No need to periodically start winter-stored vehicle
QI have recently purchased a 1997 Ford F350 with the 7.3 diesel engine and I’m only using it for towing a trailer in the camping season. I do not want to drive it in winter as it is in excellent condition. I have an auxiliary powertrain control module (APCM) that was installed by the original owner to increase engine r.p.m. when the transmission is in park.
I have installed two battery blankets on the batteries and the block heater is working well. I have also purchased diesel additive by Kleenflow to keep moisture out of the diesel fuel and to prevent jelling of fuel. I plan to keep the tanks near full to further reduce moisture.
What is the best way to maintain the engine during the winter? I can get the engine very close to operating temperature with about 15 to 20 minutes of fast idling. Is this safe for the engine? Will this be enough to evaporate any moisture in the engine? Nick
Answer: There are many variables when storing a vehicle for the winter, such as where it is stored. If it were stored in the Arizona desert, the dry air would allow mechanical parts to last for years but the windows would need to be covered to prevent sandblasting of the glass. Likewise, if stored in the winter in the Canadian Prairies, the dry air would preserve parts but if it were stored on the coast, the humid air could cause condensation internally in mechanical parts , which would create corrosion.
Some things are common. Pump up the tires, disconnect the battery and keep it cold to preserve its charge (I wouldn’t use a battery blanket or block heater unless you needed to start the engine in cold weather and then only plug them in a few hours before starting), charge the battery every couple of months, add fuel stabilizer to the fuel system — this is especially important on diesel fuel systems — and change the oil before storing it.
Operating the engine several times throughout the winter isn’t necessary, but it will help keep seals and internal engine parts lubricated so corrosion is less likely to take place. The APCM installed on your truck increases engine idle r.p.m. on the diesel engine, something often used for vehicles with power take-off accessory drives, tow trucks and other utility vehicles that must idle while working. You can increase the engine r.p.m. to the fast idle with this without harming the engine but let it idle at slow speed for a minute first to get oil flowing to all parts. Idling long enough to bring the engine up to operating temperature, however, won’t get rid of condensation in the crankcase. To do this, you need to run the engine long enough to heat the oil so the condensation can evaporate and this can take a long time. You would likely be better off not starting the engine until you are ready to take it out of storage in the spring.
Question: I often bypass gears on my Tacoma six-speed manual transmission when upshifting to sixth after entering a downhill slope from a stop. I just rev it to 3,500 r.p.m. in second gear (about 60 kilometres per hour) and go right to top gear. Am I risking damage to the clutch or running gear?
Also, I live around hilly terrain and groan down steep gravel roads in first gear rather than ride the brake. The tachometer goes up to nearly 3,000 r.p.m. Am I hurting anything or wasting gas because revs are even higher than normal? John
Answer: There is nothing wrong with bypassing gears to shift to a higher gear as long as the engine doesn’t buck or surge because the r.p.m. is too low. Some cars come equipped with a feature that causes the transmission to bypass some gears to get better fuel economy.
As for using a lower gear on downhill grades, this is referred to as engine braking, where the compression of the engine is used to slow the vehicle. It is used all the time by big trucks hauling loads. It will decrease the wear on the brakes and causes very little extra engine wear. Just be sure the engine r.p.m. doesn’t exceed engine redline. At 3,000 r.p.m. you are fine. You won’t be using extra fuel because the fuel system cuts off fuel injection at higher r.p.m. when your throttle is closed.
If you’re planning to store a vehicle for the winter it is not neccesary to start the
engine, there are, however, other actions you can take to preserve it.