Best Starting Fluid for Diesel Engines: Avoid Getting Stranded

These top starting fluids will get your diesel engine up and running in no time

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When it gets really cold outside, it can be challenging to start your diesel engine. That's where starting fuel comes in. The product is intended to help start a stubborn engine quickly and efficiently. As long as you choose the best product for your engine type, you'll be ready to go in no time. Check out our buying guide for the best starting fluid for diesel engines.

  • Best Overall
    Prestone Premium Starting Fluid
    Summary
    Summary
    Prestone's starter fluid works in weather as low as minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s compatible with both diesel and gasoline engines in cars, trucks, lawnmowers, and snowmobiles.
    Pros
    Pros
    This product works with a flooded engine and is a good thing to keep on hand in the garage for starting stubborn motors. It starts engines almost immediately.
    Cons
    Cons
    The smell of the fluid can be slightly overpowering. The package of six cans may be too much for your needs
  • Best Value
    Motor Medic Thrust Starting Fluid
    Summary
    Summary
    Motor Medic's starting fluid can be used in both gas and diesel engines and works in temperatures as low as minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It also contains an upper cylinder lubricant.
    Pros
    Pros
    You just need to spray a little of this starting fluid on the engine, and it will start up almost instantly. The product performs as advertised and is a good value.
    Cons
    Cons
    This product may not work as well as competing products to start certain engines, particularly if the engine has been sitting for a long time.
  • Honorable Mention
    CRC Jump Starting Fluid with Lubricity
    Summary
    Summary
    CRC's starter fluid improves cold and humid starts on both gasoline and diesel engines and is effective to minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It also lubricates upper cylinders and promotes starter life.
    Pros
    Pros
    When you use this product, it starts your engine up quickly every time, even if it’s an old diesel tractor. 
    Cons
    Cons
    It contains 20 percent ether and isn't recommended for diesel engines with glow plugs because it can damage the engine. It’s also extremely flammable.

Tips

  • Not all starting fluids are suitable for diesel engines. Make sure the product you purchase is compatible with your engine, so you don't accidentally put fluid meant for gasoline engines into your vehicle.
  • Be particularly careful if your engine is flooded. Some products can be used in a flooded engine, while others cannot. Be sure to read the directions carefully before attempting to put starter fluid in a flooded engine.
  • The more ether a product contains, the easier it will be to create a spark that is needed to start the engine. High-ether fluids work best in very cold or humid conditions. However, they also tend to be more volatile.

FAQs

Q: Can I use starting fluid on my diesel engine if it has glow plugs? 

A: We do not recommend using starting fluid on a diesel engine with glow plugs or preheat systems unless a product specifically says you can. The starting fluid can pre-ignite, which can hurt you as well as the engine.

Q: How do I use starter fluid?

A: Hold the can's nozzle about 12 inches away from your vehicle’s air intake. Spray it for about two seconds, and then try to start the engine.

Q: Does starting fluid contain upper cylinder lubricant?

A: It depends on the product. Some starting fluid for diesel engines do contain this feature, while others do not. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s specifications before you purchase the product. 

Final Thoughts

Our pick for the best starting fluid for diesel engines is Prestone Premium Starting Fluid

It works almost immediately to start your engine, even in extremely low temperatures.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider Motor Medic Thrust Starting Fluid.

Tell us about your favorite starting fluid products in the comment section below.