Starting in Cold Weather

SR 22: I couldn’t get it started in 45 degree F weather.

What do some of you folks in colder climates do? That is how long to you prime?

Also, assuming you prime for 55 seconds and it does not start, do you prime more or less than 55 seconds on the second or third try?

This is what I do which is the method taught to me by Regis Fleury: Mixture and throttle full forward, prime for 60 seconds, close throttle fully, switch to boost on pump and crank. It should start to run at a very low idle. Do not touch anything (Regis suggested advancing the throttle very slowly but every time I do that it dies) until it has been running for 10-20 seconds, then slowly advance up to 1000 RPM idle. If the engine dies using the above then repeat the whole process but only prime for 15 additional seconds. Keep repeating until you get a successful start. I live in Glens Falls, NY and this has worked for me with a preheated engine down to about 32 degrees. We have not had any colder temps with all this warm weather. We certainly could use those new standpipe valves when they are released from Cirrus.

Using tips from this board, my new, sure-fire starting sequence is
1 Throttle&Mixture forward
2 Prime 40 seconds
3 Momentary Prime 5 times
4 Throttle to hard IDLE, fuel to BOOST
5 Start
6 Advance throttle slightly after 30 seconds or more

The breakthrough seems to be step 3, which is to goose the Prime for just a second, then wait for the pump to stop before doing it again. You can see the fuel pressure surge when you do it, and it has been claimed on this board that it sends in fuel at higher pressure, perhaps providing some atomization. At anyrate, it has changed my starting process from an ordeal to (touch wood) first time everytime. CAVEAT: Only tried this down to about 45F.


I most cases it must be an operator problem. You also have to be smarter that the engine. Good Luck. You will need it.

Wow, this is great. $300,000 for something that won’t start reliably, I can hardly wait! My wife is gonna love this. “Sorry honey, we will have to take the $12,000 Hyundi on this trip, it’s below 45 degress and the Cirrus won’t start. But don’t worry, its 300 miles and it will only take 6hrs.”

Paul SR22 #250

I was given a similar method of starting when I picked up my SR22 last week. It has started on the first try every time from freezing to 75 degrees. This included one after an overnight in Milwaukee where there was heavy frost on the wings when we went out to start in the morning. The engine could not have been much above freezing when we got the frost off. I was expecting this to be difficult, but so far (knock on wood) no problem. I will say that 30 seconds in warm weather seems like a long time and one minute seems really long. I found that I had to watch the clock to get it right.

Hi gents,

Correct answer. I only leave out the 40 seconds prime before hitting the prime switch five times. It has always worked for me even for temperatures below freezing.

Curt’s technique is very close to mine which works without fail. Although we haven’t had the REAL cold temperatures yet, I found that longish prime times (45 seconds plus) did nothing more than put a blue stain on my nosewheel fairing. They sure didn’t help get my engine started!

My procedure is:

  1. Throttle & Mixture full forward
  2. Prime 30 seconds then Boost
  3. Throttle full back
  4. Crank for no more than 10-12 seconds; maybe crack the throttle a touch while you are cranking
  5. If/when the engine catches, ease the throttle to find that “sweet spot” where the engine wants to run (you may have to jiggle the throttle back and forth a little to find it); if not,
  6. Throttle full forward & Prime 5 seconds then Boost
  7. Repeat 3, 4, 5, and 6 until the engine starts
  8. When started, check the oil pressure; reduce the throttle carefully below 1000 RPM to allow the oil to circulate and the engine to warm

Regarding step 7, once the engine “false starts” you know it’s going to start eventually. Just be patient. I found that excessive priming and excessive cranking does nothing more than flood the engine and wear down the battery and starter.

On step 6 I may try Curt’s momentary prime technique the next time.

Bob Mihocik
Westlake, OH

P. S. This will be my first winter. Based on how things go (including the proposed valve mod discussed elsewhere) I will consider a Tanis or Reiff system for next year. Check the past posts under the old Forum. These have been discussed in some detail.


It will start but you have to use a special procedure to be successful. Hopefully the new valves will be released by Cirrus for this engine and thaqt will make the IO-550 like any other continental when starting. Until then you do need a stopwatch for the prime time.

