Cold weather diesel information

Posted on January 9th, 2009 by admin0 under News.

How is your diesel/bio-diesel running this winter?

            Be mindful of these three issues on your diesel before cold weather strikes and you’ll eliminate common diesel cold weather starting problems and at the same time help your diesel provide you with safe, reliable travels throughout the most challenging season of the year.

The Fuel Itself

            Cold weather starting problems, sluggish diesel fuel, the necessity to use anti-gel additives . . . You’ve probably heard that the biggest problem with running diesels in cold weather is the tendency of the fuel to gel. No. 2 diesel (the grade recommended for most passenger vehicles) contains some naturally occurring paraffin (wax) and as the temperature drops, this paraffin crystallizes and affects the fluidity of the fuel and may cause hard starting and eventually lead to filter plugging. Unfortunately, this problem is exacerbated when biodiesel enters the equation—biodiesel tends to gel at a slightly higher temperature than diesel.

            Luckily these problems are fairly easily solved. Regular diesel fuel is “winterized” or seasonally adjusted at the distributor before it’s delivered to the pumps. Winterizing is done by mixing pump No. 2 diesel with No. 1 diesel, its more refined cousin. Winterizing diesel fuel is done to maintain the cold weather flow characteristics, and the ratios vary depending upon regional distribution. To effectively use biodiesel in cold climates, it must be mixed with winterized diesel in varying percentages, which, once again, are regionally dependent.

Tip: It’s a good idea to add diesel fuel cold-weather treatment or an anti-gel additive to ensure that you maintain the low temperature flow characteristics of the fuel. Available at auto parts stores and department stores, anti-gel treatment may be conveniently kept in your trunk and poured directly into your diesel’s fuel tank before filling up.

            There is ongoing experimentation and research on the cold-weather treatments for biodiesel blends higher than B20. ( Have you pulled up to a fuel station and noticed B5 or B20 on the pump? Yep, that’s biodiesel, an alternative fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fats. That number following the “B” says that it’s blended with petroleum: B5 is 5 percent biodiesel and B20 is 20 percent. B100 is 100 percent biodiesel, no petroleum–also known as neat biodiesel.)

Are Your Glow Plugs Happy?

            If your vehicle is equipped with glow plugs, they need to be in good working condition, along with the glow plug relay. Glow plugs are small electric heating elements (they look like mini spark plugs that are installed in each cylinder.) They are on a timed circuit and activate for a few seconds just before the engine is started. The colder it gets, the longer those glow plugs need to stay on to pre-heat the combustion chamber for a smooth start.

Tip: If your glow plug light on the dashboard doesn’t light when the ignition is switched on, that’s an indication that you may have a glow plug out—and a noticeable engine stumble will be another big indicator. Even one glow plug out may prevent the vehicle from starting


Check that Battery

            When it’s cold outside, everything is a little more sluggish—the fuel is cold, the engine oil is thick and even your car’s cranky. Will she start? Make sure the battery is in good condition. It needs to hold a good charge to provide adequate cranking amps—a diesel requires upwards of 1,000 cold cranking amps to get that engine running. A stout battery provides the sustained cranking power and duration needed to get the engine running in cold weather.

Tip: Check the label on the battery to see how old it is. Those pop-out dots should indicate the month and year it was installed. The label should indicate the life expectancy; they usually range from 48-72 months. If you suspect your battery is getting near the end of its life cycle, it may be a good idea to replace it before cold weather strikes.

            Algae growth in the fuel tank and lines is a potential problem. Indeed, it may seem odd at first—how can anything grow and live in diesel fuel—but it is true, especially in warm and humid climates. And algae can live in petro diesel as well as biodiesel.

            Algae, which looks like a dark green to black slime, may grow and thrive in the fuel tank and lines. It can be swept along with the fuel as it travels through the system, eventually getting trapped by the filter. As it grows and accumulates over the long haul, the algae can clog the fuel filter and prevent fuel flow.

            Diesel engines are kind of finicky. Truth be told, they like it hot, really hot. In fact, diesels rely on heat (along with substantial compression) to fire the very fuel that they burn. There is no spark plug to ignite the fuel—the presence of plenty of heat coaxes the fuel to burst into a fury of power that shoves the piston down.

            Sound like the start of a captivating novel? No, sorry to disappoint, it’s just pure physics in action.

            So maybe you can see why winter weather is so difficult for diesels. . . cold fuel in a cold engine makes for a mighty cranky vehicle, and biodiesel in winter just adds to the angst. Read on for the low-down on keeping the fuel flowing and your engine roaring.

Keeping the Fuel Flowing

            The aforementioned problems seem daunting, but fortunately, lots of solutions exist. The easiest answer is to create your own winterized biodiesel by mixing it with winterized petro-diesel. If you’re buying B10 or B20 from a retail pump though, the winterization is probably already done.


            Anti-gel additives chemically alter the fuel to inhibit the formation of wax crystals, but they’re not all created equal. Most of those available are designed for petro-diesel, yet they don’t do much for biodiesel. However, through diligent research and development, several companies have created formulas that will do the trick on biodiesel.

Biofuel Systems Limited has a product called Wintron XC30 that they claim will lower the pour point (a pour point depressant) on 100 percent biodiesel and all blends.

