Diesel fuel gets contaminated with water and microbes quite easily, especially during the colder months. All it takes is condensation in the fuel tank or the lines. That water gets into the engine and then, since it's not compressible, bends or breaks a rod. Instead of taking that chance, keep your diesel engine maintained, especially in the cold months.
Fuel is Off Color or Smelly. Diesel should be clear and smell like solvent. Cloudy fuel could mean that it is contaminated by water. If the fuel is dark, it might have heavy ends and asphaltenes breaking out. And, if the fuel smells off, it may be contaminated with microbes.
Smoke. Smoke from the exhaust could mean fuel contamination or that the engine has a problem. If the truck is running properly, then the problem is most likely contaminated fuel. Lube oil, sludge, fuel heavy ends, or asphaltenes could be causing poorly burning fuel.
Misfiring or Stalling. If the engine stalls out or misfires, in all likelihood something is in the fuel that is causing it to burn poorly — if the cetane rating of the fuel is correct, that is. Heavy end substances or water could cause this. You may also experience misfiring or stalling if the fuel filter is contaminated and the contamination is restricting the amount of fuel that is going to the engine.
The fuel could be riddled with soft, sticky stuff. This gets into the fuel filter and doesn't allow the proper amount of fuel to get to the engine. Soft contaminants will clog the filter quickly and often. Gelling is based on the cloud point of the fuel blend rather than a contaminant. At low temperatures, wax separates from the fuel and clogs up the filters. Tank heaters or parking the truck in a heated garage overnight helps to avoid gelling. In some cases, the waxy gel will melt if you can warm up the filter.
Running pure #1 diesel in cold weather also helps prevent gelling. However, availability and cost are major factors in running #1 diesel. Instead, adding a hydrocarbon lowers the cloud point of diesel fuel.
Additive drop-out is also a problem with diesel. However, once additives drop out and gel, they will not re-liquify. To prevent this, accept fuel from only reputable sources. You could also add a bulk filtration system at the tank inlet. This will filter out any soft solids that have already formed in the fuel. These blocking filters will also block free water and allow only dissolved water to get into the tank.
Finally, the place you buy diesel should have dry tanks. You could pump water into your truck if the diesel in the tanks is allowed to go over the saturation point.
Contact Bodacious Diesel
Contact us at Bodacious Diesel if you have problems with diesel becoming contaminated or if it tends to gel.