Solved! How Long Does Gas Last? (2023)


Q: I have a gas lawn mower and a gas generator, and I worry that the gas in those tanks has been in there too long. Does gas expire? And how long is gas good for if it’s in a gas can?

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You’re wise to wonder about the shelf life of stored gasoline, because once gas loses its engine-igniting ability it could damage fuel system components. Indeed, before using any stored gas in a mower, tractor, or other machinery, first check the fuel storage time limits laid out in the manufacturer’s guidelines for that piece of equipment. Filling engines with gas that has been in storage for longer than that amount of time indicated could void the product warranty. Does gasoline go bad? Yes, it can. But “old” gas is not necessarily “bad” gas—in other words, old isn’t the same as contaminated. Read on to learn how long gas lasts in a container, along with tips on spotting and disposing of stale gas.

Properly stored gasoline can last up to half a year.

Though it naturally degrades and loses combustibility over time due to oxidation and evaporation of its volatile compounds, gasoline usually lasts 3 to 6 months when properly stored in a tightly sealed gas can or metal tank that’s within the capacity limits recommended by your local fire department (usually no more than 5 gallons). Factors that can shorten or lengthen gasoline’s life include how pure the gas is and whether it has been treated with a fuel stabilizer.

Ethanol-blended gas lasts up to 3 months.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, most gasoline sold in the U.S. is E10 gas made of 90 percent petroleum-based gas and 10 percent ethanol (ethyl alcohol). The shelf life of gas that is ethanol-blended is usually about 3 months maximum because ethanol oxidizes pretty quickly. Because ethanol is hydrophilic (aka, water-loving), it will also readily absorb any water or humidity in a sealed container resulting from condensation, causing both moisture contamination of the fuel and the eventual separation of the fuel into distinct gas and ethanol layers. Generally, the higher the ethanol content in the gas, the shorter its shelf life, so E15 (15 percent ethanol content), E20 (20 percent ethanol), or E85 (85 percent ethanol) gas will expire sooner than E10 gas will.

Pure gasoline keeps for at least 6 months.

Petroleum-based gasoline that does not contain ethanol will still succumb to oxidation and volatile compound evaporation in a sealed container or tank, but these processes usually occur more slowly in pure gasoline. Expect non-ethanol gas to last at least 6 months if it’s properly stored. Because pure gasoline is hydrophobic (aka, water-hating), it doesn’t absorb water or humidity as ethanol-blended gas does, which means that you won’t have the moisture contamination and fuel-separation issues you have when storing ethanol-blended gas.


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Fuel-stabilized gasoline keeps for 1 to 3 years.

Fuel stabilizers, of which STA-BIL is probably the best known, are petroleum-based additives you can mix in with gasoline before storing it. These stabilizers slow oxidation and volatile compound evaporation, and extend the shelf life of the gas. That may lead you to wonder, “How long does gas last with a stabilizer versus without a stabilizer?” Here’s the deal: A stabilizer can lengthen gasoline’s shelf life to as long as 1 to 3 years, depending on which product you use. The other important thing to know about fuel stabilizers is that they work best when they’re added to new gasoline. They can’t slow the degradation of old gasoline, and they can’t make contaminated gas work effectively.

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Learn how to tell if gas is bad or contaminated by comparing it to a sample of freshly pumped gas.

The easiest way to assess the condition of gas is to pour a small amount of your stored gas and freshly pumped gas of the same type into two clear glass vessels and do a side-by-side comparison. If the gasoline smells sour or is only slightly darker than the fresh gas it’s probably just old and has probably lost efficacy, but isn’t contaminated.

If you observe separate layers of gas and ethanol in an ethanol-blended gas (generally, the gas layer will be darker and positioned above the lighter ethanol layer if the fuel has separated), or if the gas is significantly discolored (i.e., it’s the color of milk chocolate or rust) or contains sediment or sludge, it has been contaminated by moisture or the solid by-products of oxidation, respectively.

