As the colder temperatures set in, most chain truck stops begin adjusting their fuel mix to protect engines from seizing when it gets so cold that fuel begins to gel. The cold causes the paraffin wax in diesel to form crystals that won’t go through the fuel system―the tanks, fuel lines, or the fuel filter. The truck won’t run, nor will it be able to heat your cab which could be dangerous if you’re in the middle of nowhere when things begin to freeze.
Summer and Winter Blends
Diesel comes in winter blend and summer blend. Summer blend is straight diesel or 2-D which is what most trucks use under normal conditions. Winter blend or 1-D should be used in the winter. Its ingredients keep it from becoming gel during colder temps but it has a lower butane content which causes it to not perform as well as 2-D. This, and the fact that it’s more expensive than summer blend (as much as 50¢ per gallon more) is why it’s only used when necessary.
In very cold weather, drivers use as high as 80% 1-D but usually a 75/25 mix is used in colder temps and a 50/50 blend for near-freezing areas but usually, you won’t know what you’re buying at the truck stops as they mix it for the area where they’re located.
There are fuel additives that can be used instead of 1-D that help reduce freezing in the fuel line in and in the fuel filter and they’re also cheaper than winter blend, costing 1.5¢-3¢ per gallon. Some additives can be used year-round and can also improve the truck’s fuel efficiency which can save money but generally, the colder the weather, the more additive is used.
Additives can thaw your diesel after it has begun to gel but by the time you start to feel like your truck’s fuel might be gelling as it begins to cough and sputter, the gelling has already begun in the fuel line and fuel filter too. Putting in additives at this time means you need to remove the fuel filter to do it, sometimes changing it more than once, which can be difficult to do in freezing temperatures(especially if you’re broken down on the side of the highway). Many of the bigger chain truck stops in colder regions winterize their own fuel as the season gets colder, and in some places fleet owners supply their drivers with an anti-gel agent to use on the road. If you’re going to travel in colder regions, carry additives with you before going into colder regions in case of an emergency.
Additives can have their problems as well. If additives are overused, the fuel lines can become clogged. This is why truck engine manufacturers put out recommendations on additives and trucking companies may have their own policies on fuel additives so be sure you know what they are in advance. A winter blend of diesel is the most effective and safest treatment against gelling.
Truck manufacturers have been looking for ways to protect their trucks against gelling such as systems that prevent gelling like recirculating the fuel, fuel filters with an electric heat option, and in-tank fuel heaters. These options can keep you from breaking down in dangerous, freezing temperatures and keep your load on schedule.
Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows shippers and brokers to post their loads. The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing, and the latest weather conditions so you can be prepared for cold weather conditions.
To see how Direct Freight can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!