Should You Let Your Diesel Engine 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 should I warm up my diesel car?

Mr4X4: How long should you warm up your diesel tow rig’s engine? Some of the ‘Grey Nomads’ have been idle for perhaps thirty minutes (while they hitch the van and sort the handbrake out). Isn’t that a little bit excessive?

Tony: Warming up is a somewhat subjective process. I believe you should start the vehicle, wait a minute or two, and then drive away at a steady speed. Don’t over-rev the engine; instead, keep it steady until the temperature gauge reads normal. Warming up for 30 minutes is unnecessary, and will cause problems with DPF-type vehicles and excessive soot build-up from EGR in the intake, among other things, on newer diesels.

Mr4X4: Than an expert’s perspective, what is the purpose of warming up the engine aside from getting oil around the engine?

Tony: Warming up the vehicle allows oil to circulate throughout the engine. Although the oil travels swiftly, it is too viscous to lubricate well when it is cold. Warming up also allows all of the moving parts to reach their proper operating temperatures and expand and contract to their proper clearances. For example, if you have a performance engine with forged pistons, they may make a rattling noise while cold, which is known as piston slap. Once they’re warm and up to temperature, they’ll expand to the proper clearance. It’s more about not overloading the engine with heavy loads and high RPMs when it’s cold. Giving a cold engine a hard time increases the likelihood of engine wear and/or damage.

How long should you let a diesel idle before driving?

Early diesel-fueled trucks (from the 1930s) experienced a number of issues. The engine’s design made it difficult to start. The oils were thick and heavy, and the fuel had a tendency to congeal, making it difficult to start the engines, particularly in cold weather. The quality of the fuel was not as excellent, and it was not controlled as it is now.

Fuel engines and technology have vastly advanced over the years, yet for some reason, the old habit of leaving the engine running has persisted.

Myth: Before driving a diesel engine, it must warm up for 5 to 10 minutes at idle or longer, especially on chilly days.

Fact: This is one of the most popular diesel engine misconceptions. Newer diesel engines should be idled for no more than 3 minutes before driving, according to most engine manufacturers.

Allowing an engine to idle causes more damage to it than starting and stopping it. When compared to traveling at motorway speeds, idleing an engine generates twice the wear on internal parts. Idling increases maintenance costs and reduces the engine’s lifespan.

Fuel is one of our industry’s most expensive operating expenses. Idling has a negative influence on us because it increases our fuel and maintenance costs. In a truck, one gallon of fuel is consumed each hour of idling time. The bigger the engine, the more gas it uses. The price of a gallon of diesel is currently over $3.20 and is likely to rise this year. The expense of idling soon adds up with the number of pickup trucks, big trucks, and equipment we operate.

How do you warm up a cold diesel engine?

“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 can I make my diesel engine warm up faster?

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 you don’t preheat a diesel?

How to use the various “preheat” capabilities on a diesel engine during cold weather is one of the most often asked issues by diesel engine owners. The owner’s handbook doesn’t have much information on this, and some of the words can be deceptive. Hopefully, this post helps clarify up some of the confusion.

Diesel engines are different from gasoline engines in that they use different operating and starting strategies. Gasoline engines use gasoline, which is flammable and rapidly ignites. The cylinder fires with just a spark from a spark plug at the correct time. Diesel fuel is significantly heavier than gasoline and burns more slowly. When it does burn, however, it produces more BTU per gallon than gasoline, giving it more power and efficiency. A diesel engine starts by compressing the air-fuel mixture to a very high compression ratio, after which it starts on its own, without the use of an ignition system or a spark. All that is required is for the fuel to be injected into the cylinder at precisely the right time and in the correct quantity. If a diesel engine is really cold, it will have two effects. To begin with, a cold, rigid engine will crank over significantly slower than a warm engine due to drag. All of that heft and thick oil tends to slow it down and prevent it from firing. Second, once the diesel fuel reaches its ignition temperature (exactly like gasoline), it flashes off and ignites. A spark plug provides this in a gasoline engine, while a diesel relies on the heat generated by compressing the mixture very tightly. It may not light if the air-fuel is cold or the cylinder is chilly.

There are two methods for starting a cold diesel engine. One method is to warm up the air-fuel mixture before it enters the engine. The other method is to warm up the engine so that the cylinder is not as cold. Each has a certain function. In relatively cool weather, preheating the intake air is sufficient to start the engine. It may also allow you to start an engine in really cold conditions, but it will take a long time to crank and will most likely run rough and smoke for a while. You’ll not only ensure that your engine starts, but you’ll also reduce wear and tear on the engine by preheating it. It’s important to remember that the bulk of wear on a diesel engine happens within the first minute of operation. Warming up your engine will help to reduce this and extend the life of your engine.

Glow plugs were originally used in diesel engines. The cylinder head was fitted with these little spark plug-like devices. When 12 volts was added to them, they would glow and produce heat in the same way that a small toaster would. These were usually connected to the ignition switch, and the system also included a thermostat and timer. A “Wait to Start” light would activate on the dash as soon as the ignition key was turned on, and the glow plugs would begin their warmup procedure. The warning light would go out and you would start your engine after the thermostat determined that they had been on long enough. Glow plugs were troublesome and required replacement on a regular basis, thus some engine makers relocated them to the intake manifold, away from the severe conditions inside the cylinder. They were less effective but lasted longer this way. Glow plugs are normally found primarily in smaller diesel engines, thus your class A diesel pusher will not have them.

