How To Start My Diesel Engine In Cold Weather?

“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.

Is it safe to start a diesel engine in the winter?

Myth #2: In the winter, diesel engines won’t start. “Today’s cold-start technologies are highly effective,” Ciatti remarked. If you’re looking for a unique “In cold weather, modern diesel engines start with little effort.” Diesel gels at low temperatures, which is an issue. Certain hydrocarbons in diesel become gelatinous at temperatures below 40F.

Why are diesel engines so difficult to start in the winter?

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 warm up diesel engines?

Allow time for the 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.

How long does it take for a diesel engine to warm up?

After letting your diesel engine idle for no more than two minutes, the best thing you can do is start driving it. Heading off at a steady pace will heat up the engine and get the oil circulating.

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.

In the winter, how do you handle diesel?

Stuart believes that regulating the supply is the only way for a fleet to keep ahead of fuel shortages in the winter. He says, “Diesel fuel is a commodity.” “When the fleet buys fuel, they just consider the price, not the quality of the fuel.” It doesn’t matter what you buy for nine months of the year, except for the quality and garbage that comes in with the fuel, which you can’t control unless you switch suppliers. In the winter, it’s a different story.”

Even though the provider currently supplies a winter mix, Stuart recommends that fleets with northern exposure add kerosene with their regular diesel supply. “The only sure-fire way to avoid fuel-related cold-season problems is to blend kerosene into diesel gasoline in cold weather,” he claims.

When kerosene is blended into #2 diesel fuel, the cloud point, or the temperature at which paraffin wax begins to crystalize, is lowered.

He inquires, “How do you suppose ships in the northern states and Canada deal with such cold?” “They use a winter combination of #2 diesel and kerosene, which is commonly referred to as #1 diesel. Kerosene blending normally begins in the fall and continues through the winter and into the spring, depending on how far north they are located. They don’t have many issues with that gasoline.”

Why is Stuart’s preferred way of avoiding fuel-related downtime kerosene blending?

He describes it as “measurable and predictable.” “We know from testing and experience that a 20% kerosene blend, for example, will reduce the cloud point of fuel and keep you going in temperatures as low as 0F.”

“Any gasoline supplier can show you a pour-point chart and say, ‘Our fuel is OK down to 18 degrees below.’ “All right, that’s good,” Stuart says, “but then ask the supplier whether they’re willing to cover all associated costs if it doesn’t function.” Stuart adds, “Usually you never hear from them again.”

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.

Why does it take so long for my diesel 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.

How long can a diesel car lie idle before it needs to be driven?

  • When kept in a sealed container, petrol lasts about a year, but when exposed to the air, it degrades in as little as a month.
  • Diesel fuel specifications alter throughout the year; summer diesel, for example, is far more prone to waxing in cold weather than winter diesel.
  • Condensation in the fuel tank is bad news since it can cause corrosion, water in the fuel, and bacterial and fungal growth in diesel engines. To decrease the room for water to condense, store your car with a full tank of gas unless you can provide a dry, stable environment.
  • If your automobile requires a MOT, you can only drive it to a garage for a pre-arranged MOT.
  • Make sure nothing has built a nest under the hood or nibbled through the pipes and hoses.
  • Check the brakes, particularly the handbrake; if the car was left with the handbrake on, it could have seized up. Put the car in gear and drive slowly.

If your car has been sitting for a long period, schedule a thorough service once it is running again.