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Tips for Handling and Storing DEF in Cold Climates
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.