As you ought to know, cold weather can create problems for folks who run biodiesel in their vehicles. The B99.9 that Dr. Dan’s is selling should be fine for most of the usual winter weather we experience in the greater Puget Lowlands, but it’s important to remember that prolonged exposure to sub-freezing temperatures can cause the fuel to gel.
There are two important factors to keep in mind: is your vehicle being driven regularly, and what are the 24-hour average temperatures it is being exposed to? Driving your car not only warms up the fuel system, but stirs the fuel in your tank to help keep solids from forming and dropping out of suspension, which can clog your fuel filter. It takes time for biodiesel to gel, and just one cold night won’t necessarily cause problems if you are driving it in the morning. Even parking your car in a spot that gets radiant heat from sunlight can make a difference. It’s also important to keep in mind that trucks tend to be more temperature sensitive than cars because of exposure and unheated fuel components. In cold weather conditions (when the average temperature is below freezing and the ground is frozen solid), you should be proactive and anticipate that the fuel in your vehicle could gel
In the event of gelling, applying heat will reconstitute the fuel. Be aware that repeated attempts to start the engine can eventually draw air into the fuel lines, resulting in a breakdown. Gelling can generally be prevented by blending with petroleum diesel, but “topping off” the tank may not necessarily work, as petro diesel is less dense than biodiesel and won’t mix well at cold temperatures. Again the solution to this potential issue is to drive your vehicle, as this will allow the fuel to blend. It’s also good to remember that a lot of gas stations don’t sell a high volume of diesel, and have inadequate filters on the pump, so it helps to get your petro diesel from higher-volume retailers like truck stops. We also recommend that you use a product like Power Service’s Diesel 911 or Clear Diesel once a year to combat water or bacteria in your fuel tank.
The chemistry of biodiesel can be complicated, and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cloud points and cold-start capabilities. Where one user may experience drop-out and a clogged filter, the next may have not an ounce of trouble. As always, if it is going to be below freezing for an extended period of time where you keep your vehicle, take appropriate action.
We have been getting calls and questions from area biodiesel customers after the recent closing of the Laurelhurst Oil biodiesel station.
YES: Dr Dan’s is still open and selling B-99.9
YES: We have a credit card pump with which you can buy fuel 24/7
If you are interested in paying with cash or check our office/shop is open 10-6 (and often earlier and/or later, call ahead and ask if you need to swing by before 10:00 AM or after 6:00 PM). We only offer our “pre-paid” cash accounts to select high-volume – usually commercial – customers.
Our fuel is locally sourced and of the highest quality. So, YES, we are still here to serve your sustainable fuel needs!
SPRING MAINTENANCE SPECIAL!!!
We want to help keep your Biodiesel car running for as long as possible! We provide expert, biodiesel-friendly auto repair and service for TDI’s and all diesels from Benzes, Volvos, and older VWs to Jeeps, Sprinters, and Powerstrokes.
Regular Maintenance Saves $$$!:
Keeping you car running indefinitely can be as simple as using the correct oil and filters with regular maintenance intervals. We also have an eye for problems that often pop up as your vehicle ages. You can’t buy new cars that run on B100 as well as these older models many of our customers drive.
The onset of symptoms of these problems is often gradual, so they can sneak up on you. When you are driving the car every day it is difficult to notice subtle changes in its operation. It is important to pay attention and have the car checked out occasionally in order to keep your TDI happy and avoid big repair bills. If you catch these issues early on when they first arise, the repairs are quick and cheap – but if you let them go too long, they can cause damage to other components and then the repairs start to get expensive. Decreased power, hard starts, decreased fuel economy, and check engine lights are all indicators of potential problems that the longer you wait, the worse it will get.
Spring Maintenance Special!
It’s as good a time as any to get you car checked out after another winter of extreme conditions. With the warmer weather on the way it may also be time to check your cooling system, or even replace your pollen filter. We’ll change your oil, check filters and fluid levels, and even rotate the tires if its time. When was the last time your fuel filter was changed? We can take care of that.
Do you need a new timing belt? A proper timing belt replacement on a TDI involves more than just changing the timing belt. In addition to the belt itself, the belt tensioner roller, all idler rollers, the water pump, and the serpentine belt should be replaced, as well as a handful of seals and hardware bits. Installing the new belt correctly is a complex task that involves a large number of special tools and procedures, including a computerized injection timing adjustment. Cutting corners on any of these steps can result in the car running poorly, having difficulty starting, getting worse mileage, or in extreme cases experiencing internal engine damage.
Have a great Spring and thanks for supporting sustainable biodiesel!
