What to do if diesel fuel gels – Here’s what experts say

There’s a chance most vehicle owners faced this issue at least once. Winter comes and your fuel starts to gel. The simplest story ever told. Still, have you wondered what’s there to be done about it? If your answer’s YES, you’ll appreciate the info we’ll share with you today!

As you can easily guess, this issue is more than present online. We’re talking about forums, message boards, blogs, and so on. People talk about it a lot and share useful and not-so-useful information. We’ve decided to put it all into one article. In it, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do if diesel fuel gels!

Push the car into your garage for a few hours, if possible. Usually, that’s all you need to do. The fuel will return to its previous state due to a change in temperature. Also, there’s a good number of products (like Diesel 911) that can help you with this. Lastly, you might have to ungel fuel lines and filters. 

That’s just a little preview of what the experts had to say about this issue! Don’t hesitate to give this one a thorough read!

Table of Contents

What is diesel gelling?

Before we get to the whole what-to-do-if-diesel-fuel-gels part, it’s time for a little intro.

First things first, it might be good to provide our readers with a definition of diesel gelling. It’s a process in which the diesel literally freezes and turns into a gel-like substance. These wax-like particles disrupt the fuel flow. The fuel can’t flow through the engine and fuel lines the way it’s supposed to. Subsequently, that makes your machine quite inoperable. Not to mention there’s the risk of damaging your vehicle’s inner components.

Why does diesel fuel freeze at certain winter temperatures? This happens because this type of fuel has paraffin wax as one of its components. Now, that’s a fantastic ingredient to have when you want to increase the lubrication of the fuel. However, it’s definitely not so ideal once wax thickens up due to low outside temperature.

The so-called three stages

Do you know that there are three stages when the aforementioned process is happening? If you didn’t know that one, here are the mentioned stages:

  • Cloud point. It happens went the fuel’s just beginning to form crystals. The fuel gets all cloudy-like, which is a clear signal something’s not right. This typically occurs at around -32°F (0°C), the so-called freezing point.
  • Pour point. The halfway point to full-on gelling. Pour point occurs the moment the fuel loses the ability to pour properly. This lack of flow signals that the fuel gelling process is heading to its endpoint.
  • Gel point. The final point of the gelling process. It indicates that the fuel has totally solidified. At the gel point, there’s absolutely no fuel flow; the moving of what once was liquid stopped.

Okay, so now we’ve gone through (luckily, not literally) the three stages of gelling. It’s about time we tell you how to notice your diesel fuel is experiencing the process. If you’re interested in learning a thing or two about different types of gas… Yeah, just click on this link.

How to tell if diesel fuel is gelled?

There are a few ways you can tell if your diesel fuel’s gelled. Keep in mind that the fuel gelling mightn’t be the only reason for these issues:

  • The engine won’t start. It might mean fuel has gelled and plugged the fuel filter. As a result, the fuel can’t pass the filter.
  • The engine starts but dies at some point. This might be an obvious sign your fuel has gelled.
  • There’s no fuel pressure (if you’ve got that gauge indicating this issue). Also, here’s an example. Picture this scenario: the desired pressure can go to about 180 MPa (megapascals). The actual pressure remains lower, around 30-50 MPa. That probably means you’ve got some fuel gelling to deal with.

If you notice any of these issues occurring, don’t worry. There are ways you can prevent this from ever happening. Additionally, there are also methods to ungel diesel fuel (lines and filters). Visit the link to see ’em; here we’ll continue talking about how to keep diesel fuel from gelling!

PS. If you’re wondering whether gas evaporates without a gas cap, visit this page.

A red car on the winter road.


How to keep diesel fuel from gelling?

Luckily, there are methods we can utilize to prevent the gelling issue. As we’ve already said, it’s nothing you should worry about too much. As long as you employ the advice we’ll give you in a moment. Here’s how you’ll prevent your diesel gas from gelling!

Use winterized diesel fuel

This is probably the easiest way to prevent the gelled fuel issue. It’s simple: just use winterized fuel! Not all gas stations have it, so try to find the ones that do! See if they have a blend available that can seriously lower the gelling temperature.

Plug your vehicle in using an engine heater

To avoid dealing with gelled fuel, simply plug your vehicle in using an engine block heater. Don’t have one? Find one at your local dealership, or check out the online offer.

Keep the tank full

Try to keep more than half a tank of diesel fuel inside your vehicle. Of course, it’s not always doable. Imagine you’re on a long haul through the middle of nowhere. In other words: it might be tricky if you find yourself someplace rural. Anyway, keeping your tank as full as possible will greatly reduce the chance of gelled fuel. That’s because it also prevents the water/condensation to collect, and later on – freeze.

If possible, store the vehicle inside

If it’s possible, keep your vehicle out of the cold. In other words: keep it parked inside your garage. Here’s what’s up! The inside temperature might just be enough to avoid gelled fuel from appearing.

Use additives

Another way you can prevent gelled fuel is by using non-alcohol-based additives. They’re also called flow improvers or anti-gel preventatives. Aside from using winterized fuel, this might be your go-to option. Still, it’s useful you combine all of the above for the best result.

What to do if diesel fuel gels?

Okay, so you’ve done everything, but still… You’ve noticed gelled fuel in your tank. So, what do you do? First of all, don’t panic! Even though gelled fuel sounds like a catastrophe, we’ve got some good news! The diesel fuel will return to its previous state as soon as the temperature’s up!

For instance, there’s a very simple solution you’ll absolutely love. Just push your car into the garage for a few hours. Usually, that’s all you’ll need to do to fix the issue. Now, if that, for this or that reason, isn’t doable, we’ve got another suggestion.

There’s a good number of products which can help you with this. They’re added to a gelled tank to take care of the issue. They’ll help your fuel return to its previous (normal) state. What are these products called? For instance, you’ve Diesel 911 (what a brand name, huh?) available on the market. Depending on how big of a tank you’re sporting, this can take some time.

However, there’s some sad news. The heated fuel in the tank mightn’t reach the fuel that’s not inside the tank. For instance, the fuel that’s in your fuel lines and filters. Let’s find out how you can take care of that!

How to ungel fuel lines and filters?

We’ll show you how to handle the issue using a certain product called SnoCat™. Here’s a little step-by-step guide:

  • Pour Sno-Cat™ into your vehicle’s tank. How much do you sip? You’ll want to go for about an ounce to every 10 gallons of the remaining fuel. Keep in mind you’ll have to save at least 2-4 ounces of the substance for the next step.
  • Remove the frozen fuel filter. Sip the product directly onto the filter element. You’ll want to do the identical thing to the filter housing too. After you’ve done that, you’ll hear the filter lines crack. That’s the sound of the Sno-Cat™ at work.
  • Reinstall the filter element and housing. Next, prime the fuel system as the product manufacturer suggests. You’ll want to wait for about half an hour for Sno-Cat™ to work around the injector rails. Afterward, you’ll “have the right” to start the engine.

That’s about it! As always, it’s better you prevent this from happening at all. As we already said, stick to the tips we’ve given you above. That way, you won’t have to think about covering the damage done. As the great Dutch philosopher once said: prevention is better than cure. Way better, we add.

Parting thoughts, words, etc.

Okay, dear folks! That’s that on the whole what-to-do-if-diesel-fuel-gels ordeal! Hopefully, now you’re equipped with all the necessary info you craved for! Crave might be a strange word here, but you get the point!

As we sometimes say, there’s a whole lot from where that came from. For more gasoline-related tips & topics, feel free to visit our blog page.