Vehicles in the Rocky Mountains tend to have a hard time starting in the winter. There are a number of reasons for this; most common being high altitude and cold weather. Starting a vehicle in cold weather puts a lot of strain on the vehicles battery. All of the different fluids in and around the engine are thicker due to the cold temperatures. This makes cranking much more difficult and requires more power from the battery. If the truck is a diesel, then it already requires more power and is equipped with two batteries. Jump starting a diesel with two batteries is more complicated than the average single battery gas engine. We are equipped to handle both types of jumpstarts.
A cold start is the next level of a jumpstart and combines cold and altitude. The altitude of Breckenridge, CO is 9,600 feet above sea level. At this altitude, there is less oxygen in the atmosphere, which not only makes it difficult to breath for visitors, but also for vehicles. Engines need a certain air/ fuel ratio to run properly. If the amount of air is reduced, then you wind up with too much fuel. Fuel injection does compensate for this some but the vehicles computer can only do so much. On very cold mornings, a weak battery can cause the motor to crank slower than normal. During this time the fuel injection continues to pump fuel into the motor causing the spark plugs to get saturated with fuel. When this happens, they do not fire and this leads to a condition called “flooding”. When an engine is flooded with fuel it will not start.
At this point, call us. Don’t continue trying to start your vehicle because it will only make things worse. We have been dealing with this for many years and have learned multiple tricks to get a flooded vehicle started. When it starts, it will warm up and drive as though nothing ever happened. If we are not able to start your vehicle, then it will need to be towed to an auto repair shop.
For all you Ford truck owners, it is very important when staying up in Summit County in the winter to always try to plug your truck in. The Power Stroke diesel engine used in the Ford Super Duty can be very stubborn when it comes to starting on cold mornings. The glow plugs that are used to heat this motor tend to be insufficient on bitter cold mountain mornings. We do know some tricks but when it comes to an ice cold Ford truck, we often have to tow them to Summit Ford in Silverthorne Colorado to have the glow plugs replaced. The Cummins engine in the Dodge pickups, as well as the Duramax engine in the GM pickups, is easier to start in the cold than the Powerstroke. These two engines come with an intake heater as apposed to glow plugs and have a tendency to start easer in the bitter cold. In recent years, there have been a lot of other vehicles utilizing a diesel engine. Ex: Mercedes Sprinter, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Audi Q5, VW TDI, etc. Most of these vehicles are also equipped with a block heater and, if not plugged in, may have similar starting issues as the previously mentioned trucks. Lastly, a diesel additive should be put into the fuel tank to prevent “gelling”. Gelled diesel fuel is a condition caused when fuel becomes so cold that it actually turns to a consistency of jelly. This is not something you want, so stop at NAPA in Frisco or Advanced Auto Parts in Silverthorne and pick up a bottle of additive.
Diesel owners, though we would love to meet you all, plug in the block heater on your truck and use the anti-jell additive. This will almost always guarantees you a quick and easy start on the cold winter mornings.