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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Ford Modeo 1.6 TDCi Econectic '61 plate and in 18 months and around 30k the car has been back to the dealership 5 times, 4 of those in the last 4 month, always with the same problem which I am told is waxing up of the fuel filter, which is not considered a warranty item so I am charged each time.

Details are as follows:

I have owned car from new and at about 5 months (10k) I was driving home from work and had covered around 40 miles and the car went into a limp home mode. There were no apparent symptoms up to this point so it took me by surprise. I pulled the car over, restarted the engine and when I pulled off it went back into limp home mode. I waited a few minutes, tried again and the car seemed ok. I continued home, driving extra carefully and got within 5 miles of home and the same thing happened. I limped home (was on back roads by then). It was -5 at the time. I booked the car into Ford the following week (it was Friday night when this happened). Over the weekend the car drove fine so I tried to take it into work on Monday. After 20 miles the same thing happened and continued to happen. The "limp home" mode is really not drivable so I got a tow back home through Ford Assist. The dealership immediately diagnosed blocked fuel filter and blamed the fuel I was using (I admitted to sometimes using Supermarket fuel). This they said was the problem - and this is something I have read about on a few forums. I argued with Ford and actually in the end I got the work paid for as a "Good Will" gesture. I tried to get in writing from Ford that I should not use Supermarket fuels so I could give this information to the Supermarket but funnily enough they declined. This was early 2012, around Feb.

I actually took the advice (not sure why) and never used Supermarket fuel again, only ever used Shell and BP in case I had problems again and Ford blamed the fuel (how naive I was).

In December 2012 when the cold weather set in, a few days just below freezing and the same thing happened. I had driven around 40 miles and the car shuddered and went into a limp home mode. I immediately booked into Ford and managed to do without the car for a few days. By the time Ford looked at it, they admitted they could see the fault codes (fuel pressure again) but could not recreate the problem (outside temp had come up by then). They checked the fuel filter and said it was fine. The car came back to me and, to be honest, drove absolutely fine.

Four weeks later, Jan 2013 cold weather descended. Same problem occured but this time the car just went into limp home mode whenever I tried to drive it. Booked it into Ford and they diagnosed blocked fuel filter. I was questioned about the fuel I was using and could happily say it was only BP or Shell. Regardless, Ford blamed the fuel, said it was really common with lots of cars. Not covered under warranty so I was charged £160 for the replacement fuel filter.

Four weeks later Feb 2013, more cold weather and the fault occured again. I took the car in, they saw the fault codes but could not recreate the fault in the garage. Checked the filter and said it was ok, charged me a fair bit for the work and gave me the car back.

A few weeks later and this week, the cold weather descends again and, guess what, the same fault occured. This time the car was not drivable and the car went into the garage today. Blocked fuel filter - waxing up. I get the car back tomorrow needless to say this is not considered a warranty issue so another £200 or so.

Something perhaps worth mentioning is that I believe each time the fault has occured just after filling the car with fuel. Typically I have filled the car the day before and then driven around 30-40 miles and the fault occurs (so car is fully warmed up). The latest time it happened I started the car and left it idling for 5-10 minutes before leaving home, as suggested on another forum somewhere.

I have been on at Ford Customer Relations throughout this and they are useless. I have managed to get the dealership to talk to Ford Technical and raise the issue but Ford Technical have said it is the fuel I am using. I have explained I only use BP/Shell and they still blame the fuel. In fact, the last fill up, as I knew the weather was about to get cold, I put in VMAX.

I had pointed out that winter diesel will not wax at -1 (in fact summer grade would not as far as I know) but I was told lots of cars are suffering and the local peugot dealership next door has had 9 cars in with blocked fuel filters. I was also told the local garages did not start supplying winter grade diesel until January round here. Personally I think this is ridiculous and irrelevant - I'd love to get this information in writing.

Anyway, the situation is this. When the temperature drops to just below freezing, my fuel filter blocks and the dealership says it is definitely waxing of the fuel and it is the fault of the fuel, not the car. I have suggested they consider water in the fuel but all I was offered was that they are happy to drain the tank for me "just in case" for a mere £500. I declined as this is far too much money, but what I did suggest is that I bring the car back in a couple of weeks and get them to drain the fuel filter to see if there is water there. If not, I think I can assume water is not the issue (but please say if you think I am wrong here).

