Gas going bad: How long does it last?

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Written By Gabriela
Gabriela is a science journalist and writer. She has a PhD in biochemistry and a master's degree in science communication. Gabriela has published articles in magazines and newspapers in Mexico and USA, and has also given talks on science subjects.






Gasoline is an important commodity in our society, and understanding how to store, use and dispose of it is important for safety. But how long does gas last before it goes bad? What can you do to ensure that your gas stays fresh and usable for as long as possible? And what happens if you end up with bad gas in your vehicle?

In this article, we’ll answer your questions about gas and how long it can last before it goes bad. We’ll also cover some tips on how to store gas properly and what to do if you end up with bad gas in your vehicle. Read on to learn everything you need to know about

How Long Does It Take For Gas To Go Bad?

Regular gasoline has a shelf life of three to six months before it begins to degrade. This relatively short time-span is due to oxidation and evaporation that occur over time.

Diesel, on the other hand, has a significantly longer shelf-life than regular gasoline. It can last up to an entire year or more before showing signs of degradation.

Organic-based Ethanol, however, is much shorter lived than even regular gasoline – in just one to three months, it can go bad due to oxidation and evaporation.

Why Does Gas Go Bad?

Gasoline degrades over time as it is exposed to air and moisture. As it does so, the fuel begins to break down and separate into different components.

Oxidation is what causes the gasoline’s color to darken and also leads to deposits and a build-up of gunk in your fuel tank and engine.

How Can You Tell If Gas Is Bad?

  • Color: Fresh gas is usually bright yellow or yellowish green. Deteriorated gas will look darker in color.
  • Smell: Good gasoline should smell sweet or faintly like paint solvent. Bad fuel may smell sour or like rotten eggs.
  • Performance: Bad fuel may cause your engine to misfire, run rough when accelerating, sputter, or die out altogether.

how long does it take for gas to go bad

How To Prevent Gas Going Bad

Storing Gasoline:

  • Store it in a sealed container away from any source of heat or flame.
  • Keep it cool – store the fuel in a cool, dark place such as a shed.
  • Make sure any containers used are only dedicated for storing gas – do not mix different fuels together.

The Shelf Life of Gas: How Long Can It Sit in a Tank?

When stored correctly and sealed from air, gasoline can last between 3 to 6 months before it loses its combustibility and is no longer suitable for use. It’s essential that you store the fuel in the right type of container which should be in line with the capacity limits outlined by your local fire department.

Your fire department’s recommendations are usually based on the size of the gas tank so it might be worth double-checking what size containers are permitted. If a larger tank is used, extra safety precautions may need to be taken such as using secondary containment or engaging other safety measures.

In addition to selecting an appropriate container, you also need to take steps to reduce potential ignition sources. This can include storing fuel away from combustible materials and avoid any direct sunlight.

Before using gasoline that has been stored for a while, you may want to check if the fuel meets quality standards. This process involves identifying oxidized molecules, such as those containing volatile compounds. If you’re not sure how to do this yourself, you can always ask someone knowledgeable or visit a professional testing lab that can provide detailed analysis of the fuel’s combustion properties.

To help maintain the freshness of your fuel for longer, consider adding a gasoline stabilizer to it. Stabilizers act like an antioxidant to slow down the oxidation process and reduce evaporation. You may also want to store gas cans or tanks at regular intervals – that way, you can rotate the stock between uses and never have old fuel sitting around unused for too long.

  • Select an appropriate container that meets your fire department’s capacity limits.
  • Avoid storing gasoline near potential ignition sources.
  • Test the quality of your stored fuel before use.
  • Consider using a stabilizer product and/or rotating your stored gas supplies.

Is Old Gas Really That Bad After Two Years?

Gasoline has a shelf life depending on the type of fuel and its storage. While all gas will eventually begin to degrade due to exposure to oxygen, there are more factors that can affect its longevity. Knowing when to refresh your gasoline supply is critical for ensuring efficient operation from equipment that runs on fuel.

When stored properly, regular gasoline has an expected shelf life of three months. However, this can be prolonged up to three years with certain additives. Special formulations have been designed specifically for long-term storage and help protect engine parts from corrosion.

It’s also possible to extend a gas’s lifespan with minimal effort. When stored in an airtight container, gasoline can last longer than the three month mark even without additives. Some containers are made to prevent air exchange while others are designed specifically for fuel.

