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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
'17 CTD 12.8Kmi

I filled the tank on the 22nd and headed off to the parents in law's for Christmas. I live in central Iowa, they in central Wisconsin. I parked the car for four days and tried to leave for home about 10AM on the 26th. Fate had other plans.
The car would turn over great but no start. Not even a rumble. Outside temp was -10F (-23C). Called On-Star to get help on the way.
Apparently in rural central Wisconsin it's hard to find someone to tow you on a cold winter morning. Onstar had trouble finding a provider that would even put me on a wait list. First I got transferred over to the escalation team, then they called me back and tried to tell me maybe I could wait until tomorrow. I calmly explained that I needed to get home, even if I was delayed several hours, so however long the list add me to it.
While waiting we pushed the car into the (unheated) garage and set up a couple hair dryers. I guessed it was gelled fuel so I put one on the fuel filter, and cranking it had taken a toll on the battery so I put one on the battery, along with putting a battery charger on it too. I finally got the call that OnStar had found a provider and he was on his way; ETA 30min. Persistence paid off.
After 30 minutes with the hair dryers going, I tried to start it again. This time each time I tried it would rumble to life runs for 2-5 seconds and die again. Over and over. Decided my efforts weren't going to be enough so I let them tow it to the nearest dealer (free) who could park it in a nice heated space.
He put it on a battery charger also, and pointed a fan under the car to warm the filter and fuel tank as much as possible. After an hour still no luck. He wanted to change the fuel filter. I talked him out of that and got him to put a heat gun on the filter for a bit. A few minutes of that and it started and stayed running for good. My first stop was at a filling station to put in fresh fuel and some diesel 911 (anti gelling additive). Took off for home and have had no further issues. Bill at the dealer was ~$50. The technician agreed that he has no doubt that it was definitely gelled fuel. Total delay to my planned departure time was 4.5 hours.
Fuel sold in Iowa in late December should be winterized to colder than -10F. I've sent my story to the customer service email address for the fuel station that sold me that tank of fuel, and am waiting on their reply.
Credit to OnStar, with a just a little prodding to keep looking they found me a tow and got me taken care of in a timely manner in a location without a ton of resources available.
Also credit to that dealer. He got me right in and took care of me immediately. I was afraid he'd park me out in the lot and try to tell me he couldn't do anything at all for at least 3 days.

What are your thoughts? Anything more I should have done? What are the lessons I need to take away from this?
 

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This is why I put Diesel Kellen every time I fill the tank ,Anti Gel for the winter (white bottle) grey one in the warmer weather .
I've never have had to plug any of my diesel in and never had any fuel gel up on me . I do keep a bottle of the Diesel Kleen 911 on hand and a spare fuel filter and a fuel extractor for the filter so I can start on the Diesel Kleen.
 

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I have been driving in cold weather similiar to yours, I have an extra fuel filter in my car just in case. Did the dealer drain any water out of the filter assembly? I would seriously consider changing the fuel filter. I was driving in minus 8 but my car had been a garage prior to the drive and it was 37 in there.

I try to get my diesel at the same stations I trust when possible.
 

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I would have changed the fuel filter. No if's and's or but's. When a semi gels up. New filters go on.

Buy fuel from places that sell to trucks in the winter time. They SHOULD be selling fuel that can handle extreme colds. As semi's can be anywhere in the country.

Semi's don't generally need an additive but drivers like to use it anyways. It's a good thing to have if one fuels up in texas then parks in wyoming for the night.

Cars could probably use it more as you guys can't pack the fuel a semi packs.

Howe's is what i use. It's cheap. Cleans injectors and can actually boost mpg. 1 bottle is good for 250 gallons so 1 bottle would probably last you guys through the whole winter. $20 i think it was last time i bought it.
 

