Cold Weather Engine Starting

Be sure to follow the manufacturer's operating procedures.

Tip Cold Weather Engine Starting

Tip Cold Weather Engine Starting

We've recently had a Tanis engine preheater installed in our Diamond DA40 to deal with the ill effects of the arctic polar vortex blast — words that should never follow each other in a single sentence, in my opinion. The preheater is designed to keep the cylinders warmed to a temperature 70 degrees above ambient temperature.

When the mercury dips as far as it has for many of us, the last thing we want to do is turn the key and crank that cold engine. But how cold is too cold? According to Continental, if your engine has been sitting for longer than two hours in temperatures below 20 degrees F, it's time for preheating. In the engine maker's cold weather operations bulletin Continental notes, "Failure to properly preheat a cold-soaked engine may result in oil congealing within the engine, oil hoses, and oil cooler with subsequent loss of oil flow, possible internal damage to the engine and subsequent engine failure."

According to Lycoming, engine preheat should be applied any time the temperature drops below 10 degrees F, or 20 degrees F for -76 series engines. Lycoming and Continental also both recommend using an external power source in very cold temperatures to ensure the battery is fully charged.

Once you start your engine, be sure to follow the manufacturer's operating procedures. In my case, that means keeping the rpm below 1,000 until the temp starts to rise and remaining below 1,400 rpm until reaching 100 degrees.

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