Don’t panic Paul! Although I’ve yet to “cold soak” the engine, it will start in cold weather. Be patient and positive plus read the posts that Curt and I did above. Where do you base your airplane? You may want to consider a heated hanger (tough to find and expensive to rent) or a Tanis/Reiff system (more affordable for the long run and very portable). Look back on some other posts on this subject.

For your wife, when you tell her all the neat places you’ll be taking her in your hot new Cirrus (I’ve been to Florida, Hilton Head, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Upstate Michigan, and even a nifty little airport in Grove City PA that’s 1/2 mile from a fantastic outlet mall) she’ll become a team player! And next year we’re doing island hopping in the Bahamas! This airplane is absolutely fantastic and worth every dollar of that investment!

Bob Mihocik
Westlake, OH

Well, now is where you get your $300,000 worth. The Cirrus folks have very thoughtfully placed a clock with stopwatch function right up there on the panel to help you in starting the $35,000 engine. Has outside air temp too, so you can know how long to perform this procedure.

David: Do you have any information on when the port drain connectors are going to be standard on the engine?

Hi david,
I just got approval for the IO-550 to have the new fuel drain ports installed on the SR22’s. If you have any ? drop me a line I would be glad to help.

Jim Mazzante D.O.M.

From the sound of it you don’t need a stopwatch, you need a calendar! :wink:

Yeah, I use the calendar to count the number of flying days left until Christmas. And Easter. And next Christmas. Yee-haa!

Wasn’t cold today. However this procedure worked much better than any other I have tried. Only took a couple of tries, plus I learned on the 2nd that you really do need to keep your hand off the throttle for a WHILE.


I agree that despite the hard cold starting the Cirrus is miles ahead of other aircraft. HOWEVER, it’s a shame if the “civilian” confidence produced by the 'chute is dashed by a balky engine.

Jim Mazza says:
HOWEVER, it’s a shame if the “civilian” confidence produced by the 'chute is dashed by a balky engine

I responded:
Jim, I don’t know what you are talking about! Civillian confidence dashed by a balky engine? You’ve got to be kidding right? Haven’t had a lick of trouble with our big IO-550.
Don’t try and and make yourself feel better about your former position at our expense. Cirrus has a great product. Unfortunately, the few problems folks are experiencing are with the products from the other OEM’s (i.e. Continental, Garmin, ARNAV), not Cirrus.

Chris Nowak


There’s no need for me to "make myself feel better about my former position at your expense.” I’ve never regretted for an instant my decision to buy the TB20. I got it much cheaper, years earlier, and it will flat outperform the SR20 in every aspect except economy. It’s just as fast (slightly faster, if you believe the book), actually has a useful “useful” load, has longer legs, seats five, etc., etc. Sure, it’s not as modern, but I can fly farther, carry more, in any weather an SR20 can, and to the same minimums when I get there. Sure, I have to work a bit harder, but I enjoy “flying” as much as “monitoring.” (I find a bit of reverse snobbery to be useful here: “Gadgets? I don’t need no stiinking gadgets!”)

Spending another $75K would have gotten me a 0% increase in utility. DonÂ’t get me wrong, IÂ’m as much a gadget freak as anyone, but theyÂ’re hard to justify in terms of straight utility. If I had unlimited funds IÂ’d have an SR22 today. But donÂ’t feel sorry for me. ThereÂ’s life after Cirrus, and it ainÂ’t bad, for some folks.

But back to the issue at hand. Cirrus put in the CAPS as much for (Jim FallowsÂ’) civiliansÂ’ confidence as for safety. All IÂ’m saying is that a civilian watching a pilot struggle to start a brand new airplane might have that confidence shaken just a bit. We pilots know that once it’s started, it’s started, but I doubt most civilians have that insight.

Frankly, I wonder who’s trying to make whom “feel better.”

You wrote:

Cirrus put in the CAPS as much for (Jim FallowsÂ’) civiliansÂ’ confidence as for safety.

My comment:

Not only for Jim Fallows but for guys like me - 3,000 hours US Navy A-4’s/A-6’s - 335 traps (more than 100 at night)! I loved the Martin-Baker back then - never pulled the handle - and I love the CAPS now - hope I never have to pull the handle, but…

By the way, if you’re a “former” position holder, why are you spending so much time on the COPA website? Seems to me you should be talking with your TB20 buddies. Or, maybe you can’t stay away…