The extreme cold presents numerous challenges. When discussion is about cars, engine processing becomes so necessary. However, the two most important ingredients for an engine are fuel and lubrication.
The cold weather affects both of them. However, there are various options available for engine oil. You can deal with winter when it comes to lubrication by opting for low viscosity engine oil. Low-viscosity engine oil can easily run through engine, even in harsh winter weather.
In these rigid weather conditions, water does not only get frozen. Fuel might be problematic too. Especially in the cold weather, the diesel fuel needs some sort of attention to avoid any unnecessary hassle.
What makes diesel problematic in winter (fuel gelling)?
Most of us are aware of fuel filters, which clean the fuel before it can enter the combustion chamber. But it becomes the most susceptible component in the cold weather.
However, there is a problem for vehicles that run on diesel fuel. Diesel comes with paraffin wax as an additive. In normal temperatures, wax usually dissolves properly in diesel and enhances the viscosity as well as lubrication.
However, the paraffin wax starts to thicken and transform into a cloudy substance. Once it is turned into a solid, it could be dangerous to the fuel filter and may clog it.
A clogged filter cannot perform its duty properly, and fuel would not reach the engine. Usually, the paraffin wax turns into crystals, and this phenomenon is known as “gelling” among common car users.
At somewhere around 32 °F, the paraffin may start to change its state, affecting the whole fuel tank. Though, you do not have any problems with your car.
However, the problem may get worse with each drop in the temperature. And it will undoubtedly come to a point where the wax solidifies or crystallizes. However, this temperature point serves as a threshold or cold filter plugging point (CFPP).
However, CFPP indicates a standard for most vehicles. Though modern cars are equipped with a high performance diesel engine, they require narrower filters, which might get clogged at much higher temperatures. So, CFPP is a good indicator to take preventive steps before getting into trouble.
You should be careful in the winter as it is beyond your control. On the other hand, you cannot also get the paraffin wax to crystallise in cold conditions. So, what should be your course of action to avoid winter gelling and filter clogging up?
What should you do to avoid fuel gelling?
If there is no way to avoid paraffin waxing, you can take steps to treat it. The first solution needs you to store your vehicle when there is a higher temperature. If you can keep your vehicle at a controlled temperature, the fuel does not battle with cold temperatures, and there is less chance of fuel gelling.
When you take your vehicle for a drive, it usually has a higher temperature, and things do not get too bad either. However, such a solution is not quite feasible for everyone.
Opt for winter grade fuel
Nowadays, there is winter grade fuel available that can easily tolerate temperatures up to -10 °C. These fuels have a very low cold filter plugging point.
They work well in colder temperatures without any problems. However, such fuel is not available very easily. However, this could not be a feasible option, the fuel treatment is a better alternative.
Treating fuel with additives
An additive is a better option for a winter diesel problem, and it is the easiest way to deal with gelling. An additive works to prevent the paraffin wax from crystallising.
Apart from eradicating the fuel gelling problem, the fuel additives also solve other problems. They also eradicate the “cold engine” issue and the harmful contaminants at the nozzles of fuel injectors.
However, it is best to keep informed about a particular point when there is a need to add additives to the fuel. Get yourself updated on the cloud point and CFPP of your preferred fuel. Usually, it starts at 32 °F or 0 °C. When it falls below this range, the paraffin wax may have an effect. However, when temperatures drop below 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 degrees Celsius), everything can go wrong.
Therefore, it is necessary to keep track of the temperature outside and take action in time to avoid any problems. However, it is worthwhile to consider fuel treatment when the temperature falls below 5 °F, simply put, you should be active when the temperature falls below 10 °F.
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This is the time to make your fuel flow more active by adding the proper additives. However, you should be more aware of fuel condition and car maintenance.
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