Never use engine-starting fluids to start your engine — no matter how eager you are to get underway. The ether in these fluids can ignite at such low temperatures that you risk a fire or an explosion, either of which can mean severe damage to both yourself and your precious diesel.
Although the containers carry instructions, measuring the “safe” proportions required is just too hard. If you feel that you must use this stuff, I suggest that you have a starting-fluid injection kit installed instead; it’s safe and effective. Just stay away from those spray cans!
If you need professional diesel maintenance or repair and your vehicle is out of warranty, you may want to check around for a good independent diesel mechanic so that you can compare prices with those of the dealership or get a second opinion on major surgery.
One way to find a good independent diesel mechanic is to look in your local yellow pages under “Automobiles, Repair” (or something similar) for a shop whose ad carries the logo of the Association of Diesel Specialists (ADS).
The ADS authorization goes to repair facilities that send their mechanics to factory schools for instruction, maintain standards of cleanliness, and meet requirements for stocking the tools and parts to deal properly with a variety of diesel systems.
( is devoted to finding and maintaining a good relationship with a mechanic; it also tells you how to get satisfaction on complaints about labor or services.)
How to find alternative fuels
Although production has dramatically increased, making these fuels available in thousands of service stations nationwide is a slow process. You can use the Internet to locate filling stations that sell alternative fuels in your area and on road trips. Check out these Web sites.
Vehicles that can run on two or more types of fuel are called flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs). (They’re also known as dual-fuel or multi-fuel vehicles.) The most popular FFVs can run on either gasoline or ethanol or a mixture of the two.
At least one major carmaker has a test fleet of vehicles that burn liquid hydrogen but can switch to gasoline if there’s no hydrogen to be found. Many people drive FFVs and don’t even know it! If you’d like to know whether your vehicle is an FFV, check your owner’s manual, look for a sticker inside the little door you open to add fuel, call your dealership, or go to which has a list of available flex-fuel vehicles.
Hybrid vehicles are called hybrids because they utilize both a small internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor to obtain maximum power and fuel economy with minimum emissions. How they do this varies from one model to another, with varying success. What all hybrids have in common is the ability to generate electric current, store it in a large battery, and use that current to help drive the car
A parallel hybrid uses both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (ICE) for propulsion. They can run in tandem, or one can be used as the primary power source with the other kicking in to assist when extra power is needed for starting off, climbing hills, and accelerating to pass other vehicles. Because both are connected to the drive train, they’re said to run “in parallel.