Diesel Fuel Gelling Prevention

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by CondoCruiser, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. CondoCruiser

    CondoCruiser The Legend

    Apr 18, 2010
    I figured this would be a good thread. Especially for you unexpecting new southern drivers that go north in the winter.

    The fuel you buy at the pumps is #2 Diesel. This fuel naturally contains paraffin wax in a liquid form. At 32 degrees the wax will start to change properties and start to crystalize. At this temperature it's still safe to use, but your fuel in your tanks will start to cloud.

    At about 10-15 degrees the fuel will completely gel, clogging your tank, lines and fuel filters.

    In the winter during distribution, companies will create a winter blend depending on the location it is going to. A winter blend is a mix of #2 and #1 diesel. #1 is more refined and has a lower gelling temperature. They will start with a 75/25 mix and increase to a 50/50 mix the further north you go. Usually this is sufficient, but you don't know what mix you are buying when you fuel. If you fill up down south and head north, you can be headed into trouble. Some fuel stops you will see #2 and #1 diesel being sold seperately. I would buy #1 if you are headed into extreme temperatures.

    The best and common practice is to use additives. Some avoid the additional expense. But it is cheaper to use additives in the winter as one breakdown is going to cost you dearly. Most companies will allow you to buy additives on your fuel card. I would follow the directions on the bottle and this will give you reassuring protection to 0 degrees and even lower.
    I have added a little extra and entered -30 degree weather with no problems. The most popular are Howe's in the clear bottle and Power Service in the white jug. I've seen stats comparing the two and Power Service offers the best protection and lubricity. Both usually offer rebates. So get two receipts and cabbage up on the free cash.

    Old timers use to add kerosene to their fuel. Kerosene will keep you from gelling too.

    When your engine starts gelling you will lose some power at first. You will have about a mile or two to get off the road. The first thing to do is call for help as sub zero temperatures are nothing to mess with. If you are smart, you will carry a bottle of 911. This additive with help return your tanks to a liquid form. It's not the best for an engine but it's one step to get you going. Your filters will have to be removed and treated also. Replace them if you can, but remember they need to be full of fuel when replaced and add a capfull of 911 to each. Another alternative is to find kerosene and with enough added your tanks will return to liquid.

    If you are a company driver, most likely you'll get towed to a warm shop to start the thaw out process.

    If you enter extreme temperatures keep your truck running 24/7. Ignore people telling you to shut your truck off. Short stops like fueling it's okay to shut the truck off. If you have a reefer, keep it running, even empty. Make sure to treat that tank too.

    I learned the hard way. One gel up and I guarantee you won't do it again. It's not fun at all. Stay safe and warm.
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  3. producepimp

    producepimp Light Load Member

    Jul 16, 2010
  4. Buckeye 'bedder

    Buckeye 'bedder Road Train Member

    Sep 26, 2010
    Thanks for taking the time to explain about fuel gelling, CondoCruiser.

    Buckeye 'bedder
  5. Rollover the Original

    Rollover the Original Road Train Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    Just be certain that the additive is reccomended for these new ultra low sulfur fuels engines.
    The warranty can be voided if you use the wrong additive OR put something else in the fuel.
    ASK the engine manfacature, their shops a dealer or your company as to what they will want you to put in the engine. If you have a fuel heater you're almost covered but when thoise temps get below the -10 degree mark the fuel in that tiny fuel line will get cold pretty fast and gell in a heartbeat! The funny thing is the truck can still idle but put it under load and it'll stop! I've had that happen several times years ago! Sat all night staying warm but after about 2 miles running the stupid thing would shut down! Go Figure! LOL
  6. lobes1985

    lobes1985 Medium Load Member

    Aug 9, 2009
    Wappingers Falls, NY
    Its also important to keep up on preventive maintenance also. I have a diesel pick-up. I forgot/was lazy and didnt remember to change the fuel filter before it got really cold. It only had about 20k miles on it but I usually do it every 15k. We got some sub zero temps for a few days. It started fine and idled but when I tried to accelerate it had no power. I could only get up to 40mph, coming home was even worse. Then I had to change it in the dark when it was about -5 out. I run additive in every tank but thats only half the battle. I was running Power service but switched this year to fppf polar power. It is supposed to have more lubrication than power service. Good results so far. This week the temps at night have been in the single digits and highs only in the teens, and no problems. I also changed the fuel filter two weeks ago. I learned my lesson the first time:biggrin_2559:
  7. Allow Me.

    Allow Me. Trucker Forum STAFF Staff Member

    May 28, 2009
    Rancho Mirage, Ca.
    Excellant post CC. Always carry additives and use them BEFORE you get in to the cold area. I've been in -27 using Power Service and had no problems. You also need to ask the fuel stop what their blend is as you get fuel, but CYA with some additives in your sidebox.
  8. lobes1985

    lobes1985 Medium Load Member

    Aug 9, 2009
    Wappingers Falls, NY
    I stopped asking after about the tenth time I heard "I don't know".
  9. truckinusa

    truckinusa Light Load Member

    Apr 1, 2009
    Ponca City, OK
    I've only gelled up once and it was like 20 below with a lot of wind. The engine ran still but it was coughing and spitting a lot. I think I had some diesel from a warmer area still in the tanks.
  10. Krooser

    Krooser Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2010
    The best answer is an Arctic Fox tank heater...
  11. GasHauler

    GasHauler Master FMCSA Interpreter

    Oct 23, 2005
    Good information. I agree with Rollover that you should ask and find out exactly what the company wants to use. Then spend a couple of bucks and have it on hand. It's much better than wasting time trying to get going after the fact.

    When buying diesel you should know exactly what is being sold through that pump. I know it's a federal requirement that all pumps list on the pump what is being pumped. I also know that some stations don't do that. You can ask and if they can not tell you I would not buy fuel there. They get a BOL when the fuel is dropped and it lists all the info you need. If you can ask the manager to see a copy. The whole point here is to protect your truck engine the way the company or manufacture wants it to be protected so you do not lose time and money.
    25(2)+2 Thanks this.
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