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Fuel Filter Problems in Cold Weather

The Filter Guys

Encountering poor quality or unconditioned fuel is inevitable, so some precautions should be made when operating in cold weather. Depending on the severity of winter operating conditions, many operators may choose to protect their equipment through the use of fuel additives, fuel heaters, and fuel water separators.

I use a good cold flow improver, so why do I continue to have so many problems in the winter?

Cold flow improvers, by design, stop small diesel fuel crystals from growing into large diesel fuel crystals (also known as gelling). This in turn lowers the temperature at which the diesel can still flow and be used in the fuel system. With today’s HPCR engines, filters are becoming more efficient, and the smaller diesel crystals that used to pass through filters now get trapped just as particulates do. This can cause premature plugging of the filter and decreased life. Most fuel related winter problems can be avoided using a #1 diesel or a winterized diesel blend.

Engine Power Loss

Diesel engine power loss during winter operation is a common occurrence. Unless there is a component failure within the engine, the problem can usually be traced back to paraffin crystal formation in the fuel which restricts the flow through fuel filters. Freezing temperatures can also cause emulsified water to form a fuel/ice slush, further restricting filters. Often, fuel filters are blamed for the problem when, in fact, the problem is caused by the effect of cold weather on grade #2 diesel fuel.

Cloud Point

The Cloud Point is the temperature at which paraffin or wax, which is naturally present in diesel fuel, begin to form cloudy wax crystals. When the fuel temperature reaches the cloud point, wax crystals flowing with the fuel coat the filter and quickly reduce the fuel flow, starving the engine. Typical cloud point temperatures range from -18°F (-28°C) to +20°F (-7°C), but may occasionally be as high as +40°F (4.4°C). Grade #1 diesel fuel (or kerosene) contains very little paraffin, and therefore has a cloud point near -40°F (-40°C).


Extended Oil Drain Intervals

The Filter Guys

Extended Oil Drain Intervals Oil service intervals are pre-determined by engine manufacturers (OEM’s) and are designed to provide maximum engine protection under a wide variety of conditions. While a majority of equipment owners follow these guidelines there is a growing trend to extend oil service intervals beyond the OEM recommendations. However, Extended Oil Drain Intervals (EODI) are not for every application. To fully understand the risks involved you must look at the key factors affecting EODI’s.


Engine lubricating oil is often referred to as the life blood of the engine. This analogy is not made simply because the oil circulates through the engine but more importantly because the oil performs critical functions necessary to maintain engine performance and maximize useful service life. There are two basic types of oil available today: mineral and synthetic. While these oils are completely different in composition, they must still meet the American Petroleum Institutes (API) qualification criteria recommended by the engine manufacturers. There are many suppliers of oil in the market today and not all meet the stringent requirements of the API standard. Insuring your oil meets these requirements and understanding the factors affecting the engine oil is the first step before extending your oil service interval.


Equipment operating extremes of heat, cold, idle time, airborne contaminants, and engine load adversely affect engine oil. Excessive Heat will break down engine oil and create deposits in the engine adversely affecting engine life. Severe cold will limit the ability of the engine oil to lubricate at start-up and may add unwanted moisture and unburned fuel to the oil. Extended Idle Time can result in increased amounts of unburned fuel entering the oil resulting in oil dilution and inadequate lubrication. Extreme dust conditions may tax even the best air filtration system adding fine contaminants to the oil overloading the additive package that keeps them in suspension. Heavy loads on the engine can produce extra heat putting a greater demand on the cooling system and increasing the importance of cooling system maintenance during EODI’s. Off-road operation will likely see more of these extremes than on-highway operation.


Engine designs today are cleaner burning with reduced emissions and make excellent candidates for extended oil drain intervals. However, most customers cannot afford to buy new equipment every year and normally fleets have a mixture of equipment varying in vintage and service life. As piston rings and valve guides wear in the engine, combustion by-products increase. These combustion by-products end up accelerating oil additive depletion and can create harmful deposits on internal engine surfaces making the engine less likely to benefit from an EODI.


Oil filters remove contaminants from the oil before they generate wear on engine component surfaces. There are many filtration products offered in the industry today with some claiming to allow for extended oil drain intervals. The fact is, the filter alone will not extend the life of engine oil. The filter has one function, and that is to filter contaminants from the oil. While most filters today do an excellent job in filtering, the trend of extending oil drain intervals 2 to 3 times the normal service interval has pushed the materials used in the manufacture of filters to the limit. Adhesives, rubber compounds, filter media, and even the steel construction in spin on filters needs to be designed to meet the extended period of time they are expected to be in service.


