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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had trouble starting the 1998, 2500 Silverado at 25 Degrees F. lately, and I have had to use a genny ( we are off- grid) for the 120 AC power for the block heater. It takes close to 2 hours. My Batteries need replacing, but they tested at 12.7 volts, at 50degrees F, after sitting for 5 days. When I tried to start it yesterday it was extremely sluggish.

Yesterday I moved the genny right to the truck bumper, but would rather use an extension cord. I am told the County School bus garage uses 150 foot 14 gauge extensions, but that does not sound acceptable. I don't yet know the amperage for the heater. I do know it draws about 600 watts. I would like to use a 20 foot, 14 gauge, indoor/ outdoor cord that I have.

Any thoughts, or tricks for starting the truck in cold conditions. I added some anti-gel before cold weather hit- but maybe not enough as I didn't measure the amount.

Also- the "wait to start" light cycles back on many times under these conditions. Should I let it keep cycling on and off, or is it a waste of time and voltage after 1, 2 or 3 times?

Thanks,

Rick
 

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The extension cord you described should be fine for 600 watts.

What people around here do....people who live where it really gets cold, like s5º below....did you say 25ºF above *snicker* :)....what they do is start some charcoals in a metal pan and slide it under the engine block. If your truck is outside, and if it is windy, you may have to shield the charcoal pan with some cardboard or plywood leaning against windward side of the truck.
 

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Cranking speed of a diesel is very important, it's not been that cold in WV that you should have had any problems or needed a block heater with good batteries.
600 watts means 5 amp draw at 120 volts, not much at all.
 

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Your batteries are more than likely the culprit. I have a 94 suburban with the 6.5l and mine actually starts better in the cold without the block heater plugged in. Have you checked your glow plugs to make sure they are working? When you put your test lead on them and one end on ground you should see about 9-11volts, they really pull down the batteries. I installed an old solenoid that I used to bypass the glowplug controller so that I had some control over them. I put it in parallel with the controller so that the computer can still control them, then I put a momentary push button to the solenoid so that I can fire them longer or when I need to.

Sorry to ramble, I use a 16ga 10ft extension cord for mine. I know you said you were off grid, so it makes it more interesting.
Theront
 

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To test each individual glow plug it's great to have a clamp on amp meter. Or you can unplug the glow plug and hook your test light to batt + and touch the probe to the glow plugs terminal. If the test light lights up the glow plug is good.
 

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Uuhhh, the pan full of glowing charcoal under a greasy engine block sounds like the first step toward disaster...
 

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i,m on the grid buttt, i have a timer that i plug into the extension cord. i think my ford is also between 500 and 600 watts, cord size is not too critical. i sometimes use a hairdryer to warm up the air in the airfilter snout. as others have said and i know on my ford, if the batteries can't spin the motor at around 600 rpm, its not going to start. i guess float charging the batteries overnight is not an option.
 

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Uuhhh, the pan full of glowing charcoal under a greasy engine block sounds like the first step toward disaster...
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Not really, you have to be reasonable with it if you're actually losing oil there could be some danger and the prudent wouldn't leave it completely untended. I've seen it done with tarps draped over the hood to catch more heat and block wind, and even burning wood in large steel pipes used as "stoves" passing completely under the engine. The only thing I'd warn of is to ensure there's no plastic parts too near the heat like air dams or mud flaps.
 

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Sumpin else is wrong.
I have a Chevy disesel and I haven't plugged the block heater in for a good long while. Even 50 degrees colder that what you have, it will start right up.
When the glow plugs went on my Ford disesel, it was hard to start. Check that out.
The pan of charcoal is a common cure. I'd worry about the plastic, too. If in question, see what your insurance agent thinks of that idea.
 

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What kind of oil are you running in the engine? A synthetic blend or even dropping the viscosity a bit with 'Dino' oil would help a bit. Also, with it being a diesel do you run any fuel additive to prevent gelling at lower temps? Granted 50F isn't really cold but it might help. As far as the cord question, I probably wouldn't use anything less than 12ga personally. I use a 10ga cord for my '03 Sierra with a timer to heat it for 2 hrs in the morning. I noticed over the years here that on extremely cold nights, 20-30 below, that the smaller cords would have too much resistance for the initial inrush of power and cause the GFCI outlet to trip. Didn't have any more problems last winter or so far this winter. Just a couple of thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What kind of oil are you running in the engine? A synthetic blend or even dropping the viscosity a bit with 'Dino' oil would help a bit. Also, with it being a diesel do you run any fuel additive to prevent gelling at lower temps? Granted 50F isn't really cold but it might help. As far as the cord question, I probably wouldn't use anything less than 12ga personally. I use a 10ga cord for my '03 Sierra with a timer to heat it for 2 hrs in the morning. I noticed over the years here that on extremely cold nights, 20-30 below, that the smaller cords would have too much resistance for the initial inrush of power and cause the GFCI outlet to trip. Didn't have any more problems last winter or so far this winter. Just a couple of thoughts.
Thanks for all of the thoughts. I will test the glow plugs or have them tested. The batteries are 4.5 years old, and they are probably the culprit. The engine was turning over very sluggishly. The truck turned over at 25 deg. F in Maryland with no trouble. I think the voltage of the batteries when actually cranking is probably much lower than what I am able to read when they are at rest.

I use Mobil Delvac 15w40... A Diesel Mechanic told me not to use a synthetic oil as the cylinders need friction to build optimum compression.

