Diesel fuel starts to get temperamental as the thermometer slides into freezing temperatures. During cold months, diesel can turn into gel, making cold starts incredibly difficult.

A popular method for starting a diesel engine in the cold is to use diesel fuel additives. However, are diesel fuel additives good for your truck, or is it just snake oil?

Continue reading below to find out the pros and cons of using diesel fuel additives in the winter.

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Pros of Using Diesel Fuel Additives

Lowers the Cold Filter Plugging Point

The cold filter plugging point (CFPP) is the lowest temperature at which diesel can pass through a filtration system in a truck.

The CFPP number varies depending on the type of diesel fuel you’re using and how long ago the diesel was refined.

Diesel has naturally occurring paraffin wax inside it, which might be more abundant in certain types of diesel. As the temperatures start to drop, the wax in diesel starts solidifying.

When the wax becomes solid, the diesel will turn cloudy, called the cloud point. The cloud point can happen anywhere from -18°F up to 40°F.

In even more extreme cases, so much of the wax can solidify that the diesel starts turning into a gel. Diesel only starts gelling upin extreme temperatures of around -10°F and only if the truck hasn’t run in days.

The solidified or gelled diesel begins to clog fuel lines and filters, which will block fuel flow. Luckily, fuel additives solve this problem by lowering the CPPP.

That means your fuel won’t start gelling or solidifying even in subzero temperatures.

Water Remover

The biggest problem with diesel fuel in the winter is not from gelling upbut from water. Water is always in diesel fuel, and ice crystals easily clog fuel lines and filters.

Also, water has a much higher freezing point than fuel (20°F-30°F), making water the likely culprit for fuel problems in winter.

Fuel additives use emulsifiers to capture and remove excess water in diesel fuel.

Protects the Engine

Diesel fuel additives also protect the engine by eliminating water and improving lubrication.

Less water in the fuel means that there’s less water going to the engine. Water can cause corrosion, ruin fuel injectors, and lead to lower engine performance.

Fuel additives also increase lubrication, which protects fuel injectors, fuel pumps, and cylinders. That means your engine will run smoother and more efficiently.

Cons of Using Diesel Fuel Additives

Too Many Different Additives

One downside of diesel fuel additives is that there are so many different types on the market. Some are made only for newer engines, or others don’t have anti-freezing capabilities.

There are so many additives that it’s difficult to purchase only one. You’ll likely need to buy several different types, which quickly becomes expensive.

Some Contain Harmful Chemicals

Some diesel fuel additives have alcohol that can damage essential engine parts. O-rings, seals, and compression can all be affected by alcohol.

On top of that, some additives don’t comply with environmental regulations. Check to see if the fuel additive is EPA approved to minimize the effect on the environment.

Prepare for Winter

Clearly, the pros of fuel additives outweigh the cons. The reality is, diesel fuel additives are a necessary part of winter driving.

The upside is that you’ll only need to use them for a few months out of the year. Make sure you get your additives before the winter starts so you’ll never have problems starting your engine in the cold again.

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