Fuel Diesel fuel gelling - At what temperature do you idle your truck?

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Bunk heaters give us the option of staying warm inside the cab, without idling the truck. The drawback, however, is the increased risk of diesel fuel gelling. To add to that, biodiesel present a potential increase in this risk due to biodiesel gelling at a higher temperature.

I had a bunk heater in my truck last year, but it was only good for 5-6 hours, at which point the low voltage protector in the truck would kick in, and kill the heater. Therefore, I gave up on that really quick and just idled the truck, so the gelling concern was non-existent.

This year, I intend on utilizing the bunk heater in temperature as cold as I feel safe doing so, because as the voltage drops, I now have an APU to fire up and keep the batteries charged.

That said, I don't feel safe idling the truck overnight below 10-15 degrees. As a matter of fact, I will most likely idle the truck at any point where the temperature is going to drop below 15 degrees.

For anybody who is accustomed to shutting their trucks down in cold weather, how cold can it get before you feel you have to run the truck to keep the fuel tanks warm?

I've never had my fuel gel, nor do I want to deal with that experience.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Single digits, run the truck. Use weatherbug app for your local hourly forecast.
Can't remember who, I think it was @SkateBoard maybe who was posting last year about running the truck at really low temperatures.

The fuel is the only thing that concerns me. With an APU and synthetic oil, cranking the truck isn't a problem.
 

Rigjockey

I am don't know.
Supporter
At aboot 23 degrees Ya Imafe the metric conversion for ya'll.

I just completed this wesrern Canada tour, I was told by other drivers that my truck would be running the whole time. They where right. Not good for a emissions truck. Twiice it shut down wit the stop light demanding a re-gen.


One place I worked at, A driver thought he was going to be the company hero and shut the truck and just run the Wabasto In the Michigan U.P.,, So $500 later they got him rolling after his fuel gelled :thumbsup: ****en EH Sunshine!
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
One place I worked at, A driver thought he was going to be the company hero and shut the truck and just run the Wabasto In the Michigan U.P.,, So $500 later they got him rolling after his fuel gelled :thumbsup: ****en EH Sunshine!
Fuel tank heaters might be a good investment if you spend all winter up around the North Pole!
 

Rigjockey

I am don't know.
Supporter
Fuel tank heaters might be a good investment if you spend all winter up around the North Pole!
That may be, But the driver was in Michigan. Plus i just mostly run in America where they cry about it being cold in July.
 

8978

** Commie Express **
Supporter
I was in Denver maybe 3 weeks ago and it was -8. My fuel was treated by me a few days before. Maybe 25 gallons of fuel left in each tank. Ran my Espar and APU to charge the batteries while sitting for 2 days. Engine started right up. It didn't like it I cal tell you that. Sounded like me after a rough night of drinking and smoking.

I was at the Loves and up at midnight. Could see flashing lights through my curtain and pulled it back. There was a Loves shop truck and 3 other ones. Loves doesn't allow other shop trucks but this was not normal circumstances. The morning was the same. Hoods up and shop trucks trying to get them running.

I was going to run my truck since I knew what I was heading for. This was that real cold snap we had. I called my mechanic and the service manager at Stewart and Stevenson and asked both the same question. Do I have to idle my truck. Both said NO!! If your batteries are good and the fuel treated you should have no problem. One said, you don't see fleet day cab trucks running all night waiting for drivers to come in in the morning. I was like oh yea. He also said you will have to idle for maybe a half hour or you'll have trouble shifting.

So, for all that cold weather we've had I've had no problems. Kept fuel treated and APU set to come on when batteries fall below 12.2 volts and charges them.
 

Mike

Well-Known Member
Staff member
See, this is what I am talking about. You shut the truck down in those conditions, and no gelling concern at all.

A few years ago, when I was running loads of drilling fluid up north, I would full a plastic bottle with the same diesel fuel that I put into the tanks while filling up around South Arkansas. We were also adding treatment to the fuel, but the fuel had in the bottle was straight out of the pump.

I would simply put the bottle in the hose tray on the trailer, and keep an eye on it. In temperatures far below zero, not once we're there any gelling concerns, and this was an extremely cold winter, with the high temperatures up there being below zero.