            Power Service Products Arctic Express Biodiesel Antigel is effective on biodiesel blends up to B20.

            Among Lubrizol’s list of environmentally compatible fluids is 7671A, another pour point depressant that is effective on methyl esters, the chemically correct name for biodiesel.

            Though we don’t have personal experience with any of these specific products, we have used Power Service’s Diesel Fuel Supplement and Cetane Boost with reasonable success. After many years of experimentation, we have found that using a 20 percent mix of our own homemade biodiesel blended with winterized petro-diesel and the appropriate amount of anti-gel additive has kept us puttering through the long, cold winter—gelling problems virtually eliminated.

Heating the Fuel

            If you live where severe winter weather is common, you may want to investigate the possibility of using an electric fuel heater.

            There are heated fuel filters available that can run off your vehicle battery or be plugged into household current. There are also heating pads and heating probes that can be applied to the fuel tank, again running off the vehicle’s 12-volt battery or household current.

            An additional way to heat the fuel is with an engine coolant heater that can warm the fuel by circulating hot engine coolant around the fuel filter. Of course, this is a bit of a chicken and egg thing: While this will keep the fuel warm while the engine is hot and running, it won’t help get it started in the first place.

Keep the Whole Engine Warm and Toasty

            If your vehicle has an electric block heater (a heating element that is installed in the engine block and immersed in the coolant), it can be a major help. These heaters warm the entire engine to ease starting. They operate on household current, and on bitterly cold days, consider plugging it in for several hours or overnight if you need it first thing in the morning. For such a simple concept, block heaters are an amazingly effective way to keep the entire engine warm for easier starting.


Article provided by Christine & Scott Gable,



Comments (0)

Protecting Your Investment

Posted on January 6th, 2009 by admin0 under News.

Winter is coming to an end and you have decided to bring your car out of wraps and start driving again. You have done all the preparation; checked the tires, the fluid levels, wiped out the spider webs, and called the insurance company, if needed, to reinstate the car. But do you really have the coverage that you thought you did?

There are lots of nice cars out there that are 15 to 20 years and older. Some have notably low miles and are in impeccable condition. The services are up to date; the paint is still as shiny as it was when you bought it. Or you have spent some serious capital and time restoring this special vehicle. Maybe this is the car of your dreams and it has a new engine or transmission. You have invested in some upgrades, nice seats, sweet steering wheel, awesome suspension or whatever makes this car special to you. Let’s not make this dream car become a nightmare.

If your car was caught in a fire while in storage, some jerk stole it while you were away on vacation, or it was involved in a major accident; would your insurance company really reimburse you for the actual worth of the vehicle. Not only your Porsche, but also any other fine collectors’ car that you might own.

A vehicle appraisal can be a very valuable tool to stand behind a claim. Hopefully this will never happen, but if it does you need to be prepared.

In the event of a loss the insurance company is going to look in a book and try to settle for some predetermined number that is a statistic from a chart. I know you will not be happy with that number.

A complete and full appraisal can support your claim and help settle the matter quickly and effortlessly. In a case of fire or theft there is little to no evidence left to support your story of how nice your car was. Good documentation with pictures, a qualified appraisal and history of the vehicle will bare witness and substantiate any question about the quality and condition of your prized car.

In the event of an accident, the appraisal will be priceless especially if you have to prove to the offending driver that your car was really what you say it was.

The first step is to find a qualified appraisal person or service. Here in Oregon the state has a simple license that an appraiser can get for certification. It is pretty minimal but the fact that they took the time to apply may show that the appraiser is on the right track. You need to check for qualifications, inquire about the years of experience. Other questions to ask are if this person or service specializes in Porsches or other collector vehicles. Will this appraiser stand behind you if you have a claim and assist you in your support documents? Do a little homework and ask for referrals, and check with other car owners who have had appraisals done. When you have found a service you are comfortable with, be sure and supply them with as much information as possible. Service history, repair invoices, pictures of the car (inside and out; even before and after shots if needed), any awards the car has received, anything that can be used to create a formal document for the appraisal. Once the appraisal is completed, get together with your insurance person and submit all the paperwork. With that done you can finalize the value for your car in the event of any type of loss. Be sure and keep a copy of the documents for yourself as well.

Trust me the time and money will be well spent. It is a dreadful experience not only to loose your prized possession, but to try and recreate the paperwork is a formable task.

True Story:

One of our customers purchased a 993 with moderate damage to the body. He spent many hours working side by side with the body repair shop. We worked for him and replaced the transaxle. Being very talented he performed many tasks repairing many mechanical items and sorting out numerous electrical issues.

Months later his son asked to take the car for a short drive after it had been completed. After driving out of the city on some side roads the son lost his bearings. He pulled over off the road quite a ways, as not to expose the car to any traffic being careful not to hurt this beauty. He got out of the car and took a few steps away from the car to look around, turned back towards the car to see flames coming out from under the engine. The tall dry grass had caught on fire from the hot exhaust and there was no way to stop it. The car was burned all the way up to the driver’s seat and basically destroyed. We spent many hours and letters convincing the insurance boys the value of the car. The owner finally won. He was very lucky he kept pictures of the repairs and receipts.

An appraisal or evaluation would have saved him countless hours and frustration.



Comments (0)