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Caring For Your Diesel Truck in the Cold Weather Months

Posted at Sun, Oct 20, 2019 10:15 AM

As the weather gets colder and the leaves start to fall, we know diesel truck drivers want to start being proactive to get the best performance during winter. We want to help by covering some of the basics and giving you helpful tips to get you through the snow.

What are the Most Common Winter Issues for Diesel Trucks?

Fuel Gelling/Freezing - During the winter, it’s common for diesel trucks to have startup problems. While newer trucks have features designed to limit this problem, it is still going to be a problem to a certain degree. The very nature of diesel fuel and its composition can create this problem.
In order to help combat this problem, fuel companies offer a winter blend during cold months. If you are caught in an extremely cold weather situation, consider leaving the engine idling when possible. While this will limit your fuel efficiency, it also keeps the fuel warm and prevents it from gelling.

Additives and fuel treatments can be added to the fuel for the express purpose of preventing gelling and avoid disaster when diesel problems occur in the winter. So, consider having an anti-gel on hand in your truck during the winter months. Most anti-gels will work even if it is below freezing and the fuel in your truck has completely gelled.

Build up of Deposits - While this isn’t an issue that is unique to winter, diesel engines suffer when deposits build up in the combustion chamber over time and cold weather exacerbates the problem. This lessens your truck’s fuel economy, which detracts from the appeal of having a highly capable, fuel-efficient diesel truck. In winter, it’s especially important to keep the combustion chamber clean for the truck to run at its best.

Dirty Fuel Filters - The most common cause of engine stalls and “no starts” for diesel engines during winter time is a clogged fuel filter. When your fuel is at risk of gelling, a dirty fuel filter can be your worst enemy. To avoid this problem, be certain to change the fuel filter during fall. We also recommend keeping a backup fuel filter in your truck during fall and winter. This way, you’re always covered in the event you need a new filter and the local parts store doesn’t have one in stock.

Faulty Glow Plugs - Glow plugs are essential for a diesel truck to properly start, as they heat the cylinders so the fuel will ignite. Just one or two glow plugs that go bad can cause the truck not to start in cold weather. Most modern diesel trucks will alert you when your glow plugs are fault by giving you a check engine light on your dash, however older model vehicles may not. You can use a multimeter to get the resistance of your glow plugs. It’s important to do this yourself, or have these tested somewhere, at the start of the cold weather season to avoid diesel problems in the winter.

What can I do to prepare?

  1. Test Your Battery Early and Replace it if Needed
  2. Test Your Glow Plugs and Replace them if Needed
  3. Test Your Block Heater and Replace it if Needed
  4. Use Anti-Gel Additive (Or Keep It Close By)
  5. Change Your Fuel Filters
  6. Switch to a Lighter Weight Oil (Preferably Synthetic)

Still have questions or concerns about maintaining your diesel truck during the winter? Then give us a call or stop by our dealership today!

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