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Does gasoline go bad?

I have an emergency cache of gasoline - regular octane stored in 5-gal plastic jerry cans. It’s probably 10 or 12 years old. I’ve heard a rumor that gasoline “goes bad” after some period of time. Is this true? Can I use this without concern for the effect on my engine, or should I recycle it and get a new supply?

Ten year old gas would likely damage your engine. Gasoline has a limited life, even in a sealed container. I would not suggest even putting it into your lawn mower.

About the best you can do is a year or two and then only if you used a good fuel stabilizer. Not is too late.

Check with your local hazardous waste authorty for disposal information.

I would guess you are storing fuel for a power generator incase of a power outage. You need to cycle that stored fuel through your car like every 3 months maybe every year if you use a good fuel stabilizer.

Thinking you have a good back up is worse that not having any backup.

Gasoline definitely goes bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if your car didn’t even run if that 5-gal can was even 2-3 years old. If yours is 10-12 years old, I would never put it into an engine.

I used to fix lawnmowers and snow blowers. When customers brought them in to get them ready for the season, they almost always would not start with the previous season’s gas. Often the mower’s old gas would turn to varnish, forcing the need rebuild/replace the carburetor.

Recycle your old gas. When you get new gas, be sure to use fuel stabilizer. That should reliably extend your 5-gal can of gas into the 1-2 year range.

On a related note, I go winter camping in the NH White Mtns several times/year where the temps are often near or below zero. We ALWAYS have to use fresh Coleman fuel for our stoves. If we use Coleman fuel from a can that was opened 6 months earlier, the stoves either won’t light or won’t stay lit.

I would consider 10-to-12 year old gasoline to be hazardous waste, and I would dispose of it at my local recycling center.

Gasoline goes bad WAY before 10 years. Without stabilizer gasoline starts to go bad in 12 months or less.

I would not pour this into the fuel tank of any gasoline engine. Not even a lawn mower.

Rumor ? Would any of us drink 12 year old water stored in a can ?

It’s simply unbelievable how many people…and I don’t mean you because you ARE concerned and are asking, spend hard earned money on power ICE tools, recreational vehicles and cars, and then proceed to skimp on their maintenance. I have a bunch of friends and neighbors constantly deal with fuel problems in OBs, rec. vehicles and tools and wonder why some of us can use a tiller that’s been sitting for five years and start it on the first pull. Treat gas like it is. It wants to change to another state as it sits and should be used and turned over frequently. Always add Stabil to any gas you don’t plan on using up in a month. Drain and run dry any ICE that will be sitting for any length of time. You’d be surprised how many small engine repair people you can put out of business. You can get away without careful prevention for a while, but it will catch up with you esp. with the added ethanol and moisture content.

If you don’t use ICE tools commercially, many power tools can be lifetime investments if you give gas (and incl. diesel) the respect it deserves.

BTW, Stabilizer is NOT magic. It doesn’t restore “bad” gas nor does it last forever. It displaces a little moisture and buys you a little time on gas and diesel that you hope has not already been sitting around too long before you purchase it. Keep that attitude and you’ll be much safer.

Agree with all the above. Once you get rid of this bad gas, you need to come up with a better routine if you want to keep a stash of gas around (I’m curious why, because it’s not really a good thing, given the fire danger), but if you must, then you need to do a yearly replacement of gas treated with a gas stabilizer (the Stabil web site says a double dose is good for up to 24 months, I would use a double dose for 12 months). Do this, and you’ll at least maintain a supply of usable gas.

Obtain some FRESH gasoline and pour a shot-glass full. Examine it. Odor, color…Now examine your 10 year old stash. Compare the two samples. If your stored gasoline has taken on a darker orange color and smells like old paint thinner, it is NOT usable fuel.

Modern gasoline is not a straight-run distillate like it once was…Todays gas has been alkalized and cat-cracked, they can now turn asphalt into gasoline. But it’s not stable. It will slowly transform itself back into tar…

Burned in an engine, it quickly leaves a gummy, tar-like deposit on the valve stems and piston rings which can destroy an engine. I have seen a Dodge 440 v8 motor home engine seize up when the valves jammed in their guides, bending most of the pushrods. The valves had to be pounded out of the heads…After repairing all that mess, removing the fuel tanks and replacing them, lines too, it turned out the rings were stuck, the engine barely willing to run…The vehicle was scrapped at a considerable loss…The motor-home had sat in a parking lot for 4 years, unused, when all this started… I must add, I can not say for SURE someone did not sabotage the vehicle with, say, Karo syrup…But I don’t THINK so…

You will find disposing of degraded gasoline is not as easy as you think…Recycling centers are NOT interested…

12-year-old gasoline is not the same as 12-year-old Scotch. It does not improve over time.


Gas definitely goes bad I once got the opportunity to drive a car that had been sitting 18 months with fuel in the tank. The vehicle ran terribly until I put fresh gas in it. What you have in those jerry cans is now probably closer to varnish than its original gas.