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Contaminated gas should never be used to power equipment or vehicles; it can promote corrosion or leave sludge or varnish deposits (a thin, transparent brown or orange film) on fuel system components that can irreparably damage them. Dispose of contaminated gasoline at the earliest opportunity because, poor combustibility aside, both the gas and the vapors it emits are still flammable and could cause a fire or explosion if the storage container were to become damaged over time and the gas were to leak into its surroundings.

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Old gas can still be used if it’s mixed with new fuel.

Old gas is still usable if it’s combined with fresh gasoline, though your engine might sputter—or may not start right away—because the fuel mixture’s combustibility is lower. To use old gas in gas-powered lawn equipment, fill the fuel tank with one-part fresh gas to one-part old gas. Starting a car will require more horsepower, so if you recently filled the gas tank three-quarters of the way with fresh gas, top it off with old gas and then try starting the car.

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The gasoline lifespan for fuel in a car’s tank is about 6 months.

Whether you’re returning home from a long vacation or pulling the cover off of a car that’s been in long-term storage, you’re right to wonder how long gas can sit in the car. The answer is thankfully simple, as gasoline lasts about as long in a gas tank as long as it does in a gas can. Pure gasoline in a car’s gas tank should last for about 6 months, ethanol gas for up to 3 months, and fuel-stabilized gas for 1 to 3 years. Regardless of usage, these lifespans are still generally true for the gas tanks of small engines that run on gasoline, such as those in lawn mowers and some generators.

The real challenge with tracking the age of fuel in a gas tank is that it’s not freshly produced at the gas station, meaning it could be as much as a month old by the time it’s pumped into your car. If the gas in a vehicle’s tank is definitely stale, you can siphon the gas for proper disposal.


Dispose of gas at government-approved sites.

Never dispose of gasoline in trash cans, drains, sewers, lakes or streams, or on the ground—it’s highly flammable and can contaminate local water sources. To safely dispose of old or contaminated gas, contact your city waste or fire department for the approved disposal gasoline site. When you’ve identified a suitable site, ensure that the storage container is sealed, then stash it in a cooler or large bin to prevent gasoline leaks as it’s being transported. Empty the contents of your gas container into the waste receptacle at the disposal site so you can reuse the container in the future.

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How can you tell how long gas will last? ›

The Shelf Life of Fuel

Regular gasoline has a shelf life of three to six months, while diesel can last up to a year before it begins to degrade. On the other hand, organic-based Ethanol can lose its combustibility in just one to three months due to oxidation and evaporation.

How long should my gas last me? ›

The next logical question after your gas light has turned on is how many miles until empty do you have before your engine shuts down? There's no hard and fast measurement — each automaker turns the light on with different amounts of gas left in the tank — but a general rule of thumb is between 30 and 50 miles.

How long will a gallon of gas last me? ›

Above all, one gallon of gas should get you anywhere from 20 to 30 miles. Car upkeep, such as keeping it fueled, is an investment that builds up over time for your car. You'll want to protect your car and the investments you made for it with auto insurance.

How much gas is left? ›

The world has proven reserves equivalent to 52.3 times its annual consumption. This means it has about 52 years of gas left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).

Will gas run out in 5 years? ›

Conclusion: how long will fossil fuels last? It is predicted that we will run out of fossil fuels in this century. Oil can last up to 50 years, natural gas up to 53 years, and coal up to 114 years.

How far can I drive on empty? ›

However, 30-50 miles is a distance you may be able to drive in most modern cars after the fuel gauge starts indicating empty. In case you drive a modern car such as a hybrid, you might be able to go well beyond 40 or 50 miles as they are more gas efficient than traditional automobiles.

Does gas last longer if you fill it up? ›

Filling up a tank halfway compared to a full tank of fuel only reduces the weight by 2.5%. At this level it is likely to make very little difference on the vehicle fuel economy. We suggest if your drivers are regularly driving to advise them to fill the tank all the way to the top when they visit a petrol station.

Does a full tank last longer? ›

The fact is, if you fill your tank only half full every time you visit the gas station, you're going to have to make twice as many trips to the gas station then if you were to fill it up every time. That's twice as many kilometres, twice as many starts and stops and twice as much time idling waiting for the pump.

