Hundreds of motorists are trapped each winter in Victoria’s ski areas when the cold turns their diesel to gel.
Winter is always a busy time of year, according to Guy Hummerston, RACV General Manager Automotive Services, especially for RACV’s Bright depot, which provides Emergency Roadside Assistance in the alpine areas of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.
When temperatures drop below minus 10 degrees Celsius, motorists may have car problems. During last year’s winter season, the Bright depot received 173 calls for assistance, roughly a third of which were for frozen diesel.
It’s the most common roadside issue that our members need assistance with during the winter season in alpine areas, accounting for up to 32% of call-outs.
“At roughly – six degrees Celsius, standard diesel turns to a gel, which can be an issue for tourists to the alpine region who fill their tanks with standard diesel in Melbourne, for example,” Mr Hummerston said.
“It won’t be an issue while the vehicle is operating because the fuel is flowing, but the engine may not start after it has been parked in the cold for some time.
“When RACV patrols are dispatched, they will place a device under the car to heat the fuel lines, but this will only work if the petrol is frozen in the lines rather than in the tank.
“When a car is left overnight and the diesel in the tank freezes, it is normally dragged down the mountain and allowed to defrost naturally.
“While RACV patrols are always pleased to assist members in getting back on the road, the organization recommends that motorists fuel up with alpine diesel to make the most of their time up in the mountains.
“Alpine diesel is tough to come by in Melbourne, although motorists can fill up at alpine gas stations.”
Alpine diesel can be mixed with ordinary diesel, according to Mr. Hummerston, although the ratio should be around 8:1. There is also a low-freezing-point additive that can be added to regular diesel.
How cold is too cold for diesel?
When it comes to diesel trucks, how cold is too cold? At 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9.5 degrees Celsius), the diesel fuel in your fuel tank will gel and you will have problems starting your engine. Your diesel vehicle will have troubles if the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit / -9.5 degrees Celsius. The diesel won’t be frozen solid, but it won’t be liquid either. You must now rely on heating solutions such as block heaters and glow plugs, which are not available on all diesel engines.
There’s a lot of debate regarding what temperature is too cold for a diesel truck. On the internet, it is stated that the freezing point of diesel fuel is roughly -112 degrees Fahrenheit or -80 degrees Celsius. Now you believe you will never be in a region that gets that cold, so you should be fine. Wrong.
It is not necessary for the diesel in your fuel tank and fuel lines to be solidly frozen to cause you problems. When the temperature drops below 15 degrees Fahrenheit / 9.5 degrees Celsius, the diesel fuel begins to change shape and becomes more like a gel. Consider a gel-like fuel that travels from the fuel tank to the engine. Traveling through the fuel lines would be difficult, and you would have difficulty starting your engine in the frigid winter.
How fast does diesel freeze?
- Gelling: It’s unusual to have a situation where the fuel practically turns to jelly. Gelling happens when the paraffin wax in diesel solidifies due to a drop in temperature, and the fuel’s temperature must be kept below minus 10 degrees F for extended periods of time, such as 48 to 72 hours. When diesel is cold soaked, the paraffin wax in the fuel hardens, giving it a hazy look. At temperatures as high as 32 degrees F, the fuel will begin to cloud, but it will continue to flow. Before the fuel can gel, it must be kept at a very low temperature for an extended period of time. It’s common to hear drivers complain about their fuel gelling up, but this is almost certainly not the issue they’re having. Ice or solidified paraffin wax in the fuel filter is more likely to be the issue. There’s more on that later.
- Cloud Point: To determine the cloud point of a sample of diesel fuel, which is the temperature at which the naturally present paraffin wax in #2 diesel fuel begins to crystalize, there are prescribed methods. The fuel has a hazy look due to the microscopic particles of suspended hardened wax. Cloud point temperatures for diesel fuel typically vary from -18°F to +20°F, but can reach +40°F depending on a variety of factors connected to the base stock and refining operations. The cloud point of so-called winter diesel fuel (#1 diesel or kerosene) is substantially lower since it contains relatively little paraffin. Fuel distributors will test the product and, if requested, may include the results in tenders and delivery receipts.
- The temperature at which a liquid loses its flow properties is known as the pour point. The pour point of diesel fuel changes according on the wax content in the fuel, which varies depending on the source of the base stock, the refining process, and the type and quantity of additives added to the fuel during refining or distribution. The difference between the cloud point and the pour point is always there, with the latter often being 2° to 20°F lower than the former. To establish the pour point of a fuel sample, certain tests must be performed. Bulk providers, as previously stated, can supply this information.
- When diesel fuel is cooled, the cold filter plugging point is a measurement based on a standardized test that indicates the rate at which it will flow through a standardized filtration equipment in a given amount of time. The CFPP is the point at which the sample fails to pass through the filter in the time allotted.
At what temperature does fuel freeze at?