I will pick the car up tomorrow. I have asked:
(a) Can I have old filter
(
Can I have it in writing from Ford that the fuel I am using is at fault
(c) Can I have a sample of the fuel and can they please send one to Ford Technical to analyse
(d) Can I book the car in in two weeks' time so they can check the fuel filter and see if there is much water.
(e) Can I have in writing a recommendation for a fuel additive to prevent waxing (I have not used any as it would void warranty).

I figure that if I regularly use a fuel additive recommended by Ford to prevent waxing it puts me in a better position. Problem is, I would struggle to prove that I have used it.

Can anyone help me please? A few questions I have are:

(i) Is there anyone who could indepedently look at the fuel sample? I was going to stick it in an salt-ice bath and see if it freezes but it would be good to have an independent look!
(ii) Any advice as to how I tackle this next?
(iii) What do you think is causing this?

Advice would be really welcome.

Thanks.
 

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Mondeo Whisperer
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I personally can't see it being anything other than the fuel personally. Nothing on the car would cause the diesel to wax.

BG 248 will stop the diesel gelling atop temperatures but at £20 a tank it's bloody pricey!

When I used to run an old diesel on vegetable oil I used to put 10% petrol in the tank mixed with a litre of two stroke oil to lubricate the pump.
Veg oil would gel around 3-4 degrees!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok, thanks for the reply. So why is it affecting me? I run two diesel cars, one has never had any problems like this in 100k miles.

Let me say a few more things about the fuel I use. As I said, I now only buy Shell or BP and I buy from a range of garages, not just one or two, spread around four counties.
 

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Have you tried warming the fuel filter? Does it cure the problem?

Do they change the fuel filter each time?

Try fitting a filter heater. Checkout the websites that sell bio fuel and veg heaters and converters.

To run on veg oil during the colder weather it needs to be warmed. Various heaters for the fuel lines
or fuel filters.

See if that sorts your problem.

Also maybe try getting a small can of the fuel when you fill up, Leave it outside but covered slightly.

See if that turns to slush also.
 

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It does seem strange that you seem to be the only one who is experiencing the problem. Do Ford take pics of the 'waxed' fuel filter (that should be easy enough to do these days)?

The Supermarket fuel is always blamed by vehicle recovery drivers but it never seems to be backed up in writing. My understanding is that car manufacturers detune their engines to cope with poor quality fuel which I always thought was fuel found in deepest darkest Eastern Europe not East Anglia. So surely it should cope with poor quality fuel. I wonder if it could be another sensor which is measuring incorrectly.

From other websites other people post that winter diesel starts reaching the forecourts from the end of October onwards.

But some useful tips were to keep the tank filled up which reduces condensation forming on the walls of empty fuel tanks and park the car with the engine away fro the wind (well every little helps I guess)

A quote from PistonHeads; [background=rgb(223, 223, 223)]The number I've heard for Esso ULSD are : [/background]

[background=rgb(223, 223, 223)]Summer : -15degC. Winter : -22degC[/background]

So according to that the minus 5 you experienced should be fine.

It just seems so odd that you are affected so badly yet the hard shoulders are not full with cars having the same problem.

This is the product sheet from Shell showing that summer fuel is guaranteed not to wax before minus 5C but may well cope with minus 7C. http://www.epc.shell.com/Docs/GPCDOC_X_cbe_26724_key_140003767752_201012221146.pdf
Interestingly Winter fuel it says is from 16th November to 15th March. Perhaps they have not looked outside recently.
 

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Mondeo Whisperer
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Suppose the next question you need to ask yourself is it the fuel? Is it actually waxing?
Next time it happens pop the lid off the fuel filter housing and remove the filter and see if its all gummed up!
If not then take a picture of video and go to ford about it!

Could be a fuel pressure sensor that doesn't like the cold? I doubt it though, considering its bolted to a 100 degree engine!

Talking about not facing the wind. Had trouble getting my car going yesterday after I left it facing quite strong, very cold winds! Had to run the glowplugs four times before it would catch and for a few seconds it was running on 3 cylinders!
My screenwash is supposed to work down to -11 and the tank was frozen solid!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
First of all, thanks for the messages there are some useful things to consider.

