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How Long Can Gas Sit in a Car?

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In most cases, car owners do not worry about it. But the fact is, gas can go bad if it has been in your car for too long. But how often do you have to fill up the tank? How long can gas sit in a car? Knowing this information is important, because gas that is too old is bad for your car. In this post, we will try to give you a reliable answer. 

Bad gasoline explained

Two factors are responsible for gas going bad. The first is chemical deterioration. Your car’s gas is a complex chemical because it contains many different compounds. Gasoline is a lighter-weight component and it spreads an aroma that you can sometimes smell. Evaporation of gasoline occurs when gasoline reacts with oxygen. 

If gasoline remains unused for too long, important components will evaporate, making the gas almost useless. If gasoline is left unused for several months, the octane rating will go down and the gas will turn liquid. It will become a thick material. 

Water contamination can also cause your car gas to go bad. You will have to deal with serious problems if water contamination occurs. Due to condensation, gas lines can become solid in the winter. It can cause erosion and affect the functionality of your car’s engine. 

Signs of bad gas

Your car will not run smoothly if the engine has bad gas. In some cases, the car will not run at all. To detect bad gasoline, here are some signs to look for: 

  • Your car does not start. Even if it starts, it grunts. 
  • The engine stalls, sputters, or idles roughly. 
  • Your car hardly accelerates, and the speed is not steady. 
  • The engine makes pinging sounds when you try to accelerate. 
  • The check engine light illuminates frequently. 
  • How long can gas sit in a car? 

 The shelf life of the gas in your car is several months. But there is no surefire way to tell that the gas has actually gone bad. What you can do is to drive the car and use up the gas. The gas is not going to last forever, so it is good to use it up. 

What to do with bad gas 

If the symptoms stated above persist, get the issues fixed by a qualified mechanic. It is not a good idea to make an effort to troubleshoot the problem on your own, because in most cases the problems are complex. A professional mechanic knows the right way to deal with pressurized fuel systems and highly flammable gases.  

If your car has a lot of bad gas contaminated with water, the best thing to do is to empty the gas tank.  Completely empty the gas tank and then refill the tank with uncontaminated gas. 

Your mechanic will decide what to do depending on the state of gas in the tank. He will probably siphon the gas out. If some sediment is left in the tank, it may be necessary to thoroughly clean the tank. If the gas clogs due to damages in the fuel system, the issue must be addressed properly. 

If there is very little bad gas in your car’s tank, using a fuel stabilizer or additive can be the answer to the problem. The stabilizer for additives will absorb the moisture in the tank. The engine may work better if you fill the tank with some high quality, premium gas. The engines will combust better if the premium gas is mixed with bad gas. 

Prevention is far better than cure 

Now we are going to provide a few tips that may make it easier for you to deal with bad gas in your vehicle. Take the following tips seriously.  

How long can gas sit in a car? The gas is in the best condition in the first couple of months. Some gas stations sell old gas. That is why you have to make sure that you are buying fresh gas. When you are going to purchase gas, go to a busy station. Chances are that you will find some fresh fuel there. 

To make sure that you are putting some high-quality gas into your car’s fuel tank, always choose top tier fuel. You can significantly reduce water buildup by keeping the tank full. This trick is more effective in the winter. You also have to make sure that the gas caps fit properly and the seals are not loose.  

If you know for sure that you are not going to use your car for the next several months, filling up the tank is one of the best things you can do for your car. Using a fuel stabilizer is also a good idea. The stabilizer gets circulated when you drive the car. A stabilizer can certainly slow down the deterioration of the fuel. 

Proper storage of fuel is important

Now we will provide some tips for people who are looking for ways to make the fuel last longer. Here are some important tips: 

Avoid buying more fuel than you think you are going to need in a month. If you know that you are not going to use the car for a while, you should not buy too much gas. If you manage to do this, your car will always have fresh fuel. 

Reduce water contamination by keeping the car’s fuel tank topped off.  Oxygen hastens the process of chemical decomposition in the gas. Try to limit exposure to oxygen. Make sure your car’s fuel equipment is working properly, and there is no leakage.

If your car is a classic or antique car, probably the car is not used very often. Make sure that tank is topped off after every time the car is driven. Do the same for your motorcycle. How ever, a motorcycle consumes gas pretty fast, and bad gas is often not a problem for motorcycles.

Avoid purchasing more gasoline that you need

As we have already mentioned, you should use a fuel stabilizer if your car tank has more gasoline than you are going to need in a month. When you are going to store gasoline for a long time, mix some fuel stabilizer with your gasoline.

How long can gas sit in a car? It remains in the best condition in the first couple of months, and unused fuel equipment can cause the gas to degrade. In the winter, avoid leaving the fuel equipment for a long time. The stabilizer keeps the gas in a good condition by preventing oxidation. As a result, gas can not turn into garbage. The problem can also result in a costly repair.

How old is the gas?

It does not take a very long time to start the process of degradation, but you will not have to worry about the gas going bad for a couple of months. That means, gasoline can sit in the tank for a couple of months and still be effective.

After two months, minor degradation will take place. The oil will not perform as effectively, but it will still be usable. However, if gas gets older than a year, do not try to use that gas. It will cause issues. In order to keep the engine safe, you have to drain bad gas from the tank.

How long can gas sit in a car? Gas will naturally go bad, and in most cases it is not a problem. But when you know that the gas has gone bad, topping off the tank is the best thing to do. Adding new gas to the old gas will normalize the functioning of the engine.

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