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I don't think here in KY it'll ever get that cold, but Ive been running stanadyne performance formula since the first fill up. Drops fuel pour point 40 degrees and cold filter plug point 25 degrees. It's suppose to be below 0 in the coming days so it'll be tested for sure. I sure wish there was block heater
 

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If you live in a climate that gets below freezing, run a fuel additive. No exceptions. It is not worth the hassle and the expense of having to have your car towed and the filter replaced when your fuel gels up because the fuel at the gas station you pumped from did not perform as advertised. It is your responsibility to run a cold flow additive throughout the winter. I cannot tell you how many times I've read about these issues in the last few years. Additives are relatively cheap and save you a lot of headache.
 

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If you live in a climate that gets below freezing, run a fuel additive. No exceptions. It is not worth the hassle and the expense of having to have your car towed and the filter replaced when your fuel gels up because the fuel at the gas station you pumped from did not perform as advertised. It is your responsibility to run a cold flow additive throughout the winter. I cannot tell you how many times I've read about these issues in the last few years. Additives are relatively cheap and save you a lot of headache.


Amen !!! I have said the same thing over and over again only to be told "oh that costs extra" .It's well worth the peace of mind .
I have always used an Additive and NEVER have had a fuel issue with fuel gelling or any thing . Also I've never have plugged my Diesels in no matter what the temp is .

Hope every one has a Happy and blessed New Year ..

Manny
 

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It would of started fine if you didn't have so much water... Water is one of the many things stopping diesels from being more mainstream. It is a huge problem.

I reccomend straight number 2 (or blend) PLUS some demulsifier like Howes. That combination will not fail you until it is really cold. How cold I won't really say just because it depends on so much, but definitely lower than -10F.

On the flip side avoid Emulsifiers like the plague. They kill pumps. The bonus to emulsifiers is they are much better at restoring a tank which is already frozen... Diesel 911 is one of these emulsifiers.

If you want something more exotic, standyne's winter additive is very good. Amsoil has their own version of it as well (afik stanadyne makes it but it's not the same as their own line). Plenty of options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I would have changed the fuel filter. No if's and's or but's. When a semi gels up. New filters go on.

Buy fuel from places that sell to trucks in the winter time. They SHOULD be selling fuel that can handle extreme colds. As semi's can be anywhere in the country.

Semi's don't generally need an additive but drivers like to use it anyways. It's a good thing to have if one fuels up in texas then parks in wyoming for the night.

Cars could probably use it more as you guys can't pack the fuel a semi packs.

Howe's is what i use. It's cheap. Cleans injectors and can actually boost mpg. 1 bottle is good for 250 gallons so 1 bottle would probably last you guys through the whole winter. $20 i think it was last time i bought it.
Can you explain the rationale behind changing the filter? As I understand it, once you get the waxy particles melted and fuel flowing again, there should be no residue left behind. I'd understand if the filter was very easy to change and it was how you were getting fuel to flow again. For example adding treatment to the tank and adding treatment to the filter housing and putting in a new filter to get moving. But if you heat up the wax and melt it, what's the lasting harm?

It's a $52 part plus some labor to have it changed. I'm seriously not interested in trying to do it myself in a parking lot in filter clogging temperatures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have been driving in cold weather similiar to yours, I have an extra fuel filter in my car just in case. Did the dealer drain any water out of the filter assembly? I would seriously consider changing the fuel filter. I was driving in minus 8 but my car had been a garage prior to the drive and it was 37 in there.

I try to get my diesel at the same stations I trust when possible.
Do you really mean you keep a spare filter in your car so you can flop down on your back and swap it out in -10 weather if you need to? I am seriously not interested in that as a solution. Personal choice I guess. That's part of the reason I drive a new car is to avoid those types of roadside repairs.

I thought I was buying fuel from a trusted source. I've been buying every tank of fuel I burn from this same station for years (short of long road trips). Never had issues with my TDI. Never had to use an additive. I guess that's over.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It would of started fine if you didn't have so much water... Water is one of the many things stopping diesels from being more mainstream. It is a huge problem.

