Car fuel lines do freeze during extreme low temperatures and block off fuel to your engine. Listed here are the reasons why and ways in which to prevent this happening.
It is that time of year for many across the world when we look outside and see centimetres of snow and the temperature, especially at night, drops to a good few degrees or more below zero.
Of course many of us rely on our vehicles during this period to get to work, visit family or friends.
So what happens when we go out to our cars and the car turns over but won’t fire up? Chances are that your fuel lines may actually be frozen over.
A frozen fuel line is not usually an expensive problem to fix. However it can be extremely inconvenient, especially when we really do need to use our cars! For many the idea of towing the vehicle to a garage or actually waiting for warmer weather is often the easiest solution. But for others we just haven’t got the time.
Frozen fuel lines in a vehicle is not a common phenomenon. However it is possible for a fuel line to freeze inside. This sounds confusing as we believe fuels to withstand extreme temperatures before it freezes.
Well the problem isn’t the fuel! If the temperature outside is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and the vehicle is sitting outside, fuel line freeze-up can and does occur. This happens because water vapour in our gas tanks and fuel lines actually mixes with the residual fuel in the line.
Warming fuel lines
The most practical solution to ease the chances of this happening is to move the car to a location where the temperature is above freezing. Of course if you have a garage in which to park your car that is heated, especially during the night, this will and usually does stop any fuel line from freezing.
Another solution is to park the car where you know the sun during the day will strike your vehicle. A slight rise just above freezing will cause the blockage to melt after a couple of hours. With the vehicle exposed to any sunlight or gentle rise in temperature above freezing, attempt to start the car again after two to three hours.
Fuel Line Antifreeze
They do exist and just like adding anti-freeze to your car’s water system, adding a product like HEET, which is speciality fuel line antifreeze, helps thaw out a frozen fuel line. Such a product and similar ones are available at gas stations or auto parts stores. This product contains isopropyl alcohol or methanol. This absorbs the water in the fuel lines and stops it from freezing in low or extreme temperatures. Once this is in your fuel tank allow the car sit for an hour or so before trying to start it.
HEET or similar fuel antifreeze additives are commonly available
Blow out Fuel Line Blockages
In extreme cases another solution is to remove the fuel line in question and then blow it out with a compressor. It is possible to do this work yourself even if you have limited knowledge of how a car works. It helps to have a car manual, such as a Haynes Manual specifically for your make and model. However for many you may not feel comfortable under the hood so consult a trusted professional to carry out the work for you.
As mentioned it is always a good idea to prevent such a problem happening in the first place. Always make sure your battery is fully charged. You can do this by taking your car for a long run to allow the alternator to re-charge the battery to maximum. Note that running your car on short journeys with such items as your de-mister switched on, blowers and lights, will cause your battery to drop in charge. So a good run during the day time helps re-store power in your battery.
Adding a fuel additive will also help to stop the fuel from freezing. Condensation exists in fuel tanks and does freeze at low temperatures, therefore blocking the fuel from reaching the fuel pump or fuel lines. So a good idea is to keep your fuel tank as full as possible during the winter to minimise possible condensation problems in your fuel system.
Published in: Do-It-Yourself