Gasoline is one of the most pivotal discoveries in human history. Without it, we would have no cars, no engines, no industries. Gasoline is as essential to our everyday life in the 21st century as food and oxygen. Of course, gasoline doesn’t just come out of the earth as is, crude oil has to be processed and go through a lot of clever methods before it can finally be put into our cars. But just like everything else, it is also not perfect and susceptible to various issues. One such common issue is when the temperature drops too low and gasoline starts to freeze over. Of course, being a liquid, it is going to freeze. But at what exact temperature? Also, what steps do you need to follow to make sure that even a fairly affordable car can run just as smoothly in the cold winter as it does in the hot summer? Keep reading to find out.
Let us first talk about the composition of gasoline and what constitutes gasoline. Gasoline is not a single entity, per se. It is also not what you would call “pure”. Instead, it consists of a ton of other hydrocarbons and other additives that make it “gasoline”. Some of these hydrocarbons include ethanol, toluene, octane, hexane, heptane, etc. All these hydrocarbons have different properties, they also come with their boiling and melting points. Also, that means that each substance that constitutes gasoline also has its very own freezing point too.
If you are wondering what exact temperature gasoline freezes at, we are sorry to disappoint you, but there is no correct answer. Instead, no one can exactly tell you at which particular temperature the liquid will freeze. Gasoline does have a freezing range or a range of temperature within which the liquid is most likely to freeze. Unlike water, gasoline will not start freezing immediately. It will show different behavior with temperature drops. First off, the sediments will come out of the liquid. Then, you will notice that the gasoline slowly turns waxy. Next, you will notice that it becomes waxier and becomes squishier. The entire liquid starts to slowly solidify. That is how gasoline starts to freeze.
However, it must be noted here that it also heavily depends on the impurities and other sediments that are present in the mixture. If the gasoline is not mixed with other sediments and impurities, it is unlikely to cause a lot of trouble. However, if it does contain a greater number of impurities, these impurities can solidify and get stuck in the car’s fuel line, causing all sorts of trouble.
Now, the figure you have been waiting for, is around -40 to -200 degrees F. We know, that it is a pretty large range, but this is just an estimate as the composition of gasoline will drastically change its freezing point. Despite not having a proper estimate, this range should still give you a proper idea about how cool the temperature has to be before your gasoline freezes over.
However, problems will start arising before this temperature is hit. Why? Well, that is because even before gasoline has the chance to freeze, the water and the water vapor in the car will freeze. Frozen water inside your car can be the cause of big trouble. The fuel tank can freeze and it can even block the fuel line, preventing the gasoline from reaching the engine.
So, how would you spot if you have a frozen fuel line? Well, there are certain symptoms you should look out for. Firstly, when you are driving your car in the winter, if you notice the car sputtering and stalling more often than not, then that might be a cause of concern. The tank might not be frozen, but the fuel line can still be frozen, which will inevitably cause problems and the car will not run smoothly.
Next up, if your car just straight up fails to start, that is yet another reason for you to dig deep and find out the cause. However, this typically does occur a lot in colder temperatures, and oftentimes, the only solution is to let it warm up before you can take the car out for a spin. However, if this problem persists, this might be caused due to a frozen tank (at worst) or a fuel line blockage, as discussed earlier.
A solution you can try is to put your car inside an enclosed area. You should never leave your car out in the cold, as that will only accelerate the freezing. If possible, even before winter arrives, you must put your car inside an enclosed area to make sure that it is protected from the winter as much as possible. Just like we require sweaters and jackets during winter, our cars require some warmth too. Another method to try is to put some antifreeze additives in the tank. You will find these in any automobile store and put them inside the tank. Wait for a little while and the mixture should kick in and defrost your fuel line.
If you want to completely prevent the fuel line from freezing, there are two steps you can follow, such as keeping the tank full. This will ensure that there will be less water vapor inside the system and it will ensure that the fuel line doesn’t get enough moisture to be frozen. Another step to follow is to add the antifreeze treatment before the fuel line is frozen to avoid it from being frozen completely.
So, to answer the question, there is no particular temperature at which gasoline freezes. It depends on the type of impurities it contains and the stuff that makes it up. However, there is a range within which the tank might freeze. Before that though, your fuel line will be frozen due to the excess water vapor, as we mentioned earlier. Be sure to follow the steps mentioned above to have a happy journey during the winters.