Is it good to keep your gas full? ›

If you overfill your tank, it can cover the vapor intake hole with liquid gas, which can then be sucked into the charcoal canister. This can damage the canister and possibly other parts of the system, which will cause the car's check-engine light to come on and could potentially cost hundreds of dollars to repair.

Can gas last 3 years? ›

Gasoline can last between three months and three years depending on the type of gas and if it is properly stored. It's important to note while all gas will naturally begin to degrade over time thanks to exposure to oxygen (also known as oxidation), all gas is not created equal.

How much gas does it take to drive 1 mile? ›

On average, Americans are now paying about 15 cents a mile for the gas they buy, but the cost varies widely, depending on the vehicle.
Gas price per mile for common vehicles.
VehicleMiles per gallonGas price, per mile
Honda Insight51$0.06
29 more rows
May 10, 2006

Does cheaper gas last longer? ›

Does Cheap Gas Burn Faster? Lower octane fuels tend to burn much faster than higher octane varieties. The same is also true for those with a higher ethanol content. As a result, higher quality, premium gasoline will last longer and burn slower than the cheaper, regular kind.

Why is gas over $3? ›

California gasoline prices are generally higher and more variable than prices in other states because relatively few refineries produce California's unique blend of gasoline. California's reformulated gasoline program is more stringent than the federal government's program. California's tax on gasoline is also higher ...

Is 1 gallon of gas enough to start a car? ›

How much gas does it take to start a car after it runs out? To restart your car, it only takes a gallon or so of fuel. But however much you fill up the tank, be sure it's enough to get you to the nearest gas station.

How high has gas ever been in America? ›

American drivers had it rough back in 1981. The average price of gasoline spiked to $1.353 a gallon that year — up from $1.221 in 1980 and more than double the price just three years earlier.

Will gas be available in 2035? ›

People can continue driving gas-fueled vehicles and purchasing used ones after 2035. The plan also allows for one-fifth of sales after 2035 to be plug-in hybrids that can run on batteries and gas. But it sets a course for ultimately ending the era of filling up at the local gas station.

Will gas cars be around in 20 years? ›

Keep in mind that we're talking about new cars sold in 2035. Cars last around 15 years, so it will take us to 2050 before we get rid of most of the gasoline-powered cars.

Will the US run out of gas? ›

Assuming the same annual rate of U.S. dry natural gas production in 2020 of about 33 Tcf, the United States has enough dry natural gas to last about 89 years. The actual number of years the TRR will last depends on the actual amount of dry natural gas produced and on changes in natural gas TRR in future years.

How many miles left when car says 0? ›

From 10 miles to 50 miles of extra distance, how far you can travel on an empty tank does depend on the make and model of your car. Once the fuel light comes on, the average distance you can drive your car is usually around 49 miles.

Does cruise control save gas? ›

Generally speaking, yes. Cruise control can help you become more fuel-efficient and can help you save an average of 7-14% on gas thanks to its ability to maintain a continuous speed. In comparison, the constant change in acceleration and deceleration of the driver placing their foot over the pedals can eat more gas.

How far can a car go on E? ›

Since those are all different sizes, and different size fuel tanks, they all scored in the 35 to 80 mile range when running near empty. You'd think economy cars would do well in this comparison due to higher fuel efficiency, but that's not always the case.

What makes my gas go so fast? ›

Poor Driving Habits:

Aggressive driving, exceeding normal speed limits and excessive idling increase fuel consumption. All-in-all, if you find that your fuel is burning more quickly than it should, come see the teams at Paul Campanella's Auto and Tire Centers.

Is it better to get gas at half a tank or empty? ›

The less fuel in your tank, the greater the risk of running out completely in a bad spot. While different experts have different suggestions, it's typically agreed that drivers should refuel their vehicle when they have anywhere between a quarter of a tank or half of a tank left for maximum efficiency.

What is the best time to fill up gas? ›

It's an excellent idea to visit the gas station early in the morning and late in the night when it's cold outside. The weather is cool, and the tank has reached its reserves. Fuel expands with an increase in temperatures, and the hot conditions reduce its energy-generation power because the fuel burns at a higher rate.

