The weather is changing here in East Tennessee. As the temperatures drop, we must start thinking about how to take care of our diesel trucks in cold weather. Here are some tips on how you can make sure your diesel engine will start and run efficiently when the weather gets cold.
1. Allow Time to Warm Up the Engine
In order to start a diesel engine and keep it running in cold weather, you must make sure you allow plenty of time for your engine to warm up. If you do not let your engine warm up before driving, you will make it work harder than necessary, which will lead to problems later on. The length of time your diesel engine will need to warm up depends on how low the temperatures are outside. As a general rule of thumb, if it is below zero degrees Fahrenheit, you should allow your engine up to seven minutes to warm up. If the temperature is between zero and fifty degrees, the warm-up period should be three to five minutes. Over fifty degrees will only require one or two minutes to warm up. This warm up time is necessary to increase the temperature of the combustion chamber. A diesel truck will not fully reach operating temperature until after you have started driving.
2. Consider Diesel Engine Heating Options
When temperatures drop, your engine may need additional help to warm up in order to start and run at the necessary operating temperature. Most diesel trucks come with built-in block heaters to keep the engine warm overnight. Because this puts the engine at a higher temperature, it will be easier to start and will require less time to warm up before driving. Block heaters are simple to use, too. All you need to do is plug the heater cord into an appropriately sized extension cord, then plug the extension cord into a three-pronged electrical socket that can handle the voltage of the heater. Another heating option is a diesel fired coolant heater, which adds supplementary heating to the engine, fluids, and other key parts. These heaters do not use electricity, so they can be used just about anywhere. Glow plugs are heating devices that can be useful when trying to start cold diesel engines by helping to ignite cold fuel.
If your engine is still having trouble starting in cold temperatures even with the use of the above heating options, your battery may be the issue. Batteries tend to lose about 35% of their power at freezing temperatures and can lose up to 60% when temperatures reach zero degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your battery warm can be an easy remedy, and you can do this using either a hot plate-style warmer or a blanket warmer. The hot plate-style warmer sits underneath the battery and warms it from below. The blanket warmer wraps around the battery to keep it warm from all sides.
3. Deal with Frozen Fuel
In cold temperatures, diesel fuel can freeze or congeal together. In the event this happens, you must warm the fuel and change out the fuel filter before attempting to start the engine. You can use a winter fuel additive to reduce the risk of your fuel freezing when temperatures drop. If these steps are not taken, frozen fuel can block the flow to the injector pump and can result in engine damage.
4. Store Your Diesel Engine in a Warm Area
Whenever possible, it is best to keep your diesel engine in a warm area when it is not running. Try to store it in a place where it will also not be exposed to snow or ice in order to avoid possible damage. If you can keep your diesel engine out of the elements and at a warmer temperature, it will start much easier and will need less time to warm up.
5. Keep Your Fuel Tank Full
When a fuel tank is not full, condensation can form on the inside of the tank when temperatures drop. As the air becomes even colder at night, this condensation will then freeze. Frozen condensation in a fuel tank can cause the same problems as frozen or gelled-up fuel in your tank. By keeping your fuel tank full, you minimize the amount of space in which condensation can form. Winter fuel additives can also help control this problem.
Diesel Mechanic Services in East Tennessee
With the temperatures beginning to drop in East Tennessee, it is time to start winterizing your diesel trucks. These five tips can help you make sure your diesel engine will start when the weather is cold, but there are many more steps you should take to prepare your diesel truck for low temperatures. Here at Certified Diesel Solutions, our ASE certified diesel mechanics can help you prepare your diesels for the cold months ahead. We offer both preventative maintenance and repair services to keep your truck on the road and running efficiently. To learn more about our services, reach out to us online or call us at 865-964-6598.