To add or not to add, fuel additives for arctic winter temperatures


#1

Are there any benefits or necessities to fuel additives(like heet) during cold temperatures(around 0 plus or minus)?


#2

Well…it depends. If you keep your vehicle filled up and drive around like that…not so much. I kept my vehicles filled up in Alaska (-40) and in Northern Maine (-70 with windchill) because it kept the moisture down and I needed the added weight for traction. If you drive around with a 1/2 or 1/4 tank you will probably need something like Heet every once in a while.


#3

I agree. Moisture is the big concern. @missileman is exactly right with his suggestions. So, I would buy the additives, keep it on hand, and dump it in as I felt need as the tank dropped to near 1/2 full and I felt it would be a while before I could fill it again. IMHO, in cold weather here in Maine, 1/2 full is treated like empty for a couple reasons. One being this and another being the added safety if you get stranded.


#4

If you live in an area that has 10% Ethanol then moisture probably won’t be much of an issue. Here in NH (and many other parts of this country) gas stations are required to have 10% Ethanol.


#5

If you have a Diesel,then definitely yes.-Kevin


#6

Northern Maine is -70?


#7

In Minnesota I rarely if ever use an additive anymore. I never let the tank get below half in any of my cars. If its 25 below, I might add a bottle of heat but very rarely. In the old days you could get gas line freeze in the low portions of the gas line, but that was before oxy gas and high pressure fuel pumps with fuel injection.


#8

-40 may not be unusual in Caribou, but -70 never happens. So they may be just switched. Alaska is coldddddd. It gets -70 repeatedly.
http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/lowest-temperatures-alaska.php
http://coolweather.net/statetemperature/maine_temperature.htm


#9

Modern fuel systems are not prone to icing the way the old carbureted systems were simply because they operate on totally different principles. Cars used to meter fuel using vacuum drawing fuel through an orifice of a low pressure fuel bowl, and mechanical pumps driven by the crankshaft drew fuel from the tanks under reduced pressure…which happens when you suck fluid from a vessel. Modern systems push fuel through under pressures typically in excess of 40psi all the way from the tank to the injector, where the fuel is sprayed at pressure. The entire system in enclosed and high pressure.

In addition, most areas now use gas with 10% ethanol added, which breaks up water (water molecules tend t stick to one another…evidence “surface tension”) allowing it to be absorbed into and flow with the gas.

I do subscribe to keeping the tank over half full. There are other good reasons for doing so. However I don’t believe anti-icing additives have any value in modern systems using 10% ethanol.


#10

In extremely cold weather I add a small bottle of gasoline de-icer. Only happens every 5 years or so.


#11

Ever since closed systems have come into favor the old adages of adding heet, and the experiences of fuel line freeze ups have disappeared in my world. I had a few gas line freezes in the 70’s, heet or a baked potato on the gas line was the cure. In the olden days air would enter a system, and the moisture would condense, go to the lowest point as water and freeze. I still do a dash of sea foam, but have 2 interesting related stories. First we had a 5 inch rain in MN and stepped in to bail the boat, the boat sunk. The air valve was open on the external tank, so I used a turkey baster to suck the water out, now it was some bad looking stuff, seaweeds and who knows what, this year I decided to drain the gas from my generator that had been treated with stabil, a few years ago. I got about 3 cups of gas, and after sitting there was probably 1/4 cup of what appeared to be water.

Short answer, I think it cannot hurt, but it is not temperature dependent. Most cases if you do not have the gas longer than 3 months you should be ok.


#12

Some of the cheaper additives may even cause harm. I’d just fill it when you get down to ½ tank, and buy gas from a name brand station that gets a lot of traffic–that will ensure you always get fresh, unsullied gas.

If you think about it, not waiting until you’re empty to fill up only has the drawback of meaning you fill your car a little more often, but has several advantages:

-It will keep moisture from condensing in the empty space in the tank.
-The fuel pump will always have plenty of clean gas to cool it.
-You will never suck in the dregs that accumulate at the bottom of every fuel tank in time. As a result, your fuel filter will probably last longer.
-You have the ability to pick n’ choose when and where to fill up–which is great when gas prices can jump up or down 40¢ in a weekend any more.


#13

@Cavell…yes…it got to -70 a couple of times on the flightline at Loring AFB in Maine. It may have been a windchill factor but it was extremely cold. When I lived in Alaska…I resided in Fairbanks and the temperature got down to -40 several times. It was much colder in Northern Maine believe me. Fairbanks is in a “protected” bowl and doesn’t get the extremely cold weather like the rest of the state.


#14

@MM,BRRRR! That must be fairly close to that place in New York,were the armed forces used to do Arctic training-Kevin


#15

No…actually it’s a few hundred miles north of New York at the tip top at the farthest northern point of Maine. Just across the St John River in Canada. BRRRR is absolutely right.


#16

The Arctic training is/was done at Fort Drum - a little North East of Watertown. The cold wasn’t the only reason for the training there…but the snow. It’s at the northern tip of the snow belt near the Canadian border. It can get cold up there (I’ve seen -40). But they get a lot of snow. 150"+/year…with some years over 300".


#17

@missileman The coldest city in the Lower 48 states is International Falls, Minnesota, close to the Canadian border. It has never reached -70 there, to my knowledge. The coldest city in Canada is White River, in Northen Ontario. It set a -80 record some years ago and has never been that cold since.

The coldest inhabited city in the world is Verkhojansk? in Siberia, where average January temperatures are -48C, or -54.4F. Northern Maine is defitnitely not 16 degrees colder than the coldest spot in Siberia. The coldest I have ever experienced in the North East was -35; defintely too cold to ski. The coldest I`ve ever expereinced in North America was on the Beaufort Sea (Arctic Ocean) in February, where it was -58.

Right now we are in a continent-wide cold snap and it’s -25 outside (excluding the wind chill). My wife was at the annual Messia concert last night and had to park outside. Thanks to the 0W20 synthetic oil in her Mazda3 the car started instantly at 11 pm.

I`m sure there are places in Alaska that get -70 from time to time.


#18

Good points, oblivion. Another is that should you end up getting a fill of “bad gas” (rare, but often blamed for other problems), it’ll be diluted in the gas already in the tank sufficiently to not cause a problem. Besides, if you do begin to have operating problems, if you’ve continued this practice of keeping the tank at least 1/2 full you can pretty well rule out “bad gas” as a culprit.

One other is safety. Should we ever have another blizzard like the Great Blizzard of '77 where people were stuck for many many hours in their cars in Massachusetts, you’ll have some heat available to stay warm. When I was in North Dakota (before cell phones) people sometimes froze to death after breaking down on the highways. In some areas it could be days before being found.


#19

I agree. Stabil only helps the gasoline it’sself, not the moisture problem. Generators that sit for a long time have to be drained, run dry and idled with non ethanol gas…or converted to propane.


#20

I really dont see the difference between freezing to death in a deepfreeze or a flashfreezer,your still going to end up a corpsicle,anybody ever read" To build a fire" by Jack London? Times like that would make you glad you are running a gasoline powered vehicle( referring to the conditions you all mentioned of course)'Ice Road Truckers" cured me of a lot of cold weather wanderlust{why dont they use electric brakes on those trailers?}-Kevin