Semis, snowplows, and other vehicles that run on diesel fuel are prone to stalling due to the nature of the fuel they use, but also as a result of temperature fluctuations. Stalling is more likely to happen in the early stages of winter, as temperatures may freeze, then rise, then freeze again, making the fuel more likely to clog the engine.

Here are a few tips that can help truckers prevent diesel-powered trucks from stalling during the winter:

  • Watch out for gelling. Freezing temperatures can cause the paraffin in diesel fuel to harden, which then coats the filter and chokes off the engine. Interstate trucks coming from warmer states can prepare for the changes in temperature by using winter-treated diesel fuel (or by adding an approved fuel thinner to the tank).
  • Avoid idling. The more time a trucker spends idling, the more likely it is that grime will build up in the engine. Truckers who maintain a consistent pace are less likely to have their engine stall.
  • Fill up wisely. Soot, dirt, and other impurities in the gas tank can lead to the clogging of the engine, and can put the driver at risk of stalling on the highway. Truckers can help keep the engine clean by getting regular oil changes and keeping the tank above half full at all times.
  • Stop for regeneration. Most semi-trucks have a diesel particulate filter (DPF) that helps keep the engine free of impurities. If the DPF status light begins to blink, it means the driver should pull over to “regenerate” the engine by putting the vehicle in neutral for 30 – 40 minutes and running the engine. All drivers should be properly trained on the process of engine regeneration to avoid the engine stalling while on the highway.

It is vital that truckers perform regular engine checks and regeneration cycles in order to avoid a sudden highway breakdown. If the DPF is clogged, a trucker may lose control of the vehicle, taking several smaller vehicles off the road with him. 

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