Gasoline Can Expire – Here’s How

After fueling up your vehicle at the gas station, you might not think about how long the gasoline is good for. You know how many miles you can travel before having to fuel up again, so what’s the point? The expiration of gasoline becomes a more important factor when you fill up your gas can. If you don’t use it frequently, then you should know that it can go bad over time.

What is Gasoline?

Of course we all know that gasoline runs our vehicles, but what is it exactly? The U.S. Energy Information Administration defines it as “a fuel made from crude oil and other petroleum liquids.” Simply put, it is a man-made product that is refined and blended to properly operate an ignition engine. There are multiple grades and formulations of gasoline produced for varying engines and different seasons.

Blame Evaporation for Expiration

Gasoline contains a mixture of ingredients that will evaporate over time. How quickly this can happen depends on their volatility. Highly volatile gasoline evaporates easier due to lower temperatures needed for evaporation, while low volatile gasoline takes longer due to higher temperatures needed. As more of the gasoline turns into a vapor and escapes, the fuel will become less efficient.

Other Factors at Play

While gasoline has the potential to evaporate, it’s also at risk of oxidation and dilution. Each time gasoline is exposed to the air, like when you remove the cap from a gas can, oxygen and water molecules come into contact with it. This changes the gasoline’s structure over time and causes it to slowly expire. Water is specifically drawn to gasoline thanks to the percentage of ethanol in a blend. 

When Will My Gasoline Go Bad?

It all depends on what we’ve already mentioned plus how you store it. If you keep gasoline in an airtight portable fuel container, it will survive for months. For additional help with storage, check out EZ-POUR’s 4 Tips for Storing Gas Cans This Winter. Here you will learn about our three solid base caps that are perfect for keeping contaminants out of your fuel:

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