What not to do in an automatic car? ›

5 Things to Avoid When Driving Automatic
  1. Avoid Using the Neutral Gear while sliding the vehicle down a slope. ...
  2. Avoid Using Neutral while the car is at a stop light/traffic. ...
  3. Avoid changing gears while the car is moving. ...
  4. Avoid Coasting in Neutral. ...
  5. Avoid doing Launches.

Should I keep my tank half full? ›

Keeping your fuel tank at least at the 1/4 full mark can help protect both your fuel pump and fuel filter. The fuel from the tank is pumped from the fuel pump inside the tank to the engine. In the line between the fuel tank and the engine, a fuel filter is typically present to help protect the fuel system.

Does gas burn faster after half tank? ›

No, you don't burn more gas on a half tank than a full tank. Generally speaking, the amount of fuel your car consumes depends on several factors, including your driving habits, the type of car, road conditions, and even the weather.

What part of the day is gas the cheapest? ›

“Though there is variation in daily gas prices across different states, the consensus is that filling up at the beginning or end of the work week, on Monday or Friday, is the best way to save money, says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Does gas last longer when cold? ›

Cold weather and winter driving conditions can significantly reduce fuel economy. Fuel economy tests show that, in city driving, a conventional gasoline car's gas mileage is roughly 15% lower at 20°F than it would be at 77°F. It can drop as much as 24% for short (3- to 4-mile) trips.

Should you fill up your gas tank before a freeze? ›

Experts recommend keeping your gas tank at or near full during the winter to prevent your car from running out of gas. There are other reasons for this aside from preventing an empty gas tank (which causes car maintenance issues beyond stranding you on the road).

Is 10 year old gas still good? ›

Degradation occurs from the get-go but most gas stays fresh for a month or two without issue. However, gas that is more than two month old is generally OK to use with only minor decreases in performance. Gas that is older than a year can cause issues, like engine knocking, sputtering and clogged injectors.

Can you store gas for 10 years? ›

It's generally accepted that stored fuel should be used within six months to a year. You can extend that a bit with additives, but it's a good rule of thumb to cycle through your fuel at least every six months for maximum quality.

Why does gas last so long? ›

Heat, oxygen and humidity all have an impact on the condition of stored fuel. In general, pure gas begins to degrade and lose its combustibility as a result of oxidation and evaporation in three to six months, if stored in a sealed and labeled metal or plastic container.

How much gas does an hour drive burn? ›

varies widely. Compact cars with 2-liter engines consume about 0.16 gallons per hour. A large sedan with a 4.6-liter engine consumes just over twice as much fuel at idle, or over a quart.

How much gas will $20 get you? ›

20 US Dollar is 6.853889 Gas.

How much gas is 10 hours of driving? ›

If you travel 10 miles for 0.5 gallon of fuel, travelling at 60 m/h, then you will use 3 gallons for 60 miles and therefore 30 gallons in 10 hours.

What brand gas is best? ›

Chevron. Of America's largest nationwide chains, Chevron scores the highest points in overall customer satisfaction. Its reach spans over 7,800 stores, and while some gas stations offer convenient food marts, one location in North Hollywood goes above and beyond gasoline.

Who sells the most gas? ›

2020 Fuels 50: Top 5 Gas Brands by Market Share
RankingBrandStation count
1 more row
May 26, 2020

Does brand of gas matter? ›

Yes, it does matter, because some brands contain more detergent additives that can prevent carbon deposits from forming inside your engine.

Will gas prices go down in 2023? ›

Gas prices are rising to start 2023, and experts say prices are "unlikely to turn around any time soon." Today's average for a regular gallon of gas is $3.50, according to AAA.

Who controls gas prices? ›

Yes, policies and legislation can certainly play a role, but gas prices are largely dictated by oil prices, and oil prices are dependent upon supply and demand. Presidential control is not as simple as what those posts suggest on social media. The year 2022 is a perfect example.

Why are gas prices rising again 2023? ›

The increases follow a national trend of rising pump prices, due primarily to crude oil prices climbing and the demand for gasoline beginning to increase.

Can a car start without gas? ›

Fuel – Fuel is needed in order to create an explosion with the spark. If there's not enough fuel provided, the vehicle will fail to start.