Before considering an EODI make sure the filter manufacturer will warranty their product when used in this manner. If after considering all the factors affecting extended oil drain intervals you feel your equipment is a candidate for EODI’s you will need to develop a test program to determine what length EODI is right for your equipment. To determine the correct length EODI you must first implement an oil analysis program to develop history on each piece of equipment scheduled for extended oil service. This will allow you to determine if there is any usable life left in the oil. The primary indicators will be silicon (dirt), viscosity (oil film strength), soot (combustion by-product), and total base number (TBN). Most engine manufacturers have oil analysis guidelines.


Typically you will want to keep your silicon within 15ppm of the initial oil sample, your viscosity within the original oil grade specifications, soot below 3%, and the TBN number above 3. Each piece of equipment will vary and the key is to look for trends in the analysis. If oil analysis indicates you can extend your service interval you then need to move out in steps. Oil analysis should continue at the normal service interval and in increments of 20% thereafter until the analysis shows the useful life of the oil deteriorating. Once the maximum limit on the oil is reached the change interval should be set at the mileage of the previous sampling prior to indications of oil deterioration. Example: Normal service interval = 16,000 miles (25,000 km). Oil analysis performed at 16,000 (25,000 km), 19,200 (30,000km), 22,400 (35,000 km), 25,600 (40,000 km), and 28,800 (45,000 km). If oil analysis indicates problems at 28,800 (45,000 km) the change interval should be backed off to 25,600 miles (40,000 km). This will allow for variables in operation and environment.


Extended oil drain intervals are not without risk and short term cost savings benefits should be balanced equally with engine performance and reliability. With all of the factors affecting the engine oil it is easy to see why OEM’s have traditionally been conservative in setting oil drain intervals. If you think your equipment is a candidate for EODI program, do some research. Check with your filter, engine, and oil manufacturer for guidance. If you’re not doing oil analysis, start a program. Review your filtration package and most of all understand the potential risks involved. If not properly implemented EODI short term savings are offset by expensive repairs and downtime further down the road. Always dispose of used engine oil and filters properly.

What we need to spec up your hydraulic filter requirements.

The Filter Guys

What we need to spec up your hydraulic filter requirements.

When looking to identify a filter housing for your specific problem we need to know a little bit about what you are trying to achieve and where in your hydraulic circuit you need to fit it. To do this we require a few key pieces of information to ensure correct fit and operation for you. That being:

Port Sizes. What size pipe-work are you fitting the housing into? In many cases this is a BSP measurement.

Operating Pressure. Is the filter operating as a return line, tank top return, pressure or suction filter, or is it simply an in-tank suction strainer?

Flow rate. What is the flow of the hydraulic oil in litres per minute?

Micron. It is important to get the micron rating correct to ensure that you are protecting delicate parts of your hydraulic system further along the flow route from damaging wear particles.

With this information we can then source and supply the correct filter unit. Contact us on 01902 491118 with your hydraulic filter enquiries or contact us via our website Online Enquiry Form.

We can also offer a range of replacement filter elements and housing indicators to help keep you informed when your filters require changing.

Hydraulic Filtration Systems and accessories.

Donaldson develops, manufactures and markets a full line of hydraulic filters for the protection of machinery and components in hundreds of applications on heavy duty mobile equipment. When you need high, medium or low pressure filters, filter housings, filter heads, replacement cartridges, spin-ons or hydraulic accessories, turn to Sterling Filtration, authorised distributors of Donaldson filters. We also offer a broad line of replacement filter elements.

Donaldson heavy duty high pressure filters sit behind pumps and other prime movers to protect critical hydraulic components such as cylinders, motors and valves. All contain our Synteq ® synthetic filter media, specially developed by Donaldson for high efficiency liquid filtration. Working pressures range from 140 to 420 bar and static pressures from 310 to 830 bar.

Donaldson Duramax ®, well known as the highest rated medium pressure filters available, are most often used in return line positions. As spin-ons, they are particularly well-suited for the duplex circuits. Donaldson Synteq ® and cellulose media are available. Duramax working pressures range from 25 to 70 bar and static pressures from 55 to 140 bar.

Low pressure filters are the most commonly used type of filters in hydraulic circuits, used most often as return line filters in applications with working pressures up to 10 bar and static pressure up to 20 bar.

An expanded line of accessories for hydraulic lines and reservoirs is also available. Finish off your hydraulic circuit with filter service indicators, pressure gauges, test point assemblies, valves, flanges, reservoir level gauges, sight glasses, a variety of tank and filter breathers, caps vents, plugs, strainers, diffusers, magnets and more.

Donaldson is proud to offer a broad selection of hydraulic replacement cartridges and spin-ons to the aftermarket via its distributors. Choose from our many different filter media to find exactly the right filter to help you meet the cleanliness requirements for your hydraulic system.

We Offer Donaldson Engine and Hydraulic Aftermarket Filters to replace Baldwin Filters in the UK.

The Filter Guys

We Offer Donaldson Engine and Hydraulic Aftermarket Filters to replace Baldwin Filters in the UK.

