Greetings from Dr. Dan’s!
As the leaves and seasons begin to change, this is our friendly reminder that it’s that time of year again to make sure your TDI is ready for the cooler months ahead, and get caught up on your scheduled maintenance.
Prepare your Car for Colder Weather
TDIs need a strong battery to start well in cold weather! Every time the temperature drops we get cars towed in that started fine all summer, then refuse to start on the first cold morning. If your battery is more than six years old, it’s probably time for a new one. Diesels also need a healthy glow plug system to start easily and smoothly when it’s cold outside. If you have had a check engine light on for faulty glow plugs or glow plug harness, your car’s operation will not be affected in warm weather, but when the temperature drops below 45F or so it can cause hard, smoky starting — and for those of us who drive a diesel for its green virtues, big smoky clouds of particulates are something we try to avoid making! A good battery, a good fuel filter, and a functional glow system are the keys to making your winter starts quick, easy and clean. Getting those items checked and sorted out *before* the cold weather hits is the best way to make sure you don’t end up dealing with the hassle and expense of a breakdown and tow on a frosty morning.
Through the month of October we are offering our annual Fall Service Special that includes a battery and charging system test, new fuel filter, glow plug system check, brake check, and full vehicle look-over for $99.00 plus tax. Call us for an appointment to bring your car in for its fall check-up to ensure your winter travels this year are trouble-free!
Cold Weather and ULSD Fuel Leaks
Another cold-weather issue that comes up particularly for owners of 1996-2003 TDI’s are fuel leaks from the injection pump. TDI’s from those years are prone to pump leakage if the pump seals have not been replaced. The original seal material is not compatible with ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, which has been at fuel stations since 2007. Exposure to ULSD over time will make older pump seals shrink and begin to leak fuel out of the pump, which can lead to various problems ranging from starting difficulties to cooling system damage as well as making a big mess. Fortunately, one cheap temporary solution that takes care of this issue during warmer months is biodiesel, which is effective at swelling the old seals up again and curing leaks when used in high blend percentages. (You can watch Dr. Dan demonstrate this effect in a YouTube video.)
However, if you are one of the people who is relying on B99 to keep your pump from leaking, the winter can be a difficult time. When the weather gets cold, you may end up trying to walk a fine line between keeping your bio blend percentage high enough to avoid fuel leaks, but at the same time keeping enough diesel in the tank to make sure you don’t end up with gelled fuel. Erring too far in either direction can result in a dead car and a tow! The permanent fix for this is replacing the injection pump seals with an updated seal material that is compatible with ULSD fuel. If your car still has its original pump seals and you have been delaying getting them fixed, now is a great time to do it so that you can enjoy greater flexibility in your fuel choice this winter — especially if you are planning any out-of-town travel. We charge about 20% less the VW dealer for this repair and feel we offer a much superior product. Give us a call to discuss options if you haven’t had your pump seals upgraded yet.
From all of us at Dr. Dan’s and the Sustainable Fuel Co-Op, we wish you a happy fall season.