WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH WINTER DIESEL FUEL?
Did you know that Canada is classified as an ‘arctic climate’ in the diesel fuel injection world? Many Canadian diesel owners on the prairies (and up North) routinely see temperatures drop to minus 30 or minus 40 degrees Celsius during the average Canadian winter. These frigid temperatures can create starting problems if your diesel engine isn’t properly prepared to deal with Jack Frost.
Most Canadian fuel stations will have diesel fuel that is available at the pumps as ‘Summer’ diesel fuel (called Diesel No.2) that is usually used May to October, and then a ‘Winter’ diesel fuel that is used from November to April (called Diesel No.1).
When diesel fuel gets cold, it starts to get ‘cloudy’ and thicken up which reduces the flow rates through the fuel system – it’s like trying to pump molasses through your injectors.
If the diesel fuel gets even colder, it will eventually ‘gel-up’ and turn into a gelatinous mess that looks a lot like Jell-O in your fuel tank. We all know that a tank full of Jell-O isn’t going to run your engine very well.
How is winter diesel different?
The key component in diesel No.1 is kerosene. The kerosene helps lower the pour-point & cloud-point of the diesel to prevent it from gelling up and keep it flowing easily.
Winter diesel is usually a mixture of of No.1 & No.2 diesel to create a ‘Winter Blend’ that will not gel-up when the temperatures drops. As a residents of the Lower Mainland, NW Fuel Injection staff members know that the temperatures don’t really drop too dramatically here – there are a few days that will be somewhat chilly, but overall the winters on the coast are fairly mild. The local winter diesel blend may be 80% of the No.2 diesel, and 20% of the No.1 diesel. But – if you are in Prince George for example, the winter diesel blend may be different – possibly only 50% of the No.2 diesel is used and 50% of the No.1 diesel is required to help maintain proper fuel flow while dealing with the much lower winter temperatures.
So, why don’t we run winter diesel all the time?
If you are up north in the Yukon or Nunavut, then the winter blend may be 100% No.1 diesel to ensure that your diesel engine will be able to start on those frosty northern mornings. No matter where you are, be sure that you are filling up with the appropriate fuel wherever you will be going – if you’re leaving Richmond to skiing for the weekend up at Big White, be sure to fill-up in Chilliwack or Hope with a tank full of winter diesel to ensure your engine will start to get you back home again.
Adding Kerosene to diesel fuel helps prevent it from gelling up, but it also dilutes the diesel fuel, reducing the BTU’s of energy released when compressed. Simply put – running winter diesel fuel in your diesel engine will make less power and consume more fuel to make the same power as summer diesel. We use a winter blend of diesel fuel in Canada not because we want to, but because we HAVE to.
Is there any way to help restore the power and mileage lost when using winter diesel?
Using a fuel additive like Stanadyne Performance Formula is highly recommended when using winter diesel. Stanadyne Performance Formula helps address the lower power issue with a Cetane enhancer to help restore lost power and also has anti-gelling properties to keep the fuel flowing smoothly at low temps.
The kerosene in winter diesel helps to prevent gelling, but it can also act like a solvent and wash away the lubricating properties of the diesel fuel. Stanadyne Performance Formula contains lubricants to make the fuel slippery again – it’s like adding tiny liquid ball-bearings to your fuel system. Stanadyne Performance Formula also contains detergents to help reduce carbon deposits and keep the internals of your pump and injectors clean and working properly.
Planning on some winter driving? Whether you’re heading to Edmonton for Christmas, or Whistler for the weekend, keep your diesel engine running strong and reliably with Stanadyne diesel fuel additives to ensure Old Man Winter doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. If you’re reading this from the side of the road follow this link to shop our diesel parts.