What about hybrid cars' gas getting stale?

Let me preface my question with the caveat that I am NOT considering getting a hybrid vehicle. I’m quite content with my current car. I’m merely wondering about one aspect of driving a hybrid car about which I never see or hear any discussion.

Question for discussion: For those drivers who would most benefit from driving a hybrid vehicle, i.e. most of their driving is very short trips that would almost exclusively be powered by the hybrid battery and rarely go far enough to kick in the gas engine, don’t they risk having the gasoline in their tanks go stale because they use so little gas that they go extended periods between needing to refill the gas tank?

…still reading, still learning…

At this point, probably not. The Volt, which is the most “electric” of the hybrids, can only go something like 30 miles on a good day before it has to start the gas engine. If you run the headlights or the air conditioner or it’s cold out, reduce that amount. There aren’t a whole lot of people who drive so infrequently as to not ever use the gas engine even with a hybrid.

Right now only the Volt might have that concern, and the car monitors gas use to make sure it doesn’t get stale. All regular (non-plug-in) hybrids use their gas engines the majority of the time, with the electrical system providing well-time boosts that greatly improve mpgs. But the gas gets used reasonably quickly.

Well, that certainly would explain why it isn’t an issue that gets discussed! Thanks for the feedback. It is just one of those odd things I’ve wondered about.

That’s what I have read about the Volt too. The motor will start and use gas even if you continually charge the batteries daily. The car is designed to keep oil companies happy, like hybrids, and still use gas. This will allow the oil companies to charge more per gallon for less gas…making them happy cause the don’t need to make new refineries and the environmentalist happy cause we all use less oil. It’s a win/win. It’s the gift that keeps giving.

@dagosa - congratulations for explaining a necessary feature as an oil company conspiracy…

It is what it is. There is no conspiracy. And why you (some of you) keep referring to it that way in order to belittle it’s relevancy is beyond me. Exxon CEO testified in open congressional hearings that oil company engineers are necessarily consultants in motor designs by car companies. If you also don’t get that the very first order of business is to make money, then everything becomes a conspiracy instead of a balance between capitalism and progress.

I am surprised. Never have I ever used the word conspiracy. It is what it is…a balancing act and continuum of compromises.

The Volt is not designed to save the consumer money as it’s first objective, it’s designed to make money for it’s backers at the same time as a response to bail out requirements. You are calling what you may not get a conspiracy theory. The very idea that gasoline grows stale as rapidly as it does is a cooperative function built into it’s development, just like susceptibility to rust is to cars. Turnover is a key ingredient to profitability…that statement will probably mean another conspiracy theory response from you as well. ;=) Cars need not have to decompose as they do, gasoline need not grow stale as rapidly as it does. It’s more profitable to just iconvince the naive that it does.

Our Hybrid Camry where I work fits this criteria. It is several years old and only has about 10,000 miles on the odometer. Clearly, a hybrid was not the most cost effective choice for this application, and if I had been working for my current employer when they bought it, I would have recommended a different car.

This car mainly gets used for daytime trips to a location about 45 minutes away, but sometimes gets used for longer business and field trips, and it requires fuel fairly often. We have a policy that prohibits returning any vehicle with less than 1/2 of a tank of fuel, so that probably helps keep the fuel fresh.

For what it’s worth, as an ordained minister of the Church of the SubGenius, I love making fun of conspiracy theorists, and I don’t consider you one, dagosa. The guy who posted this advertisement, on the other hand…

If one could actually foresee any of the 15 gallons still being in the tank six months from now…put in some Staybil today.
But six months is an awful long time to put so few miles on a daily driver.

We all remember to add Staybil to our fuel for lawn equipment, atvs, generators and such, but forget about cars and trucks.

Now, classic vehicles is where you’ll find old gas cause running issues.
When the miles put on are few and rare.
My 79 Chevy stepside pickup has Staybil in the tanks. I last put 30 gallons of gas in two years ago.
There are 71,000 total miles on the truck and I am the only owner.

With short trips and low miles driven the hybrid will not pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time.
Best use for a hybrid would be lots of stop-and-go and lots of miles per year, like taxi service.

“The Volt is not designed to save the consumer money as it’s first objective, it’s designed to make money for it’s backers at the same time as a response to bail out requirements.”

I think it’s designed to help GM meet the increasing CAFE level. And I would not say that any hybrid or diesel are designed to save the consumer money first. If they were, then the initial cost would not be so high.

My wife would be a candidate for using a fuel stabilizer if she had a Volt. She drives about 2 miles to work each day. The stores where she shops are all within 10 miles of home. She just might need the stabilizer. But then again, there’s no way she would want a $40,000 car that would not pay the difference between it and it’s gas-only analog (Cruze) in a reasonable time.


"The auto bailout proposal from the Big 3 auto companies totaled $34 billion in government loans. In return, the companies promised to fast-track development of energy-efficient vehicles, and consolidate operations. "

This might be an issue with cars like the Volt. I’ve seen Volt drivers talk about going for months without a fill up. For example, how far is it to your work? If it’s less than 15 miles, you could easily drive a Volt back and forth to work every day without ever filling up the tank. I’ve seen discussions of over 1000 miles between fill ups in people driving a Volt.

The problem might now be stale gas, but gas that’s the wrong formulation for the time of year. Gasoline formulation changes between the summer months and the winter months.

The Volt’s computer runs the engine to keep gas from getting stale.

Ah, I hadn’t thought of the car’s computer ensuring that the gas engine runs periodically like Texases says. But that does make sense.

Thanks for all the discussion. It’s just one of those idle thoughts I got to wondering about.