“Rise and shine, campers, and don’t forget your booties because it’s chilly out there today…. Every day is chilly out there. What the hell is going on at Miami Beach?” (From “Groundhog Day”)
That’s true, here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, winter has returned. With a so-called “polar vortex” expected tomorrow, we thought it would be appropriate to display a video of some of the best “cold diesel starts” from last month, as well as provide some recommendations on how to start a diesel engine on a chilly day. Take a look at some of the suggestions provided below.
A Few Tips On Starting a Diesel Engine On a Cold Morning:
1. Glow Plugs and Block Warmers: On a chilly day, the vast majority of diesel engines can be started with glow plugs or block heaters. Glow plugs work by heating the internal combustion chamber, allowing for proper compression and, eventually, ignition.
2. Wait for the Glow Plugs to Warm Up: If the combustion chamber isn’t sufficiently heated with glow plugs, cold fuel sprayed over the semi-heated plugs will cause the diesel fuel to gel and stick to the cylinder heads. The wall of the heads or the surface may be damaged as a result of this.
3. Install a Second Battery: Make sure you have a fully charged battery or a separate battery specifically for the glow plugs installed. Glow plugs require a significant amount of power from your vehicle’s battery to operate. The capacity of a battery to keep a charge decreases as the temperature drops. At 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, a battery will have 100 percent power available, but at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it will only have 46 percent. Installing a second battery could mean the difference between the motor starting and not starting.
4. Change the Oil Frequently: At 0 degrees F, an engine is typically 2-3 times harder to start due to heavier oil lubricating the engine’s hard internal parts. The greater resistance on the bearings and moving parts, the thicker the oil. Most people are unaware that the crankshaft does not “sit” on the bearings; rather, oil pressure raises the crankshaft, which floats on top of the bearings in an oil cavern. Having enough new oil with a high chemical grade will assist in keeping the internal diesel engine parts lubricated and aligned.
For diesel engines, both synthetic and natural mineral oils are suitable. Oil “goes bad” mostly as a result of chemical bi-products from the combustion cycle, such as silicon oxide and different acids, being captured in the suspension. It also loses viscosity by transferring a lot of heat away from the combustion cycle and limiting oxidation exposure at higher temperatures. Diesel engine oil is destabilized by heat, pressure, and chemical reactions.
When oil fully oxidizes, the additives separate and begin to chemically break down, resulting in black engine sludge. If a diesel engine is not unclogged and cleaned, sludge will eventually ruin it. As a result, it is critical to change the oil on a frequent basis, especially in colder locations.
5. Turn Off All Non-Essential Accessories: On a chilly winter day, you only have so much battery capacity available. When starting the engine, turn off headlights, radios, iPods, phone chargers, heaters, and air conditioners. If at all possible, avoid using these gadgets while the engine is running. These devices divert vital amps away from glow plugs.
6. Use the Correct Diesel Fuel: There are two types of diesel fuel: Diesel #1D and Diesel #2D. The most extensively used diesel fuel on the market is Diesel #2. If you go to any gas station, you’ll almost certainly find Diesel #2D as the major fuel option. Diesel #2 is the standard fuel recommendation for regular driving conditions, according to all of the major auto manufacturers. Diesel #2 has a lower flammability than Diesel #1. A higher cetane number indicates that the fuel mixture is more volatile. For light-duty diesel engines, most manufacturers recommend a cetane rating of 40-45. Due to the higher fuel economy, heavy haul truck drivers prefer to utilize Diesel #2 over long trips. More combustion stability equals greater, more consistent fuel mileage.
In cold weather climates, however, Diesel #1D is advised. The viscosity of diesel fuel is also measured. Because #1D diesel is thinner, it flows more freely within the engine. During cold temperatures, Diesel #1D is also less likely to thicken or turn sludge-like. In cold conditions, the higher chemical volatility, which is generally a deterrent, becomes an asset since it ignites much quicker during compression. During the winter months, many stations will provide a blended Diesel #1 and Diesel #2 choice, despite the fact that Diesel #2D is the most popular diesel fuel option.
