4 Rules of Winter Care for Your Diesel Engine

4 Rules of Winter Care for Your Diesel Engine

Cold weather has set in, and you may be wondering what steps you should take to ensure your winter care for your diesel engine is adequate. For instance, do you let your engine warm up before starting your driving for the day?

The simple answer is, yes. Warming up your diesel engine before you hit the road allows your fuel to circulate throughout the engine and get warm. In addition to allowing this warming session, you should also choose a fuel that offers cold weather characteristics matching the temperatures where you will be driving. Here are the specifics of winter care you’ll want to watch:

Cloud Point: This is the temperature at which wax crystals begin to develop, which is typically between four- and 14-degrees Fahrenheit. If your diesel engine is not running within the cloud point of your fuel, you could see some problems with your fuel filter becoming clogged.

Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP): This number refers to the lowest temperature at which a diesel fuel is able to run through a 45-micron filter. Your CFPP will likely be within a few degrees of the cloud point. CFPP is used industry-wide, but there are some modern fleet vehicles that are less accurate. CFPP has its limitations; it should be used as a guide, not an absolute.

Cetane Number: A fuel with a high cetane number will reduce the strain on your engine and your electrical system in cold weather. Cetane measures your diesel engine’s startup ability, and it’s important to use a fuel that has a cetane number between 46 and 49.

You can also use a seasonally-enhanced blend that offers a mix of No. 1 and No. 2 premium diesel fuels. The additive package in these fuels offers operability at extremely low temperatures, preventing injector fouling and filter plugging. Ultimately, it saves you from costly downtime.

Implementing a tank maintenance program is a good quarterly practice to assess for moisture or contaminants in the fuel tank. A fuel filter with too much water can compromise the pleats and allow for contamination. A maintenance program allows you to take a proactive approach and identify the right timing for changing fuel filters.

Here are a few other quick tips for winter care:

  • Install a block heater to keep your engine warm enough to prevent any cold start issue.
  • A heated dipstick can also keep your oil from getting too cold.
  • Check your glow plugs to ensure they are ready to start a cold engine.

Ultimately, your best strategy for preventing weather-related maintenance is simply to let your engine idle for a bit before you get on the road. If you find that you do require service for your diesel engine, consider stopping in at Gray Diesel & Equipment Services in Lincoln, Nebraska, or in Lexington, South Carolina.