Today, people are driving less because they are either working from home, or they have been furloughed or laid off. This means fewer trips to the gas station, even though gas prices have dropped precipitously since the pandemic. But if people are not driving as often, they may be damaging their cars without even knowing it.
An article from Consumer Reports showed that the fuel in an automobile’s gas tank can go stale if the car is not driven enough. What happens is that the gasoline gives off an odor similar to varnish, turns dark brown and a gum-like substance builds up inside the tank. If you try to start your car, the fuel pump and fuel injector will not perform properly. The stale gas will also drain your car of power, causing it to stall.
According to the article, the gas becomes stale when the lighter, more volatile components evaporate more quickly; those compounds could dissipate in as little as three months. In addition, if the tank is not full, moisture builds up in the gas tank from condensation. This will cause a further breakdown of the gasoline.
To prevent the gas in your car from going stale, the experts at Consumer Reports recommend the following:
- Fill up your gas tank. This reduces the amount of oxygen in the tank that evaporates the volatile components and keeps out the moisture.
- Pour a small bottle of fuel stabilizer into the tank. This slows down the breakdown of the fuel. This only works when mixed with newly filled gasoline.
- Do not stock up on gasoline, unless you plan to use it within a short amount of time. The gas will degrade over time, even with fuel stabilizer.
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