Water In Your Gas Tank? – Signs, Symptoms And Fixes

There are several signs that water has somehow found its way into your gas tank.

Symptoms of Water in Your Gas Tank

Typically, your car will simply not start or will sputter when starting if there is water in the gas tank.

While water in your gas tank is not something that you want to happen, there is a way to fix the problem to get you on your way again.

How Water Can Get Into Your Gas Tank

Water can get in your gas tank accidently when you are washing your vehicle or simply from condensation from the weather.

If the gas tank has a bad fuel pump, the chances of water getting in are increased, so make sure that you check your fuel pump for leaks and have it changed if necessary.

Other causes of water getting into your gas tank include:

  • Condensation leading to water vapor accumulating in the tank;
  • A tank that has a damaged seal or that is not sealed properly. When the seal does not sit flush, rain or water from a car wash can enter the tank;
  • Someone pouring water in the tank deliberately as a practical joke (it happens!);
  • Gas trucks deliver fuel to the stations and this transport of the fuel has to be handled correctly. If the fuel is handled inappropriately during the transportation process it can become contaminated with water;
  • water in gas tankAnd it’s possible, although less likely, that ground water can seep into storage tanks at gas stations and contaminate the gas.

Effects of Water Entering Your Gas Tank

There are many issues that can be caused by water getting in to your gas tank.

The compression and combustion of gas is vital for the running of a car’s engine. When water is in the gas tank a situation of hydrostatic lock may occur resulting in the engine not starting.

And the volume is not too relevant.  It only takes a small amount of water  in your gas tank to cause problems with the engine which can and lead to it stalling.

Since gas is not as heavy as water, if water enters the gas tank it will settle along the bottom of the tank. Most vehicles don’t pump gas from the bottom except when the tank is close to empty. When this happens, the car will pull the water from the floor of the tank into the engine and eventually the tank will start to rust.

If there is water in the gas tank you might experience erratic changes in speed when you are drive.

water in gas tankAnother tell-tale sign of water in your gas tank is if your vehicle sputters when you put your foot on the gas.  If that happens be sure too have this checked.

If you fill up your gas tank and your car soon starts having difficulty starting or idling, it could be a sign that there was water in the gas that you filled up with – water found in fuel can cause your car to sputter and act like it is losing power.

In addition, and very important, water found in a gas tank can result in the growth of bacteria in the fuel, which can in turn lead to damage to the whole of the fuel system and also cause your filters to clog up.

And finally, another very serious effect of water getting into your gas tank is that it can lead to the holes in the fuel tank and the fuel injectors failing, which again is something that we want to avoid.

So you see, the results of allowing water to mix with your gas are far reaching and not good!

Getting Water Out of a Vehicle’s Gas Tank

The best way to get rid of water from your gas tank is actually to change out all of the gas that is currentlyin the tank.

You should ideally replace it with a decent non-ethanol blend of gas – fuels with an ethanol base absorb water within weeks, absorbing up to 40 times more water than a non-ethanol blend of gasoline.

If you’ve got a bit of gas left in the tank, add a high level of octane gas and then burn through it quickly – go for a fast but legal and safe ride.  This will help to dry out the tank and remove any moisture.

There are several products that you can buy to help remove water from a gas tank (HEET ® and Hydroburn G ® are two popular examples that contain methanol and special fuel additives to help get water out of the tank) – but it’s important to note that they just will not work if there’s simply too much water present.

If the amount of water you find in the tank is really high, as well as draining all of the gas, you’ll probably also need to replace the filters.

Another option for getting water out of your gas tank is to use rubbing alcohol.

water in gas tankRubbing alcohol works by sinking to the bottom of your tank and absorbing the water.

Once the alcohol absorbs the water, it will turn into a more solid form that is not harmful to your car – it end sup getting burned off and removed via your exhaust.

While this is an option for removing water, it can be difficult to know exactly how much should be used, which is why it is best to only use this method with a trained mechanic.

If there is water in your gas tank and you are not sure about what to do or if you simply are not comfortable draining the tank on your own, it goes without saying that you should seek help of a professional mechanic.

Reducing the Risk of Getting Water in your Gas Tank

If you currently use E10 gas for your vehicle it is important to make sure that there are water separator filters installed in the engine.

You should make sure that these filters are installed properly, and that they are replaced regularly when required.

As water is separated from the ethanol these filters can become clogged, which is why it is important to check them often.

The elements of nature can also cause damage to your vehicle and may be the cause of water in your gas tank in the first place. This is one of the reasons it is best to park your car in a garage if possible, as this will not only keep the car cleaner for longer, requiring less washes, but also protects it from the wind, rain, and other elements of nature and the resulting issues (like this one) that can follow.

Water In Gas Tank – Conclusions

If your car is having trouble starting or it sputters or shows any of the other signs listed above, chances are that you have water in your gas tank. While this is not an ideal situation, it is one that can easily be solved.

However, it is important to make sure that you catch this issue quickly as it can cause engine damage if it goes on for too long.

Have you had to deal with removing water from yoru gas tank recently?  If so let us know below how you got on.

How did you find out about it?  What effect did it have on your drive?  And how did you fix the problem?

Here’s a great article to help if this happens again.

What next?  Do you need to change tyres and/or remove lug nuts regularly?  Why not check out our new post reviewing the best air impact wrenches for the job here.


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