Why Your Diesel Fuel Is Gelling

December 26, 2019

As the seasons are changing, experts are forecasting one of the toughest winters this country has seen in a while, and depending on where you live, you may already be experiencing this.  One thing we can guarantee with owning a diesel during these cold winter months is without proper preparation and maintenance of your diesel’s fuel system there will be hardships. Some of these hardships can result from the various qualities in diesel fuel.

The quality of diesel fuel varies from state to state; in fact, it can vary from station to station which makes understanding exactly what type of fuel is running through your motor kind of difficult.  When temperatures begin to fall, the quality of fuel plays a big factor in how quickly it begins to fall out of spec, or ‘gel’.  When diesel fuel begins to gel, the wax paraffin within the fuel begins to separate and bond together, which will begin to bring the fuel to its cloud point; the point at which the fuel becomes visually cloudy, typically around 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Over time, the formation of the bonded wax paraffin become large enough they cannot pass through the fuel filter and eventually starve your engine of fuel.  The point at which the fuel is no longer able to flow through the filter is known as the cold filter plugging point (CFPP).  The CFPP can be as high as 0 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the quality of the fuel.

gelled diesel fuel filter

Diesel fuel is rated during the winter months by its cloud point, cold filter plugging point, and its pour point; which is the temperature at which the paraffin in the fuel have crystallized so much that the fuel is resistant to flow.  Below are a few tips on how to prepare your diesel for winter and react to falling temperatures.

Get Your Fuel System Prepared!

A dirty fuel system is a disaster waiting to happen as temperatures drop.  Be sure to change your fuel filter before things start cooling off.  The last thing you need is extra resistance through the fuel filter this time of year!  It is also a good idea to run a strong detergent additive like Diesel Extreme through your system to remove any contaminants and moisture from the tank and lines.  These two steps alone will get you off to a great start before things start to freeze.

Fight Back

If the only thing holding your diesel back this winter is poor fuel quality, try treating your fuel with a diesel anti-gel additive to lower its pour point and CFPP.  You will be surprised at how much a few ounces of a quality anti-gel additive can lower your pour point and CFPP. It also will eliminate the worry of fighting gelled diesel fuel throughout the winter.  Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Anti-Gel is proven to lower the pour point to -65 degrees Fahrenheit and is one of the only multi-purpose winter additives available.

Just Don’t Take Our Word

You don’t have to take our word that Diesel Winter Anti-Gel works, check this video from Project Farm on YouTube. He compared many of the top brands of diesel fuel treatments and Diesel Winter Anti-Gel came out on top in testing. Trust your diesel to the best, use the products powered by science. 

What If Your Fuel Gels?

Doesn’t it always seem like no matter how much you prepare, something still finds a way to go wrong (See Murphy’s Law)? Well, although following the first two pieces of advice are definitely going to decrease your odds of dealing with gelled diesel fuel this winter, it’s always a good idea to have something in your back pocket just in case you need it.  There are a handful of “emergency” type fuel additives that can get you out of a ‘no start’ situation due to diesel fuel gelling. We recommend Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Rescue as your go-to de-icer. Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Rescue is a military grade de-icer; you can bet if it’s good enough for Uncle Sam, it’s going to be good enough for your diesel in a pickle. You have flashlights for a power outage, non-perishables in case you can’t get to the grocery store, why wouldn’t you have a bottle of military grade de-icer in your truck? 

Winter can wreak havoc on your truck. From hazardous road conditions that can cause an accident, a dead battery, salt that can cause rust, and frigid temperatures that will cause your fuel to gel if not properly treated with an diesel anti-gel additive. Preparing your truck for winter conditions is vital if you intend to get from A to B without issues. This includes regular preventative treatment of your fuel system with Diesel Winter Anti-Gel as well as having some Diesel Winter Rescue on hand in case you, or a friend who wasn’t as prepared for winter as you were, need de-iced. When in doubt on whether or not to treat your fuel this winter, think about this: diesel fuel is as inconsistent as the meat in a hot dog.  Can you really trust it? Do I really want to deal with a plugged fuel filter? Do I want to have to call a friend to bring me Diesel Winter Rescue at 5am? Do you want your truck to not start? If you answered no to any of these questions you should treat your system throughout the winter regardless of the current outside temperatures.