Diagnosing and Treating Frozen Gas Lines

There are a lot of problems that your vehicle can develop while battling the bitter cold of winter. Since there are numerous problems associated with cold temperatures and ice, it’s important to understand how to diagnose and remedy them. Developing a frozen gas line takes some very chilly weather, time and usually a bit too much air in the system. There are numerous symptoms specific to frozen gas lines, and the problem can be treated quickly once it has been diagnosed.

Engine Won’t Turn Over

One of the most common frozen gas line symptoms is the engine refusing to turn over. At least a little gas needs to get through the lines to get the car to start. When the engine won’t turn over at all, it can mean that the lines are completely frozen solid and intervention will likely be needed to get the fuel running through the lines again.

Engine Turns Over Without Starting

In some situations, the engine may be able to turn over, but the car simply won’t start. This usually means that the fuel lines are only partially frozen. They’re allowing enough fuel through the lines to get the engine turned over, but not enough to actually start the vehicle.


If you’re lucky enough to get your car started, the icy buildup in the lines may cause the engine to sputter. This is due to the fact that the system is getting enough fuel to run, but not enough fuel to run properly or efficiently. Allowing the engine to run for a while to warm up while revving the engine a few times may help the sputtering problem.

Stopping or Stalling After Running

If the lines can’t get warm enough to get rid of the icy buildup due to severely cold weather, or too much air in the lines, the lack of gas could cause the car to stop or stall. This is one of the most dangerous frozen gas line symptoms as suddenly stopping or stalling in the middle of the road can be a huge road hazard, especially in the slick conditions of winter. This might be prevented by taking the time to let the engine warm up as much as possible before heading off onto the road, but it could be unavoidable in some circumstances.

How to Treat Frozen Gas Lines

One of the most effective methods of treating a frozen gas line in car terms is to bring it into a warm location such as a garage and letting the entire car warm up for an hour or two. If you don’t have a garage or any other warm location to put the car, try covering the engine over the hood with a blanket and hanging a drop light on the hood for a while. The heat from the light should help warm up the engine and the fuel lines. Even getting the lines to thaw a little bit will help move fuel through the system.

Once you’re able to get it started, keep the car running for a while. If you experience sputtering, try revving the engine a couple of times. It’s best to avoid taking the car out if the engine is sputtering as this could be a precursor to sudden stalling.

If all else fails or you’re pressed for time, you can try some fuel additives that are designed to thaw fuel lines. These additives are sold at most automotive stores, and they can get your fuel lines thawed in about 20 minutes to a half hour.

In order to prevent your fuel lines from freezing in the future, keep the gas tank as full as possible at all times. The excess air in the tank and the lines make for easy freezing, and keeping the tank full will help keep as much air out as possible.

Make sure your battery is always charged. If your battery is nearly dead, it won’t have the power to work the gas through partially frozen lines. The more power you have to pump the fuel through the system, the better your chances are at getting the car running and keeping it that way.

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  • I read an article saying that gas doesn’t freeze until the temperature reaches -100 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t believe temperatures anywhere in the world ever get that low. So I am wondering how gas lines can freeze when the temperature is nowhere near being that low.

    • Hello, Ken. Given the freezing point of petrol is a chilly -60°C or -140°F, it’s virtually impossible for a petrol tank to freeze up during even the harshest winter. Diesel on the other hand has a much higher freeze point, and is prone to gelling in cold weather conditions. However, what actually causes freeze ups in engines is the condensation that naturally accumulates –most commonly known as having water in the tank. This accumulated water has a tendency to drop to the bottom, and, when if freezes, does not allow the fuel to flow properly –or not at all. Anti-freeze additives or “dry-gas” additives, such as HEET are designed to reach the ice, defreeze it and then break it into small, easily combustible particles, and that’s how the water is expelled from the system.

  • Frozen fuel lines will never cause the engine to not turn over. If the engine doesn’t turn over it is most likely a problem with the batter or starter.