How to Identify a Detroit Diesel


Founded as part of General Motors' Diesel Division in 1938, Detroit Diesel engines have found use in a variety of applications, including large trucks, agricultural equipment and industrial uses. Currently, Detroit Diesel is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks. Popular Detroit Diesel engine lines include the DD-series, as well as the 53, 60, 71 and MBE-series' engines. Identification depends on locating the model and year designation found on the engine ID tag.

Things You'll Need

  • Rag
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Locate the Detroit Diesel engine ID tag. You will commonly find the ID tag on the valve cover at the top of the engine, or in its vicinity, either to the left or right of it. The ID tag style has changed over the years, but the information found on it essentially remains the same.

  • Find the engine model number on the ID tag. According to the Wisconsin Bureau of transportation identification guide, the ID tag contains the model designation, the unit production serial number and the model year, as well as other information. You will find the Detroit diesel engine model under the engine series heading, usually above the unit serial number.

  • Determine the year of production. You will normally find the year of production on the upper right hand corner of the engine ID tag.

Tips & Warnings

  • In order to read the ID tag, it may be necessary to clean it with a rag and cleaning solvent.
  • The typical color for Detroit Diesel engines is green, although some engines models are painted light blue, such as the model 60, or black, as in the case of models DD13 and 15.

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