I reccomend straight number 2 (or blend) PLUS some demulsifier like Howes. That combination will not fail you until it is really cold. How cold I won't really say just because it depends on so much, but definitely lower than -10F.

On the flip side avoid Emulsifiers like the plague. They kill pumps. The bonus to emulsifiers is they are much better at restoring a tank which is already frozen... Diesel 911 is one of these emulsifiers.

If you want something more exotic, standyne's winter additive is very good. Amsoil has their own version of it as well (afik stanadyne makes it but it's not the same as their own line). Plenty of options.
Thank you for the recommendation. Can you explain a little more how water causes gelling, and why having it demulsified is better than emulsified? My understanding of fuel gelling is that the heavier fractions solidify as waxy particles that then clump together to clog filters and injectors. How does water play a role in that?
By my understanding having it emulsified would carry the water along with the fuel through the engine. No harm no foul. Having it demulsified would cause it to collect in the fuel filter housing where it would need drained more often and could freeze.
Please don't interpret my questions as anything but a sincere desire to learn more. I'm a chemist, but not in the field of patroleum fuels. I really want to understand.
 

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Do you really mean you keep a spare filter in your car so you can flop down on your back and swap it out in -10 weather if you need to? I am seriously not interested in that as a solution. Personal choice I guess. That's part of the reason I drive a new car is to avoid those types of roadside repairs.

I thought I was buying fuel from a trusted source. I've been buying every tank of fuel I burn from this same station for years (short of long road trips). Never had issues with my TDI. Never had to use an additive. I guess that's over.
Oh grasshopper just because I keep a fuel filter in car doesn’t mean I am going to crawl under the car in subzero weather, what it DOES mean is if I gel up and get towed to a dealer or mechanic I have the necessary parts needed to get back on the road sooner. I don’t care where you buy fuel, diesel fuel can gel in really cold weather, it is suppose to be -15 where I live tomorrow, I don’t think my fuel will gel but if it does I am more prepared than you are. I am not interested in fixing it on the road even in warm weather.
 

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It would of started fine if you didn't have so much water... Water is one of the many things stopping diesels from being more mainstream. It is a huge problem.

I reccomend straight number 2 (or blend) PLUS some demulsifier like Howes. That combination will not fail you until it is really cold. How cold I won't really say just because it depends on so much, but definitely lower than -10F.

On the flip side avoid Emulsifiers like the plague. They kill pumps. The bonus to emulsifiers is they are much better at restoring a tank which is already frozen... Diesel 911 is one of these emulsifiers.

If you want something more exotic, standyne's winter additive is very good. Amsoil has their own version of it as well (afik stanadyne makes it but it's not the same as their own line). Plenty of options.
Howes actually performed very poorly in the last cold flow tests I saw. The standyne and AMSOIL options are much better.

Sent from my BlackBerry PRIV using Tapatalk
 

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Thank you for the recommendation. Can you explain a little more how water causes gelling, and why having it demulsified is better than emulsified? My understanding of fuel gelling is that the heavier fractions solidify as waxy particles that then clump together to clog filters and injectors. How does water play a role in that?
By my understanding having it emulsified would carry the water along with the fuel through the engine. No harm no foul. Having it demulsified would cause it to collect in the fuel filter housing where it would need drained more often and could freeze.
Please don't interpret my questions as anything but a sincere desire to learn more. I'm a chemist, but not in the field of patroleum fuels. I really want to understand.
Water collects mostly while it's being stored and transported, and that's why it's so hard to control (most people just don't care).

When diesel gels that water will come out of the solution. If the tank was clear you'd see 2 layers. This will cause the fuel lines and other areas to freeze well before the diesel. Pretty simple really.

A demuslifier would of course make that happen quicker. But these additives are far from 100% demuslifiers. Their secondary properties help this in ways out of my head. We just want the water separator to do it's job. Honestly a lot of winter additives don't even have a traditional demuslifier in them.


