08 Sprinter Too cold will not start, no plug in block heater?!

Hello all i have a 2008 Frightliner Sprinter 2500 high top w/ 3.0L MB diesel motor and it seems too HATE the cold weather ... i replaced 4 of the 6 glow plugs about 6 weeks ago was afraid of braking the last 2 .. i got all 3 out on the drivers side and the front plug on the pass side but the mid an rear were in there good! I soaked them an was gonna try again but never got a chance. It seems that any temp below 12 degrees and it will not start! i have a 200w Magnetic block heater i stick on the side but with everything being aluminum there is only one place it sticks it helps a little but I hate worrying if my van is going to start in the morning it really wears on me!...

I had someone tell me that there is a built in block heater that it just needs wired up, anyone know if this is true?

I used to have a F350 that i plugged up and it started NO matter the temp! i would love to have the same confidence in this van!

I do use anti gel fuel additive. i have looked into getting a "pad heater" for the oil pan or fuel filter but to be completely honest i do not fully understand what is preventing the van from starting .. the fuel or the oil? Someone also mention a recirculating heater that attaches to the radiator may be available for my van.. anyone used one or the pad heaters with luck?

If there is a block heater built in that just needs wired that would be great but if there is no such thing what is my best option to ensure it will start? (No garage) I'm sure someone else has had the same issue as i'm in Ohio and it gets a lot colder up north! Any info would be great!

Thanks in advance for any help.. stay warm!

Rob S

2018 Navion 24G IQ on 2016 Sprinter
No built-in block heater of any kind, unfortunately.

Pad heater on oil-pan or recirc heater spliced into the cooling system is good alternative. If you don't have one yet, you can put an electric space heater under the hood for a couple of hours.

A good well-charged battery is mandatory, and on the 2008's a replacement Y-cable if not already done, and check your engine ground connection also.

For starting procedure in cold weather, many have reported good results by cycling the glow plugs 2-3 times. (turning ignition on til glow plug light goes out, and then ignition off and right back on again til glow light goes out for a second time) Then crank.

If voltage is good, glow plugs are working, and fuel is not gelled, it should start right up down to at least -20 anyway.

Sprinter is not generally known for cold starting issues, unless something is wrong.


I have a 2008 Sprinter and have only once had a problem starting in cold weather, but that was a little extreme, -19 deg F, wind chill -33. It was obviously fuel starvation from gelled fuel(#2 with no additives) and it took me two days to heat it up enough to start.

I really didn't understand what was meant by 'gelled', the obvious would be a gradual increase in viscosity until it became 'Jello' like, but you can still pump gells. Then I came across the following:


Now it makes much more sense. Wax particles, precipitating out of solution below the 'Cloud Point', clogging the fuel filter and/or the injectors, not the whole fuel supply turning into jelly. It explains why whenever we had a problem starting diesel fueled snow plow trucks we would first clean the fuel filter, fill it up with clean(warm) fuel and crank. Often this would be sufficient. The other advice I got was always fuel up at high volume gas stations in the winter, never at mom and pop gas stations, that served me well during a couple of winters in Pennsylvania when it often was zero fahrenheit and I never needed additives or #1 fuel.
Hope this helps.


Well-known member
Oil pan heater and maybe a battery heater. You could also try warming the intake air with a heat gun or hair dryer.



Well-known member
... that served me well during a couple of winters in Pennsylvania when it often was zero Fahrenheit and I never needed [aftermarket] additives or #1 fuel.
Hope this helps.
Be assured that the commercial pumped fuel had both #1 and additives already included.

:cheers: vic


I bought a heater that goes in the rad hose for around $30 at any auto supply store. Just have to buy the right diameter for rad hose, splice the hose near bottom of rad and insert heater. only keeps the coolant warm though... not the fuel or oil.


Cold weather is especially hard on car batteries. According to AAA's Automotive Research Center, at 0°F, a car's battery loses about 60 percent of its strength and at 32°F it loses 35 percent. During cold temperatures starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions. ..courtesy of Google
2-3 y old battery loses up to 20% of the original cranking power, sprinter is known for battery drain through alarm and other systems, so combining the two you starting cold van with less than 50% capacity trying to push thicker cold oil etc.
As Rob S is pointing cycling of preglow should work (I have run mine few months on only 3 working glow plugs) then new battery and later remaining glow plugs solved all problems...

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