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Old 09-25-2010, 03:38 PM   #1
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Diesel in freezing temps?

Would appreciate comments about cold weather concerns with a diesel. What would be the temperature (Fahrenheit) below which it would be necessary to plug in the block heater even if you are using winter diesel fuel? I live in warm country but may be driving a diesel up north this winter. Thanks for info. Stosh
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Old 09-25-2010, 09:06 PM   #2
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Hmmm.... loaded question that I'm sure will generate lots of debate.

I live in Canada and have a lot of experience with block heaters and cold weather starting. I now live on the warm west coast but spent most of my life on the cold winter prairies and northern latitudes. I'm no expert but here's what I tend to do:

I usually plug my 6.0L in after the temps drop below freezing - usually on a switched circuit. If I know I'm going to drive it the next day I'll leave it plugged in overnight. If I know I'm not going to drive for a few days I'll throw the switch off. If it's been off I like to give it at least a couple of hours to heat the block (4 hours if its really cold) before I attempt to start it. If it stays really cold (say below 0 degrees F) I'll leave it plugged in all the time.

Another tidbit:
My friend is a firefighter and they leave their diesels plugged in all the time, even in summer. When the alarm sounds these vehicles get driven hard right away so apparently its easier on them when the block is pre-warmed.

My thoughts. Hope they help.
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Old 09-25-2010, 10:48 PM   #3
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Helpful info, but what if you are camping in the boonies and the temp unexpectedly drops way below freezing for several hours while you are sleeping? If you want to leave early in the morn, are you stuck? Thanks, Stosh.
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Old 09-25-2010, 11:47 PM   #4
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stosh
Helpful info, but what if you are camping in the boonies and the temp unexpectedly drops way below freezing for several hours while you are sleeping? If you want to leave early in the morn, are you stuck? Thanks, Stosh.
We have camped down into the single digits and haven't had trouble starting in the a.m. I also run cetane boost and a winter additive in the fuel when it gets real cold.
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Old 09-26-2010, 10:42 AM   #5
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Winter Diesel? What's that? Sorry, but I live in So CA.

I was in Sequoia PArk and it got to -4 one night. I started the van (6L) at about 7 degrees. I probably used my espar hydronic to preheat coolant.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:26 PM   #6
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

I cheat. For those occasions when I'm away from AC power (winter camping) I've had an Espar Hydronic installed to heat my block. It doesn't work as well as AC power but this may be due to some installations inefficiencies I have yet to check into. If the temperature drops I like to try and fire up the Hydronic for a 2 hour cycle before I start up.

I would feel comfortable starting my vehicle with a cold block in temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit although not on a regular basis. If I'm doing a lot of winter camping it's usually because I'll be skiing the next day. In that case I try and find a winter camp ground with AC power (and showers!).

Eventually I hope to get the Hydronic working more efficiently. I believe it may be suboptimal because it's not feeding close enough to the block.

When the temperatures drop to really cold (below -40F) I try and not drive at all even after being plugged in (unless I've been parked in the garage). That temperature is really hard on the entire vehicle (not to mention people). Below 0 F truckers leave their rigs running all the time. Below -40F they start using a fuel additive to avoid gelling.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:35 PM   #7
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Just reread the thread and I'm not sure I addressed your question directly.

I wouldn't worry about starting below freezing occasionally. Just don't do it on a regular basis as it's hard on your engine. If you anticipate making this a regular occurrence you may want to look into the Hydronic.

Hope that helps.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:37 PM   #8
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

...and my answer applies when using winter diesel.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:54 PM   #9
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Exactly the info I was looking for. Thanks to all, Stosh.
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Old 09-28-2010, 05:00 PM   #10
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Re: Diesel in freezing temps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jepa

Eventually I hope to get the Hydronic working more efficiently. I believe it may be suboptimal because it's not feeding close enough to the block.
Jepa, do you have the secondary circulating pump? I can now warm my engine up much quicker. SMB cllaims the pump must be running when the Hydronic is turned on but Greg at Lube spc. says you don't and I've found I didn't have to as Greg said. I'll be doing more testing with it when I get my van back.
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