I was expecting a reaction of "This is ridiculous, of course the diesel can't be waxing at these moderate temperatures, especially with winter grade fuel". This has been my reaction to be honest. It seems actually you believe this is likely to be happening.

I understand that this TDCI engine has a particularly fine filter (I think most modern, high pressure diesels do), so I understand why some vehicles do not have problems and others do. As I said, I am told quite a few cars are suffering at the moment, although I plan to ask around a few other local garages to check this.

As I understand it, the cloud point of summer diesel is typically a few degress below zero and the cloud point of winter diesel is -15 to -20. I thought that frozen wax should occur a few degrees below this and I have not driven in temperatures this low, although I suppose it could go down cold enough at night.

I would still argue that if I am buying EU standard fuels in the forecourt, the vehicle I have purchased it not fit for purpose. It is impossible to prove any of this though.

If I am not getting standard fuel from the forecourt (e.g. they are not selling winter grade diesel when they should) then I could prove this by testing samples each time I buy fuel, as suggested above. Again, this is very difficult to really do in practice.

So I am considering the following way forward, comments welcome:
(a) Get the old filter today and I'll post some pictures and see if you agree this is waxing.
(
Take the car in two weeks time and see if there is evidence of higher than expected water content
(c) Get the recommended additive put in straight away and continue to put this in during each tank full over the winter period (adds cost, but so does a new fuel filter each month). Try and record as best I can evidence that I am using branded fuel and the additive every time I fill up.
(d) Get a sample of the fuel and do some home tests (e.g. try and work out when it is freezing).
(e) Get a sample from the forecourt and do the same

Just one other question:
(i) If this was a water ingress issue (which is starting to seem unlikely) would freezing water at the fuel filter subsequently cause it to trap wax and therefore appear to be a waxing problem? Perhaps when I get hold of the old filter and show pictures it may help the argument.
 

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Does your handbook state do not use additives? I know mine does..

Stick to the diesel straight from the pump. That maybe their next excuse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The question about additives and warranty is a good one. I ensured the use of the additive was put in writing by the dealership. I have spoken to Ford Customer Care to ask if they agree I can use the additive since it was recommended by the dealership and they will simply not say yes or no.

I assume that if a fault occurs that is blamed on the use of an additive, I can claim from the dealership who recommended it. I will only use the brand and type specified by the dealership.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A bit more on this topic, sorry for the lengthy posts but I hope it helps someone else and the advice and support I have had has helped.

I spoke to the AA today, using the technical support number. I barely got into describing the history and they knew exactly the issue I have had. It is common across various manufacturers but not specific enough for them to point at the exact cause. They are investigating this though.

Basically, either the fuel is not to standard or the cars are not designed to operate to the standards of fuels. The fuel companies are being blamed by the manufacturers and vice versa.

The recommend I take all my evidence to Shell, BP and Ford in writing, which I will do. They said that where specific problems occur the fuel companies sometimes test the vehicles in a test chamber at low temperatures to see how the fuel behaves. The fuel companies are duty bound to inform me of any issues they are aware of.

I also have the fuel filter and a sample of fuel from the tank and from the filter. The delearship took the top off the filter for me so I will attach photos. The fuel from the tank looks fine, the fuel from the filter looks like soup. The filter itself doesn't look that bad but then it is a very fine filter and difficult to tell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

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SMeghead
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I'm afraid I think it's likely to be the car. If it is wax in the filter, water is irrelevant. That would form ice crystals. If it is wax, then the fuel is being chilled below its waxing point, somehow.

The most logical place for that to happen, for me, is in the fuel line between the tank and the engine. Here, you have a small quantity of fuel in a place that has a high volume:surface area ratio. Windchill will easily cool the fuel enough to cause waxing.

I would look for a section of fuel tubing that is exposed to the wind as you travel. If you find it, you should move it to a more sheltered area or lag it.
 

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... The most logical place for that to happen, for me, is in the fuel line between the tank and the engine. Here, you have a small quantity of fuel in a place that has a high volume:surface area ratio. Windchill will easily cool the fuel enough to cause waxing...
Windchill may appear to be the solution but it does not drop the temperature around the fuel system. Otherwise if you drove a car on a day just above freezing at 70 mph you would expect the surface to be below freezing when you stopped which it is not. It will reduce the TIME for an object to reach the outside ambient temperature but cannot drop it below this. If the pipes were wrapped in wet hessian then that would be an exception because latent heat would be lost and the temperature would dip below ambient temperature.

