Diesel engine in winter - Facts & Myths
Most camping vehicles is equipped with Diesel engines. And there’re hundreds of “folk wisdoms” on the use of diesel-powered cars in the winter. And you don’t have to necessarily believe in all of them.
In winter, it’s better to tank up to the full - FACT!
Less fuel in tank, the greater the chance of condensation of the water. In winter, it could mean serious problems. Also, when we refuel the car often and pour just a little fuel each time, we increase the risk of letting the air to the tank. The air condenses in the water, the water changes into ice, and the fuel filter or fuel line gets blocked. More water also causes risk to the fuel pump and the fuel injection system.
The interior of the car with diesel engine heats up more slowly - FACT!
Diesel powered engines give out less heat than gasoline powered units. The result is that on the short-distances, heating seems to be useless. When the temperature is below zero, it takes 20 minutes or even more, before the hot air starts to flow inside the vehicle. Fortunately, many motorhomes are equipped with a heater that works when the vehicle is stopped, thanks to which we can get to the already heated vehicle.
Starters and batteries in the winter are exposed to a particular risk - FACT!
The lower the temperature at which the engine is started, the denser, less liquid form of the fuel. In cold conditions, the starter has to “do” a lot more to start the engine, and this, in turn, is a challenge also for the battery. Besides, if the car is equipped with an additional heater, it also means the effort for the battery. Therefore, in cars with Diesel engines you should use different batteries, than in gasoline cars, and take a real good care of its condition.
Fuel filter should be changed before winter - FACT!
If you have a car with a diesel engine, when changing (or at least cleaning) the fuel filter before winter, you can protect your car from serious troubles. In this way, you minimize the risk that contaminants gathered in the filter will get covered with water drops that will freeze. The oil precipitate the paraffin crystals which can clog the filter.
The poor state of the glow plugs will make impossible to start the vehicle in winter - FACT!
Glow plugs, which were good enough to start the vehicle when the temperature is plus something, may turn out to be too weak when there’s a strong frost. The risk isn’t really high, and about the possible damage usually informs the light on the indicator panel. Even though, before the strong frosts, you should make sure that glow plugs are in good condition.
It’s hard to start up the Diesel in the cold - MYTH!
If all components of the car are working, and in the fuel tank you have a winter diesel (doesn’t have to be necessarily "arctic"), in most situations the diesel engine starts up as easily as gasoline. You should remember though, that before turning the starter, you have to wait few seconds for the glow plugs to warm up. Problems may occur only when the temperature is below 20 degrees – then, the specific fuel can actually facilitate starting.
In winter, you should use fuel enhancers - MYTH!
Winter fuels (that is, all sold in winter) already contain additives, which reduce the density of diesel fuel during frost. Therefore, no further additives are needed, and in most circumstances they simply turn out to be useless.
When the fuel congeals, use depresator - MYTH!
Depresator may be useful only in one situation - when you have summer fuel in the fuel tank, and severe colds are approaching. Then you can apply a precautionary agent to reduce the coagulation of oil. Depressant won’t help, however, if the fuel has already congealed. In that case, you should place the car in a warm garage and warm up the engine block and the oil pan with an external electric blower.
Denaturated alcohol will improve the characteristics of the fuel in winter - MYTH!
While in the old engines the presence of denatured alcohol shouldn’t be harmful, then adding denatured alcohol or other substances that are not meant for cars, can cause a severe damage to modern constructions. They can cause damage to the power supply system. At extremely low temperatures you may optionally use a recovered fuel oil (but not ordinary fuel oil!).
Repeated turning off of glow plugs can help to start a cold engine - MYTH!
Glow plugs in cars manufactured today are under the electronics control, which ensures that the candles warm up to the appropriate temperature. So there is neither need, nor possibility for them to warm up more, than it has been programmed. If the heating indicator of the glow plug goes out, it means that the correct temperature has been reached.
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