7. Use Winter Fuel Additives: Winter blend diesel fuel additives may be purchased at most gas and service shops and added to your diesel fuel. The Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) is a standard test that determines the rate at which diesel fuel will flow through a filtering device under cooler circumstances. A Low Temperature Flow Test (LTFT) is also available, which evaluates the operation of diesel engines with no or inappropriate additives in the fuel lines. It’s worth noting that the Pour Point is the third and final test for determining how effective diesel fuel is at working in freezing temperatures. The Pour Point refers to the temperature at which diesel fuel loses its liquid form and pumps cease to function.
When a diesel engine is started in a cold temperature environment, it may operate for a period of time below its Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP). When this temperature is reached, the fuel from the injector pump and injectors stops flowing, and the spill is returned to the fuel tank. Cold Filter Plugging Point Additives keep fuel from freezing in lines and gelling in the engine and gas tank. Fuel will be released to the injectors after the temperature has warmed up again.
8. Mix Additives During Fueling: These additives will only work if you add them above the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFFP). At warmer temperatures, the additives need time to mix with the fuel. On a cold day, the additives should be added right after filling up with Diesel #1D at a service station. The heated diesel fuel straight from the pump should be warm enough to adequately combine the two solutions. Choose an additive that is rated at least 10 degrees cooler than the temperature you expect to encounter if you plan to drive long distances in the winter.
9. Do Not Combine Additives With Winterized Diesel Fuel: Diesel additives are not a panacea for cold-weather problems. The additives will only prevent the formation of big gel particles in the engine, which could clog the fuel filter. Regardless of the temperature or additives employed, some gelling will occur. You should not add any additional additives to a gas station’s winterized diesel fuel (not to be confused with mixed diesel fuels). Incompatibilities with a variety of additives may cause the fluids in the fuel blend to degrade, obliterating any benefits.
If you suspect the fuel has gelled, replace the fuel filter. Wait for the temperature to raise or use a block heater to warm up the engine if you fear your diesel fuel has gelled before attempting to start it. On older vehicles, a gel in the fuel filter might obstruct the passage of fuel from the tank to the injector pump, requiring quick replacement. Because they are managed by the ECM, common rail injectors are less prone to gelling.
11. Keep Your Diesel Equipment or Vehicle in a Heated Location: It may sound obvious, but even a few degrees warmer might be the difference between a vehicle that starts and one that doesn’t.
On cold days, if at all feasible, keep trucks and tractors in garages, barns, or sheds. Consider utilizing a block heater on a timer a few hours before use to save time. It may not be a quick fix, but it will assist in getting the engine started.
12. Allow Engine to Warm Up Before Putting It Under Load: Allow the engine to warm up for 5-10 minutes before putting it under load. The harder internal parts of the engine are put under higher stress when the engine gets colder (camshaft, crankshaft, connecting rods etc…) The oil temperature will reach appropriate levels and effectively lubricate the engine after only a few minutes of warming.
When a diesel engine is cold, how do you start it?
In the Winter, How to Start a Cold Diesel Engine
- Warm-Up Time Should Not Be Undervalued. It’s critical to allow your cold diesel engine to warm up.
What should you do if your diesel engine refuses to start in the winter?
Many diesels have electric-powered block heaters built in to keep the engine block warm overnight. Simply park the car, plug the heater cord into a heavy-duty three-pronged extension cord, then plug the extension cord into a 110-volt electrical socket with a three-pronged plug. When shopping, don’t scrimp on the extension cord’s length – it can be 50 feet from a motel parking lot to a socket! Electrical outlets are put straight into some parking meters in Alaska, where a block heater is essential. I doubt anyone tries to beat those meters, especially when the temperature is 40F!
If your car doesn’t have one, you can purchase one and have it fitted. There are many different types of heaters, but immersion heaters are the most common.
To match the wattage of the heater to the size of your engine and the range of conditions you expect to encounter, examine the charts at an auto parts store or dealership. If you have a tiny engine or don’t expect the temperature to drop below zero very often, a high-wattage heater may run up your electric costs unnecessarily while plugged in.
