How to Prevent and Treat Gel in your Diesel Fuel


During most winters in Indiana we don’t have to worry too much about “gelling”, but this winter, with the polar vortex engulfing our lovely state, its become a term that is popping up all too frequently. In this blog we’re going to take a look at gelling, what it is, signs it may be happening, how to treat it, and how to prevent it. Its cold out so lets just keep moving…

What is gelling?

Gelling is more or less what occurs when your Diesel fuel freezes. The temperature at which this occurs, varies based on the amount of water in your diesel fuel, however most fuels experience gelling at around 0°. Usually the fuel begins to gel in the fuel filter as this is a very open area. The gel piling up in your filter will make your tractor bog down and eventually die, if it starts at all.

What are the symptoms of gelling?

The primary symptoms of gelling are when your tractor wont start or when it will start for few minutes but then dies and wont restart. It is needless to say that gelling only occurs when the temperatures are very low. If your tractor is experiencing these conditions in warm weather, then you probably are experiencing another problem.

What are the treatments for gelling?

The only real treatment for gelling is warming up the fuel in your fuel filter. There are a couple ways to do this based on how quickly you need to use your tractor.

  • The fastest treatment is to drain your fuel filter then fill it with room temperature fuel. This is only the fastest treatment if you have room temperature fuel.
  • You can also warm the fuel that is already in your filter (This takes longer)
    • You can take the filter off and take it inside
    • You can put heat on the tractor itself if you can get to a heated garage or near a space heater.

How can you prevent gelling?

There are many additives that you can use to treat your diesel fuel that prevent gelling. We use and sell Winter Power which we recommend. The one thing that you have to remember is that if you add an additive or fuel with additives already in them, you have to run the engine for a while. This allows the additives to run through the fuel system and do their job.

Extra bit of advice:

If its cold enough for your fuel to gel, you also need to check your tire pressure. Tire pressure can reduce in cold temperatures and if you drive on a low tire you my tear into a sidewall and need to replace it. Save yourself some time and money and make sure you’re pressure is up.

Well there you have it, the full scoop on gelling. For more information on starting your diesel engine in cold weather check out our tips here. Stay warm!