In today’s RV diesels, instead of glow plugs, an intake manifold preheater is used. When the key is switched on for the first time, a “Wait to Start” lamp illuminates on the dash, similar to glow plugs. The light turns off after the designated time delay (the longer the delay, the colder it is), and you’re ready to start the engine. The intake manifold preheater is a massive grid inside the intake manifold (think “giant” toaster). It heats the intake air and the manifold so that the cylinder receives warmer air, making starting easier. These preheaters are far more powerful and reliable than their tiny glow plug siblings, and they can be found on almost every diesel pusher built today.

Engine block warmers have existed for a long time. You can purchase aftermarket devices for your car or truck that connect to your engine via a heater hose. The heater warms up your coolant, which warms up the engine, once you plug these devices into 120 volts. These aren’t “block” heaters; rather, they’re “tank type” heaters. An electric element is put directly into the engine block in a real block heater. The access plate on the engine block is removed, and the matching plate on the block heater is placed. A heater element with a power range of 750 to 1,500 watts extends into the engine’s cooling jacket. The advantage of this method is that there are no heater hoses to replace or leak, and the heat is sent directly into the engine, which is more efficient. Because these are 120 VAC powered units, they must be plugged in somewhere to function. These are hooked into a special outlet in a basement bay in recent Tiffin motorhomes. This outlet is regulated by a low voltage relay on the diver’s side console, which is activated by a 12 volt rocker switch. Many of these coaches feature a second plug on the driver’s side that plugs into a different outlet. To keep these plugs from falling out, use nylon cable ties to connect them to their receptacles.

The engine preheat option featured on the Hydro Hot or Aqua Hot hydronic heating systems is another sort of engine coolant heater. Antifreeze of the boiler type has been added to your hydronic heating boiler. A coil is located inside the boiler and is connected to the engine’s heater hoses. When you drive down the road, the hot coolant from the engine helps to warm up the Hydro Hot boiler, thereby providing free heat. If your Hydro Hot has the optional Engine Preheat feature, you can use the heat from the Hydro Hot boiler to help warm up your cold engine while parked. This feature was not previously available on Tiffin’s coaches, but it is now. This feature is available if the Hydro Hot control panel has a third switch labeled “Engine Preheat.” You don’t have the feature if you don’t have that switch. It can, however, be added later if desired. A pump, some hose and wire connections, and a switch are all that’s required. When you turn on the switch, the circulating pump circulates your engine’s coolant through the heated Hydro Hot boiler, which absorbs the heat and warms the engine. In this sense, it works similarly to a tank-style engine heater, except that instead of a specialized 120 volt electric element, it uses the heat from the HydroHot boiler.

The nomenclature or name of these products contributes to the confusion. They’re all technically “preheaters” because they’ll each warm up something before starting your car. The “Wait to Start” light illuminates whenever you turn on your ignition key switch. This is when the heater in your intake manifold is turned on. The intake manifold preheater turns off as soon as the light goes out, and you can start your engine. This preheater simply turns on for a few seconds and is designed for occasional use, so it won’t be left on for long. The engine block heater can be left on indefinitely. It’s fine if it stays on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or longer. The only disadvantage is that it consumes electricity, which is costly if you pay for it. It takes time to complete its task. When the weather is simply “cold,” it may take an hour for your engine to warm up. When it’s extremely “cold” outside, you may need to leave it on for at least 8 hours for it to effectively heat the engine. A rocker switch on the side console labeled “Engine Preheater” controls the block heater. This can be confusing, but keep in mind that the Intake Manifold Preheater is controlled by the ignition key switch and only functions for a short period, whereas the engine block heater is controlled by the side console rocker switch and takes a long time to complete its task. If you have the Hydro Hot engine preheater, it works similarly to the engine block heater, with the exception that in order to heat up the boiler, you must also have the diesel boiler turned on. The engine preheater on the Hydro Hot is more powerful than the electric engine block warmer, reducing the time required significantly. I’ve discovered that what my block heater takes 2 hours to complete can be done in 30 minutes with the Hydro Hot preheater. If you wish to speed up the warm-up process, you can operate both the block heater and the Hydro Hot preheater at the same time.

While your engine may start at -10 degrees Fahrenheit with just the intake manifold preheater, you’re not doing it any favors. Your tough engine will be whirling over in heavy oil with little lubrication. This is when scoring and scuffing take place, and each time you do so, you’ll lose a little life from your engine. It will shiver and shake and run unevenly after it fires, much like a gasoline engine with the throttle on, until all of the cylinders reach working temperature. This can clog injectors and cause carbon to accumulate on piston heads and in the combustion chamber. Excess unburned gasoline will trickle down the cylinder walls, removing lubricating oil from the piston rings and diluting your crankcase oil. To keep this to a minimum, you should always use your block heater. If you’re staying at a campground with shore power for a week or more, simply switch on the block heater and keep it on. It won’t harm, and it’ll take one less thing off your to-do list the day before you leave.

How cold is too cold for diesel engines?

When it comes to diesel trucks, how cold is too cold? At 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.5 degrees Celsius), the diesel fuel in your fuel tank will gel and you will have problems starting your engine. Your diesel vehicle will have troubles if the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit / -9.5 degrees Celsius. The diesel won’t be frozen solid, but it won’t be liquid either. You must now rely on heating solutions such as block heaters and glow plugs, which are not available on all diesel engines.

There’s a lot of debate regarding what temperature is too cold for a diesel truck. On the internet, it is stated that the freezing point of diesel fuel is roughly -112 degrees Fahrenheit or -80 degrees Celsius. Now you believe you will never be in a region that gets that cold, so you should be fine. Wrong.

It is not necessary for the diesel in your fuel tank and fuel lines to be solidly frozen to cause you problems. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit / – 9.5 degrees Celsius, the diesel fuel begins to change shape and becomes more like a gel. Consider a gel-like fuel that travels from the fuel tank to the engine. Traveling through the fuel lines would be difficult, and you would have difficulty starting your engine in the frigid winter.