Diesel Additive For Cold Weather: What’s Best for Winter

Diesel Additive For Cold Weather

Choosing the right diesel additive for cold weather is essential for maintaining the performance and reliability of diesel engines in low-temperature environments. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting a diesel additive for cold weather:

  1. Cold Flow Improvers: These additives reduce the pour point and cold filter plugging point (CFPP) of diesel fuel. The pour point is the lowest temperature at which the fuel remains fluid, and CFPP is the lowest temperature at which a given volume of diesel passes through a standard filtration device in a set time. Cold flow improvers modify the size and shape of wax crystals that form in cold diesel, preventing them from agglomerating and clogging fuel filters and lines.
  2. Anti-Gel Properties: Anti-gel additives lower the gel point of the fuel, which is the temperature at which the diesel starts to gel and lose its flow properties. These additives work by modifying the wax crystallization process, ensuring that the fuel remains fluid at lower temperatures, typically down to -40°F (-40°C) or lower, depending on the formulation.
  3. Cetane Boosters: Cetane number is a measure of the combustion quality of diesel fuel during compression ignition. Higher cetane numbers (usually between 45 and 55 for most diesel engines) indicate quicker ignition of fuel. In cold weather, a higher cetane number can help with easier starting of the engine and more efficient combustion, reducing engine knock and smoke.
  4. De-icing Components: These additives contain methanol or isopropanol which can absorb any water in the fuel system, reducing the risk of ice formation in fuel lines and filters. Water in the fuel system can freeze at 0°C (32°F), leading to blockages. De-icing additives are especially important in regions where temperatures drop below the freezing point.

Remember, always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. If you’re unsure, consulting with a diesel mechanic or a professional familiar with diesel engines in cold climates can provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Brands of Diesel Additive For Cold Weather

Product Reason Measurements
Power Service Diesel Fuel Supplement +Cetane Boost Contains anti-gel additives that lower the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) of diesel fuel, improving flow in cold temperatures. The cetane boost improves cold start performance. Often reduces CFPP by a significant degree, though the exact measurement varies depending on the base fuel.
Howes Diesel Treat Designed to prevent fuel gelling and freeze-ups without using alcohol or harmful solvents. It also includes moisture eliminators to reduce the risk of icing in fuel lines. Specifically formulated to be effective in temperatures as low as -30°F (-34°C).
Stanadyne Performance Formula Improves cold weather starting and prevents gelling. It also cleans and lubricates fuel injectors, which is crucial in cold weather when fuel viscosity increases. Tailored for temperatures down to -40°F (-40°C), with specific cetane improvement numbers based on dosage.
Lucas Oil Anti-Gel Cold Weather Diesel Treatment Specifically formulated to prevent diesel fuel from thickening and contains dispersants for moisture control, reducing the risk of freezing in fuel lines. Effective in reducing the pour point of typical diesel fuels, often by up to 20°F (-7°C).
Opti-Lube XPD and Winter Formula The Winter Formula is designed to enhance fuel lubricity and prevent gelling in cold temperatures. It also improves cetane numbers for better cold start performance. Can improve CFPP by up to 20°F (-7°C), depending on the fuel and environmental conditions.
Archoil AR6200 Fuel Treatment Focuses on improving fuel burn efficiency, which is crucial in cold weather for reliable engine starts and reduced soot emissions. While specific cold weather measurements aren’t always provided, the improved efficiency is beneficial in low temperatures.
Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Winter Anti-Gel Formulated to prevent fuel gelling and includes a wax anti-settling agent plus moisture dispersants to prevent ice formation in fuel lines. Often lowers the pour point of diesel fuel by up to 40°F (22°C).
Schaeffer Oil Diesel Treat 2000 This additive improves cold weather operability, reduces the CFPP of diesel fuel, and enhances cetane levels for better cold start performance. Typically provides a reduction in CFPP, although specific numbers depend on the fuel quality.
REV-X High Performance Oil Additive Enhances fuel efficiency and performance in cold weather. Although more focused on oil performance, it aids in better engine operation during cold starts. Specific cold weather measurements are not the primary focus but improved engine efficiency aids in cold climates.
BG Diesel Cold Weather Conditioner Reduces the pour point and CFPP of diesel fuel, ensuring better flow and filterability in cold temperatures. It also contains moisture control additives. Can lower the pour point by significant degrees, often in the range of 20-30°F (-7 to -11°C).

Selecting the Right Diesel Additive for Cold Weather

1. Assessing Compatibility with Your Vehicle

  • Importance of Compatibility: Diesel engines and fuel systems vary in design and specification. Using an additive incompatible with your vehicle can lead to reduced effectiveness or even damage to the engine.
  • Technical Specifications: Check the vehicle’s manual for any specific recommendations or warnings about diesel additives. Pay attention to factors like the type of injection system (e.g., common rail, unit injector) and emission control systems (e.g., particulate filters).
  • Fuel Specifications: Ensure the additive is suitable for the type of diesel fuel used (e.g., ultra-low sulfur diesel, biodiesel blends).

2. Brand Reputation and Reviews

  • Evaluating Brands: Look for brands with a proven track record in the industry. Established brands often invest in research and development to create effective, safe additives.
  • Technical Endorsements: Consider additives that have certifications or endorsements from recognized automotive or fuel industry bodies.
  • User Reviews: Read reviews from other users, especially those in similar climates or with similar vehicles. Look for comments on the additive’s effectiveness in cold weather and any impact on engine performance.

