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How to Deal With a Frozen Fuel Line

A car piled with snow that likely has a frozen fuel line.

A frozen fuel line is one of winter’s worst driving frustrations — but fortunately, it’s possible to prepare your car so that you don’t have to be regularly inconvenienced by this problem. Check out our tips for dealing with an iced-up fuel line, as well as how you can prevent this issue from cropping up again in the future.

Find a Heat Source and Park Inside

The simplest way to deal with a frozen fuel line is to bring your car somewhere warm so that it can thaw out, garagewhether that’s your own garage or the work space of a local mechanic.

Unfortunately this isn’t always practical advice, because if your vehicle won’t start due to this fuel issue, you’ll likely have to pay for a tow to get where you need to go. It usually takes just a few hours parked somewhere warm for the situation to improve to the point where your vehicle will start.

Bring the Heat

If you can’t get your car to a warm garage, you may be able to bring the heat to where the car happens to be. If you have a portable electric heater you can place it near your vehicle’s fuel lines to help warm them up. Note that we said electric heater, do NOT use an open flame heater. Also, do not use a heat gun as the heat is far too intense.

This is a bit of a tricky tip, because you’ll have to know where the fuel lines are located under your car to heat them effectively and evenly. You can try wrapping each section of line with a towel after it’s been heated to keep as much warmth in them as possible.

Add Gas to the Vehicle

If your tank is low and you have a frozen fuel line, sometimes adding three gallons (or more) of gas can help dispel the cold air in the tank and lines that’s helping to cool the fuel. If the tank is near full, however, this won’t help.

Use Fuel Line Antifreeze

Fuel line antifreeze is an alcohol-based fuel additive that absorbs any moisture that might be present in your fuel lines. Since moisture is the primary cause of a frozen fuel line, removing it from the equation is often enough to get the gas flowing again. You can add it into your tank if your vehicle won’t start. Do your best to mix it in with your fuel by either running the fuel pump (with the key in the “on” position) or gently rocking your vehicle near the tank to help it mix and spread. Running the pump for 30 seconds, and then waiting another 30 seconds before repeating the cycle, gives the additive a chance to mix thoroughly.

Fuel line antifreeze isn’t just for dealing with frozen gas lines — it can also help prevent them from icing up in the future. If you live in an area where moisture in your fuel is a recurrent problem, or where temperatures dip low enough to cause this issue, adding a bottle of fuel line antifreeze at every fill-up is easy insurance against future problems.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on fixing a frozen fuel line, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Benjamin Hunting View All

Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time.  I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

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