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It’s no secret that diesel vehicles are making a comeback in America. Perhaps, it is because of their longevity, reliability, fuel economy, and surprisingly positive environmental aspects. Either way, many diesel forums have stated that now is the time to stock up on diesel fuel for the Winter–before prices increase based on demand.

Similarly, some people choose not to drive their diesel vehicles at all during the Winter, meaning their fuel will more than likely sit untouched for months. With all of this in mind, it begs the question: How do you keep diesel fuel stored for a long period of time without the oxidation process creating deposits that lead to less impressive fuel economy and vehicle performance?

Below, we will discuss exactly how diesel fuel stabilizers work and why they are used by countless diesel truck drivers to keep their trucks performing properly all year round. After that, it’s all about choosing the best diesel stabilizer formula before Jack Frost visits town.

How Does Diesel Fuel ‘Go Bad’?

The argument you’re sure to find on a lot of diesel forums is that diesel fuel really doesn’t ever ‘go bad.’ So, what do we mean when we say the term ‘go bad’? Well, when diesel fuel sits for a long time in an untreated natural environment, it becomes prone to the oxidation process. This oxidation process causes the fuel to darken and form gums, varnish, and sludge.

This leads to a fuel that is far less ideal and may damage fuel injectors and fuel lines. On top of this, the fuel will likely emit a black smoke which is not only bad for the environment but is bad for your vehicle. In fact, in some cases, the car may not even start if the fuel is oxidized enough. Furthermore, during the winter-time, diesel fuel tends to ‘gel’ which makes it far thicker and less efficient.

Of course, many diesel truck drivers out there, and people looking to store diesel fuel for long periods of time, don’t want to waste their money or damage their vehicle and this is where diesel fuel stabilizers come into play.

What is a Diesel Fuel Stabilizer and How Does it Work?

Now that you know why leaving diesel fuel untreated can become an issue during the winter-time or when storing it for later, let’s discuss how you can counteract the adverse effects of oxidation.

What a diesel fuel stabilizer does depends on the brand you use, but the main ingredients of these additives are used as antioxidants, dispersants, and metal deactivators.

Antioxidants ensure that the oxidation process never happens by reducing the fuel’s contact with oxygen. Dispersants ensure that all sludge particles present in the fuel never clump together and darken or damage the fuel. Lastly, metal deactivators make sure that the soluble metals in the fuel don’t create chain reactions that damage the fuel over time.

Furthermore, some brands will also help with fuel lubricity which reduces wear in your vehicle over time. Once treated, diesel fuel can go from lasting less than a year all the way up to 2 years or more with the right additives and care.

Are Diesel Stabilizers Really Effective?

The short answer is yes. In fact, according to BP, fuel stabilizers are one of the most effective ways to keep your diesel clean and long-lasting when not being used. Although some diesel truck drivers opt not to use them, this is most often because their fuel is used up within the 30-day period that diesel fuel is at its freshest.

However, for those that are planning on not using their diesel trucks during the Winter or are stocking up on diesel fuel before prices rise, this may be the best option.

What are Some Reliable Brands to Choose From?

There are many amazing diesel fuel stabilizer brands out there and it all depends on what you are looking for in your product.

However, at Gem State Diesel, we choose to stand by the #1 rated additive in the world, Opti-Lube, not only because Opti-Lube is an honest and trustworthy product but also because their diesel stabilizer formula actually more than doubles the shelf life of diesel fuel with its improved storage stability.

If you choose to try another brand out, on the other hand, one thing to keep in mind is that many long-time diesel truck drivers say that you should always choose a stabilizer that is specifically for diesel and not a diesel/gas hybrid.

After all, it’s always best to get a product that specializes in the same love of diesel fuel and trucks as you do. The truth is – no one knows diesel fuel better than a diesel driver! 

A close-up of sediments and residue at the bottom of a murky bottle of diesel, captioned “Diesel Stabilizers: What are they and why they matter”