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What to do When Your Diesel Fuel Starts to Gel

Posted by: Bell Performance

Are you gellin'? No, this isn't a Dr. Scholl's ad, but rather a question all diesel fuel users should be asking themselves during the cold winter months.

With these harsh cold temperatures, the paraffin wax that makes up a portion of the diesel fuel mixture has the tendency to thicken, potentially advancing to the point where it can plug your fuel filter, preventing the engine from running at all.


In fact, the wax can become so thick that the entire diesel fuel tank may harden like a block of ice, to the point where it will no longer pour.

In these cold weather months, you definitely don't want your diesel fuel to start gelling.

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to prevent diesel fuel from gelling to keep your engine running to its full potential. Here's a look at what to do when your diesel fuel starts to gel.

Utilize a Winter Fuel Additive

One of the easiest and most common ways to prevent your diesel fuel from gelling in the winter months is to add a winter fuel additive to your diesel fuel tank. 

Mixing in a fuel additive will work to alter the temperature point at which gelling occurs; therefore, it will have to be much colder than the normal winter weather for gelling to take effect.

Some winter fuel additives also work to clean out fuel filters, remove deposits from fuel injectors and improve a vehicle's cold starting.

Fuel Storage

Another way to prevent and correct diesel fuel gelling is to make sure your vehicle or engine is stored in a heated area during the winter months. Gelling typically occurs when a fuel tank has been sitting dormant for a period of time. Giving your fuel the opportunity to solidify.

Storing the tank in a heated garage or warehouse can prevent this from occurring.

Add kerosene

Just like a winter fuel additive can lower the plug point temperature of the diesel fuel to prevent gelling, Kerosene has a similar effect.

In fact, many gas stations in the Northern regions of the United States sell diesel fuel with kerosene already in it for this reason.

Diesel fuel gelling isn't just harmful for your engine, but also for your productivity. Thankfully, with a little bit of effort, it can be easily prevented.

Ultimate Winter Weather Guide

Fuel Additives for Winter

Photo Credit / Creative Commons / No Changes Made

This post was published on February 17, 2014 and was updated on April 15, 2021.

Topics: Diesel, Heavy Trucks and Equipment, Car Care