How To Tell If Gasoline Has Gone Bad

Gasoline is usually refined for the purpose of operating engines. For this reason, gasoline should not be contaminated or allowed to go bad. If it does, it can have a negative impact on the engine’s performance and, in some cases, cause severe damage. There are different reasons gas might go bad; it could be due to external substances contaminating it or becoming stale due to being stored for an extended period.

The smell and appearance are the easiest way to figure out if your gas is still good. A strange, sour smell or a dark color may indicate that the gas has gone wrong. The presence of foreign particles floating or suspended in the gas is another indication that it’s bad.

Using bad gas to operate an engine can be dangerous and should be avoided. It’s therefore very important to recognize the signs of bad gasoline and to dispose of it properly if it’s found. Read on to learn how to identify bad gasoline yourself and how to get rid of it in a safe way.

How Do I Identify Bad Gasoline?

Fuel stabilizer container for long term storage of gas

Unused gasoline might be sitting in parked cars or underground storage spaces where water and other particles can leak into the container. Those particles can contaminate the gasoline, causing it to go bad.

If your engine is not performing the way it should, there is a good chance that bad gasoline is the cause. Most times, the easiest way to identify bad gasoline is from its smell. Bad gas has an offensive smell that is stronger than of good gas.

Another method to check your gas is to pour a small amount into a clear glass container. If the gas has a dark color, it’s probably gone bad. For better visibility, you can use a test tube to check for sediments. If you see foreign particles, the gas is certainly bad.

How Do I Identify Bad Gasoline in a Lawnmower?

A lawnmower is another piece of machinery that stays idle for long periods, especially in the winter. What happens to the gas that sits inside? As the gas ages, the hydrocarbon found in the gas mixture evaporates, leaving a varnish-like substance behind.

This process can adversely affect the lawn mower’s gas system. If you’re uncertain whether the gasoline in your lawnmower has gone bad, here are some signs to look for:

  • You Have Trouble Starting the Engine: If you have trouble starting your lawnmower or notice funny sounds, it’s a clear sign that the gasoline might be contaminated. If you see water or strange substances mixed with the gas, it is no longer usable.
  • The Engine Stops Running: If your engine suddenly stops working, it could be because the gas has gone bad. With bad gas, the internal combustion process will not create the vital power to maintain the demands placed on the engine.

If you face either of the above situations, a carburetor rebuild and a professional cleaning service are your best options.

What Should I Do With Gas That’s Gone Bad?

Before answering this one, remember that gas is very flammable, and using it in any way other than powering engines can lead to accidents that cause serious injuries. In some cases, you could face fines for improper storage of gasoline.

So what should you do with it? Put the gasoline in a safe container and call your city’s waste management to eliminate it at a government-approved disposal site.

Bad gas, however, can also be used as an insecticide; this way, you won’t waste it completely. You can use it to kill ants. If you live in an area that has fire ants or other pests, then you know how difficult it can be to get rid of them! Harmful gas can kill them off, and you can mix it with insecticide and spray or sprinkle it in the target locations.

Can You Still Use Old Gas?

Adding winter stabilizer fuel additive to a snow blower gas tank

Yes, there are uses for old gas. This is because gas is not easily contaminated; instead, it loses its flammable properties and volatile compounds.

You can use old gas in several ways. For example, you can mix it with new gas: Adding a little old gas to your new gas will make it usable in most engines.

Tractors, for example, do not have a problem working with a mixture of old and new gas. If you’re lucky enough to have an old tractor hanging around in your garage, then you don’t have to dispose of the old gas.

How Do I Prevent Gas From Going Bad?

There are different ways you can keep your gasoline from going bad. First, don’t store it unused for too long. If it’s in a machine that sits idle for long periods, try to turn on the machine once in a while. If it is a car, drive it a few times weekly to burn the old gas.

Another option is to fill a fuel container like this one (on Amazon) to the brim and store it securely. This way, there is less room for moisture to grow, limiting the chance of contamination.