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Do I Need Gas-Line Antifreeze During the Winter?

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CARS.COM — Subfreezing temperatures make life more difficult for motorists and the vehicles they drive, making cars harder to start — or even impossible to start if moisture in the fuel system freezes. One long-standing cure is to add gas-line antifreeze, an alcohol-based concoction that promises to keep the gas flowing in frigid temperatures.

But do you really need to add one of these fuel additives? Let’s take a closer look.

Related: More Maintenance Coverage

Water Does Collect in Gas Tanks and Fuel Lines

Water does collect in gas tanks and fuel lines from moisture in the air, or from the storage tanks at gas stations. Today, however, vehicles in most parts of the country burn gasoline that includes up to 10 percent ethanol, a form of alcohol that performs the same water-absorbing chores as brand-name gasoline antifreezes. Products like gas-line antifreeze Heet — which are available at automotive stores — contain ingredients such as isopropyl or methyl alcohol (methanol), but they function in much the same way as the ethanol that is already in your fuel.

Gas-line antifreeze isn’t expensive and probably can’t hurt, but if you have 15 gallons of fuel in your vehicle and 10 percent of it is ethanol, your tank already has 1.5 gallons of alcohol in it. Adding another 12 to 16 ounces of alcohol is not going to provide any additional protection against freezing.

How to Use Gas Antifreeze

If you would still like to use gas-line antifreeze, doing so is simple. The next time you fuel up, simply pour an entire bottle into your gas tank. The product sinks to the bottom of the gas tank and absorbs water. This prevents moisture from entering your fuel system and potentially freezing. These products can be used year-round to remove water caused by condensation and humidity. Using a water remover can help prevent rust and corrosion and protect your vehicle’s engine and fuel system from damage. This is especially true if you live in an area where your gasoline does not contain ethanol.

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