Diesel Fuel Gelling Stalls Trucks as Temps Drop

January 09, 2014

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Fleet managers overseeing snowplows and diesel trucks in several states reported fuel gelling as a result of frigid temperatures in the Midwest and eastern U.S.

Photo via Elliot Plack/Flickr.
Photo via Elliot Plack/Flickr.

Vehicles that run on diesel fuel are susceptible in frigid temperatures, because the paraffin in the fuel hardens, coating the engine filter, and preventing fuel from flowing.

In Franklin County, Pa., diesel-powered trucks and snowplows were given a fuel additive as well as the winter blend of thinner diesel fuel, reports Public Opinion News.

"Trucks coming from the south that don't have treated diesel fuel could have a problem," said David Rock, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's manager for Franklin County.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported a few trucks out of service due to fuel gelling in Springfield, reports KSMU. The agency's Gary Shisler told KSMU that diesel fuel had gelled in storage tanks at the MoDOT garage, which has 300 trucks and snowplows that run on diesel fuel.

In Dent County, Mo., cold temperatures caused fuel gelling in county graders and other road equipment. The computers in the graders also failed to work, reports the Salem News.


  1. 1. John [ January 06, 2015 @ 08:08AM ]

    I think because of the mild Winter prior to this cold snap. A lot of places were not blending diesel for extreme cold temps. Typically diesel #1 is blended with #2 to lower gel point. But it also raises costs and lower's efficiency. So its not surprising a lot of issues with gelling have happened.
    When you get below zero you really need a combination of blended fuels and anti gelling additives to be effective with such cold temps. Southern fuel with just treatments may not always be enough. Also, if you do come from the South, don't turn off engine which can help keep fuel cycling through system and help reduce gelling.


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