If your diesel won’t start in the cold and you remembered to plug in the block heater, it’s possible that your battery is to blame. At 32F, batteries can lose up to 35% of their power, and at 0F, up to 60%. A frostbitten battery isn’t much use on a frosty morning because it has to deliver enough electricity to the glow plugs to get things warmed up (see to the earlier question, “What Makes It Go?”).
Tip: There are two solutions to this problem: get a larger battery (assuming there’s room under the hood), or buy a batterywarmer. The two most popular types, which both plug into a nearby 110-volt outlet, are
- The “hot plate” warmer, which slides beneath the battery like a cookie sheet and warms its toes.
- To deal with really cold temperatures, utilize the “electric blanket” warmer, which wraps around the battery and consumes more current than the hot plate version.
You can get a heated dipstick to warm the oil in the engine crankcase (you simply swap it for your regular dipstick and plug it into an electrical outlet) as well as a variety of additional gadgets to warm the coolant in the engine and the fuel in the fuel lines. (Most people won’t need all of this, but I want to make sure my readers in Alaska, Canada, and other frigid locations are well-informed.)
Here’s a tip that might come in handy in a pinch: If you have an electric hairdryer and a long enough extension cable to get it to the vehicle on a day when your blockheater isn’t working, try turning it on and inserting the nozzle into the car’s air inlet duct. Warmair should help your engine warm up more quickly.
No matter how excited you are to get going, never use engine-starting fluids to start your engine. Because the ether in these fluids can ignite at such low temperatures, you risk a fire or an explosion, both of which can cause serious harm to you and your valuable fuel. Despite the fact that the containers offer instructions, determining the “safe” quantities required is simply too difficult. If you absolutely must do this, I recommend installing a starting-fluid injection kit instead; it’s both safe and effective. Just keep an eye out for those spray cans!
Is it difficult to start a diesel engine when it’s cold?
In cold weather, diesel engines are more difficult to start because they rely on high temperatures caused by compression to ignite the injected fuel. In fact, starting a diesel engine at 0F (-17C) is five times more difficult than starting one at 80F (26C).
Is it necessary to let a diesel engine to warm up?
If you want to start a diesel engine and keep it going in cold weather, make sure you give it plenty of time to warm up. If you don’t let your engine warm up before driving, you’ll be forcing it to work harder than it needs to, which will cause difficulties later.
What happens if you start a diesel engine without waiting for it to warm up?
Even if the engine is cold, many diesels will start. Even if you didn’t wait, the glow plug will have warmed up and may have caught. The car, on the other hand, may just refuse to start. You could wind up flooding the engine (too much petrol in the cylinder), making it impossible to start the automobile right away.
What happens if a diesel engine isn’t allowed to warm up?
Another issue to be concerned about is fuel washing the cylinder walls prior to compression ignition. The following is a message we received from a reader in the North Pole: “I’ve got both batteries warmed up, the block warmed up, and two heating pads on the oil pan warmed up. Because it’s a stick, the transmission isn’t heated. The intercooler is also completely clogged. I’m thinking about just putting a pad on the transfer case and front differential, but it warms up after about a mile of four-wheel-drive driving.” Auxiliary heaters powered by diesel are also available. It’s also critical to let your diesel cool down before turning it off. Because oil will overheat, break down, and ruin turbo bearings if the turbo is turned off too soon, a turbo timer will accomplish this for you automatically.
What is the best way to start a diesel engine that has been resting for a long time?
How Do You Restart A Diesel Engine After It Has Been Sitting For A Long Time? If you have been unable to start the engine for an extended period of time, you must remove the spark plugs from all cylinders. After filling the cylinders, let the engine oil sit for a few days. Alternatively, try starting the engine with a breaker bar.
How cold does diesel have to be before it gels?
- Gelling: It’s unusual to have a situation where the fuel practically turns to jelly. Gelling happens when the paraffin wax in diesel solidifies due to a drop in temperature, and the fuel’s temperature must be kept below minus 10 degrees F for extended periods of time, such as 48 to 72 hours. When diesel is cold soaked, the paraffin wax in the fuel hardens, giving it a hazy look. At temperatures as high as 32 degrees F, the fuel will begin to cloud, but it will continue to flow. Before the fuel can gel, it must be kept at a very low temperature for an extended period of time. It’s common to hear drivers complain about their fuel gelling up, but this is almost certainly not the issue they’re having. Ice or solidified paraffin wax in the fuel filter is more likely to be the issue. There’s more on that later.
