The last thing you want in cold winter weather is to be stranded in your car with other cars whizzing past you. With all the things we have to worry about on a typical winter day, your fuel line freezing shouldn’t be one of them. Keeping a few simple things in mind as the temperatures drop will keep your car running smoothly and will keep you out of danger from being stranded on the roadside.
When fuel lines freeze, it’s not saying that your gas has frozen; it’s most likely that the water vapor in your gas tank has mixed with the fuel that is stuck in your gas line and the combination of the two liquids and below-freezing temperatures have caused a frozen, blocked gas line.
If your fuel line has frozen you may experience issues with your car including having trouble starting the car, or it won’t start at all; not turning over at all, which usually happens with a completely frozen fuel line, because the car is not getting enough fuel through to start the engine; and sputtering or stalling while running because not enough fuel is getting through, or ice crystals start to form within the fuel line while you are driving.
While fixing a frozen fuel line isn’t an expensive repair issue, it can certainly be more costly in your time and inconvenience, especially since a frozen fuel line inherently means it’s mighty cold outside and your car won’t run. The best way to overcome a frozen fuel line is to not let it freeze in the first place. There are a few easy things one can do to try to avoid the problem, and hopefully will never have to experience the inconvenience.
Charge Your Battery
Keeping a fully charged batter is always a good idea, especially in the wintertime when cold weather is harder on the electrical system in your car. Your battery powers so many different elements of the car, and it gets drained more quickly in the extreme cold winter weather. The best way to keep your battery fully charged, ironically, is by driving your car for a lengthy period of time. The shorter your drive time is, the more it can lead to a drop in the battery charge.
A direct way to clear your fuel lines and for use as preventative maintenance is to pour a fuel additive into your fuel system. You can find a fuel line antifreeze at your local auto shop or from the auto department of many larger retailers. However, an antifreeze like this is not necessary to use with every tank of gas you purchase. Experts recommend if you use a product such as this to use it only once or twice a winter. This type of product used to be much more relevant when gas tanks were made of metal, but most cars built in recent years have plastic fuel tanks that don’t freeze as easily as metal.
Fill ‘er Up!
Perhaps the best, easiest and most cost-effective way to prevent your fuel line from freezing is to keep a full tank of gas at all times. It is highly recommended during winter months to keep your gas tank about the one-quarter level to prevent the gasoline itself from freezing, but if you want to eliminate the amount of freezable air in your fuel line it’s best to keep your gas tank as full as possible.
One tip for filling your gas tank is to avoid filling up if a fuel tanker is filling the underground tanks at the gas station you pull up to. The gas tanker is filling the underground tanks that supply the pumps with fuel, and as the underground tanks get filled the sediment at the bottom of the giant tank is getting stirred around and mixed with the new fuel being added, making it more likely that the fuel coming from the pumps contains some of the sediment that will then be transferred to your gas tank. Best to wait a while after the underground fuel tank has been filled so the sediment settles again.