Tips to start your genset in cold weather

By Toromont Cat
February 17, 2022
2 minute read
Start a generator - Power systems


Canada’s cold climate has a direct impact on the procedures, efficiency, and maintenance of diesel gensets of all sizes and capacities. Caterpillar gensets are tough and can operate in extreme temperatures, but if your diesel genset struggles to start in cold weather, you can find a quick solution thanks to these tips from our experts.


Check the battery charge to avoid unpleasant surprises

Cold temperatures can deplete batteries at a faster rate and can, in some cases, damage them. Genset battery problems are the main cause of starting difficulties in extreme cold. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure that the battery charging unit is in good condition by performing a visual inspection and by checking that the battery charger is plugged in and in working order.


Put your genset in automatic mode, ensure generator is in autostart positioning

Caterpillar generators are equipped with an Automatic mode that reacts to external conditions and allows the generator to start automatically when power fails. When someone performs repair or maintenance on the generator, they must disable the auto start feature and they often forget to put it back on. Checking that this mode is activated is a quick and easy process that will save you trouble!  


Check your fluid and filter levels

When trying to start a genset in winter, two occurrences should be taken into account. A diesel tank with a low level of fuel can contribute to the formation of condensation, which can contaminate the diesel with frost (therefore, water). To prevent this problem, our experts recommend keeping diesel tanks at an acceptable level (filled at least halfway), avoiding unsuitable fuels (choose an appropriate type of diesel (and make sure it is “fresh”) and/or use the recommended additives). As engines become more stressed in very cold weather, pay attention to the condition of the filters and use appropriate oils that are changed regularly. It is also important to remember that it is advisable to regularly test your genset and plan routine maintenance even if you don’t use it very often.


Inspect the coolants

Extreme cold can cause coolants to contract, which can lower the minimum level of the gauge and cause an emergency shutdown, therefore stopping the engine altogether. As such, it is advisable to check the level of the coolants, without overfilling, to prevent the coolants from expanding once the engine is warm.


Be ready before the cold strikes

Winter is predictable, which means that the vast majority of winter diesel genset start-up difficulties can be avoided. To get ready for the cold weather, it is wise to prepare ahead of time by applying proper maintenance.


To see what’s going on inside your engine and even diagnose your genset remotely, we recommend installing our Cat Connect remote monitoring technology, which helps maximize efficiency, increase productivity, and reduce operating costs by tracking all major components of your system and reporting their health status to you via a convenient app.

Learn more about Cat Connect


Toromont Cat Power Systems also offers a wide range of services and parts adapted to all situations and genset models, as well as the design, implementation, and maintenance of reliable and tough power solutions suitable for all climates.

About Company
Toromont Cat

Toromont Cat is your Cat Dealer in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nunavut. We are dedicated to supplying and servicing new and used equipment, delivering a superior customer experience and exceptional product support to the markets we serve.