Diesel fuel and winter temperatures don’t play nice together: plain and simple. More than a fair share of diesel owners have already or will experience issues with their fuel system this winter, creating a myriad of problems including:
- Damage to fuel pumps, injectors and lines.
- Fuel system failure that can result in the need for part replacements.
- Inefficient engine operation.
The list of problems goes on, however the three listed above are the big three that end up giving diesel owners the most grief. Not coincidentally, each can be traced back to the same sequence of problems having to do with diesel fuel reactions in cold weather.
Take a look at what happens to your diesel fuel when temperatures dip below the freezing mark and why these things occur:
- First, the water content in your diesel fuel will begin to separate out, eventually freezing into tiny ice crystals. These crystals will flow through your fuel lines and become trapped there, with a small portion making its way through to your diesel fuel injectors in Fredericktown, OH and into your engine.
- As temperatures grow colder, “clouding” will begin to occur. Clouding occurs when paraffin wax begins to reach its freezing point—it separates from the fuel in small chunks (called precipitate). This solid paraffin wax will also make its way through your fuel system, causing clogs and blockages that incite problems.
- The final stage of diesel fuel troubles you’re liable to run into is the gelling stage. Diesel fuel is made up of hydrocarbons that react to cold much in the same way water does… only instead of freezing, hydrocarbons tend to become a gelatinous mass. As you can imagine, this isn’t going to work in your fuel system, resulting in a complete failure.
What do you do when the temperatures start to drop and you have to rely on your diesel vehicle to get you through a normal day? The simplest thing is to combine a winter fuel additive with your diesel, in order to stave off the clouding and gelling stages.
Fuel additives serve to introduce molecules into your fuel mixture that have an extremely low freezing point, thus lowering the freezing point of the fuel mixture as a whole. Glycerin-based additives are popular, as well as proprietary brand blends that combine innocuous low-temperature substances.
Aside from fuel additives, you can work to preserve the status of your fuel by keeping your diesel vehicle up to date on maintenance and doing your best to shelter it during harsh winter weather periods. Having your fuel system—pumps, lines and diesel fuel injectors in Fredericktown, OH—inspected for signs of damage will ensure they’re up to functional capacity. Storing your vehicle in an insulated garage and being careful to periodically start it on extremely cold days will help to stave off clouding and gelling issues as well.
If you’re having trouble getting your diesel vehicle started and keeping it running efficiently this winter, take a step back and consider the fuel, rather than the engine itself!