It would be nice if somebody could invent test strips that allowed you to test the fuel in your tank to see what the gell point was.
 

mndriver

curmudgeon extraordinare
Supporter
You'll have more issues with fuel freezing and icing over before it gels with he biodiesel in it.

Alcohol is hygroscopic. Means it absorbs water. Alcohol is part of the biodiesel nor can they remove it entirely.

Refiners do well enough making the fuel for what we need when we need it. It does us all well to use facilities that have the volumn and maintenance of their fuel systems.

Honestly, I think poor fuel systems is what is killing a lot of these old mom and pop truck stops. They just can't afford to update them.

As to what temp I idle. I don't. The apu keeps the engine warm and I've let it run for 2-3 hours to warm it up enough to even start fine in -15°f temps. The espar keeps me warm enough down to about zero. Insulation is being added to the walls of the truck this year to make it more efficient
 

gravybird

Well-Known Member
For me 0 is my mark. I've inly had a truck gel up one in my 9 years of MN driving and it had at least 10% bio in it and sat all weekend unplugged thanks to the monkey who serviced it Friday after I parked it and didn't plug I lt back in. It was a few below all weekend.

If I I'm not above half tank I migh worry a bit more. Also if I fueled in fl and drive straight back to mn I'll make sure I pour a little magic juice in there when I fuel in Beloit. Just to treat the 60 or so fl gallons still in there.

Last spring I seen a guy poor a full bottle of 911 into each tank and it was 40 degrees out. Not just treatment, but actual 911. That stuff is hard on the engine thingy!!
 

Blood

Driveler Emeritus
I've only ever gelled up once and it was about 20 years ago.
I had enough Power Service in the truck to treat 5 trucks and it didn't save me.
Somebody told me that over-treating was as bad as not treating but in my case I treated the fuel with the recommended dose then added more as the truck started stalling until I was out.

Stopped in Palmyra, Mo (about 200 miles) and dosed it again.
Stopped in McLean, IL at the 145 on I-55 and dosed it again...
Finally stalled completely just North of Bloomington, IL...
And that's the last time I ever used Power Service.

I used to use Meaner Power Cleaner at each service and think it helps but I keep forgetting to do it lately.
Other than that, I keep a bottle of 911 with the truck but I don't typically use any fuel additives at all.

If it gets into the teens I'm not shutting my truck off unless it's sitting in my driveway.
And if it gets crazy, like friggin 30 below I ain't taking it out of my driveway.
:)
 

Duck

Quack
Supporter
I think the emissions trucks are more likely to have problems due to the extra filters & the tighter tolerances in the fuel system.

And then there's the DEF that'll freeze.
 

Duck

Quack
Supporter
I've only ever gelled up once and it was about 20 years ago.
I had enough Power Service in the truck to treat 5 trucks and it didn't save me.
Somebody told me that over-treating was as bad as not treating but in my case I treated the fuel with the recommended dose then added more as the truck started stalling until I was out.

Stopped in Palmyra, Mo (about 200 miles) and dosed it again.
Stopped in McLean, IL at the 145 on I-55 and dosed it again...
Finally stalled completely just North of Bloomington, IL...
And that's the last time I ever used Power Service.

I used to use Meaner Power Cleaner at each service and think it helps but I keep forgetting to do it lately.
Other than that, I keep a bottle of 911 with the truck but I don't typically use any fuel additives at all.
Anti-gel is a preventive measure, not a rescue. And the silver jug does nothing for gelling.

Once gelling has begun, only the orange bottle will help.
 

mndriver

curmudgeon extraordinare
Supporter
For me 0 is my mark. I've inly had a truck gel up one in my 9 years of MN driving and it had at least 10% bio in it and sat all weekend unplugged thanks to the monkey who serviced it Friday after I parked it and didn't plug I lt back in. It was a few below all weekend.

If I I'm not above half tank I migh worry a bit more. Also if I fueled in fl and drive straight back to mn I'll make sure I pour a little magic juice in there when I fuel in Beloit. Just to treat the 60 or so fl gallons still in there.

