3 Simple Ways To Prevent Diesel Fuel Gelling
One common problem that truckers run into when traveling north into colder temperatures is that of diesel fuel gelling. Essentially, since diesel fuel contains paraffin, it can turn into a somewhat solid gel form once it reaches a low enough temperature. When this occurs in a truck that's not running, that gel can clog up fuel lines and keep the truck from running. Fortunately, there are a few steps that truck drivers can follow to avoid diesel fuel gelling.
One of the most common ways truckers go about preventing fuel line gelling when traveling to areas where temperatures can drop below freezing is that of simply adding kerosene to the fuel tank, in addition to the regular diesel fuel. Adding about a half and half mix of kerosene and diesel fuel helps to reduce the chances of gelling in two different ways; for starters, it lowers the overall viscosity of the fuel itself, which makes it less prone to gelling. Furthermore, kerosene lowers the overall cold filter plugging point of the mixture, which is the lowest temperature at which fuel can pass through the lines in the vehicle.
Use Fuel Additives
Because kerosene can be a bit expensive (especially when it comes to keeping a 50/50 mixture at each fill up), many truckers utilize the option of using fuel additives to prevent diesel gelling instead. These additives can be poured into the gas tank before or after fueling with diesel. Specifically, they work by inhibiting the formation of paraffin crystals, which are what cause the fuel to begin solidifying. Furthermore, these fuel additives don't affect the overall fuel economy, which is important for private truckers who pay for their own fuel.
Use a Winter Blend
Finally, depending on where one is filling up and when, it's possible that the gas station will have a winter blend of diesel fuel available, which will already have the necessary additives in it to prevent gelling. These blends are most commonly found in the northern areas of the United States during the months of winter. However, for those who will be filling up and then driving up north, it will still be necessary to follow one of the previous steps, just to be safe.
Encountering gelled diesel fuel is never an enjoyable experience for any trucker, but the good news is that it can be easily avoided by simply taking the right precautions.