Carrying Extra Gas

My friend has a 2 gallon red gas tank that she carries in her trunk (in a weighed down egg crate) just in case she runs out of fuel while she’s stuck in traffic. I was wondering if this is a safe?? I’m tempted to do the same for my trips into the city, but I’m very worried about my trunk exploding and other unforseen consequences. If it is safe to do, what pre-cautions should one take? Thanks!

Consider this. That two gallons of gas has been in her trunk how long now? Gasoline has a shelf life and after about a year, it would be iffy, especially if it was in the trunk parked out in the sun much of the time.

OK maybe she bothers to keep that gas fresh. There is a real safety factor. It is generally considered not a good idea to keep a can in your trunk since the spill or leakage hazard is generally considered to be far worse than the chance of running out of gas.

Your friend would be better off, just refilling the tank when it gets down to half empty.  It will be better for the car too. 

Additional note: A cell phone will provide far more security and safety than having gas available.

Mr. Meehan has summarized it very well, and I concur with everything that he has said.

And, as Mr. Meehan implied, if your friend is worried about running out of gas while stuck in traffic, she is allowing her gas tank to get too low prior to her urban expedition. I believe that the old expression was “plan ahead” or something like that.

Simply having a sufficient amount of gas in the tank beforehand can prevent her from having these worries and will prevent the problems inherent in hauling a couple of gallons of gas around for months or years at a time.

No, it’s not safe. If she is rear ended, the can may rupture and catch fire. Automobile gas tanks are fairly well designed to resist this kind of damage.

The best place to store emergency gas is in her car’s gas tank. Provided her fuel gauge works properly, all she needs to do is remember to refuel as soon as the gauge drops below one quarter. With a quarter tank, she should be able to go at least another 75 miles before running out. That’s enough to get her through any traffic jam. If she is paranoid about it, refuel when the gauge drops below half.

Something else to consider is that most (maybe all) modern fuel pumps are located in the gas tank and are driven by an electric motor. They are cooled by the gas in the tank. If the tank runs dry, there is no cooling and the motor will burn up. Replacing a ruined fuel pump will cost several hundred dollars.

Carrying gas in the trunk isn’t all that safe. There are probably a few rural people who need to make very long trips on secondary roads through sparsely populated country with gas stations that aren’t always open where a gas reserve makes sense. But most of us are/would be better off with an AAA membership and a cell phone. It is safer and will cover a lot of situations beyond just running out of gas.

I agree with the others that it isn’t safe.

Pennzoil used to make a product called “Roadside Rescue” that was supposed to be a non-flammable emergency fuel substitute. I am not sure how a non-flammable liquid could substitute for gasoline, so don’t ask me how it works. I don’t think they make it any more, but perhaps you can find something like it at your local auto parts store.

If your friend has a working fuel gauge and a brain, she should be able to find a gas station before she runs out of fuel.

This is not a good habit to get into! Problems can happen. Just fill up before you go on a trip to the city and refill before you return. Lot safer!!!

You don’t have to carry any extra gas for trips to anywhere. Nobody who gets stuck in traffic will be there long enough to need extra gasoline. Nobody should run a tank lower than a quarter of a tankfull. It isn’t like keeping two sticks of dynamite in your pocket in case you want to go fishing while on a hike, but it isn’t completely safe or even necessary. You probably forgot to mention that her gas gauge doesn’t work.

In what city are gas stations more than 300 miles apart?

And remember, it really IS allowable to add gas to her tank when it shows 3/4 full.
There is no rule ( yet most of my customers have no clue ) that one must wait until the little float hits the bottom of the tank to add fuel.

If the potential for driving/idling for extended periods is pre-known, then I wouldn’t pass up the oportunity to top off just prior.
I know that inner city interstate freeway systems leave little option to just hop off to grab a quick topoff ( in stopped multi-lane traffic between ramps ) so I’d find either; the first station when leaving work, or the last station on the way in to work.
Another option is to change the route home, just a tad, so that you DO go to a station first , THEN get on the freeway at a different on-ramp that you do now.

If in danger of running out in stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic, try to find opportunities to shut off the idling engine.

aside; This kind of stop-and-go, barely moving ( albeit freeway ) traffic is just the occasion to have my 06 Ford Escape hybrid. When sitting and waiting, the engine doesn’t idle at all ( o rpm, battery driven ) so I won’t run out just sitting and idling.

The OP’s friend must think that she is setting off on an expedition across the Gobi Desert, rather than driving on US highways and in US cities. As was stated, anyone possessing a functioning gasoline gauge and the sense to glance at that gauge periodically should not be in a situation of running out of gas in a populated area.

Gas storage in enclosed areas is begging for trouble. Accumulated gas fumes in an unventilated area is looking for an explosion. What is she thinking of ? or not. Do her a favor and steal the gas…just don’t be lighting up when you open the trunk.

If being stuck is rush hour is common place for this person, I’d chose to wait 10~20 minutes at work before leaving. Unless when the person is getting offa work, a security guard comes running around, waving his gun in the air to force everyone out of the building, this should be doable.
Look at it this way; You’re gonna spend 20 minutes tuck in traffic waiting, why not relax in the break room(or wherever) for 20 minutes and unwind a bit from the day.

Thank you all so much for the insightful answers. I will not be carrying gas in my trunk and will have a talk with my friend about doing the same. (I like the suggestion about doing her a favor and stealing it, lol!)

“Lot safer” to you too.

I know this is a bad habit to get into, but some people are so hair-brained that it is necessary.