Anyone with a diesel-fired machine knows what a frustrating time of year winter can be. If your equipment hasn’t been properly prepared using products like fuel additives, you can find yourself facing early morning headaches and cold, delayed starts.

Falcon put together this guide to starting diesel engines in the cold. We’ve summarised their thoughts and added a few of our own insights here for you:

1. Inspect Your Batteries

Winter can be hard on batteries, testing them to separate those that have the power to make it from those that have reached the end of their useable lifecycle. Remember, a battery that’s fully charged in 25˚C weather will lose more than half of its power by the time the thermometer drops to -20˚C. Attempting to start your battery with low power at these cold temperatures can damage the burner, which can lead to inconvenient and costly repairs and replacements.

In addition to cleaning your batteries to get rid of any accumulated grime, you need to check to make sure they’re in good condition and are fully charged. Falcon recommends charging the batteries in their equipment to 12.8 volts, though you should always check operating manuals to confirm charging guidelines for your specific equipment.

Make Cold-Weather Starts Simple and Safe with Falcon’s VIP (Voltage Indicator and Protector) System

Falcon’s patented VIP technology is engineered to prevent a burner from operating below the voltage required by the manufacturer:

  • A green indicator light, which will be located within the electrical enclosure, lets operators know whether or not the battery has enough charge.
  • If the light is on, the battery is ready and the burner (or burners) will start. If the light isn’t on, the battery’s charge is still insufficient and the VIP system will prevent the burners from starting.

VIP technology now comes standard on new Falcon machines, though it can also be retrofitted on older machines.

2. Use Additives with Your Diesel Fuel

Additives or fuel conditioners are intended to be combined with diesel fuels to help lower the gel point, which is when diesel freezes or solidifies and can no longer flow or be pumped through fuel lines, making equipment easier to start in colder conditions.

For its diesel engines, Falcon recommends:

  • When temperatures are below 5˚C, add fuel conditioner that’s rated to -30˚C.
  • If the mercury dips lower than -6˚C, you can mix your diesel fuel with kerosene at a ratio of 1:1. Make sure, however, that you don’t exceed that level. Adding more than 50% kerosene can damage burner components.

If you’re unsure whether or not these rules can apply to your equipment, always check the operating manuals to find out what they outline.

Keep in mind that “winter diesel” in Canada is engineered to give you a head start in the cold since it’s made by blending #1 and #2 diesel at different ratios depending on what region of the country you’re in. Although #2 diesel will perform better, it has a higher gel point (around -8˚C). #1 diesel contains added kerosene, which means it has a lower gel point (typically around -10˚C to -15˚C). For us Canucks, adding fuel additives can still be beneficial—providing peace of mind that diesel fuel won’t gel and boosting your engine’s performance in the cold.

Click here to download Falcon’s cold weather guide, which includes a breakdown of parts with and without diesel fuel preheaters.

3. Maintain Your Equipment Year-Round

To have confidence in your equipment’s performance, you need to make sure you look after it well:

  • Carry out lube and grease jobs, vehicle inspections, and tire inflations on a regular basis.
  • Change oil and filters every two to four months.
  • Test and replace bigger items like brakes.

Keep track of any work you perform so you’ll be ready to address the problem if it crops up again in the future, and have the supplies you need (including parts you order frequently as well as winter-weather tools like heaters and fuel additives) on hand to make sure your diesel-fired hotboxes are ready to handle the colder conditions to come.

At Amaco, we have the OEM parts and factory-trained technicians you can depend on to keep your Falcon asphalt repair equipment working all winter long. Contact us today to discuss your needs!

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Jeff MacDonald