“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 life 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 utilized 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 = 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 hindrance, 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 want 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 seem 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.
How do I get my diesel to start in the cold?
Gelled gasoline and electrical failure are the two most common reasons why people have problems with cold diesel engines. Cold diesel engine-powered apparatus must therefore be adequately maintained before being exposed to freezing temperatures. With that in mind, here are six recommendations for starting a diesel in cold weather and keeping your equipment in good working order over time.
Do Not Underestimate Warm-Up Time
It’s critical to allow your cold diesel engine to warm up. Allow your equipment to warm up for at least five minutes before using it; this will allow the hydraulic oil to warm up. If you don’t, the engine will have to work more than it needs to.
Consider Heating Options
When it comes to heating your gear and keeping it working properly, you have various alternatives.
- An electric block heater heats the coolant in the system, which warms the engine block and oil in the crankcase. This makes it easier for the engine to flip over.
- A diesel-fueled coolant heater can be used to warm up your engine in areas where power is not commonly available.
- Glow Plugs: These can aid in the ignition of cold gasoline and also heat the fuel-air combination inside a large engine.
- A Battery Tender: As the temperature drops, the cranking amperage of equipment batteries decreases. While machinery is susceptible to this type of failure, a battery tender will continue to function as long as it is fully charged. Battery cables should be checked before winter for owners of cold-diesel equipment. A battery’s ability to start machinery is harmed by bad connections.
Keep Your Diesel Exhaust Fluid Thawed
If you plan to add DEF to your apparatus later, keep it above 12 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent it from freezing. Although freezing does not reduce the uptime of your equipment, keeping DEF on hand ensures that it is ready to use when needed.
Address Frozen Fuel
During the winter, diesel fuel creating wax crystals is a more usual impediment to machinery starting smoothly. Fuel filters will become clogged as a result of the contaminated fuel, and the engine will not start. Using winter-blended diesel fuel, which lowers the temperature at which these crystals form, is one technique to prevent crystals from forming in the gasoline.
According to the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, if your fuel has frozen or gelled together, you should change the fuel filter and reheat the fuel before starting the engine. This prevents the frozen fuel from obstructing the flow of fuel from the tank to the injector pump.
Keep Your Engine in a Warm Area
If at all possible, keep your diesel engine in a warm place away from the elements like sleet and snow. Keeping the engine in a warmer environment, even if it’s only a few degrees warmer, can help it warm up faster.
Make Sure Your Fuel Tank is Full
Condensation in a fuel tank can eventually freeze, causing difficulties similar to gelled fuel. In the winter, keep your fuel tank as full as possible to prevent condensation from forming. A winter diesel fuel additive may also help to prevent your gasoline from freezing up.
You can contact your local John Deere dealer if you have any queries concerning John Deere equipment.
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What happens if diesel gets too cold?
As the winter months approach, the reduction in temperature puts a strain on diesel engines’ overall efficiency and performance. The risks of extremely cold temperatures can make it difficult for engines to start or even perform properly. Understanding the challenges diesel owners experience during the winter months is the first step in protecting and preventing these dangers.
Water may harm a diesel engine at any time of year, not only in the winter. Water can be introduced to diesel through storage, handling, and condensation in storage tanks. Water in the gasoline, on the other hand, can freeze at 32°F in the winter and clog fuel lines and water separators.
During the cooler winter months, diesel is also susceptible to gelling. As the temperature drops, the paraffin wax in diesel thickens, causing this to happen. As a result, the gasoline becomes cloudy and gel-like, preventing the diesel from burning and clogging filters. If the temperature drops low enough, the fuel can freeze solid and stop flowing, rendering it useless until it re-liquifies.
It’s critical to have a plan in place for winterizing your vehicle whenever the temps drop. The most straightforward solution is to utilize a gasoline additive that can safely remove water from your fuel while also acting as an anti-gel, allowing the fuel to survive cooler temperatures. Fuel Ox Cold Charge, for example, lowers the pour point by 20°F, reducing the effects of wax. It will also safely filter water out of your fuel system while lowering your fuel consumption. If your fuel has already gelled or frozen, Fuel Ox also has an emergency diesel additive called Fuel Ox Heat Bomb that will safely and efficiently thaw and restore gelled or frozen fuel. With Winter on the way, make sure your diesel is protected from the freezing cold! With our Fuel Ox Cold Charge and Fuel Ox Heat Bomb, Fuel Ox can assist you with your Winterization!
