The winter can throw up some interesting problems from a driver’s perspective. Not only do the roads get more treacherous, but you’ll often have to head out to your car a few minutes earlier than usual to ensure you de-ice all of your windows thoroughly. However, did you know it’s not just your windows that are susceptible to the icy temperatures? Scrap Car Comparison dives into your fuel system to tell you what to do when the mercury drops below zero.
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Can fuel lines freeze in cold weather?
In the coldest of weathers, it is possible for a fuel line to freeze, which can signal the end of your intentions to drive – at least until they are thawed out again. With the UK’s switch to E10 petrol, there is now a greater risk of freezing although the chances of temperatures dropping to temperatures capable of doing so is highly unlikely.
What causes a frozen fuel line?
Frozen fuel lines occur when the water vapour within the line freezes. Any space in your fuel line not filled with fuel will be filled by air, which contains water vapour. Water vapour has the potential to freeze, which could cause a frozen line.
How to tell if your fuel line is frozen
A tell-tale sign of a frozen fuel line will be your car sputtering and stalling – if it even manages to start at all. This will be as a result of the fuel struggling to make it to the engine at all, due to the blockage in the lines getting in the way.
Is it bad to have low fuel in cold weather
Water vapour enjoys cold weather best, and as the temperatures drop it’s more likely that condensation will form on the inside of your fuel tank when it’s low. This condensation can then drip into the fuel itself and, due to the difference in viscosity, will sink to the bottom of the tank. If this water makes its way into your fuel lines then there’s the possibility of freezing. While unlikely, particularly in British climates, it’s always best to make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank – it’ll also help if you get stuck when the British road network inevitably grinds to a halt and you’re stuck on the M25 overnight because of a dusting of snow.
What to do if your fuel line is frozen
Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do except wait. If you can, get the car into the warm – ideally a garage – and let the higher temperatures gradually thaw out the frozen lines. This will likely take upwards of an hour, but shouldn’t require any strenuous work. If you can’t take your car to the heat, then bring heat to the car and place a portable heater near it to warm it up.
If you’re able to get the car to a fuel station, then topping up should help remove any cold air from the tank, and if that still doesn’t work, most auto parts stores – either at garages or on the high street – will sell fuel line antifreeze if you become completely stuck.
How to prevent a frozen fuel line
The simplest option for preventing frozen fuel lines is to just keep your tank as full as possible. While you may say that you’ll be spending an unnecessary amount of money on petrol, just think of it as an investment for future driving. You’re going to need that fuel in the future, you’re just buying it in advance to protect your car’s interior. If you can, try using an ethanol based fuel as this will absorb any water that gets into it. Finally, if you want to be particularly safe, you can add an antifreeze solution made for fuel systems, which can be bought from most major automotive stores – you know the ones, those big orange ones often found near large pet shops and department stores in retail parks.
If your car’s getting on a bit and looks like it isn’t going to make it through another winter, then why not get in touch with our friendly team of experts and see just how much your car could be worth. They’re waiting on the line to ensure you get only the very best price for your car, and what’s more, with a network spanning 99% of all British postcodes, we’ll even be able to provide you with free collection. Get started today by calling our phone line on 03333 44 99 50 or get an instant price with our quote generator and see just how much your car could be worth today.