Cold weather starting tips

   / Cold weather starting tips #1  

Little Red Tractor

Gold Member
Apr 8, 2012
Gloversville NY
Kubota 2301
I read with interest all the threads about hard starting diesels in colder weather. Probably all CUT diesel owners do the same, wondering when they'll have the problem. I'm on my second diesel now. The first was a Bolens 15 HP which started hard until, on advice from a retired diesel mechanic, I started using an additive in the fuel. It seems to have have really helped that, and I've not stopped using it with the new tractor. Around here, a lot of diesel users cut the diesel fuel by 1/3 kerosene; but I believe that a bit of conditioner does the job as well for less money.
Another tip was to advance the throttle and spin it over a couple times before lighting up the glow plugs. That was a a help on the older tractor and works well on my Cat-powered Cub Cadet (which, I'm told, has a tradition of being hard-starting).
Heat is also a big help. I'm too lazy to put in a block heater, but in really cold weather I heat the space around the tractor either with a Kerosun heater nearby, or a high output work light in close proximity to the engine (if it can be done safely on your tractor--might not be possible with some units). Both work well, but leaving a light on overnight is cheaper than the kerosene for the heater in an uninsulated garage.
Finally, a fully charge battery is critical. In really cold weather the batteries supplied with a lot of CUTs might be marginal at best. Make sure your tractor is charging fully. As extra insurance, put a trickler on it, pulling it just before you start the machine.
This bag of tricks might not be the end-all to the problem, but a good place to start for those new to diesels. :thumbsup:
   / Cold weather starting tips #2  
Change fluids/filters.
Clean radiator cleaning & fluid.
Purchase well known supplier.
Let diesel warm up.
   / Cold weather starting tips #3  
Read your owners manual when you have nothing to do, lol. There are always things that can be missed the first time through. So as my cousin likes to say RTFM ;)
   / Cold weather starting tips #4  
You might better put in the block heater, a lot less messsing around.
   / Cold weather starting tips #5  
Little Red - if I'm initially getting black smoke when first starting, is that bad and am I not warming the glow plugs long enough?

What color exhaust should I ideally be seeing upon initial start?
   / Cold weather starting tips #6  
Ah just put in block heater. Then your ready for the real cold weather.:thumbsup:
   / Cold weather starting tips #7  
My skid steer has had trubles getting going in cold weather. It fires right up on the first crank but it bogs way down to around 600-900 RPM's before getting back to idle @ 1330 RPMs. Lately I give it a little throttle (around 1500 RPM) to start so it doesn't die on me. After about 30-45 seconds it levels out and runs great after that. To address the problem I ordered a block heater last week (wont have until Jan. 7th) and plan on changing the oil again soon (about 170 hours on it's current oil). Hopefully that will help with start up, if not I may look into fuel additives.
   / Cold weather starting tips #8  
My machine doesn't have glow plugs, & is air-cooled, so a block heater doesn't work. So the solution I came up with is just a simple "heating-pad" wrapped around the oil-pan. I removed the fleece cover, to expose the vinyl base, bungee cord it on before I'm gonna use machine, set it on medium or high for 1/2 hr or so, just to warm the oil up a little. The other trick I was told about was to use blow-dryer on high-heat & blow heated-air into the air-cleaner, haven't tried that yet, but it seems a good choice over the evil "giggle-juice," or starting fluid.

   / Cold weather starting tips #9  
You can order silicon heating pads from NAPA and other suppliers that are of various wattages and sizes. We use and oil pan heater, a battery heater, a Hydraulic heater and a transmission heater along with the traditional coolant heaters here.

the best heaters are the ones that work on the oil cooler, heats the coolant and the oil, really helps a lot

on Air cooled units we add all the other heaters but coolant just to help out
   / Cold weather starting tips #10  
Little Red - if I'm initially getting black smoke when first starting, is that bad and am I not warming the glow plugs long enough?

What color exhaust should I ideally be seeing upon initial start?

If you get some white vapor when cranking a cold engine that is normal as it is just pushing out the unburned diesel and indicates that you need to use the glow plugs or other means to heat the incoming air. A puff of black smoke is normal at start up even on a summer day, especially with turbocharged engines but it should be just immediately at start up and shouldnt continue smoking. White smoke when cranking a cold engine prior to starting is normal and indicative of need to use glow plugs but should not be evident after the engine cranks. Continuous white smoke indicates water in the combustion chamber indicative of blown head gasket assuming that you arent getting rain/snow down the exhaust pipe.

As per other post on heating the air: My old Yanmar had no glowplugs so I had to use a hair dryer blowing hot air into the air cleaner. It worked great but was a pain to drag a cord over and wife wasnt always thrilled about me using her hair dryer.