An Emulsifier will make the water and diesel hold a nice solution for a very long time. Is this a good thing? Maybe. But these Bosch pumps and injectors hate water with a passion. If either of them fail it is most likely caused by water. Put simply using an emulsifier works fine until it doesn't.
 

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Do you really mean you keep a spare filter in your car so you can flop down on your back and swap it out in -10 weather if you need to? I am seriously not interested in that as a solution. Personal choice I guess. That's part of the reason I drive a new car is to avoid those types of roadside repairs.

I thought I was buying fuel from a trusted source. I've been buying every tank of fuel I burn from this same station for years (short of long road trips). Never had issues with my TDI. Never had to use an additive. I guess that's over.
Being from Arizona, admittedly I have zero experience with cold weather and diesels.

The worst my Cummins and my TDI ever did was sit overnight in the low ’teens (F). But they both started the next morning, albeit a little slow cranking but they never had issues. Both vehicles spent several days in sub-freezing temps but were started and run each day without any problems.

I’m curious if this situation was caused because the CTD sat multiple days in sub-freezing temps?

Was the TDI ever exposed to the same conditions? Sounds like the fuel source was the same but the weather in the Midwest has been pretty COLD this year.

Due to the extreme cold, I wonder if starting the CTD everyday would’ve perhaps prevented the gelling process? Or can a fuel problem literally happen within hours and I’ve just been lucky?
 

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Due to the extreme cold, I wonder if starting the CTD everyday would’ve perhaps prevented the gelling process? Or can a fuel problem literally happen within hours and I’ve just been lucky?[/QUOTE]

Starting it everyday and driving it may keep your battery more charged especially on an older one. I don’t think starting it everyday has anything to do with prevention of gelling. If you have water in your fuel it’s more likely to freeze. In colder climates you can freeze gasoline if water is present as well. Buying from a higher volume dealer should help. Seems most likely with the ctd someone buys fuel from a low volume dealer and it still has some summer fuel although that seems unlikely now. Or when the ctd has 800-1000 mile range on a tank of fuel, someone buys diesel further into the south and goes north and runs into a problem, I assume the fuel in the south is a different blend than it is in the northern states. In other words, Oklahoma fuel may be a different blend than Minnesota.
 
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Can you explain the rationale behind changing the filter? As I understand it, once you get the waxy particles melted and fuel flowing again, there should be no residue left behind. I'd understand if the filter was very easy to change and it was how you were getting fuel to flow again. For example adding treatment to the tank and adding treatment to the filter housing and putting in a new filter to get moving. But if you heat up the wax and melt it, what's the lasting harm?

It's a $52 part plus some labor to have it changed. I'm seriously not interested in trying to do it myself in a parking lot in filter clogging temperatures.
You'd be understanding it wrong. Not everything gets melted and cleaned out. And the stuff that DOES break free. Moves in to the fuel lines and injectors. Semi's have 1 or 2 fuel filters. They both get changed whenever a truck gels up.

Sorry about your dillemma but if semi's do. Why wouldn't your car get done. If you don't like the idea. Stick with gas engines. I'd never own a deisel when it comes winter time.

If you read the posts. You'd see i'm not the only one recommending changing.
 

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A few winters back, we had ours gel when the ambient temp hit -16. We ended up getting some Diesel 911 and that re-liquefied the fuel.

It's supposed to get down into the high-negative single digits this week, and perhaps low double digit negatives, so it'll be interesting to see. Prior to it gelling, it was dropping down into the negatives, but I think at most was about -6 - the car would be pissed off, but it would start. Then again, walking into work (1/4 mile walk outside) in those temps isn't exactly something I see as safe, so it might be best to work from home anyway...

How do the winter additives affect fuel economy?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Tonight the low is predicted to be -20F (-29C). This tank is not B20, is from another station, and is treated with diesel 911. We'll see tomorrow how I fare.
Also, according to a Facebook friend, apparently everyone in town is out of diesel 911.
 
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