Hard-starting when (really) cold

Discussion in 'Engine & Performance' started by Yeret, Dec 17, 2016.

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  1. Yeret

    Yeret Senior Member

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    So, as much as I have done to winterize my truck, Iowa winter once again does it's damndest to make things as miserable as possible.

    Here's the deal. If the temperature is around freezing, the engine starts no problem. However, if the temperature drops to the teens/single digits then engine will fire but die right away. If I start the engine while holding the throttle just a bit, it fires and runs just fine, but as soon as I let off the throttle, the idle fumbles and the engine dies. If I hold the idle high with the throttle for a minute or two and let off, the engine will idle just fine, though sometimes it will start fumbling between a few and several hundred RPMs.

    If the engine is hot, it will start and idle without any problems at all. So the problem seems to exist as long as the engine is cold, but completely disappears (for now) when it is at operating temperature.

    My first thought was the IAC, but I did replace the damned thing earlier this year.

    It's negative wind chills and blowing snow for the rest of the weekend here, so there is no ****ing way that I'm crawling around under the hood fiddling with things now. I'd just like to start compiling a list of things to check when the temperature at least comes within a few degrees of the freezing point, though I might be waiting some time.

    I hate Iowa winters...
     
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  2. MADDOG

    MADDOG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Do you think you might be suffering from a little bit of fuel system freezing?

    Do you add any fuel system anti-freeze to your fuel, such as "Heet", in the winter?
     
  3. crazy_luck

    crazy_luck Senior Member

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    Grasping at straws, but I did have a car do almost the same thing - turned out the coolant was starting to gel up and dragging the water pump too much, bogging the engine down; after a couple minutes, the coolant was no longer gelled and there was no extra drag. Just had to tweak the coolant mixture for colder climate and problem was gone.
     
  4. MADDOG

    MADDOG Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Good info. I remember this happening to me in Wyoming now that you mention it.

    I added a block heater and the problem went away.
     
  5. Yeret

    Yeret Senior Member

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    The only fuel additive that I occasionally use is Seafoam. I usually dump in a can when the temperatures start getting cold (Fall) and when the temperatures start getting warm (Spring).

    Interesting thought on the coolant. I replaced mine earlier this year and whipped up a 50/50 mixture using distilled water of course. Perhaps I can pop the cap and take a look at it later.
     
  6. crazy_luck

    crazy_luck Senior Member

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    Typically, a 50/50 will suffice, but if there is still some air or a leak in the system, it could cause freezing. Also, depending on the antifreeze used, a 50/50 might not be correct. I'd get a simple tester from NAPA or some other parts store and test it.

    https://www.napaonline.com/napa/en/p/SER771125/SER771125
     
  7. Sport

    Sport Member

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    Do you have an engine block heater installed? They are recommended anytime a vehicle is being regularly used in sub freezing temperatures. I think you could get a simple one for ~$50.
     
  8. crazy_luck

    crazy_luck Senior Member

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    Yep, there are OEM variants for the 2nd gen Ram for about $50 that replace a frost plug.

    Or, you can get a universal magnetic one that just attaches with a heavy duty magnet to the oil pan or block. Down side is you have to partially crawl under every time, but it's cheaper and just as effective.

    https://www.amazon.com/Kats-1160-30...2085674&sr=1-1&keywords=magnetic+block+heater
     
  9. dapepper9

    dapepper9 Senior Member

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    I'm in the same -26 bullshit on the other side of the state. 50/50 is good for -20 and with the way the wind picks up, on a full full i go 1 jug 100% ethylene glycol and do the rest 50/50. Never have an issue
     
  10. Yeret

    Yeret Senior Member

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    Well, the negative wind chills have returned, however oddly the problem has not returned. The only difference is that I've been pumping Quik Star gas rather than BP. No idea if this could have been a factor or not. Guess we'll see if everything stays okay.

    One thing's for sure though. I either need a different battery or a new starter next year. I've got a brand new O'Reilly's Super Start Extreme rated for 770 CCA and it really struggles to turn the engine in these temps. I don't expect a battery to be as strong in -20 as it would in 85, but I'm honestly concerned that I'm not going to get many seasons with this one before problems start. Or perhaps my 20-year-old starter has just become such a dog that it's making things harder than they need to be?
     

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