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Gas line freeze problem

I am wondering why my 2000 Ford Taurus experiences gas line freeze on a handful of occasions each winter, when our other vehicles never have this problem during our winters. It doesn’t get extremely cold here, I live 50 mi south of Indianapolis, IN. Last winter I had this problem on a few occasions, and basically just waited for the temp to warm up above freezing, and the car started. Now it has happened again this year, with temps down in the high teens/low 20’s. Car is parked under a carport at night - my battery is cranking strong, my fuel pump is doing it’s humming noise when the key is turned ‘on’, tank was filled a day or two before this happened, and our other vehicles are starting just fine. We do use Heet in our gas tanks during the winter, but I hadn’t gotten around to adding any to my tank before this incident. I have lived in northern Wisconsin and the Chicago area, and never had this happen to my old beaters back in those days…what is the big problem with the Taurus?

I have lived in Alaska and Northern Maine and I have a tip for you. Keep your gas tank full throughout the winter and you probably won’t suffer from “gas line freeze.” A can of Heet every now and then during the winter months won’t hurt either. The problem is caused by low levels of gasoline in the gas tank. A full level will keep the moisture out of the gas tank for the most part.

It might not be a frozen line.
Have a helper you don’t like to sniff near the exhaust pipe for raw gas while it’s cranking.
Have you checked for spark when it’s down?
It could be a crank/cam position sensor that’s temp sensitive.

I agree with missileman. I used to park in a warm underground garage at work, and was told to keep my gas tank topped up. The problem arises when a large amount of moist air has the water vapor condense and forms water in your gas tank. If you live in an apartment with underground parking and have to park outside at work and live in a cold region, the situation is worst.

Of course a bottle of gas,one antifreeze very now and then will ensure that water gets absorbed.

Since nearly all gas contains 10% ethanol, how can adding gas line antifreeze possibly help? It’s usually methanol or isopropanol.

I have no doubt that ambient temperature affects your engine’s starting performance, but I believe that blaming gas line freezeup is focusing in the wrong direction. It may be preventing you from focusing on solving the actual problem.

I believe you’re actually dealing with something like a bad temps sensor or a failing fuel pump. The temp sensor I’m referring to tells the ECU that it’s cold and the ECU then ignores the oxygen sensor and allows the engine to run rich when it’s cold. If it’s bad it the engine won’t start or run properly when it’s cold, but since the ECU has nothing to compare it to it won’t store a fault code. It simply thinks the engine is warm.

A word about gas line freeze up. There are factors in todays cars that make this a nonissue. Carburated cars had low pressure areas, in the gas feed that allowed ice crystals to form, and the whole system was a low pressure system. Today’s cars have a high pressure (typically 40psi or above) system that’s completely sealed from the gas pump to the injector outlet. There’s no “draw”, no low pressure area to allow the ice crystals to form. In addition, most areas use 10% ethanol additive to oxygenate the gas. Ethanol is an alcohol, just like HEET. Alcohols interfere with the molecular attraction that causes water molecules to bond to one another and condense, allowing the molecules to be absorbed by and carried with the gas through the lines. The water simply vaporizes in the cylinder, adding to the water vapor being created in the combustion process.

Bottom line: you need to look elsewhere to solve y our problem. I’d start by testing the temp sensor.

E10 gasoline contains ethanol. Ethanol absorbs moisture and then the ethanol/moisture can phase seperate out of the gas and settle at the bottom of the gas tank.

Most fuel system additives that prevent fuel systems from freezing contain isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol will also absorb moisture but it doesn’t allow it to phase seperate out. Instead it holds it in suspension so it can be removed and burned in the engine.


Technical arguments aside, would you agree that the OP needs to be looking elsewhere for the cause of his/her problem? I truly believe the problem is not gas line freezeup.

So, I know that isopropanol is better, but will methanol work on phase-separated gas, if you agitate it to get mixing?

Phase separated gasoline? I think you misunderstand Tester’s post or the link thereto.

