Diesel fuel is pretty awesome when you think about it. Basically, when crude oil is refined and made into usable oil products (like petroleum, aka gasoline, for cars and other power) diesel fuel is a byproduct. Diesel fuel runs huge ships, (older) submarines, trains, trucks, and cars. In smaller cars, diesel fuel allows for great fuel efficiency. However, there are some issues with diesel fuel.
One of the main downsides of diesel fuel is that it doesn’t play nicely with cold weather. When I say it doesn’t play nicely I mean that cold weather can kick its butt. When temperatures drop diesel fuel can form waxy solid crystals that clog fuel lines and fuel filters. Not only does this cause engines not to start (or to start and then die), it can also require major repairs if things get bad enough.
One way to avoid diesel fuel from crystalizing (or gelling) is to use an anti-gel fuel supplement. Diesel fuel anti-gels are simply added to the fuel (just drop it in the fuel tank). Anti-gels drop the freezing point of diesel fuel so that it is less likely to freeze in cold temperatures. (**IMPORTANT: do not confuse diesel fuel conditioner or diesel fuel supplement/additive with anti-gel. Diesel fuel conditioner or a supplement like CleanBoost Maxx WILL NOT prevent diesel fuel from freezing).
So, when do you use anti gel?
- Temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 C)
Smart to use some anti-gel as temperatures approach what we call the freezing point. Generally you will be able to use a smaller amount of anti-gel the warmer (or less cold, as the case may be) the temperatures are. Follow instructions on the bottle of your anti-gel
- Temperatures at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit
Basically, you should just use more anti-gel as temperatures get colder. Also, check your manufacturer’s (of your engine) suggestions on heating your engine block at extremely cold temperatures.
- Fast drops in temperature
If the temperature is set to plummet rapidly it is best to use more anti-gel in preparation. If temperatures are already low, it may be too late. Preparation is important. Anti-gels will not hurt your diesel fuel or your engine so when in doubt, use a bit more.
- When you fill up
Use your diesel fuel anti-gel every time you fill up during the winter. Try to remember to add the anti-gel before pumping the fuel. This will help ensure a good mixture of the anti-gel throughout the fuel.
- Engine starts to run rough during cold temps
This could be a sign that your fuel is gelling. Add anti-gel ASAP. If your fuel lines get completely clogged your engine will stop and chances are you could be getting cold really fast. (Side note: if you live/travel/work in areas where diesel fuel anti-gels are necessary ALWAYS make sure to have emergency kits that include some source of warmth, food, water, and a blanket.