Does anyone know the answer to this:

"Also- the "wait to start" light cycles back on many times under these conditions. Should I let it keep cycling on and off, or is it a waste of time and voltage after 1, 2 or 3 times?"

Rick
 

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Once the "wait to start" light goes off, you should be able to crank for 15-20 seconds before you'd need to let the glow plugs sycle again.
 

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You can get the batteries tested for free at most auto parts stores. Given your description I agree they are probably the problem.

If anyone needs a nice timer for their diesel heater, wait until after christmas and snag one of the digital christmas light timers on clearance. I'm using one for my lights this year and it's a nice unit. Rated for 15A and pretty simple to program.
 

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Rick, a diesel should not be converted to synthetic for the first 30,000 miles to allow for maximum friction in order for the engines to break in properly and allow the rings to seat. After that full synthetic is a great choice for a newer truck due to the fact that it acts as a natural detergent and keeps the engine clear of gunk and soot. In older models the concern of switching an engine over to synthetic is twofold. One, the engine could be filled with gunk and debirs which could be dislodged and saturate the filoter causing it to bypass which in turn leads to fouling of the oil passages and risks engine damage. Second, syntetic oils tend to be harder on seals that are accustomed to "Dino" oil which leads to leakage. This is why nobody really recommends swapping over an engine with over 120,000 miles. However a blend can offer the best of both worlds. Personally I run Synthetic Rotella 15/40 in an '03 GMC Sierra with a dual remote filter kit and have the oil tested regularly, as I also run the lube oil program at work I have access to an onsite lab. I change my oil at 12,000 miles and fiters at 6,000 with a top up. I am not saying that I have all the answers it is just what I do. I do know however that maximum friction in an engine also equates to maximum wear. Your mechanic will sell you engines all day long. But a great deal of industry are moving their fleets to synthetic to maximize equipment life and extend the MTBF, Mean Time Between Failures. As far as cycling the key to heat up the glow plugs, we cycle our equipment at work 3 times before starting. This includes Cat skidsteers, Cat loaders, a couple Grove cranes, and a Ford based "Vac" truck as well as several other Perkins, Cat, and John Deere diesels in other equipment. None of this equipment is ever plugged in. Just an opinion.
 

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In trouble shooting diesels, I have found two issues beyond glo-plugs is are 1/ Glo-Plug Controllers ; 2/ Glo-Plug Circuit Controllers. My Volvo had both.
The poor guy who got rid of it, didnt know there was a second level, and missed the 2nd controller. He junked the car, and I got it. Replaced Controller #2, and it ran without starting problems even after I got ride of it.
Check carefully, and make sure you talk to someone who KNOWS your vehicle.

I think I'd get a second opinion on your diesel mechanic, not on his idea concerning synthetic oil, which I have never heard of, since I used synthetic in my Volvo 100% of the time. So far, his opinion gives me cause for concern, but then again, I am not a diesel mechanic, but I'd poll my friends and see if they can refer you to ANOTHER diesel mechanic for you to talk to, as it may give you some ideas.........

Good Luck,

DG

Thanks for all of the thoughts. I will test the glow plugs or have them tested. The batteries are 4.5 years old, and they are probably the culprit. The engine was turning over very sluggishly. The truck turned over at 25 deg. F in Maryland with no trouble. I think the voltage of the batteries when actually cranking is probably much lower than what I am able to read when they are at rest.

I use Mobil Delvac 15w40... A Diesel Mechanic told me not to use a synthetic oil as the cylinders need friction to build optimum compression.

Does anyone know the answer to this:

"Also- the "wait to start" light cycles back on many times under these conditions. Should I let it keep cycling on and off, or is it a waste of time and voltage after 1, 2 or 3 times?"

Rick
 

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I just had a similar problem with my Ford diesel. The problem was a glow plug relay. It was easy to diagnose and replace. I don't know how the chevys do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My Turbo diesel has 126,000 and isn't going to see a great deal of miles- I essentially use it as a farm truck. Going synthetic might mean a lot less labor for me in changes, as I will still have to change dino oil twice a year, no matter have many miles are on it, won't I? Do you think I am close enough to the 120,000 mile threshold to make the switch? What are your opinions on the best oli filter to use?

As far as that diesel mechanic goes, he was just giving his opinion- he didn't stand to get any business from me.

Thanks.

Rick
 

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Rick, you are well within range on the mileage to swap to synthetic. It is the age that would be the greatest concern. Your truck is 10 years old and I would imagine the seals are as well. . Then again the engine is 10 years old and the seals may start to leak anyway. Your call, but with the 126,000 miles you can still swap to synthetic anyway, you'll just have to spend a lil' extra to do it. IF you decide to swap to synthetic, you will have to do a flush. This is nothing more than running the engine with the synthetic and then changing it promptly due to the fact that your oil filter will fill up with 10 years of gunk rather quickly and will go into bypass which is no good for your engine. I would recommend dropping the oil and filter after 2 weeks(farm use) and then again 4 weeks later just to protect your engine. After that you should be good to go, Paul. If you have any questions just PM. Hope this answers your question.
 

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I would have the starter checked out it's not spinning it fast enough to start right up. My Dodge will start without plugging in down to zero.

Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for the tips on synthetic oil. I am going to try to post a thread asking about Interstate batteries.

As far as the starter- it starts fine in 40 degree F weather, so I don't think that is it.
 
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