Does it waste more gas to idle or start? ›

Idling for just 30 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. Idling is harder on the engine than restarting. Frequent restarting causes only about $10 worth of wear-and-tear per year, whereas idling leaves fuel residues that damage engine components and cause higher maintenance costs over time.

What to do after you run out of gas? ›

Run Out Of Gas
  1. Safely pull your vehicle over to the right shoulder and turn on your hazard lights. If you have a reflective triangle or other emergency equipment, set those up accordingly. ...
  2. Walk to the Closest Gas Station. ...
  3. Call for Roadside Assistance.

What year did gas reach $1? ›

The highest average gas price was $3.64 in 2012, which is 167% more expensive than a decade earlier. What year did gas go over one dollar? The average price of gas first went over $1 a gallon in 1980, when it went from $0.86 per gallon to $1.19 per gallon.

Where is gas cheapest in America? ›

If you're tired of paying premium prices at the pump, consider moving to one of the states with the best fuel prices. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee normally have the cheapest gas prices in the USA. This is largely due to their lower state taxes and access to fuel from refineries.

How much did a gallon of gas cost in 1960? ›

In 1960, gasoline cost $0.31 a gallon.

Is 2 year old gasoline still good? ›

Gasoline can last between three months and three years depending on the type of gas and if it is properly stored. It's important to note while all gas will naturally begin to degrade over time thanks to exposure to oxygen (also known as oxidation), all gas is not created equal.

Is 7 year old gas still good? ›

Degradation occurs from the get-go but most gas stays fresh for a month or two without issue. However, gas that is more than two month old is generally OK to use with only minor decreases in performance. Gas that is older than a year can cause issues, like engine knocking, sputtering and clogged injectors.

How do I know if my gas is about to run out? ›

Things You Should Know

Soon after, your vehicle will stall because there isn't enough fuel to power your engine. Once there's no gas available, your vehicle will abruptly stop, and the fuel gauge on your dashboard will read empty.

What year is gas supposed to run out? ›

Assuming the same annual rate of U.S. dry natural gas production in 2020 of about 33 Tcf, the United States has enough dry natural gas to last about 89 years. The actual number of years the TRR will last depends on the actual amount of dry natural gas produced and on changes in natural gas TRR in future years.

Can I mix old gas with new gas? ›

Old and new gas should not be mixed for a variety of reasons, the major ones are; The old gas degrades over time it should not be added because it has already lost it's combustibility. It can cause sputtering. It might fail to fire it up.

Can you revive old gasoline? ›

They are all adamant that no additive will restore old gasoline. The best you can hope for is that adding a stabilizer to old gas will stop any further degradation. The Sta-Bill MSDS lists Petroleum Distillates as the primary ingredient. Gasoline is considered a petroleum distillate, as is kerosene.

Can I add fuel stabilizer to old gas? ›

He says adding fuel stabilizer to the stored gasoline will help, but even that is not a cure-all over the long term. Gasoline will still eventually start to break down, at some point, even with a stabilizer.

Can I buy gas in 20 years? ›

The California Air Resources Board voted unanimously today to implement perhaps its most significant regulation ever – the Advanced Clean Cars II regulation, which officially implements a planned ban on new gas car sales beginning in 2035 and could shake up the entire US auto market.

Why doesn't gas smell anymore? ›

One explanation is that gasoline smells less due to dilution with ethanol. Though some (incorrectly) claimed that this was a government conspiracy to raise gas prices, it is actually true that gasoline can contain added ethanol, at about 10 percent.

How do I start my car after running out of gas? ›

After refilling your gas tank, try turning the key to the "On" position (turning on the electronics without cranking the engine) and then back to "Off" a couple of times to prime the fuel pump. Priming the fuel pump will help remove air that may have entered the fuel lines as a result of running out of gas.

Will gas every run out? ›

According to current prognostications, the actual amount of fossil fuels inside the Earth won't run out in our lifetimes or even close to it.

How many years will US oil reserves last? ›

Oil Reserves in the United States

The United States has proven reserves equivalent to 4.9 times its annual consumption. This means that, without imports, there would be about 5 years of oil left (at current consumption levels and excluding unproven reserves).


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