Should you warm up a diesel engine?
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.
Why are diesels so hard to start in cold weather?
Diesel drivers all across the world are grateful that their vehicles have grown easier to start in the cold. The majority of them turn over within 1.5 seconds of the ignition being turned on.
Because metal cylinder walls become extremely cold when the temperature decreases, most vehicles are more difficult to start in the winter. Diesel engines have traditionally been more difficult to start in cold weather than gasoline-powered vehicles because they require significantly greater temperatures to ignite the fuel. A variety of heaters have been designed to keep various components of the vehicle warm and cuddly even when it isn’t being driven in order to warm things up before the engine can start. Some of these accessories may be included when you purchase the car; others can be purchased and installed later if the need arises.
Do diesels need to be driven hard?
The energy required to push you ahead is generated by burning this fuel in a car’s engine. Because diesel is less flammable than gasoline, it must be burned using a technique known as “compression ignition.” To burn diesel, it must be subjected to extreme pressure.
This pressure, which isn’t required in gasoline cars, puts extra strain on the engine and many of its components. What’s the end result? Parts deteriorate more quickly and fail more frequently.
Will diesel truck start in 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 0°F (-17°C) is five times more difficult than starting one at 80°F (26°C).
What temp does diesel freeze?
What is the temperature at which diesel fuel gels? That’s a tough question to answer because your diesel-powered vehicle won’t drive anywhere in the cold if you don’t prepare properly. Fortunately, the problem can be readily avoided by applying a gasoline additive, which can help stop gelling from happening in the first place. While it’s important to prepare your vehicle before the cold weather arrives, acting quickly can help you avoid a breakdown.
At What Temperature Does Diesel Fuel Gel?
When the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the paraffin in diesel fuel begins to harden, clouding the fuel tank. This modification will not prevent you from driving, but it will serve as a reminder of how colder weather affects gasoline use.
Gelling happens when the temperature falls between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit, blocking the gasoline tank and fuel lines. You may need to have your vehicle towed to a garage at this stage so that your mechanic may repair any damaged fuel lines and thaw the fuel tank.
How Do You Prevent Diesel Fuel From Gelling?
If you utilize a fuel additive, you can drive a diesel car in subzero temperatures. A fuel additive designed for diesel engines decreases the fuel pour point (the temperature at which it freezes) by as much as 40 degrees. It also inhibits gelling by dispersing water.
The crystals that form in diesel fuel during cold weather are altered by a diesel fuel additive. The additive lowers the size of the crystals in diesel fuel, preventing it from waxing or gelling. It alters the fuel’s chemical characteristics, allowing it to flow at temperatures considerably below zero degrees.
If the diesel has already gelled, an additive can help. To begin, empty the tank and disconnect the fuel line. Typically, this entails pouring the additive into the tank and waiting 20 minutes for it to break down the gel before starting the vehicle, but check any directions carefully to ensure you’re following the appropriate steps. Allowing your vehicle to idle for a few minutes will allow the fuel lines to clean.
Cold Weather Preparation
There are a few more things you can do to prepare your vehicle for cold weather besides utilizing a diesel fuel additive. First, make sure your battery is in good working order. When the weather turns cold after a hot summer, the battery is more vulnerable to failure. Replace your battery if the reading is less than 12.45 volts on a multimeter. You don’t want to have to deal with battery troubles on top of fuel issues.
Second, if temperatures are really low, an addition may not be sufficient. Keep in mind that an additive can reduce the pour point by up to 40 degrees. It can prevent blockage in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We all know that colder temperatures are feasible, and that the addition may become useless as a result. Even if the temperature does not drop that low, a block heater may be required, especially if you park outside. Make it a habit to turn on the block heater when the temperature drops below freezing.
You may avoid being stranded on even the coldest days if you take excellent care of your diesel vehicle and its gasoline.
NAPA Online has a comprehensive list of fuel additives, or visit one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare facilities for routine maintenance and repairs. Consult a trained specialist at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS shop for more information about diesel fuel.