How to make your diesel fuel last longer in the winter

white suv driving on snow covered road

Although the days are already getting longer, you may have noticed it’s still pretty chilly out there. In fact, with an official start date of December 21, wintertime has only just begun.

Lower temperatures mean lower mileage from your diesel fuel and lower energy content. This occurs because as temperatures drop, the diesel blend is changed to prevent it from becoming thicker and more gel-like.  This thinner, or ‘winter’ blend, unfortunately, contains less energy as a byproduct of the mixture.

Fortunately, there are ways to slow down the effects of Old Man Winter when it comes to your diesel fuel. However, it’s important to note, that ultimately, we have to call a spade a spade. You can make your fuel last longer, but at the end of the day, it won’t last as long as it does in the summertime.

Add the additives

Diesel fuel contains about 10 percent more energy per litre than gasoline. It’s one of the attributes that makes diesel so efficient. However, in colder climates, the Cetane level drops—how fast the fuel burns—and diesel fuel loses some of its natural energy, amounting to less mileage.

You’ll find many places use an additive like Stanadyne Performance Formula or Alliant Power Ultraguard to their fuel during colder months, to combat the effects of the  “winter blend.” This additive combined with the fuel forms a blended substance which helps offset the effects of the lower cetane level in the fuel.

The additive also helps with lubrication, protecting your injection systems. The cost per tank for using a quality additive may seem high, but it more than pays for itself in the additional mileage you’ll receive.

Location, location, location

Just as in real estate, location is everything. Since the Lower Mainland doesn’t suffer from the chillingly low temperatures that plague much of the province, winter diesel at the pumps here are not as common. Pumps in Chilliwack or Hope, for example, are guaranteed to have winter diesel.

It’s very important that if you’re going up north for a ski trip, you don’t assume you’re receiving the right diesel at the pumps in the Lower Mainland. It’s better to fill up once you hit more mountainous terrain where you can be sure you’re receiving winter diesel.

General maintenance

There are several other checks and balances to keep your diesel lasting longer such as plugging in your truck to a block heater for a few hours in the morning; changing your engine oil to synthetic oil, which flows easier in the cold weather; and regularly checking your tire pressures.

If you’re unsure what you need for where you’re living, or if you’re heading somewhere extremely cold, give us a call. We’re happy to make recommendations on a case-by-case basis.  

Want to learn more about winter diesel? Read our article about the differences between winter and regular diesel fuel