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There are a lot fewer cars out on the road right now, because many drivers are isolating in their homes to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Overall road travel in the U. If you're driving less, or not at all, gasoline sitting in your fuel tank could be getting old and stale, and degrading.
Using old fuel in your car can sap engine power, causing hesitation and stalling. The worst case is that your car might not start. Of course, when venturing out to fill up your car, follow our safety guidelines for pumping gas during the pandemic, and for any other task you might need to tackle, such as grocery shopping. As gas breaks down, you can tell whether you have bad gas just by the way it smells.
Brannon points out that brown, gummy gas represents an extreme scenario. And it's not advisable for the average consumer to go around smelling gasoline. Even so, running into a performance problem because of old gas in your car could easily happen during this pandemic.
If you're already a low-mile driver, and the gas sitting in your tank was aging prior to the pandemic, then you could easily hit the three-month age mark. Find out whether top-tier gasoline is worth the extra priceand use CR's test-based tips to get the best fuel economy now. Make sure you put the stabilizer in right before you add fuel so that it mixes in properly with the gasoline, he says. Also, moisture can get into the tank over time because gas tanks sweat, and moisture will cause the gasoline to break down even quicker, says Brannon from AAA. Brannon adds that filling up your tank all the way limits the amount of oxygen inside the tank "for the gas to evaporate into.
The less oxygen the gas mixes with, the less it will lose its volatile chemicals into the air. Fuel stabilizer, a liquid that works to keep gasoline from degrading over time, comes in small bottles that can be easily emptied into a full fuel tank. Common brands, such as Sea Foam and Sta-Bil, are generally available at local auto parts and hardware stores, and they can be ordered online. Brannon and Ibbotson agree that fuel stabilizer will help make gasoline last longer, but they stress that it will work only if mixed with good gasoline.
Even so, adding stabilizer late in the game can at least stop it from deteriorating further than it already has, he says. Shop Fuel Stabilizer on Amazon. With these uncertain times, people might have a notion to stock up on spare fuel stored in gas cans in their garage.
Experts caution against this. He says adding fuel stabilizer to the stored gasoline will help, but even that is not a cure-all over the long term. Gasoline will still eventually start to break down, at some point, even with a stabilizer.
If you do store gasoline, make sure you keep it in a DOT-approved, sealed container. This also helps the gasoline last longer. Brannon says that, just like with your car, store the gas can full to reduce sweating and exposure to the atmosphere.
After my dad gave me a ride on his Yamaha two-stroke motorcycle when I was 3, I was hooked on anything with an engine. My most thrilling moment so far has been hurtling down the autobahn at a GPS-timed On weekends you can find me churning dirt on my mountain bike or doing car or motorcycle track days. Follow me on Twitter. In. Become a Member.
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Not a member? Need further assistance? Please call Member Services at Experts give some simple tips to protect your engine from stale gas if your car is sitting idle. By Mike Monticello. April 06, Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this .
Send We respect your privacy. Oops, we messed up. Try again later. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. Learn more. More on Cars and the Coronavirus. CR's Guide to the Coronavirus. Filling Up Combats Fuel Breakdown A chronically low fuel tank can contribute to the problem in several ways. The Beauty of Fuel Stabilizer.
Mike Monticello After my dad gave me a ride on his Yamaha two-stroke motorcycle when I was 3, I was hooked on anything with an engine. More From Consumer Reports.
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