At Sterling Filtration Ltd we offer over 3,000 Donaldson equivalent filters to replace your Baldwin filters. They cover a huge range of engine filters (main air, safety air, lubricating oil, fuel, fuel water separators) and hydraulic system filters.

Please check out our range by clicking on the Donaldson Brand Icon below.

If you have any requirements for Baldwin equivalent filters please give us a call today on 01902 491118. We are here to service your filter needs!

Filters for Trucks

The Filter Guys

Filters for Trucks.

The range of trucks in the haulage and transportation sector in the UK is vast and they all require engine and hydraulic filter elements. Our range of aftermarket filters covers a huge range of these applications including filters for: Dennis Eagle, ERF, Foden, Hino, Hyundai, Isuzu, Iveco, DAF, MAN, Mercedes, Scania, Volvo and many, many more.

Regular, scheduled maintenance of your engine and hydraulic circuit filters can avoid breakdowns and lengthy downtime of your machine. Holding a set of filters in stock can also reduce the amount of time that your machine is down when the lead time for replacement filters is more than a few days.

At Sterling Filtration we endeavour to hold as much stock for as many machines as possible. If you have an urgent filter requirement, a breakdown to repair or are just looking for competitively priced filters for stock please give us a call today.

Donaldson Filtration

Heavy Duty Applications

The Filter Guys

Our aftermarket filtration range covers a huge section of heavy duty applications.

The heavy duty aftermarket in the UK is made up of many hundreds of machines and static equipment that require regular filter servicing to maintain their optimum performance. We can identify and hold large stocks of filters for machines including: Atlast Copco, Barford, Benford, Bomag, Case Poclain, Caterpillar, Doosan Daewoo, Demag, Fiat Hitachi and Kobelco, Fuchs, Hanix, Hyundai, Iveco, John Deere, Kaeser, Komatsu, Kubota, Liebherr, Lombardini, Massey Ferguson, Matbro, Mitsubishi, New Holland, Samsung, Shaeff, Sennebogen, Takeuchi, Terex, Volvo, Yanmar and many, many more.

Regular, scheduled maintenance of your engine and hydraulic circuit filters can avoid breakdowns and lengthy downtime of your machine. Holding a set of filters in stock can also reduce the amount of time that your machine is down when the lead time for replacement filters is more than a few days.

At Sterling Filtration we endeavour to hold as much stock for as many machines as possible. If you have an urgent filter requirement, a breakdown to repair or are just looking for competitively priced filters for stock please give us a call today.

Donaldson Filtration

Filter elements for compressors.

The Filter Guys

Filter elements for compressors.

Pneumatic tools are ineffective if not maintained correctly. Dirt and liquid particles in your compressors air line can cause lengthy and expensive breakdowns or completely destroy your equipment. Regular maintenance is essential to avoid this happening especially at this time of year when cold temperatures can cause freezing of water droplets that may collect in your air lines.

Sterling Filtration Ltd can offer a wide range of filter elements to service your compressor machine needs. We have a wide range of parts available through our extensive supply chain to service machines including, but not limited to, Ingersoll Rand, Zander, Bauer, Hydrovane, Kaeser, Husky and Compair compressors.

We supply 1, 0.1 and 0.01 micron filter elements for inline compressed air use as well as being able to offer the complete assemblies too. We also stock air, oil and fuel filters for large compressor engines as well as air/oil separators for many applications.

Remember it is cost effective to regularly service your filter elements than not service your equipment. A strict maintenance procedure can stop a problem before it starts.

Worried About Water in Your Air Intake System?

The Filter Guys

Worried About Water in Your Air Intake System?

Sometimes you can’t help operating equipment in extreme moisture environments especially during the spring when the weather is unpredictable, but it’s good to be mindful of a few things to help keep your air intake system running at top efficiency.

Typical Symptoms of Water Ingestion:

  • High Restriction indications.
  • Mud caked in the VacValve
  • Wet, wavy air filter media
  • System rust, corrosion and/or water damage
  • Moisture-related environmental problems such as icing

Simple Tips to Keep Water Out of Your System:

  • Check and clear the VacValve daily
  • Make sure the air cleaner cover and filter are installed properly
  • Inspect air intake system for any leaks

Remember, a water-soaked air filter will occasionally lock-up a restriction indicator. Wet filters should always be replaced as they are prone to tear at weak, wet spots on the media. This would then allow the air flow to bypass the filter allowing dirt and debris into your air intake.

A restriction indicators ‘lock-up” restriction level is generally marked on the indicator itself. To check an indicator, remove it, wipe the base clean, then apply a small amount of vacuum. If the indicator locks up, it should still be okay to reuse this way. If not be sure to replace the indicator.

Donaldson Air cleaner assemblies and accessories are available to buy from Sterling Filtration Ltd.

Donaldson Filtration

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