Here's How Long Gas Lasts
Prescription for bad gas: Drive more.
- Cars 101
- Guides & Gear
It’s easy to lose track of how long a vehicle has been sitting. If you didn’t intentionally put the car away for storage, one week quickly bleeds into one month, which quickly rolls into a quarter-year hibernation. It might not seem like a big deal, but the truth is that’s not good for your car.
The parts, liquids, and fuels in your vehicle are designed to be run regularly, and without frequent trips to the grocer, things could get a bit murky. Items such as a car’s tires and battery must be attended to in the event of prolonged sitting, as does the gas.
If left too long, gasoline will eventually turn into a worthless liquid. To better understand why this happens and what to do about it, The Drive’s fuel-scented editors have gathered their best gas tips into one place. Let’s go-go. *plays Wham!*
[Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 26, 2020, but was updated updated with new formatting and new information on 05/12/2021.]
How Long Does Gas Last?
There is no line of text on your gas station receipt that marks your gasoline’s expiration date. It just doesn’t work like that, so it’s virtually impossible to say an exact number. We can get you a rough range, though. According to Exxon Mobil, gas in a sealed container is estimated to last for approximately six months, give or take a month or two. When left unused, it begins to oxidize, degrade, and lose combustibility.
How Should Gas Be Stored?
Gas should be stored in an approved container designed specifically for storing gasoline and alike combustibles. You can find these in the form of both metal gas cans and plastic gas cans. Once the gas is in those containers, it should be stored in a dry cool place out of the way of heavy foot traffic and away from anything that could have an open flame or create spark. Do not, however, store large amounts of gasoline or hoard gasoline at any time. Not only does this present a major safety issue, it could also create more waste if it goes unused.
How Can You Tell If Gas Is Bad?
The best way to tell if gas is bad is to do a physical inspection. Gas is normally a clear or slightly yellowed liquid. Spoiled gas will likely have a darker hue with black or brown tinting and could be hazy, more viscous, or contaminated.
How Can I Dispose of Old Gas?
Absolutely do not get rid of your old gas by pouring it into the dirt behind your garage or the drain on the street, it’s harmful to the environment and to us. To learn how to remove gas from your vehicle with a fuel transfer pump and how to properly dispose of your old gas, read The Drive’s full report, How To Dispose of Old Gas.
FAQs About Gas and Gasoline Disposal
You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!
Q. What happens to gas if it sits too long?
A. The gas will break down and lose its combustibility. If used in an older vehicle, old gas could damage the vehicle’s engine.
Q. Can you use old gas?
A. Some people will use old gas in their lawn mowers or weed whackers, but we recommend always properly disposing of old gas and getting the fresh stuff.
Q. Can you mix old gas with new gas?
A. Depending on the condition of the gasoline, it’s possible, but we do not recommend it. The old gasoline could be potentially harmful to your engine.
Q. Is there an additive for bad gas?
A. Fuel stabilizers do exist, but those are typically used prior to your gas sitting for a long time. The way we see it, if you know your gas will be sitting for a long time, it’s better to take it out and store it in a container.
If your gas is already bad, just replace it.
Q. What happens if you put regular gas in a premium gas car?
A. If you have an older car, you might see direct issues as a result, but on newer cars with intelligent auto-adjusting computer brains, it should be okay. For more info on this topic, read The Drive’s guide, What Happens When You Put Regular Gas In a Premium Car?
Q. Can old gas be used for a gasoline fight?
A. Absolutely not. Just because you’re wearing the hottest fashions while blasting “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” does not give you the right to have a gasoline fight. They are dangerous and will mess up your hair, do not listen to Derek Zoolander!
Watch: Check Out the Refining Process in the Video Below
See how gas is made and its journey to your local gas pump.
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