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TDI 101 Got a simple/basic TDI question? Are you a newbie (new to the forums). Feel free to post your question here.

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Old April 4th, 2001, 05:56   #1
PlaneCrazy
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Default Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

Although VW has made great strides in making the TDI suitable for very cold climates, the nature of a diesel is such that it will still need more cranking power to fire. Moreover, on the newer version of the TDI engine appearing in the '99 and later cars, there's no provision for an engine block heater. An oil pan heater has been available. However, experience shows that a TDI can be successfully started at temperatures at least as low as -35C without preheat, if some simple common-sense precautions are taken.

The key to a successful deep-cold start is to unload the engine of anything that could theoretically cause a reduction in available cranking power, be it electrical or mechanical. All electrical power should be dedicated to pre-heating with the glow plugs, and cranking the engine.

Those with an aviation background will understand the concept of using a checklist at startup, a common practice for starting up finicky aircraft engines.

Here is the recommended checklist for a TDI shutdown if a deep cold start is anticipated at next startup, followed by a checklist for startup:

Interior lights...........OFF
Radio.....................OFF
Heater/Fan/AC.............OFF
Heated seat controls......OFF
Handbrake.................ON
Headlight switch..........OFF
Engine....................SHUT DOWN

(pulling the handbrake ON ensures that the Daytime Running Lights remain off during the startup, this is VERY important)

Prior to starting, run through this checklist:

Interior lights............OFF
Radio......................OFF
Heater/fan/AC..............OFF
Heated seat controls.......OFF
Handbrake..................ON
Headlight switch...........OFF
Ignition key...............ON (do not attempt start yet)
Ignition key...............Cycle to OFF when when glow plug light extinguishes, then to ON again immediately
Ignition key...............count 5 seconds after glow plug light extinguishes then START until engine achieves sustained start
Engine.....................IDLE until even firing is achieved.

Once a smooth idle is achieved, you can drive off SLOWLY, driving very gently until the engine temperature gauge starts to rise.

These simple precautions should achieve a successful start after prolonged exposure at temeperatures down to about -40C, and should help protect the engine from abuse after a successful start. In addition, in areas where fuel quality is suspect, an anti-gelling additive in the fuel tank will help ensure successful cold weather operation.

[ April 04, 2001: Message edited by: PlaneCrazy ]

[ April 04, 2001: Message edited by: PlaneCrazy ]
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Old April 4th, 2001, 06:38   #2
think diesel
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

Excellent advice. I agree that anyone who anticipates starting in cold weather should read this carefully and make certain they are following PlaneCrazy's advice to the letter before they report that they are having trouble starting the car.

I also might add that the majority of TDI drivers out there could benefit from the regular use of one of the popular fuel additives like Standadyne, Power Service or AMSoil's products. It doesn't take much extra effort to add these products periodically when you fill up and they can help keep fuel from gelling and prolong the life of the fuel system.
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Old April 4th, 2001, 13:56   #3
GoFaster
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

The other thing I've found that makes a very big difference is a plug-in battery warmer. It's a blanket that wraps around the battery with a small 60-watt heating element. Even at -20 C, with this installed my car cranks over as vigorously as it does above freezing.

C$25 at Canadian Tire, do-it-yourself installation is very easy.

Brian
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Old April 5th, 2001, 15:50   #4
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

Run appropriate oil too. Like the Petro Canada 0W30 stuff. You don't wanna be trying to pump 15W40 dino around at -30*C in these engines...
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Old April 6th, 2001, 00:44   #5
fincoop
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

The owner's manual says that conventional diesel fuel will work in the car down to -35C. A friend was saying that in Canada, additives are added to the fuel which reduces the mileage by 2-300 km per tank. These additives extend the gel factor to a lower temp. Can someone verify this?
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Old April 6th, 2001, 05:22   #6
PlaneCrazy
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

I've operated my car down to -37C.

