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How to Manage the Transition to Winter Grade Diesel Fuel

Tire Traction & Fuel Efficiency

Winter weather has the potential to stop your commercial trucks cold—literally. For you to keep your rigs on the move, transitioning to winterized diesel fuel is key. During this period, you should switch to winterized fuel or use additives that alter the characteristic of the fuel.

Why’s that important?

Most trucks use No. 2 diesel which contains more impurities than No. 1 diesel. The diesel fuel passes through a filter before getting to the engine to remove these impurities.

But here’s where a problem is likely to arise during cold weather. The wax found in #2 diesel freezes relatively faster than #1 diesel. It starts to form clouds which can clog the filter, preventing the diesel from getting into the engine. This problem is commonly known as gelling.

Once it occurs, you can’t operate your truck. Even worse, it could damage the engine and the fuel lines. In the worst case, you’d have to make emergency calls and incur extra towing and repair costs. But fortunately, you can avoid all that. How? Let’s discuss.

Use Winter Grade Diesel

Winter grade diesel can withstand cold and freezing winter temperatures. Start using the treated fuel when you see winter approaching. Usually, winter-grade diesel is a mixture of diesel No. 1 and No. 2. This mixture doesn’t freeze quickly. That said, how should you mix it?

Well, as winter approaches and temperatures begin to drop below 35°, mix 70% diesel No.2 with 30% diesel No. 1. Then as winter fully sets in, use 30% diesel No. 2 and 70% No. 1. If the temperature continues to fall to negative 30, then switch entirely to diesel No. 1.

So the first thing to do whenever winter approaches should be to change from summer fuel to winter fuel. This change should be gradual. However, if you can’t access winter fuel, you can use summer fuel and mix it with additives or find a filling station that sells pre-mixed or additive enhanced winter diesel. If you live in an extremely low temperature region, making these changes can be extremely helpful.

Use of High-Quality Additives

Supposing you can’t buy winter-grade fuel from the gas station, you can opt for additives. Additives help break down wax formation in the diesel fuel. It prevents the formation of much larger amounts of wax, allowing diesel to flow through the filter into the engine. It’s a good idea to always have a bottle of additive in your truck when you’re driving during winter.

Assuming your truck stays in the cold overnight and the diesel freezes, you’ll need to pour some additives into the fuel tank. Next, you have to wait a few hours for the additive to unclog the system. Afterwards, you’ll be back on the road.    

Replace Your Fuel Filter

An old filter has a higher chance of clogging since it might contain dirt. To improve your chances of getting through winter successfully, you ought to consider replacing your old filter. Plus, you should also keep a backup filter in your truck at all times. Such a strategy means that in case your filter clogs, you can replace it and minimize any inconveniences.

Remember that a clog in the fuel line can also result from ice formation. Sometimes, water finds its way into the fuel system. And since water freezes faster than diesel, a substantial amount of it is likely to clog the pipes. If this happens, you’d need a mechanic to take a look.

Do you plan to keep your fleet on the road during winter? Be sure to start your fuel transition early. A slow diesel transition makes more economic sense and protects you from unexpected breakdowns during winter.


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