But, I agree that something else appears to be going on which is car related. Has the waxing been seen by anyone else besides Ford? I just saw your photos and the fuel from the filter looks gross. How has that happened? Perfectly clear yellow fuel turning a nasty shade of brown. Your car is not very old so I don't expect it to be bacterial contamination of the fuel system. On older cars this can be a problem. I know that people say that if you use biodiesel it flushes all these microbes out of the pipes and the filter often needs to be replaced.

Can the filter be replaced so that it is not being blocked by the tiny dark particles - there may be enough particles there to clog the filter. There are links to it on the web but mainly from people trying to sell products to keep your diesel clean especially amongst boat owners. This link seems to particularly match your fuel description http://rivercanalrescue.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/diesel-bug-and-bio-fuel.html

I know you buy from Esso and BP now but I wonder if at some time you have bought from an independent who may have introduced the bug into your system.

I think this is more likely since the 'waxing' has occurred at temperatures when it should not happen. It may also explain why so many local garages have the same problem. It could be a commonly used fuel supplier which has a bacterial contamination.
 

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By the way. Instead of testing fuel yourself contact the local Trading Standards. They often do spot check on fuel sold at the forecourts (or they used to). Most diesel comes with I think 5% biodiesel in for green reasons. I just wonder if someone has bought some locally produced biodiesel which can have a high level of water in unless it is produced very carefully. This would then allow bacterial growth and the emulsification in the fuel lines.

The photo on this site looks very similar to your diesel. http://blog.precisio...-at-a-hospital/

I just Googled "contaminated fuel cars uk" and found this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2244792/Cold-weather-breakdowns-diesel-contamination-says-AA.html It sounds like it may be more than a coincidence.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, thanks again for all the comments. Locating the fuel line seems like a great idea, I'll look into that.

I do not really understand how the fuel has ended up the state it is in. A better picture now that the fuel has settled into layers is here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4xmbxneji7qbnt5/2013-03-13%2019.47.01.jpg

Rather than brown it is a nice clean layer of diesel with a layer of gunk at the bottom - any ideas folks?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I didn't know the Mk4 of Mk4.5 has a fuel heater. I do not know if this engine does - anyone else know?

I can take a look and see if I can see wiring going to the filter housing. I do not have a Haynes manual yet as they have not released one for this vehicle.
 

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That doesnt look like good fuel, Anyone else filling the car up? A dodgy garage somewhere?

If you warm it up slightly does it clear?

Does your fuel filter have a water drain plug?
 

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SMeghead
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Windchill may appear to be the solution but it does not drop the temperature around the fuel system. Otherwise if you drove a car on a day just above freezing at 70 mph you would expect the surface to be below freezing when you stopped which it is not. It will reduce the TIME for an object to reach the outside ambient temperature but cannot drop it below this. If the pipes were wrapped in wet hessian then that would be an exception because latent heat would be lost and the temperature would dip below ambient temperature.
I was clutching at straws somewhat and, to clutch even more, the underneath of the car will often be wet at the moment so there will be a limited "proper" chilling effect.

However.... the waxed diesel I've seen doesn't look like that, although it is extremely difficult to judge from web images. The stuff I've seen looks more like the stuff out of a snow globe. That does not look so crystalline and, to me, looks more like a bacterial infection. If that is the case (you can probably confirm by, as mentioned above, warming it to see if it returns to the "in tank" state) you are going to have to clean, very thoroughly, the whole fuel system to get rid of it. It may be that there is some proprietary stuff you can shove in the tank and run through but I would suspect that dismantling and physically cleaning will be the order of the day. Also, all the fuel in there is a potential source of reinfection, so you should dispose of it by giving it to people you really, really dislike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Did you look at the photo on the second post? I let the fuel from the filter settle a bit in my garage so you can see some layers separate out.

A few people have now suggested bacterial growth. I am not familiar with this, I have assumed it is more relevant to storage tanks. The additive I was recommended is supposed to treat bacterial infections but I appreciate a full clean down would be warranted.

A question though, why would this cause a cold weather issue?
 
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