3. Frequency of Use

  • Regular Use Additives: These additives are designed to be used with every fill-up and typically contain lower concentrations of active ingredients. They are formulated for ongoing protection and performance improvement.
  • Occasional Use Additives: These are more concentrated and are used periodically, especially in anticipation of extreme cold weather. They are ideal for short-term protection against severe cold weather conditions.
  • Understanding Formulations: Pay attention to the recommended usage frequency and concentration levels indicated on the product. Overuse or incorrect concentration can lead to issues such as fuel system deposits or inefficient combustion.

By considering these factors, you can select a diesel additive that not only helps your vehicle perform optimally in cold weather but also aligns with the specific needs and specifications of your engine and fuel system.

Technical Considerations for Choosing Diesel Additives in Cold Weather

1. Technical Specifications and Standards

  • ASTM Standards: The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) provides standards that are critical in evaluating diesel fuel and additives. For example, ASTM D6751 covers biodiesel fuel blend stock (B100) for middle distillate fuels, and ASTM D975 is a standard for diesel fuel oils, which includes specifications affected by additives, like cetane number, viscosity, and cold flow properties.
  • Engine Manufacturer Standards: Some engine manufacturers specify certain standards or requirements for additives. These might include limits on certain chemicals or performance criteria that additives must meet.
  • Environmental Regulations: Be aware of environmental regulations regarding emissions, as some additives can impact emission characteristics. For instance, regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. may influence the choice of additives.

2. Measurements in Additive Concentration

  • Parts Per Million (ppm): Concentration levels of certain active ingredients in additives are often measured in parts per million. This denotes the ratio of the volume of the additive component to the volume of fuel. For example, an additive concentration might be 200 ppm, meaning 200 parts of additive per million parts of fuel.
  • Dosage Rates: Understanding dosage rates is crucial. These are typically given in terms of volume of additive per volume of fuel (e.g., milliliters per liter). Overdosing can lead to increased costs and potential engine or fuel system issues, while underdosing may not provide the desired protection or performance enhancement.

3. Regional Cold Weather Challenges

  • Understanding Local Climate: The effectiveness of an additive can depend significantly on the specific cold weather conditions in your region. Factors like average winter temperatures, humidity, and frequency of extreme cold snaps play a role.
  • Gel Point and CFPP Variations: Different regions may require additives with varying capacities to lower the gel point and CFPP of diesel fuel. For example, an area with temperatures regularly dropping below -20°C (-4°F) will need a more robust anti-gel additive compared to a region with milder winters.
  • Local Fuel Formulations: Diesel fuel formulations can vary regionally, especially in terms of wax content and cetane number. This variation affects how a diesel additive interacts with the fuel, necessitating an understanding of the local fuel characteristics.

Incorporating these technical considerations ensures that the chosen diesel additive effectively meets the specific demands of cold weather operation while adhering to industry standards and vehicle requirements.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Diesel Additives in Cold Weather

1. Evaluating the Cost of Additives

  • Initial Purchase Price: Consider the upfront cost of the additive. This is often represented as a price per gallon or liter.
  • Dosage Efficiency: Calculate the cost per use by considering the dosage rate (e.g., ml of additive per liter of fuel) and the total volume of fuel treated. A more concentrated additive might seem expensive initially but could be more cost-effective in the long run.
  • Bulk Purchasing: For those who use additives regularly, buying in bulk can reduce the cost per treatment.

2. Potential Savings in Maintenance and Fuel Efficiency

  • Preventing Cold Weather Damage: By preventing fuel gelling and waxing, additives can save on costly repairs associated with cold weather damage, such as clogged fuel filters and lines or damaged fuel pumps.
  • Improved Fuel Efficiency: Certain additives improve combustion efficiency, which can lead to marginal improvements in fuel economy. Over time, these savings can offset the cost of the additive.
  • Engine Longevity: Regular use of certain additives can reduce wear and tear on the engine, potentially extending its lifespan and delaying expensive overhauls.

3. Long-term Benefits of Using the Right Additive

  • Consistent Engine Performance: Additives can ensure consistent engine performance, even in low temperatures, leading to less downtime and more reliable operation.
  • Reduced Emissions: Some additives help in reducing emissions, which is not only environmentally beneficial but may also be crucial for compliance with regional environmental regulations.
  • Resale Value: Maintaining engine health with appropriate additives can contribute to higher resale values for vehicles, especially in markets where buyers are concerned about cold-weather operation history.

4. Quantifying the Benefits

  • To quantify the benefits, compare the total cost of using the additive (including purchase and application costs) against the estimated savings from reduced maintenance, improved fuel efficiency, and potential engine longevity. This calculation provides a clearer picture of the return on investment.

While the immediate cost of diesel additives might seem like an added expense, their use can result in significant long-term financial benefits. These benefits stem from improved engine performance, reduced maintenance costs, and potentially improved fuel efficiency, especially in cold weather conditions where diesel engines face additional challenges.


Selecting the right diesel additive for cold weather is a crucial step in ensuring the smooth operation and longevity of diesel engines during the winter months. Cold weather presents unique challenges such as fuel gelling and freezing, which can significantly impact engine performance and reliability.

The additives from reputable brands like Power Service, Howes, Stanadyne, Lucas Oil, Opti-Lube, Archoil, Hot Shot’s Secret, Schaeffer Oil, REV-X, and BG Products offer various solutions to these issues.

These products are designed to lower the Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP) of diesel fuel, improve fuel flow in low temperatures, and enhance overall engine performance during cold starts. By understanding the specific needs of your vehicle and the typical winter conditions in your area, and considering the technical specifications and measurements of these additives, you can make an informed decision that ensures your diesel engine operates efficiently and reliably in cold weather.

Remember, the right diesel additive not only prevents potential problems but also contributes to the optimal performance and maintenance of your diesel engine in challenging winter conditions.

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