Automotive Technician: Winter Diesel Tips
Keep Your Diesel Running Smoothly with the Help of Qualified Automotive Service Technicians
With winter on the way, vehicles big and small will be operating under much more different conditions than they would face during the rest of year. For this reason, good automotive service technicians cannot stress enough the varying needs your car or truck will have during the cold months of Alberta, and here we will address a few of these again, with a particular focus towards the unique challenges of using a diesel engine in the wintertime.
Every automotive technician has seen this issue more than once: a truck won’t start, will start poorly, or will stop at unexpected times. With the industries that have made Alberta the great province it is today come the wide use of diesel engines, and these present issues in the frigid prairie winters. And if there are any solids in your fuel, they will clog your filter. Ice from free water is one issue, and an automotive technician will have to use a de-icer to remedy it. But gelling is another, altogether more complicated issue.
The hydrocarbons in your diesel or biodiesel fuel do not become solid like ice when they freeze—instead, they become thick and viscous like wax. This is called gelling, and it can and will gum up your engine and filter something fierce. A simple way to reduce gelling is to blend the usual No. 2 diesel with No. 1; the proportions will depend on a number of factors and you may wish to consult an automotive service technician first. You may also purchase winterized diesel that has been prepared to handle these conditions.
Mitigating Severe Conditions
There are a number of things you can do to smoothen the operation of your truck in the winter. Avoiding severe operation—short trips or stop-and-start operation which prevents the engine from heating properly—is one way. Another way is to use glow plugs. An automotive technician can outfit your engine with these plugs, which consist of small electric heating elements installed in each cylinder. Glow plugs are used to preheat your engine’s combustion chambers, helping you to start your truck more smoothly on even the coldest days. The condition and age of your battery is also a key factor in smooth winter operation regardless of engine type. If your battery is nearing the end of its useable life, it may not be able to muster the power for a cold-weather start, and you should replace it sooner rather than later.
If you should find your truck in need of some serious care this winter to ensure that it continues to perform its best, take it in to an experienced and qualified automotive service technician.