Want to setup a bee-hive at your home? Get started here.
Winterizing Your Vehicle
Nov 29, 2021

Winterizing Your Vehicle

Don't get caught off guard with pesky and preventable car troubles this winter! Whether your vehicle runs on gas or diesel, it is important to be aware of potential cold weather issues. Read on for some tips on how to keep your vehicle performing well in the winter months!

Diesel Engines

One of the most common problems faced by diesel vehicle owners in the cold months are diesel gelling and startup issues. Diesel fuel must pass through a filter to strain out any impurities and water before entering the engine. The hydrocarbon makeup of the paraffin wax found in no. 2 diesel fuel is liquid under normal conditions, but starts to solidify and bind into crystals at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When this happens, the fuel becomes thick and gelatinous, making it difficult to pass through the filter. Known as the cloud point due to the white hazy appearance of the wax crystals, diesel fuel will start to gel and solidify at 14 degrees Fahrenheit. While you can’t change the cloud point, there are ways to prevent your filter from plugging in the cold.

When caught off guard in particularly harsh conditions, it can be a good idea to keep your engine idling when possible, as it will prevent fuel from cooling and gelling. When cold starting your diesel vehicle, check the dipstick to see if the engine oil is fluid. If it is completely solid, attempting to start the vehicle could damage the engine. An external heat source such as a blow heater can help return the oil to a liquid state. It is important to keep additives and fuel treatments on hand in your vehicle in the winter months as many anti-gels will work even if your fuel has completely gelled. Just pour the additive into your fuel tank according to the product instructions and let it do its job.

Diesel fuel anti-gel - This fuel additive will enhance cold temperature performance by preventing paraffin wax from clogging lines at temperatures below freezing. The chemical works to dissolve bonds in the wax and break up crystals into smaller parts, allowing them to pass through the filter smoothly. Anti-gel will also mitigate filter freeze-ups in the fuel lines due to accumulation of water, and decrease wear between metal parts through increased lubricity. Cold flow improver is generally effective down to around zero degrees Fahrenheit. As temperatures drop below zero, along with continuing to use a cold flow improver, you will want to gradually transition to a mix of no. 2 diesel and no. 1, which is paraffin wax-free. If you find yourself in temperatures below -30 degrees Fahrenheit, use straight no.1 diesel without the no. 2.

Diesel Fuel & Tank Cleaner - A fuel and tank cleaner will remove water and slime, and disperse fuel contaminants. Since diesel absorbs water and grows bacteria and algae more readily than gas, a fuel and tank cleaner can help by bonding with water particles, stopping bacterial growth, and prevent clogged filters and injectors. In addition, it stabilizes fuel for long-term storage to keep your fuel fresh. This makes it particularly ideal for vehicles or RVs that sit for much of the winter. Fuel and tank cleaner can be used quarterly or as needed.

Gas Engines

Fuel Stabilizer - Fuel stabilizer can prevent deterioration and separation of fuel in any gas powered vehicles remaining idle for prolonged periods of time. Stabilizer will protect your vehicle's fuel system from rust, corrosion, and buildup. Using a good fuel stabilizer eliminates the inconvenient step of draining fuel tanks before storage.

Fuel Line Antifreeze - This type of fuel additive removes water from your car's fuel system, which can cause frozen fuel lines in cold weather. When the weather outside is below freezing and there is water in your fuel system, that water can freeze and block your fuel lines, preventing your car from starting. A fuel line antifreeze, largely made up of alcohol, can absorb and break up the water into small enough droplets to allow them to combust in the engine. To prevent fuel lines from freezing in humid conditions, it is recommended that you pour fuel line dryer such as HEET into your fuel tank every time you fill up when it is consistently below 30 degrees, and closer to once every two to three fill-ups in higher temperatures. It is important to note though that if your fuel already contains ethanol alcohol, there is generally no need for extra additive. Used year-round, this additive can prevent general rust and corrosion of your vehicle's fuel system.