While cold weather can often be a nice excuse to bundle up by a warm fire, it can often be a hazardous time for your vehicle. Is it possible that your car’s gas line has frozen and that’s why it won’t turn on? Let’s find out.
A car’s gas line can freeze during extremely cold weather. This will usually happen anywhere between -40 and -200 degrees Fahrenheit. People who live in areas with particularly cold winters should consider keeping their vehicles in a warm area during the cold seasons to prevent this issue.
Now that you’re aware of this problem, you’re probably wondering how to solve and/or prevent it. Read on for some helpful tips that will help keep your car warm and functional.
Frozen Gas Lines: Signs and Symptoms
Fuel lines freeze when condensation/water vapor collects in the gas tank. When the water vapor freezes, it prevents gasoline from reaching the combustion chamber, which then prevents your car’s engine from running properly.
If you keep your gas tank full during cold months, you are less likely to run into this problem, however, it is certainly not a guarantee. If you suspect your car’s gas line might have frozen up during a cold spell, there are multiple things you can look for that will confirm this.
Here are some common telltale signs:
First of all, you have a problem if your car will not start. If your vehicle has been sitting out in the cold for an extended period of time, your gas line may be frozen.
As mentioned before, frozen condensation/fuel will not be able to reach the combustion chamber, and this will prevent the car from starting.
Unfortunately, if your car will not start at all, this is probably a sign that the lines are frozen solid and will require a thorough inspection to be fixed.
If your car is sputtering, this means enough fuel is reaching the combustion chamber to start the car, but not enough of it to help the engine run properly. You might have to rev the engine a few times to help the car really get going.
If the engine is turning over but not starting, it’s the same thing. The lines are frozen, but not frozen enough to keep the vehicle from starting completely. You will most likely just have to keep trying, or else try to get your car moved into a warm environment.
If you suspect your gas lines are frozen even if you have gotten your car to start, you should take every measure to get it fixed. Your vehicle might start up just fine, but there is every possibility that frozen fuel lines will cause it to stall or die completely while it’s on the move.
This can be a pretty dangerous possibility, especially if you are driving on slick roads. You should not take the chance if you think your fuel lines are or have been frozen. Get started on a solution right away.
Solving the Problem
It’s true, fuel lines can be pretty bothersome, but don’t sweat it. There are plenty of things you can do to fix this particular problem. Here are a few ideas:
The obvious first step to treating a frozen gas line is to move the car to a warm garage (or someplace similar) and let it thaw out for an hour or two!
If you don’t have a garage or warm space, you can also try hanging a cover or blanket over the hood and letting a drop light shine on it for a while (you can also use a block heater for this). The light’s heat should help things to warm up a little. Keep in mind that even the slightest bit of thawing can make a significant difference.
Once you have thawed your car out a bit, try to start it up. If you are successful in getting the engine to turn over and start, let it run for a little while. If it is still sputtery, rev it a couple of times.
Keep in mind that if your engine is still sputtering, you should not take the car out. Sputtering could potentially lead to sudden stalls, and as we’ve already discussed, that can be fairly dangerous.
At this point, you’re probably asking, “What do I do if I’m in a hurry?” If you are on crunch time, you might consider trying fuel additives that are designed to thaw out fuel lines. You can find most of these additives at any automotive store. Any one of them should do the trick in 30 minutes or less.
Now you know how to fix a frozen fuel line, but you’re probably also curious as to how to prevent this problem from happening in the future. As mentioned before, keeping your gas tank as full as possible as often as possible will help prevent this.
When your tank is empty or only partially full, excess air will build up in the tank, which makes it easier to freeze. A full tank will minimize any extra air in the tank and keep it from freezing up.
Additionally, keeping your battery charged will help you counteract any fuel line freezing. A dead battery will not be able to help you pump gas through your car’s system, so make sure it does not die on you.
Also, as mentioned before, keep your car in a warm place if that’s a possibility. Doing so will lessen the risk of your fuel lines freezing and your car becoming too cold to start.
Other things could be wrong with your car in addition to frozen fuel, most of which have already been talked about.
Gelled fuel (which can often be mistaken for frozen fuel lines) is a common issue. This is when the wax in gasoline separates and clogs the fuel filter.
This can cause the same problem as frozen fuel lines. As mentioned above, your battery might also need some attention. Keep it charged, and if your car won’t start, give jumping it a try.
Keep your car covered or in a warm garage if you can. Failure to do so may not be that big of a deal if you don’t live in an especially cold area. However, keeping it as warm as possible will help prevent your car from experiencing a lot of these issues.
If you happen to stall or break down somewhere in the cold and you’ve tried everything, that probably means it’s time to call roadside assistance. The professionals will help you get back safely, plus you will be able to learn what’s wrong with your car.