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How to Start a Diesel Vehicle in Cold Weather

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"How to Start a Diesel Vehicle in Cold Weather"
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Getting a diesel vehicle started in the morning on a cold day can be a major pain for millions of people all across the world. This is particularly troublesome if you have to be at work or have an appointment to keep. Fortunately however, there are several things that you can check to ensure that every morning isn't an uphill struggle.

Unlike regular gasoline vehicles, diesel cars do not get along well with the cold weather. Where a regular car might be fine and start first time on a frosty morning, a diesel might fight you for a good few minutes before any signs of life can be detected. With this in mind it is important to ensure that your diesel vehicle is in good condition and if possible warmer than the outside air temperature to ensure a prompt start every morning.

Basically in diesel vehicles, the battery needs to be warmed up slightly as well as well charged in order to have the power to start the engine. If the battery is low, or particularly cold, then it might not be able to get sufficient cranking power to get the engine to start very easily. This is worth checking even if your vehicle starts fine in warm weather because cold weather makes everything more difficult in diesel vehicles.

Wherever possible, it is always better to store a diesel vehicle in your garage in the colder weather, which often keeps it sufficiently warm enough to make starting up in the morning that little bit easier. Using either new glow plugs or block heaters can also be effective, as these warm the specific areas of the vehicle needed for getting it started.

Block heaters can often be purchased from diesel dealerships, as well as being easily obtainable form the internet and auto parts specialists. They are basically a heater which plugs into a regular electric outlet and keeps the engine warm overnight. Block heaters also help to aid the vaporization of fuel when you start the vehicle, which helps to reduce pollution.

Although block heaters are usually installed in the factory, if they need to be replaced for any reason, they can often be installed by amateurs with a basic knowledge of the workings of an engine. If for any reason you end up having to leave your car in a parking lot for any length of time, many northern areas will have electrical outlets in each space. If there are no such appliances, then trying to make sure you get back to the car as quickly as possible is the best option.

Before the invention of the block heater or glow plug, there were a variety of different methods people used to keep their vehicles warmed up. These included draining the oil in a vehicle for indoor storage overnight, pouring hot water over the entire engine, and even shoveling hot coals underneath the engine to warm it up. None of these methods are probably a good idea to try today, even if you don't have a different method of heating your vehicle.

Glow plugs are basically heat generating rods, which due to electrical resistance generate heat very quickly and help to get the engine started. Vehicles fitted with glow plugs often have a pre-ignition sequence of heating where the actual ignition is started after a light on the dash indicates that the glow plug has completed its heat cycle.

Alternatively to block heaters, battery heaters are also available which only heat the vehicles battery, which is generally cheaper than heating the entire engine. Often also heating only the battery is enough to ensure that the vehicle starts easily. Heated blankets are another option, some of which feature a timer feature, meaning that the blanket doesn't have to be left on all night.

If the fuel in your tank becomes too cold, then it often begins to solidify partially and becomes a gel like substance. This of course stops the diesel from flowing properly and in turn stops your vehicle from starting. The easiest solution to this is often to simply buy an additive for your diesel which stops this from happening, and keeps the fuel as a liquid, even in colder weather.

Keeping the fuel tank filled up as much as you can is also a good idea in the winter time, due to the fact that this will help prevent the fuel lines from freezing up. Although this is less of a problem if you have a warm place to store the vehicle, or a block heater for the engine.

Most diesel fuels in colder areas tends to have this additive added to it anyway, although if you are driving from a usually warm climate into a colder one, then you may not. In this case it is advisable to either fill up on fuel bought in the colder climate or to purchase some additive, which can be found at most auto parts stores.

If your diesel vehicle is older, or has a lot of miles on the clock, then getting it serviced and checked out before the winter weather sets in is usually a good idea. This way if there is any problem, or any parts need to be replaced, you will be able to set them straight before it gets to the point where you can't start the car to go and get them.

If you happen to live in a cold area, where the temperature is below freezing for extended periods, then owning a diesel might seem like a hassle. However with the proper precautions, a diesel can be every bit as easy to use as a regular car. Not only this but modern diesel cars tend to have a better fuel economy as well as lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Knowing how to maintain your diesel vehicle is important, as with the increase in hybrid and alternative fuel cars, the amount of diesel vehicles will likely decrease. This will eventually result in many places not carrying the parts and not having the knowledge needed to help you keep your vehicle in good shape in the winter time.

More about this author: Jonte Rhodes

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