Keep vehicles functioning in cold weather conditions

Take extra care of heater plug, fuel filter, batteries, and tappet this winter


Though Nepal is full of snow-capped mountains, our roads are hardly covered with snow as we have yet to expand roads into the mountains — snow and icy roads are not the problems so far. Nevertheless, the cramping cold of the winter season not only makes it difficult to have the right grip on the steering and the brakes, it causes problems with starting, pick-up, and visibility.

Fuel and engine oil gets thicker in the winter that results in ‘no ignition’, excessive emission of carbon and poor pick-up. Similarly, fog and vapour in the winter reduce the visibility coupled with low or no illumination due cold-cramped batteries.

Adding fog lights, defroster, and GPS makes visibility and navigation through adverse winter-climate easier. The best way to avoid pitfalls is to have timely servicing of the engine and ensuring the good condition of the heater plug, fuel filter, batteries and the tappet.

Get the heater plug checked

“Mostly in the winter especially diesel vehicles faces problem with heater plugs caused by thickening of fuel. Replacement of damaged heater plug is the solution to this,” says Ramesh Dangol, Owner and Lead Mechanic of Ramesh Vehicle Craft Pvt Ltd, Mitranagar, Gongabu. He has about 18 years of experience in this field. While asked what preventions can the owners/drivers take, he suggests, “It is important to keep the battery and heater plug in good condition.” He adds, “It is always better to check the heat level and to ignite only after 30 seconds of turning it on.”

Get the oil filter changed

Rajendra Maharjan, who has been mending vehicles for about 13 years, is Head Mechanic at Shree Ganesh Motor Workshop at Mitranagar, Gongabu. He agrees with Dangol and adds, “Diesel filter is another part that creates problems in the winter. The fuel gets thicker due to the cold and the filter, if that is not in condition, cannot pass the fuel easily. And the problem occurs with starting and pick-up.” He suggests that one should get fuel filter checked regularly, especially in the winters. He adds, “It is advisable to use thinner grades of engine oil in the winters.”

Get the tuning of oil pass right

“Motorbike riders come to us mostly with starting and pick-up problems,” says Shyam Krishna Maharjan, Owner and Head Mechanic of the authorised service centre of Hero — Shyam Motorcycle Workshop, Kalimati, Kathmandu. Talking about the solutions, he answers, “Tuning the oil pass right is the major solution to get rid of winter related problems on your motorbikes.”  He stresses, “Timely servicing and ensuring good condition of battery, engine, and the smooth oil pass is important.”

Keep the fuel tank full

Gangaram Khadki, Owner and Mechanic at Nil Saraswoti Workshop at Naxal Kathmandu stresses on the quality of the oil that is important to maintain both the condition of the vehicles and the environment. He says, “The fuel we are supplied with is not of standard quality and cold weather conditions damage the diesel filter quickly. This results in starting problem and pick-up.” He explains, “While deprived of quality fuel, the only option we have is to get the

vehicle serviced regularly and to change the oil filter.” He adds, “Diesel or petrol gets a lot thicker in cold weather. So, when you try to start, it makes it harder for the engine to spin. Keeping the fuel tank full or at least more than half reduces the chance of getting the fuel thicker.”

Let the vehicle get warm

Suvash Yadav, Owner and Mechanic at Suvash Motorcycle Workshop in New Baneshwor, has been mending motorbikes for the past 18 years. When asked about the types of problems the riders face in the winters, he says, “Mostly riders come to us with pick-up problems.” He explains, “Even the newest motorbikes suffer with this problem and this happens due to petrol used in the engine. Because of the thickening of fuel and engine oil, it does not pass smoothly and the engine oil damages the ring piston. This ultimately causes problem with starting first, and also emitting more carbon and reducing the power of engine.”

So what are the precautions the riders can take? Yadav answers, “Let the vehicle get warm before rolling ahead — leaving it on start for about 10 minutes in the morning helps the engine warm up which ensures smooth passage of oil to every part of the vehicle.”

Maintain the battery power

“The problem is not something that was prevalent few years back, when there used to be problems with heater plug and carburettor. These issues have been solved. But there are certainly some issues like low battery; fuel does not evaporate enough or it gets thicker and the tappet gets jammed,” says Nahakul Basnet, Senior Mechanic at Suzuki Service Centre at Pulchowk, Lalitpur. Basnet says, “The main contributing factors that lead to batteries conking out is the cold itself and the increased pressure from starter motors and other accessories.” Basnet adds, “When the oil gets thick, the engine can be more difficult to turn over, which in turn can cause the starter motor to draw more amperage.” He advises, “To check the water level and to ensure the battery is fully charged are the precautions to be taken.”