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Car Care: How Long Does Gasoline Last in a Vehicle?

Person Holding Gasoline Pump
When you drive regularly, your biggest concern when it comes to gasoline is likely making sure you have enough to reach your destination. However, if you’re planning to put your car into storage or find yourself using it infrequently, it’s important to know how long the fuel will last and how to keep it fresh for an extended period.
 
How long does gas last?
 
The length of time the gas in your vehicle’s tank remains usable depends on a number of factors, including the type of fuel it is, your environment and your driving habits. Most gas breaks down in three to six months, ethanol blends may deteriorate in as few as two and diesel will usually hold its quality for six to 12 months.
 
Why does gas break down?
 
According to Repair Pal’s Stephen Fogel, the fuel you pump into your vehicle is an “extremely complex chemical, composed of hundreds of different compounds.” He goes on to say that as it’s exposed to oxygen over time, some of the lighter elements of the blend evaporate, lowering its octane rating. If you let it sit for long enough, it can even thicken to the point where it resembles varnish.
 
Why you should never use old fuel
 
It may sound like a small issue, but driving your vehicle when it’s filled with expired gas can have serious ramifications. Since it’s lost some of its ability to combust, it won’t burn correctly in the engine and may cause lasting damage. If it sits still long enough to thicken, it can end up forming blockages that will lower efficiency and gum up the powertrain. Additionally, if water finds its way into the tank, it will likely cause corrosion and may even freeze during the winter, rupturing the gas line.
 
Ways to keep your gas in good condition
 
Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to make sure your gas doesn’t break down past the point of recovery. The first and most obvious is to drive your car regularly, as it keeps the fuel from stagnating and usually means that you’ll refill the tank frequently. If that’s not an option, consider adding a fuel stabilizer before you put your vehicle into storage, as it can keep the gas from expiring for up to a year. You should also make sure that your gas cap is secure so that water, particulates and excessive oxygen don’t slip in.
 
What to do with old gas
 
If you know that the fuel in your vehicle is out of date, there are several solutions. If you’ve got less than half a tank of gas and it hasn’t thickened, adding a fuel stabilizer and topping the tank off with a premium blend may correct the issue. If you’ve got a full tank, you may be able to siphon it all out and replace it with a fresh batch. In the most extreme cases, a service professional can remove the whole tank, clean it and put it back in.
 
By understanding how long the gas in your vehicle will last and how to keep it from breaking down, you can avoid potentially costly damage and keep your car running like new for years to come.
 
This article is presented by Zimbrick European.

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