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Cold Weather Diesel Truck Warm Up

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  • Cold Weather Diesel Truck Warm Up

    I'm into my first winter with my first diesel truck. It's a Dodge Cummins Turbo 6.7 l, 2011. So far, I've avoided driving it when it's below 10 F. I do plug it in for a couple of hours at that temperature before trying to start it. I'm adding fuel conditioner. I've put in synthetic winter oil. Please tell me what I need to know for those days of 0 F or below (we've had them already).

    I have a problem in that my farm is on a highway -- no back roads to take it easy for a warm-up -- and it doesn't take long (say 30 seconds) before traffic is collecting behind me as I ease my way down the road at 30 mph with the revs at a level higher than I like to hear.
    My Equestrian Art Photography page

  • #2
    Do you have one of those radiator warmer things (I know not very technical). It goes under your grill and helps hold the engine heat in. It also comes off easy in case you ever overheat.


    • #3
      My husband has the same truck what he does is: keep it plugged in below 10 degrees and after starting he revs engine to 1500-2000 rpm and sets the cruise control. And lets it run for 5 min or so it will the be warm enough to start right off on the highway.


      • #4
        You shouldn't need to add fuel conditioners, diesel has it already in winter fuel.


        • #5
          I always always let it warm up for 5-10 minutes before I even think of driving off in it ...

          A mechanic friend also recommended that you turn it on until the glow plug light turns off, turn it off without starting it and repeat this 3 times before starting it. It allows heat to build up in the glow plugs and I have found on really cold mornings it does make the world of difference

          We used to have a block heater, but I found them so-so effective. I ended up buying 2 new batteries for it last winter and THAT has made all the difference - it turns over like a charm, without a blip ...

          True Colours Farm on Facebook


          • #6
            Block heater below 30°F, rad/grill cover (you can get these cheap at any store that sells automotive accessories), double hit on the glow plugs before starting and let it run for at least 10 minutes before driving off. Don't let temps below 10°F stop you from driving though, everyone around here drives their diesel trucks when it is a lot colder than that. With the usual winter temps here, sometimes 30 minutes to warm is needed. I do hope your synthetic oil is formulated for diesel engines and not gas.
            Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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            • #7
              Drive it -- you don't have to baby it. Especially if it has been plugged in, your engine oil is already warm. The transmission fluid will need to warm up. Idling is not great for diesels, I usually give it about 1-3 minutes and then drive off and just take it easy until the tranny fluid comes up closer to temp. If that annoys the people behind me, too bad for them.
              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

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              • #8
                I have a 99 F250...and about 4 years back in February the IDIOTS who were servicing it (I think it was breaks or tires, so no...not a diesel place) actually had the nerve to write on the ticket when I picked it up : Difficult to start. Uhhhhh...NOT if you know what you're DOING and heed the glow plug 'WAIT TO START light. Sigh. Yup. fried my glow plugs...they've never worked since. So, even 40 ish degree mornings, I now and forever more (unless I want to pay for new GPs) have to plan to plug it in (block heater thank GOODNESS) about 30 mins before heading out.

                "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                --Jimmy Buffett


                • #9
                  i've always heard that they need to be warm, which is why the big rigs idle for all night parking.
                  i always let mine warm up for ten/fifteen minutes before hitting the road. is that not the right thing to do?


                  • #10
                    5 minutes of warm up and drive away. Just accelerate gently until the temps come up.

                    New diesels have an idle up to help get them to temp when it is cold out.

                    Plugging in is always beneficial, so is good synthetic oil.


                    • #11
                      mine is an 02, f350 which is plugged in at night.


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks, folks. So, a 3 minute warm-up, after being plugged in, and I should be good to go, gently, and to he!! with the traffic collecting behind me .

                        Good info about cycling the glows a couple of times when it's very cold. I always wait for the glow light to go out before the first start of the day. I don't cycle the glows again on additional starts, unless the truck has been shut off for a couple of hours. I hope this is OK.

                        I did get synthetic diesel winter oil. Bought it myself and took it to the mechanic at oil-change time, because they don't stock it.

                        I've been told by just about everybody to put in fuel conditioner, starting in the mid autumn. Fuel conditioner is not put in the tanks at the gas stations here until the weather gets really, really cold.

                        I have one of those grille cover things -- it came with the truck. Upon reading the installation instructions, it seemed too complicated for me to manage. Drill this, take off the license plate, cut openings for the license plate screws, open flaps at this temperature, close flaps at that temperature, take it off if over a certain temperature... Not many people here seem to use them.