Do you live outside of Seattle and are you frustrated with the lack of Biodiesel in your neighborhood? We regularly hear from our customers in Bainbridge, Vashon and other areas that they wish that our Biodiesel was available to them locally. Dr Dan’s is excited to announce the creation of Community BioDiesel, a facebook page for people to get together and collaborate to make their dreams of sustainable fuel a reality. The site is a meeting place for you and neighbors to talk about how to set up your own co-op fueling station. Dr Dan’s has a solar powered, self contained, trailered fueling station that can fill this role perfectly.
So join the Facebook group, talk to others, reply to posts, and bring high quality Biodiesel to your area.
This weeks forecast has some cold nights expected in Seattle, with the coldest being Wednesday. The forecasted 24 hour average temps are just above our biodiesels gel point of 25ºF. However, we know that weather predictions are not always accurate. With that in mind we recommend that steps be taken as soon as possible to ensure your fuel doesn’t gel. Dans own car has been running just after spending nights on Snoqualmie Pass with temps in the high teens, so OUR fuel is performing very well when the car is used regularly and kept warm. Still, and especially if you don’t do a lot of driving in the evenings, it is a good idea to take action to prevent your fuel from gelling. If possible park indoors at night. If you can’t park in a garage we recommend using a small mixture of filtered, winterized petroleum diesel. Well filtered diesel can be found at most high volume retailers like truck stops. To make a winter blend simply pour in a dose of winterizing additive like Power Service Diesel Fuel Supplement Arctic Formula (which we carry here at Dr Dans), then add a few gallons of petroleum diesel into your tank, a blend of about 80/20 Bio/petrodiesel should be fine, be sure to check the capacity of your tank and the level of fuel in it. Important, the winterizer will only work in conjunction with petroleum diesel (the winterizer will not blend with Biodiesel without petroleum diesel).
If your TDI is 2003 or older it may not like long term exposure to ultra low sulfur diesel unless the injection pump has already been rebuilt with seals compatible with ultra-low sulfur diesel. Don’t add any more sulfur fuel than you need to get through the cold snap. We have seen TDIs not start after about 10 days of using high blends of ultra-low sulfur
Be sure to sign up for our email list to get important weather bulletins, news, and other information from Dr Dans Biodiesel.
King5 news reporter Eric Wilkinson was just here at Dr. Dan’s Biodiesel interviewing Dan about the current EPA proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for petroleum fuels sold in the United States. The RFS is what determines how much renewable fuel must be blended into petroleum. Lately members of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the petroleum and fossil fuel industry, have been pressuring the EPA to lower the RFS. Learn more about the situation in this article from Biodiesel Magazine.
And be sure to watch Dan’s interview tonight on King5 at 6:30pm.
Some of you may have noticed a couple weeks ago that we sent out a cold weather advisory for the Puget Sound region. The forecasted temperature that weekend was 16 degrees which was below most biodiesels gelling point. Fortunately we have not had anymore cold snaps like that but its important to know what to do if the temperature drops. Right now the Biodiesel B99 sold here at Dr Dans is rated at 25 degrees, which means that it will start to gel when the forecasted 24 hour average temperature drops below 25. if that happens you need to take steps to winterize the fuel. In the Seattle area we normally don’t see those kinds of low temps, and as of today, 12/19, there is no such weather forecasted that would require further winterizing. However, always be sure to check the forecast in your area, or areas you may be traveling, Eastern WA, or Canada for instance. If you plan on visiting a colder climate or if your vehicle will be sitting unused for an extended period, consider blending some clean, filtered (to 10 microns or lower) diesel into your fuel tank. We also recommend that you use a product like Power Service’s Diesel 911 ARCTIC FORMULA. To see your local conditions and forecast we recommend the National Weather Service website.
To receive cold weather advisories and other important bulletins from Dr Dans, please sign up for our email list here.
read more about using Biodiesel in the winter…
Sustainable Ballard, a blueprint for Everytown, USA, educates, inspires, and engages neighbors to take action to live more sustainably both individually and collectively.
There will be great food, music, and words from our local leaders, including the mayor about the Sustainable Movement.
Bring the kids, a special “Kids Zone” with face painting, games, and crafts will be tons of fun for the lil ones. I hope they let the adults participate too.
For the adults there’ll be BEER from local breweries! Woohoo.
Sustainable Fuel Co-Op will have a booth at the festival, so come one down and learn some more about what we’re doing from our awesome board members who will be volunteering there.
There’s lots of fun to be had, check out the schedule here http://www.sustainableballard.org/schedule/