Exclusive Content
Original Shows, Motorsports and Live Events
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit www.motortrend.com for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM
  • |
  • |
  • How to Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

How to Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

Tips for Handling and Storing DEF in Cold Climates

Jan 27, 2020
More on Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)!
Tid Bits and FAQ's on DEF
Understanding Diesel Exhaust Fluid - Basic Training
T&A Performance Skidplate for Protecting a Chevy DEF Tank

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the winter of 2020 will be filled with bitterly cold weather from the eastern parts of the Rockies and east to the Appalachian Mountains and Northeast U.S. However, while temperatures in these cold-climate areas are abnormally higher right now, Mother Nature's shoe is going to drop. And when it does, diesel-pickup owners need to be prepared.

Photo 2/9   |   Handling and storing DEF in cold climates includes adding it to a pickup truck's DEF tank, which can be a messy operation when using the small, flexible hose that is typically included with a new bottle. We recommend using a long funnel for this task.
Photo 3/9   |   001 Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid Pouring Def In Tank

When readying a late-model oil burner for the cold, one thing that may be overlooked is the proper management of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF). Handling and storing DEF in cold climates can be challenging. Made from a mixture of technically pure urea and purified water, DEF freezes at 11 degrees Fahrenheit and needs to be properly maintained and dispensed to preserve its quality.

Like water, DEF will expand up to seven percent when frozen and can damage a truck's DEF-storage tank if it is full or nearly full when it freezes. Keeping a tank that you think may freeze less than full is a good idea.

Photo 4/9   |   Notice that the DEF level is "OK," is the only detail our diesel-powered 2016 Chevy Colorado LT gives us. A more accurate reading of the fluid level (44 percent/upper-left) comes by way of Banks' iDash 1.8 Super Gauge, which provides data on several DEF and regeneration-associated values and functions.
Photo 5/9   |   004 Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid Def Percentage Gauge

If DEF freezes in the vehicle, do not put any additives in the tank to help it melt. The fluid needs to remain pure for it to work correctly. The engine will start without a problem, and the tank has a heating element that can quickly thaw the DEF. Don't worry; on-spec DEF is specifically formulated to allow the fluid to thaw at the proper concentration to keep your rig operating smoothly.

In addition to cold, there are other things to consider when purchasing, handling and storing DEF. Drivers accustomed to purchasing DEF in containers should look at the expiration date on the bottle and be sure to use it before this date as the product has a limited shelf life (minimum 12 months, or longer in optimum conditions).

Photo 6/9   |   The Peak BlueDEF we're using does not have a clearly defined expiration date on the bottle. However, deciphering the batch information reveals the actual date that the fluid was produced. For our GA202070258, the gibberish breaks down as follows: The third through seventh characters (numbers) are the most important elements of the BlueDEF batch code. The first two letters at the beginning of the code represent the plant where the DEF is blended. The third and fourth numbers (combined) represent the year plus 1 (19 + 1 = 20). The fifth through seventh numbers equate to the number of days left in the year at the time the fluid was blended. So, as the info on our bottle is "207," that means the batch of BlueDEF was made on the 158th day of the year (365 - 207 = 158), which was June 7, 2019. The 0258 is the actual batch code. If stored properly, this DEF is good thru June 7, 2020 (and probably longer).
Photo 7/9   |   006 Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid Batch Information

If a date is not present, ask for the most recently delivered products. Also, be sure to look for the American Petroleum Institute's (API) certification mark on the bottle. Many diesel-engine manufacturers recommend that drivers use API-licensed DEF.

Photo 8/9   |   007 Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid Api Certification

Storage conditions have an impact on its quality. Check the label for recommended storage temperatures (typically between 12- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit). After purchasing DEF, API recommends that you don't store it for too long in your truck, especially if the storage area in the vehicle is routinely exposed to extreme heat or sunlight.

Photo 9/9   |   008 Winterize Diesel Exhaust Fluid Recommended Temperature

POPULAR TRUCKS

MOST POPULAR

CLOSE X
BUYER'S GUIDE
SEE THE ALL NEW
NEWS, REVIEWS & SPECS