                        Thanks again.
                        My Equestrian Art Photography page


                        • #13
                          Well if the locals say to add conditioners, maybe they are needed. I was dealing with USA fuels, and they seem to change over in about Oct, to prevent fuel from gelling in possible cold. You SURE don't want your fuel doing that, truck has to be put into a heated garage to thaw! Maybe carry an extra bottle in the truck for fill-ups if this is the norm for local diesels.

                          Might be that you get much colder temps than we do in central Michigan, have to deal with that. One of the work trucks had to make a delivery about 100 miles north and had the fuel gell on the way. Temps were MUCH colder than the base location, mechanics told him he didn't have enough conditoner in the fuel. Trucks up there have to add to what is already mixed in by the fuel sellers.

                          I would agree with letting the glow plugs do their job, even turning on and off a couple times before cranking the ignition to start. We ALWAYS let the glow plugs go out before starting. Plug light out before starting EVERY time. Only a couple seconds. Sold the 89 Ford Dually diesel last fall, over 300,000 miles, no rebuild, still started easily. I think we replaced the glow plugs once in our time of owning the truck. We purchased it at age of 6mo, used it all those years, best vehicle ever. Just have to treat them right.

                          The big thing with letting your diesel idle a bit longer, is that you have WARM air available for the defroster! This can be critical, because even a clean windshield will frost up fast in cold temps with the wind on it. Porthole driving is NOT safe. It does take longer to warm up the diesels, so we always gave truck that extra time, which is still not really very long. Time your truck, letting it idle until you have warm air in the defrost setting. Then you will know what to allow before setting off.

                          I think our truck burned about half gallon an hour sitting still. Had the big 7.3L engine. We learned this amount because the ignition broke and we couldn't start the truck down in NC on vacation. We got a pull-start (manual transmission) at the Dealer who wanted over $500 to fix the problem!! We just left the truck running overnight, as we headed home, camping along the way. Truck was fine running all that time, did take a couple days to get there though. Husband figured what the parked, running engine used in fuel, by doing the gas milage between fill-ups. Thank heavens for the dual tanks! Home mechanic fixed the problem for about $10, and 20 minutes time. A worn out part that had snapped. Steering column had a place to open it easily, for the fix. Dealer told us that EVERYTHING on the steering column had to come apart, a very hard job, which is why it cost so much!! I hate truck Dealers, always hard to DEAL WITH!


                          • #14
                            I am not in your range of cold, Tennessee, but I always use the glow plug because I figure if it says to wait to start, I wait to start.
                            I also just keep it plugged in when I'm home so I won't forget to do it when I need it. And, yes, the extension cord has flags all over it so I won't drive off attached!
                            Never argue with a fool. Noone can tell who is who.


                            • #15
                              Mine's plugged in all the time if I'm not driving in the winter, with a timer to turn the oil heater on about 3 am, and off about 10 am. If I haven't started it by then, chances are I'm not using it that day (or it's warm enough during the day). Always wait till the "wait to start" goes off, sometimes wait a bit longer before starting, but don't cycle it.

                              Mine's 15 years old this year (7.3L F-250), and I've found fuel additive helps it start a bit quicker in general.

                              LOVE my diesel truck!!
                              "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                              Spay and neuter. Please.


                              • #16
                                '00 PSD.

                                Block heater below 10f.

                                Always kept RPM below 2000 until engine temp gauge reads that it has warmed up.

                                Maybe let it sit 3-4 minutes but many will tell you it is harder on the engine to let it sit than drive gently until warm. I've driven mine in the -20 to -30f range with no issues. It is a work truck, not a to be babied truck.

                                Colorado fuel is a winter blend. If you aren't sure, try to buy fuel at truck stops as the truckers in the winter will want winter blend diesel.
                                You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something… S. Jobs


                                • #17
                                  I do always add a conditioner -- it helps, at least on the older trucks, with the new low sulfur fuel, by boosting cetane levels, etc.

                                  re: big trucks idling -- different engines, different design.

                                  As a general rule, if your passenger truck is going to be idling more than 30 seconds to 1 minute, turn it off.

                                  I give it those couple minutes in the mornings mostly to let the windshield start defrosting and the tranny get a few extra degrees before pulling out. A cold engine is noisy but you are not damaging it as long as the oil is moving around.
                                  Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                                  Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                                  We Are Flying Solo