Yes in Canada fuel additives/cutting with no. 1 diesel are used to prevent gelling and yes, there's a mileage penalty.

My winter mileage is typically about 200 km less per tank than summer. However not all of that can be attributed to fuel. All cars lose mileage somewhat in winter due to winter tires, drag of driving on snow, cold weater, etc.
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Old April 7th, 2001, 10:16   #7
ZigZag
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Default Re: Starting a TDI in Extremely Cold Weather

Nice work on the checklist ...

Too bad they never made a TDI Champ... or a TDI Cub perhaps.

[img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

[ April 07, 2001: Message edited by: ZigZag ]
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Old November 27th, 2010, 22:08   #8
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Default he's got a good checklist

jus followed that procedure in -10 deg F a couple days ago (check the weather in spokane dam it was cold), and it worked excellent. Engine was, of course, rough from starting till 30 secs afterwards, but it smoothed out real nice after a minute for light driving. I always wait for the glow plug to go out, then i turn it over, but i tried the going to off then starting and maybe it was jus placebo, but it seemed to come to a smoother idle than my previous method.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 00:05   #9
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Another thing to be thinking about when it is cranking over, do NOT stop cranking at the first sign of life, keep the starter motor engaged until the rpms are above 850 or so.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 04:37   #10
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As a cold weather driver (with some aviation experience) I can vouch for this checklist with the following comments:
  • The energy consuming settings should be turned off at shutdown as a shutdown procedure - not at start up. That makes the checklist a true checklist rather than a procedure that has to be carried out. After all, when it is cold and dark, it is too easy to skip the checklist and just start the car without turning off all those doo-dads.
  • Technically these days, having the radio turned off is not a big deal. It was in the old days when car radios had tubes but the energy that modern radios consume is miniscule. However, having the radio turned off as part of the checklist is important because it the principle counts. Also starting up a car and backing it out is very much an important safety related exercise and requires a little bit of concentration. It is simply not a good time to have the radio going even with a warm engine.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 05:44   #11
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once the engine is running, would it be ok to start turning on some accessories? such as the heated seat and radio?
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Old November 28th, 2010, 05:49   #12
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Once the engine is running fairly well, yes. Not if it is struggling just to stay running.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 10:16   #13
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I've run mine routinely in termps of -47C with no problems running an additive. I also plug in using a frost heater. Lowest startup with a cold soaked engine was -35C without being plugged in. Lots of protest from the engine though.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 14:02   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ss~zoso~ss View Post
once the engine is running, would it be ok to start turning on some accessories? such as the heated seat and radio?
Not only ok - but it is a good idea to start loading the engine down so it will make heat faster.

Cold weather like that is actually one plus for the automatics over the manuals - the transmission contributes it's heat to the coolant as well.

Also have the correct oil in your car - no 15w40 Dino oil , you want that 0wX / 5wX synthetic oil.

One other thing - operation of heat / defrost - I almost never put my fan speed higher than 3 in the winter - and I use the recirc setting on the heater to keep the cold air out. In a Beetle - wait on the heat until the blue light goes out, I've heard on the Golfs / Jettas that you should wait until the guage is on the 3rd mark.
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Old November 28th, 2010, 14:47   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooperhsd View Post
One other thing - operation of heat / defrost - I almost never put my fan speed higher than 3 in the winter - and I use the recirc setting on the heater to keep the cold air out.
In a cold climate, this would cause the windows to fog. I leave my recirc off and the defroster on the windshield on the lowest setting. This circulates cold dry air from the outside up against your window so it doesn't fog up from your breath and the cup of coffee steaming away beside you. One can have it running on higher setting but this causes noise and blows cold air around the interior. I find the lowest setting is sufficient.

I also turn the cabin heat off entirely as this allows the engine to warm up faster (thank heavens for heated seats)

I sure wish that VW would offer heated steering wheels. I also find the heated seats dial difficult to operate with gloves on. If you are wearning mitts, forget it.
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