicles.

caterpillar 3406e

Common Caterpillar 3406E Failures

As a matter of fact, the 3406E is much better regarding failures than some other engines. However, all engines have some issues and the Cat 3406E has them too.

In the 3406Es that have a 5EK engine serial number, there was a quite bad and common crankshaft breakage issue. Some of the 5EKs were made from a not-so-good casting, causing the crankshaft to break at journals 1 and 6. However, Caterpillar handled the problem well and replaced the defective pieces when an issue was reported.

The 3406Es have also a common problem of oil leaks, particularly from the rear structures and flywheel shroud. This problem was solved when the engine upgraded to the C15 and had a new block design. Now the 3406Es have holes in the block to check the oil level which are stoppered with rubber plugs.

Aftermarket Improvements

caterpillar 3406e for sale

It’s universally agreed that Caterpillar did a great job with the manufacturing of the parts of the 3406E (at least the parts they made). However, when an OEM comes forward to manufacture other engines, aftermarket companies start to improve on the designs and manufacture direct replacement parts that fit finely in the engine.

For example, some pistons sold for the 3406E have forged steel crowns. Forged parts are much more durable than cast parts. They have a uniform grain flow that adapts to the shape of the part, and strength is added by the directional grain flow. This dependability and strength is particularly important in pistons, because they are the heart of the engine and intense demands are put on them.

Some of the improvements are more about product offering than about design. For example, something called a pin and roller kit is sold which are rocker arm components that wear in the long run. When these parts need replacements, Caterpillar will need you to buy a full rocker arm. Although this is effective, it becomes costly when you have 18 of them in your engine. Pin and roller kits are parts that only aftermarket companies can sell you for the 3406E and unless you need to replace the complete rocker arm, you need only these two components when your roller is worn. Although they add time to a replacement, your hundreds of dollars can be saved.

So, now knowing that the engine has a great background and features, you can look for a Caterpillar 3406E for sale and make a purchase right away!

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