- Cloud Point: To determine the cloud point of a sample of diesel fuel, which is the temperature at which the naturally present paraffin wax in #2 diesel fuel begins to crystalize, there are recommended methods. The fuel has a hazy look due to the microscopic particles of suspended hardened wax. Cloud point temperatures for diesel fuel typically vary from -18F to +20F, but can reach +40F depending on a variety of factors connected to the base stock and refining operations. The cloud point of so-called winter diesel fuel (#1 diesel or kerosene) is substantially lower since it contains relatively little paraffin. Fuel distributors will test the product and, if required, may include the results in tenders and delivery receipts.
- The temperature at which a liquid loses its flow properties is known as the pour point. The pour point of diesel fuel changes according on the wax content in the fuel, which varies depending on the source of the base stock, the refining process, and the type and quantity of additives added to the fuel during refining or distribution. The difference between the cloud point and the pour point is always there, with the latter often being 2 to 20F lower than the former. To establish the pour point of a fuel sample, certain tests must be performed. Bulk providers, as previously stated, can supply this information.
- When diesel fuel is cooled, the cold filter plugging point is a measurement based on a standardized test that indicates the rate at which it will flow through a standardized filtration equipment in a given amount of time. The CFPP is the point at which the sample fails to pass through the filter in the time allotted.
What causes a diesel engine to be difficult to start?
It’s the middle of the summer, and your diesel engine refuses to start. Cold-weather issues are well-known and quite common, such as utilizing summer-grade fuel in the winter, a poor glow plug system, difficulty cranking, or thick, cold oil.
Summer, on the other hand, brings with it a whole new set of issues. If your diesel refuses to start, there are a few things to consider.
If you suspect a problem with gasoline distribution, there are a number of things to look for.
- Make sure the gasoline isn’t contaminated with air. If the engine dies soon after starting and is difficult to restart, this is the most likely cause. Air might enter the system through leaks in the fuel lines or pump.
- Fuel filters that are clogged. Fuel filters should be changed every 20,000-40,000 miles, so if you haven’t done it recently, this is a good place to start.
- If a new fuel filter doesn’t fix the problem, and the problem is getting worse on a vehicle with a higher mileage, it’s time to replace the pump. When you turn the ignition switch on, listen for a clicking sounds if the vehicle won’t start at all. If the click is missing, the solenoid is most likely to blame. If you hear a click but no fuel is being pushed through the injector lines and nothing is obstructing the lines, the pump needs to be replaced.
In comparison to gasoline engines, the pressure in a diesel injector is normally relatively high, however it can decrease over time. You can check the injectors’ opening pressure to determine whether it’s too low or too high, as either could be troublesome.
Your injectors may be dirty if you notice a rough idle, a decrease of power, or white smoke in the exhaust on occasion. If you observe black smoke coming from the exhaust, it’s most likely due to a leaking injector. To see if your injectors are bad, check the temperatures of the cylinders or the resistance of the glow plugs (which increases as the temperature rises).
Diesel fuel, unlike gasoline, can provide an excellent home for certain microorganisms. The bacteria grows better and faster as the temperature outside rises. This is the most likely cause of a clogged fuel system if you notice a sulfuric stench or a black or green coating in the fuel tank. You’ll need to drain and clean the fuel tank with a biocide to get rid of it. If other elements of the system are dirty, such as the fuel lines or injection pump, you’ll have to clean those as well. To prevent the bacteria from returning, add a little extra biocide to the gasoline tank when you refill it.
The replacement of filters, for example, is an inexpensive and simple repair for some causes of hard starts. Others can take a long time and cost a lot of money. Ask the specialists at All in the Wrist Auto and Diesel Repair if you’re sure you’ve located the problem and that it’s rectified properly. All of your diesel maintenance and repair needs can be handled by their trained diesel specialists.