Diesel engines are great and offer quite a few advantages over traditional gasoline engines…. until the weather drops below freezing. When this happens, owners of diesel engines will find it much more difficult to get those engines started. However, with a bit of planning and some pre-emptive measures getting your diesel-powered vehicle on the road during the winter doesn’t have to be a challenge- or make you seriously consider simply parking the vehicle in the garage until next spring.

Diesel Engine Cold Weather Challenges and How to Overcome them

Diesel2Fuel Gelling
Perhaps the most common issue with diesel engines in cold weather is fuel gelling. It occurs when the wax in the diesel fuel gets too cold and forms a gel which can block the filters. It is identifiable by the fuel having a cloudy appearance or by causing your engine to stutter or stall.

Keep in mind that while the wax in the fuel is key for combustion speed and ignition compression, it works against the engine if cold. You can offset this problem by using fuel additives specially designed for diesel engines to boost diesel engine performance.

Drained Battery
Running a diesel during cold months takes a toll on the battery. Be sure to check the battery often and charge it anytime it is below 75%. Keep in mind, that once the temperature drops below freezing a battery charged at 100%, can only perform at 50%. A simple option is to use a battery warmer, sometimes called a hot plate, that slides under the battery. This serves as an ‘electric blanket’ and helps the battery maintain its charge.

Cold weather outside means that the water in the fuel can freeze. Like the wax that can cause gelling, the ice will block filters and pipes, cause excess wear, and tear, and prevent the flow of fuel. Again, the use of additives can minimize-if not eliminate- this problem.

Glow Plugs
Another common problem is a slow start-up. A diesel engine does not have spark plugs, but it does have glow plugs. Be sure to inspect and change the glow plugs and air inlet heaters before cold weather season begins.

Additional Measures to Make Diesel Engine Start-up Easier

  • Change the oil – During the winter, cold weather is hard on the battery, starter, and engine. Protect the parts and keep the oil moving smoothly by using a full synthetic motor oil from AMSOIL. Your local dealer, Lifetime Oil, has all the products you need to keep your diesel engine running all year long.
  • Park in a warm place – If at all possible, park vehicles with diesel engines in a garage. A garage is usually 20 degrees warmers, which can make a big difference in preventing gelling.
  • Fuel filter – As a common place for fuel freeing to occur be sure to check the filter often and replace whenever a problem is noticed. Consider keeping a spare on hand, just in case.
  • Full Tank – You can minimize the risk of gelling or freezing by keeping the tank as full as possible. So, before parking your vehicle for the night, stop and top it off. When there is more fuel in the tank it is more difficult for freezing to occur.
  • Warm it up – Plan for a few minutes to heat up your engine before you need to leave. Whether you opt for a block heater, or simply let your engine idle to warm up the glow plugs, giving the engine time to heat up will make things easier- for you and your vehicle!

Is your diesel ready for winter weather? If not, now is the time to prepare. After all, nobody likes to face engine issues first thing in the morning.