To freeze gasoline, it must be kept at a temperature of roughly -100 degrees Fahrenheit. The number will fluctuate depending on the components in your gasoline (octane, for example, has a greater freezing point), but the point will remain the same. Because the freezing point of gasoline is so low, it’s exceedingly unusual that temperatures in your area would ever dip to the point where gasoline in your vehicle will freeze, and it’s even more rare that anyone will drive or desire to drive in those conditions.
That isn’t to say that freezing conditions won’t have an impact on your petrol tank. Condensation can leak water into your gas tank, which can cause a slew of problems if it freezes. Cold temperatures can cause gasoline to break down and separate into its constituent parts, resulting in a worthless gel. Because diesel fuel has a lower freezing point than conventional gasoline, it’s common for gas stations to provide a summer and winter diesel blend.
Winter driving comes a slew of legitimate potential issues, so it’s best to be prepared. You don’t have to worry about your gasoline freezing over unless you live in the Arctic tundra.
Why do diesel engines freeze?
Because of this, almost all diesel contains some wax. It becomes a liquid when added to the fuel, though. However, diesel has a higher freezing point than other fuels, such as gasoline. The wax can harden and crystallize, restricting the flow of fuel and perhaps causing the engine to seize.
Can diesel oil freeze?
As the winter months approach, the reduction in temperature puts a strain on diesel engines’ overall efficiency and performance. The risks of extremely cold temperatures can make it difficult for engines to start or even perform properly. Understanding the challenges diesel owners experience during the winter months is the first step in protecting and preventing these dangers.
Water may harm a diesel engine at any time of year, not only in the winter. Water can be introduced to diesel through storage, handling, and condensation in storage tanks. Water in the gasoline, on the other hand, can freeze at 32°F in the winter and clog fuel lines and water separators.
During the cooler winter months, diesel is also susceptible to gelling. As the temperature drops, the paraffin wax in diesel thickens, causing this to happen. As a result, the gasoline becomes cloudy and gel-like, preventing the diesel from burning and clogging filters. If the temperature drops low enough, the fuel can freeze solid and stop flowing, rendering it useless until it re-liquifies.
It’s critical to have a plan in place for winterizing your vehicle whenever the temps drop. The most straightforward solution is to utilize a gasoline additive that can safely remove water from your fuel while also acting as an anti-gel, allowing the fuel to survive cooler temperatures. Fuel Ox Cold Charge, for example, lowers the pour point by 20°F, reducing the effects of wax. It will also safely filter water out of your fuel system while lowering your fuel consumption. If your fuel has already gelled or frozen, Fuel Ox also has an emergency diesel additive called Fuel Ox Heat Bomb that will safely and efficiently thaw and restore gelled or frozen fuel. With Winter on the way, make sure your diesel is protected from the freezing cold! With our Fuel Ox Cold Charge and Fuel Ox Heat Bomb, Fuel Ox can assist you with your Winterization!
Does diesel freeze UK?
Fuel efficiency is roughly 10% worse at -5°C than it is at 20°C, according to official fuel testing. Furthermore, when temperatures drop below 0°C, fuel economy can drop by as much as 20% for vehicles travelling less than 4 miles – so what’s going on?
Given that petrol’s freezing point is a cold -60°C, a petrol tank will almost certainly not freeze during even the harshest British winter. Diesel, on the other hand, has a much lower freezing point and is more likely to gel in cold temperatures. To tackle this, fuel firms have developed a summer and winter diesel blend that can withstand temperatures as low as -5°C and as high as -15°C.
Given that neither fuel is significantly affected by cold weather, it’s evident that the problem isn’t with the liquid itself, but rather with the effect of the cold on the car’s mechanics.
Cold weather can impact a variety of components in your car, resulting in a significant reduction in fuel efficiency. We’ve compiled a summary of some of the negative affects that cold weather can have on your car’s fuel economy.
- It takes much longer for your engine to achieve its ideal operating temperature on a cold day. This is especially problematic for short excursions, as the automobile will spend the majority of its time operating at a lower-than-optimal temperature, resulting in poor fuel economy.
- In cold weather, engine oil thickens. This can cause friction between moving parts in the engine and transmission system, resulting in unnecessary fuel use.
- Fans, defrosters, wipers, and heated seats are all electrical components that place additional demand on the battery. As a result, the alternator has a harder time keeping the battery charged, resulting in a decrease in fuel economy.
- It’s common to have to warm up your automobile to defrost and demist the windscreen on bitterly cold mornings. This type of idling has a significant impact on fuel efficiency, with your automobile obtaining zero MPG for the duration.
- Cold air is thicker and denser than warm air, which increases your car’s aerodynamic drag. This requires the engine to work harder, especially at highway speeds.
- In extremely low temperatures, tyre pressures drop somewhat, increasing the vehicle’s rolling resistance.
How do I keep my diesel from freezing?
Using an anti-gel fuel supplement is one approach to keep diesel fuel from crystallizing (or gelling). Anti-gels for diesel fuel are simply added to the gasoline (just drop it in the fuel tank). Diesel fuel’s freezing point is lowered by anti-gels, making it less prone to freeze in cold temperatures. (**IMPORTANT: diesel fuel conditioner, diesel fuel supplement/additive, and anti-gel are not the same thing. A diesel fuel conditioner or a supplement such as CleanBoost Maxx WILL NOT keep diesel fuel from freezing).
