Industries often propagate myths to drive up sales. The most popular one by the petroleum industry is that the gas in your car will freeze if you drive around with less than half a tank full of it.
While this idea may sound absurd, hundreds of thousands of car owners believe it and rush to petrol pumps every other day during winter months to get their tanks filled because of it. You could even say that gas freezing is an urban legend car owners nationally tend to be scared of.
We’re here to tell you that this worry is absolutely unnecessary. You’ll probably never see the car in your gas freeze. In fact, no one around you will ever have to deal with this problem.
This is because gasoline has a freezing point of – 100 degrees Fahrenheit or – 73 degrees Celsius. There are no inhabitable cities in the world with temperatures as low as these. Even if you do somehow find yourself driving in such a cold location, you will have more important things to worry about than your gas freezing up.
What Does The Science Say
Gasoline needs incredibly low temperatures to freeze. So unless you’re driving around the North Pole, you don’t need to worry about it freezing up.
However, other fuels have much higher freezing points. For instance, diesel can freeze at around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, you should avoid using it. If you don’t have any other option, look into a fuel blend suited for winter.
Companies that produce blends mix normal fuel with additives that stop it from freezing at lower temperatures.
One important thing to note is that even though gasoline can not be frozen, it is still affected by low temperatures.
How Low Temperatures Affect Gasoline
Unfortunately, even the most absurd myths have some basis in truth. While low temperatures won’t freeze your car’s gasoline, it will still harm your car’s health.
The biggest problem is condensation. You’ve probably seen water vapour fog your car’s windows. Imagine the same happening but on the walls of your gas tank.
Usually, gasoline has alcohol and this alcohol absorbs water. However, if the temperatures are too low and you don’t have enough gas in your tank, all the moisture won’t be absorbed.
If that happens, the droplets will make their way to the bottom of your tank and cause corrosion. This in turn can freeze the gas line. If that happens, the gasoline won’t ever reach your tank in the first place.
You’ll be left with a car that doesn’t start and constantly stalls. Some cars come with sealed fuel injection systems which can bypass this problem. However, it is entirely plausible that your car doesn’t have it. And anyways, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Moreover, the water can also travel to other parts of your car’s engine and stop it from working efficiently. In the worst case, it can kill your vehicle completely.
What To Do If Your Car Doesn’t Start
If you’ve woken up to heavy snow and a car that refuses to start working, you need to take a look at your antifreeze levels. The issue probably has nothing to do with your gas.
Every car has a radiator and this feature is responsible for getting your car to start. However, it needs water to work properly. Water freezes at 0 degree Celsius and snow only happens in sub zero temperatures.
In such situations, antifreeze keeps the water in liquid state below its freezing point. You won’t be able to run to a grocery store and get antifreeze in such a situation so it’s always ideal to keep some in your storage beforehand.
Driving With Low Fuel
Not having enough fuel in your tank can also be super harmful. Firstly, the gas can break down into its elements. If the heavy molecules like the paraffin wax clump together, the other molecules break away. The gas will be useless for you.
Your gas tank will be ruined and you’ll need to take a big bite out of your monthly budget to pay to replace it.
Another potential problem is the fuel pump’s lifespan. It goes down significantly if you don’t keep your tank more than half full. When you run low on gas, the pump starts sucking on air. This can cause it to heat up and call for expensive repairs in the long term.
Lastly, gas meters tend to malfunction during the winter. When your car cools, some features stop working at their optimum. This means that you could have less fuel than your meter is showing at any given point.
Not only is this unfair to you since you won’t know when you need to get a refill, but it is also dangerous. You could unexpectedly have to stop on the side of a deserted road with no way to get back home.
You could also get stuck in winter storm traffic. A full tank of gas will keep you warm and make sure you eventually reach your destination.
Therefore, it is always better to keep your tank filled.
Cars often struggle in winter months because of blocked fuel lines. These tubes are thin and even the slightest moisture can cause problems. Sub-zero temperatures freeze these molecules and stop fuel from flowing.
Gasoline isn’t like water. It does not freeze as easily and is a great fuel for winter months. Unfortunately, many people believe the myth of gas freezing. This simply is not true. It stays in its liquid state even in the most extreme city climates.
This doesn’t mean the cold won’t affect the gasoline at all though. It could be broken down to its elements or your meter could stop working. There are risks attached to driving with less than half a tank of fuel in winter months, however, they do not include the gas freezing.
Even so, the other risks can be quite dangerous. So you should keep your tank full when you can. Also keep some antifreeze with you and make sure to stay safe.