As the cold sets in for the winter, diesel drivers and fleets need to start thinking about winter maintenance, if not hopefully already have their vehicles and machinery ready for lower temperatures. Diesel fuel is impacted by ambient temperatures, so its performance components need to be carefully managed throughout the year to ensure proper equipment and engine operation – especially in cold environments, like Colorado.
Why is diesel impacted by low temperatures?
Diesel fuel contains paraffin wax molecules, which means that at low temperatures, the wax separates from the fuel as wax crystals. In normal diesel at normal temperature, the waxes are happily dissolved in the diesel fuel and burn right along, thus helping to provide some of the diesel’s energy value. But when it gets cold, the wax becomes undissolved, and the fuel clouds up. This is when cloud point and gelling up becomes an issue.
As the temperature drops in winter, these crystals grow and cover the fuel filter surface, which can lead to fuel starvation, loss of engine power, and eventually stalling. Wax plays an important role in fuel by enhancing cetane, which improves cold starting.
The only way to keep diesel fuel running is to add an anti-gel additive to your fuel tank. An anti-gel additive is used to modify the shape of the wax crystals so that fuel keeps flowing through fuel filters at lower temperatures. However, this must be done before it gets cold. Once it reaches a cloud point, an anti-gel additive cannot reverse the gelled fuel once it’s reached or passed the gel point.
Team Petroleum is a proud authorized distributor of Shell and Power Service products. For more information about how we can help keep your engine clean leading to less downtime, let us know! We would be happy to answer any questions about our products and services!