  • Store gasoline in a cool, dark place.
  • Keep gasoline in an airtight container.
  • Add fuel stabilizer when storing for longer periods.
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Ultimately, two full years is pushing it when it comes to storing petrol without any additives or mitigation techniques. Even if the two-year mark is hit, the fuel may still be usable if it was stored properly and regularly topped off with new supplies.

Detecting the Signs of Bad Gas

Gasoline is a necessary yet difficult commodity to manage. It’s prone to wear and tear, resulting in all sorts of problems once it starts going bad. Fortunately, there are distinct signs that you can look out for if you think that your gas may need replacing.

Difficulty starting up is one common symptom. When trying to start your vehicle, the engine may sputter and cough before finally igniting, or it may not even ignite at all. If this happens, it could be the result of bad gas.

If the gas is really off, other signs may present themselves. For instance, rough idling, which occurs when the engine will frequently struggle to keep running. Additionally, pinging sounds, like a metallic banging, may also occur.

Stalling is another indicator that the fuel has gone bad. Unexpected stalling can lead to some fairly irritating road trips and can easily cause accidents when in motion. Don’t let yourself be a victim of bad fuel!

Check engine light illumination, along with reduced fuel economy, are two more symptoms that could indicate your fuel has gone bad. Reduced fuel economy not only means decreased performance but also higher costs over time.

Finally, higher emissions, like emission smell coming from your car’s exhaust or smoke streaming out of the tailpipe, are sure indications that your gas has gone bad and needs replacing immediately.

  • Difficulty starting up
  • Rough idling
  • Pinging sounds

Can Gas Last Longer in Plastic Containers?

Gasoline can have a lifespan of up to six months when properly stored in a labeled, sealed plastic container. That said, gasoline is susceptible to degradation caused by oxidation and evaporation of its volatile compounds.

Time, oxygen and high temperatures all contribute to the decrease in combustibility of your gas. Oxygen is responsible for oxidation, fueling a reaction that rapidly breaks down the fuel and eventually causes it to become unusable. Likewise, if you store your fuel container in a warm place, the volatile compounds inside will evaporate at a faster rate.

But, don’t worry – proper storage can help slow down all of those unfortunate side effects! To get the most out of your gasoline supply, follow these tips:

  • Store the container upright. Upright containers keep oxygen away from almost all surfaces; therefore, decreasing oxidation.
  • Choose dark containers and locations. Sunlight and heat can speed up evaporation in gasoline (especially in warmer climates).
  • Keep container secure. Make sure that the lid is tightly sealed on the container and store it in a safe spot.
  • Test the quality before use. Gas that has been sitting for more than six months should be tested for quality before using – this could potentially save you from expensive repairs.

By following these instructions, your gasoline should retain its combustion ability for three to six months (and if you’re lucky, more). Remember – preventive storage is key! Have any tips or tricks we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

Bad Gas: The Hazards It Could Bring to Your Engine

One of the most common issues that can affect the performance of your car is using the wrong fuel in your tank. Regularly using the wrong type of fuel can lead to an array of problems, including causing serious damage to the engine.

It’s incredibly important to make sure that you read the label on the fuel pump before selecting a choice and pouring it into your tank. The last thing you want is to ruin your engine and have hefty repair costs because you made a mistake at the pump.

Using the wrong type of gas for your vehicle will not only decrease its power, but it will also cause a range of other issues as well. Over time, this less-than optimal fuel mix can lead to bigger problems, such as:

  • Clogged fuel injectors, which are a major part of modern fuel systems in cars.
  • Gunked up spark plugs, from dirt and impurities present in bad fuel, reducing efficiency.
  • Damaged sensor system: Bad gas throws off readings from sensors, making it difficult for computers to properly adjust valves, air intake and other components.
  • Reduced engine life, with low-quality gas corroding components faster than it should.

But don’t worry – you don’t necessarily need to replace your entire engine if you unknowingly put bad gas in your car. If you catch it early enough, the consequences may be minimal. However if you believe that you may have already used bad gas, or that it’s been sitting in your tank for too long, then it’s best to talk to an expert mechanic today.

To prevent any potential damage for yourself, make sure to select the correct grade of fuel when filling up or else take care of your car’s needs immediately. Your engine will thank you.