I think the discussion has gone sideways, and I’m to blame and apologize. In attempting to explain why I don’t think gas line freezeup is the OP’s problem, I got into an area that Tester, myself, and some of the others here could have a lengthy discussion about. But it would not help the OP. Perhaps we should do it in a new thread.

Back to the original problem. I think the OP needs to look for a malfunctioning component or sensor. My first guess would be the temp sensor. I think that by trying to combat perceived gas line freezeup he/she is following a dead end.

Again, I apologize. In trying to help the OP I may have created a monster.

thanks for all the helpful advice, folks! I’ll follow up on the tips, and give credit where it’s due if I’m able to get this fixed.

I think that mountainbike is on the right track with this issue, but all of this leads to a question that has been bothering me for a few days. Most of us seem to be under the impression that ethanol prevents water-related issues with gasoline, but Tester posted something to the contrary, and that information is certainly something to consider.

Recently, the BG company has been running radio ads in my area for one of their fuel additives, and they claim the following:

“BG Ethanol Fuel System Drier–Ethanol-containing gasoline is highly susceptible to water accumulation which can cause corrosion on fuel system components. BG Ethanol Fuel System Drier forms a stable solution with water and gasoline allowing the water in the tank to pass harmlessly through the fuel system, without affecting the combustion process.”

I have been under the impression that BG markets good products, rather than, “snake oil”, so my question is…

Does the ethanol-laced gasoline that we are (unfortunately) forced to buy cause water-related problems, or does it prevent them?

And, if ethanol-laced gasoline does indeed lead to water contamination in our gas tanks, should we all be using this BG product or something similar?

I would look at a problem with the sealed fuel system. In the olden days half full or more was the standard, but with the new closed systems gas line freezes are much less common. Wifee may go years with 1/4 tank being plenty, and no freezes. If you have a leak it may be breathing in and out air resulting in condensation. The gas line is the lowest point where the gas line collects water and freezes. Next time add some heet, and see if it starts an hour later.

People think that todays fuel systems are sealed. And they are until you remove the gas cap and start adding fuel to the gas tank.

When you start adding fuel to the gas tank, the flow of gas from the nozzle on the gas pump creates a venturi effect. This draws outside air into the gas tank which then pressurizes the gas tank so the gas vapors are forced into the carbon canister. If you live in an area where there’s constant high humidity, over time you can pump a lot of moisture into the gas tank.

I add Seafoam to my gas tank at the beginning of the winter season. It contains isopropyl alcohol so I know it wont allow phase seperation and will remove any moisture.


If phase separation was occurring, the car wouldn’t start at all, and the fuel system would need to be cleaned out, at the very least. I agree with my ol’ buddy the same mountainbike. I don’t think a frozen gas line is your problem.

I know next to nothing about this topic, but I do recall years ago when I’d occasionally fly with a friend in his small 4 seat-er plane in Colorado mountain country, before taking off he’d always open some test valves on the bottom of the wings (where the fuel tanks were) and smell what came out to make sure it was gasoline and not water. At least in that case water could separate from the gasoline and go to the bottom of the tank.

No, when you open the gas tank, as you fill the tank the air/gas vapors go out around the gas nozzle and leave the tank. If you fill it all the way up, you drive out all that potentially moist air. Thus the desirability of filling your tank all the way up when you do. (This is not true in places like St Louis where they have these rubber grommits on the nozzle to keep the vapors in). Anyway, I go back to my recent question. We know isopropanol can help with this ethanol/water mix. Can methanol help?


Thanks tester, that leads credence to my previously supposed situation where air is being exchanged and causing condensation, ie evap problem, thus gas line freeze. The symptoms are so classic, I cannot let it go.

Dump a couple of bottles of isopropyl-based “Heet” or similar in the tank and keep filling it full. If you got some water in the tank due to condensation or contaminated fuel, it will take a while to get it all out. I wouldn’t add methanol. It won’t work as well as isopropyl alcohol and is extremely corrosive.