Why do diesels last longer?
A gas engine would have reached the end of its life 20 years ago at about 100,000 miles, but today’s engines are constantly making another trip around the odometer. However, while gasoline engines can now reach 200,000 miles and beyond, diesel engines can also reach 500,000 miles and beyond. The following are three reasons why diesel engines survive longer than gasoline engines:
THE DESIGN OF A DIESEL ENGINE
We’ve all learned the hard way that larger isn’t necessarily better. Diesel engines, on the other hand, are designed to endure longer than their gasoline equivalents. Compression ratios and cylinder pressures are higher in diesel engines than in gasoline engines. Diesel engines are designed with these factors in mind. Their crankshaft and camshaft are larger, necessitating larger bearings and stronger main and rod bolts. Increased clearance from larger crankshafts and camshafts provides for greater oil flow. Better engine lubrication means reduced engine wear, which extends the engine’s life.
Other significant design features of the diesel engine contribute to its durability, including:
- Most diesel engines feature a gear-driven construction, which means you won’t have to worry about timing belt issues. This also saves money on costly maintenance because the timing belt does not need to be replaced.
- Piston cooling jet – Piston cooling jets spray engine oil on the bottom of your pistons in diesel engines. This engine oil spray protects pistons from premature wear by keeping them properly lubricated, which lowers friction and keeps them cool.
- There are no spark plugs in diesel engines, so the gasoline burns more slowly. Because of the slower burn, there is less stress and more torque, which is essential for diesel engine efficiency.
The fuel that diesel engines burn is another reason they survive longer than gasoline engines. Diesel fuel is a form of distillate fuel made primarily from crude oil, which allows diesel engines to wear their cylinders out more slowly than gasoline engines. This adds diesel fuel lubricating qualities, extending the engine’s total lifespan. On the contrary, gasoline is mostly composed of aromatic hydrocarbons, which function similarly to harsh and corrosive solvents. This lack of lubricity causes your engine’s components to wear out prematurely. Diesel engines have lower exhaust gas temperatures (EGTs), which contributes to their increased lifetime. Despite the fact that diesel fuel has 139,000 British thermal units (BTUs) compared to 115,000 BTUs for gasoline, the principles of thermodynamics dictate that the higher compression ratio diesel engine’s expansion rate actually cools the exhaust gases faster. The first flame front is cooler due to the lower auto-ignition temperature of roughly 410°F for diesel fuel compared to 495°F for gasoline. Diesel engines also have a substantially lower air-to-fuel ratio, ranging from 25:1 to 70:1, compared to 12:1 to 16:1 for gasoline engines. EGTs are cooled by a lower air-to-fuel ratio. In addition, gasoline burns more faster than diesel fuel. Because of the slower laminar speed of the flame during combustion in diesel engines, there is less shock to the rotating assembly, which adds to their durability.
The third factor that determines how long a diesel engine lasts is its operating efficiency. In comparison to a gas engine, diesel engines have lower revolutions per minute (RPMs) and produce more torque. The ability to create the same power at lower revolutions implies less wear on your pistons, rings, cylinder walls, bearings, valves, and guides, extending the life of your engine. When diesel engines are not in use for long periods of time, they are usually left running. The regular cycling of turning the engine on and off saves wear compared to a gasoline engine since a major percentage of wear occurs at starting. It also decreases heat cycles and maintains stable operational temperatures.
PSP Diesel in South Houston, TX, is known for their 6.0L Ford Powerstroke builds, and Stephen Peters has this to say about why diesel engines survive longer:
“Diesel users often use their engines for far more than what they were designed for. In contrast to the conventional start/stop patterns of a gasoline engine, this is typically done to generate maximum torque and run for longer periods of time during the day. They aren’t exposed to abrupt starts and stops. One of the most abrasive actions on a motor is starting it. While idling your engine is not good for its longevity, that is exactly what the majority of these trucks are doing. They run long hours and are worked very hard because they are started at the beginning of the day and shut off at the end, but that is their job.”
Peters continues, “Diesel engines are simply intended to be more durable. For example, the blocks are larger, the walls are thicker, and the pistons are larger. And, even with the extra weight, let alone the tight tolerances in the rings to avoid blow-by, the design was created with lubrication in mind, reducing friction and damage to the rubbing parts.”
What temp does diesel ignite?
Any liquid’s flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which it produces enough vapor to create a flammable combination in the air. If an ignition source is present, the lower the flashpoint temperature, the easier it is to ignite the air. The higher the flashpoint, the safer it is to handle the substance.
The flashpoint of diesel fuel varies depending on the kind of fuel. #2 diesel is the most common type of diesel on the road today. The flashpoint of diesel fuel is between 125 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a ConocoPhillips Material Safety Data Sheet (52 to 82 degrees Celsius). Any liquid’s flashpoint can shift when the pressure in the air around it shifts.