Last spring I seen a guy poor a full bottle of 911 into each tank and it was 40 degrees out. Not just treatment, but actual 911. That stuff is hard on the engine thingy!!

Nov and Dec I was using a fuel filter a day. It was horrid. Never left MN. Was making daily runs that had me home every day by 3 PM. Then I would spend 2-3 hours using my transfer pump to filter all the fuel for the day. I don't know where it come from but I had some serious black crud in my system. Then I got the results back from the fuel sample I sent in to Zeigler Cat Analysis lab. "Too much moisture to test."

Jan 2 I finally super dosed it.

80 oz bottle of Diesel 911 (this was to remove the moisture in the fuel system)
two 32 oz bottles of Power Service Clear-Diesel (to clean the black crap out of the tanks and system)
16 oz bottle of Kill'em biocide. (to kill any bugs that might have been in the system

That's what I dumped into EACH tank.


This is what the result was. That WAS a brand new 7 Micron filter cartridge in the transfer pump. And it only saw 120 or so gallons of fuel. The inside of the tank is now still shiny and bright after a year.

It was when I went in to Runnings Farm & Fleet and I was scratching my head WHAT to do, I actually took a bottle and READ all the fine print front and back.
At temperatures above 0°F., add entire contents (80 ounces) to 250 gallons of diesel fuel. When temperatures drop below 0°F. or when using biodiesel blends, add entire contents (80 ounces) to 125 gallons of diesel fuel.
I was looking for it on the website for Powerservice, but it also says when you have a Biodiesel concentrate MORE than 10%, you need to double the dosage also.

What the hell do you do then when your TEMPS are below Zero and your Biodiesel is above 10%? Quadruple the dose?

Who the heck knows HOW well I was really treating it. I know it wasn't enough. I went back and reviewed my maintenance records. It would seem that the DAVCO 382 filter has a service life of 30,000 miles. I was lucky in the past 18 or so months to get 12,000 miles. Most filter changes were happening around 9000 miles. After I super dosed the tanks and filters it with the transfer pump, I was able to see 38-41,000 miles on a fuel filter and it could have gone longer had I wanted to.


So in October this year, I dumped in a 32 oz bottle of Diesel 911 and Clear Diesel into each tank to take any moisture out of the bottom. Why in October? and Why 911? Because the temps were still high enough to get the chemical to work better. And because 911 absorbs water better than Power Service.
 
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Blood

Driveler Emeritus
Anti-gel is a preventive measure, not a rescue. And the silver jug does nothing for gelling.

Once gelling has begun, only the orange bottle will help.
Yeah, I was using the anti gel and I DID pretreat it.
It was 94 or there about. The winter when actual temps in the area reached 30 something below.
The TA in Bloomington, IL was squeezing something like 8 bobtails at a time into the shop there and taking 3-4 hours to thaw one out. It took me 36 hours to get in and there were as many trucks waiting when I left as there were when I got there.
 

mndriver

curmudgeon extraordinare
Supporter
Yeah, I was using the anti gel and I DID pretreat it.
It was 94 or there about. The winter when actual temps in the area reached 30 something below.
The TA in Bloomington, IL was squeezing something like 8 bobtails at a time into the shop there and taking 3-4 hours to thaw one out. It took me 36 hours to get in and there were as many trucks waiting when I left as there were when I got there.

In all honesty, last winters cold snap caught producers with their pants down. I was able to get that much out of the fuel guys I talk to back home. It was well into December before the refineries finally got a handle on it.
 

gravybird

Well-Known Member
See there. I was just learned something:). I just assumed the guy was one of those guys that worries about gelling at 40 degrees because he was driving a fleet truck presumably from the south.
 

Blood

Driveler Emeritus
In all honesty, last winters cold snap caught producers with their pants down. I was able to get that much out of the fuel guys I talk to back home. It was well into December before the refineries finally got a handle on it.
Last winter I fueled exclusively at a stop in IL that uses "up to 10%" bio blend.
The coldest I recall was about 20 below in MI one night and I think that's the only time I treated my fuel.
The only issue I've ever had with gelling was 93 or 94 whatever it was.
 

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