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Useful Tips to Start Cummins Engine Under Cold Weather Condition

Oct. 17, 2019

In this article, you will learn how to correctly start Cummins engine under cold weather condition. No matter it is engine warm-up, engine speed, oil temperature, water temperature or oil pressure, you should be careful while starting the engine.

Engine Warm-Up

When the engine is started, it takes a while to get the lubricating oil film re-established between shafts and bearings and between pistons and liners. The most favorable clearances between moving parts are obtained only after all engine parts reach normal operating temperature. Avoid seizing pistons in liners and running dry shafts in dry bearings by bring the engine up to operating speed gradually as it warms up.


Engine Speeds

All Cummins engines are equipped with governors to prevent speeds in excess of the minimum or predetermined lower speed rating. The governor has two functions: First, it provides the fuel needed for idling when the throttle is in the idle position. Second, it overrides the throttle and shuts off the fuel if the engine rpm exceeds the maximum rated speed.

Note: Engines in many applications are applied at a lower than maximum rated speed; check the serial data plate.(Power generator units are pre-set to operate at a specific governed rpm.)

Oil Temperature

The oil temperature gauge normally should read between 180°F[82°Cand 225°F [107°C]. Under full load conditions, an oil temperature of 240°F [116°Cfor a short period is not cause for alarm.

Caution: Any sudden increase in oil temperature , if it is not caused by a load increase, then it is likely to be caused by mechanical failure, which should be checked at once.

Cummins diesel genset.jpg

During the warm-up period, apply the load gradually until the oil temperature reaches the 140°F [60°C]. While the oil is colded it doesn’t do a good job of lubricating. Continuous operation or long periods of idle with oil temperatures below 140°F [60°C] may cause crankcase dilution and acids in the lubricating oil which quickly accelerate engine wear.

Table 1-1: Oil Pressure PSI [kPa@225°F[107°C]

Engine Series

Minimum @ Idle Speed

Rated Speed

Big Cam

15 [103]

50/70 [345/483]

Big Cam

15 [103]

35/50 [241/345]


Water Temperature

A water temperature of 165° to 200°F [74° to 93°Cis the best assurance that the working parts of the engine have expanded evenly to the most favorable oil clearances. Maximum engine coolant temperatures should not exceed 212°F [100°C].

Keep the thermostats in the engine during summer and winter, avoid long periods of idling, and take the necessary steps to keep the water temperature up to a minimum of 165°F [74°C]. If necessary in cold weather, use radiator shutters or cover a part of the radiator to prevent over cooling.

Oil Pressure

Normal engine oil pressures at 225°F [107°Coil temperature are listed in Table1-1.

Note: Individual engines may vary from the above normal pressures. Observe and record the pressure when the engine is new to serve as a guide for an indication of progressive engine condition. (High oil pressure during start-up is not cause for alarm.) In order to make the record more accurate and reliable,  these readings should be taken immediately after an oil change.

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