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How long can a car sit without damage?

How Long Can Gasoline Sit In a Car?

There are lots of reasons why you might leave gas sitting in your vehicle’s gas tank for an extended period. Perhaps you are leaving your car on vacation . Or maybe, you have a luxury vehicle you only take out for a drive once every few months.

Whatever the case, you may be wondering how long can gas sit in a car . And if gas has a shelf life, just how long does gas last ? Get these answers and more here.

How Long Does Gas Last? It Depends

So how long does gas last? How long can gas sit in a car? 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. Most gasoline sold at a standard gas station can last up to three months, but other types of gas can last longer.

Learn more about the shelf life of three common types of gasoline below.

Pure Gasoline: Up to 6 Months

Pure gasoline that is petroleum-based without any ethanol will typically last up to six months before it begins to degrade from oxidation rapidly. Pure gasoline doesn’t absorb water like other types of gas, which means it’s easier for this gas to avoid moisture contamination.

Ethanol-Blended Gas: Up to 3 Months

“Regular gas,” meaning most gasoline sold at gas stations around the country is ethanol-based gas, which is typically 90 percent petroleum and 10 percent ethanol. This type of gas has a shorter shelf life than pure gasoline and typically only lasts for up to three months. Unlike pure gasoline, ethanol-based gas easily absorbs moisture, which can lead to contamination.

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Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to tell how old the gas is when you fill up your car at a gas station. This is because, from the time the gas reaches the gas station to the time you fill up your vehicle, it may already be a few days or a few weeks old. By the time you pump your gas, the gasoline could have sat at the gas station for over a month. So if you’re wondering how long can gas sit in a car , the answer is most likely up to three months from the time you fueled up at a gas station.

Shelf-Stable Gas: Up to 3 Year

The type of gasoline that has the most extended shelf life is shelf-stable gas. Fuel stabilizers are available for purchase online and at local hardware stores and are petroleum-based additives that can be added to gasoline before storing it in your garage. Fuel stabilizers slow the oxidation of gas, making it last longer.

New gasoline fills a tank on a car of someone wondering how long gas can sit in a car.

What Happens If I Put Old Gas In My Car?

Now that you know how long gas lasts , what happens if you put old gas in your car?

The good news is that gas may already be a few days or a few weeks old, thanks to transportation time between six months and a year old won’t harm your car’s engine. Still, it can decrease your car’s overall performance, and you may notice adverse effects like poorer gas mileage than usual.

However, gas that’s over a year old can cause things like engine knocking, sputtering, and clogged injectors. It’s rare to purchase gas at a gas station that is this old, but if you have old gas sitting around your garage that you’re considering using in your vehicle, we recommend correctly disposing of the old gas instead.

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How to Identify Old Gas

Wondering how to identify old gas? For starters, when gas ages, the chemical properties of the gas start to change. If you have old gas that is in your car, you may experience the “check engine” light turning on. Old gas can burn improperly, which can trigger your check engine light.

In addition to the check engine light, you may also experience your vehicle malfunctioning in other ways, such as failing to start, idling differently than it usually does, and losing power while driving.

If the gas in question isn’t in your car yet, but rather a canister, you can check if it’s old by its scent. Old gas will smell bad and have a slightly sour odor. It can also look darker and thicker than “good” gas, appearing almost mud-like.

Worried About Old Gas Sitting In Your Car ? Contract The Vault

Maintaining your vehicle isn’t always easy, but it’s an important thing to do to ensure your prized possession lasts for decades to come. Instead of worrying about gas sitting in your car and going back, let The Vault help.

The Vault offers the best professional car storage and maintenance services in San Diego. Not only do we provide 24/7 security in one of our two gorgeous facilities, but we also provide quality maintenance services to ensure your vehicle is ready to drive whenever you need it next.

Do you still have questions? Contact us today to learn the simple steps to prepping a car for storage and beyond.

How Long Can An Electric Car Sit Without Charging?

Measuring Stuff

Many who grew up driving gas or diesel-powered vehicles learned to check the gas tank fill level before they backed out of a parking space.

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Modern vehicles tell us approximately how many miles we can expect from what’s left in the tank.

An electric vehicle offers us this information as well, but if you need to store a vehicle or let a vehicle sit for an extended period of time, protecting the battery gets a lot more expensive in an electric vehicle.

Depending on the vehicle, it is possible to let the vehicle sit for months without charging provided the proper precautions are taken. This includes that the battery charge is around 80-90% ahead of time. If the battery is less than 3%, never let the vehicle sit for more than 21 days.

How Long Can An Electric Car Sit Without Charging?

The Time Limit

You can leave your electric vehicle sitting for months as long as you are careful about your management of the 12-volt battery.

If you need to store your car long-term, factors such as ambient temperature and moisture exposure can cause problems when it’s time to start the car and get back on the road.

The big worry when storing an electric vehicle is the high-voltage battery.

However, if you need to store your car long-term, it’s important to plan to also protect other features of the vehicle that can be damaged by heat, sunlight, or moisture, including

  • the rubber in your tires
  • paint and exterior finish
  • the seals around doors, windows, and your trunk

Any vehicle that needs to be parked for a time should be left under cover or indoors.

electric car charging in driveway

More than One Battery to Care For

Your electric vehicle has a primary or high-voltage battery and a 12-volt battery. When it comes time to store your electric vehicle or just let it sit for a time, you will want to charge the main battery to 80% and leave it unplugged.

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Your 12-volt battery is no different than the starting battery in a gas or diesel-powered vehicle.

If you need to leave your car sitting for an extended period of time, this is the battery to carefully disconnect if you need to leave your electric vehicle sitting for an extended period of time.

Stay Between the Lines

An electric car owner may be tempted to charge their car to 100% before putting it into storage or leaving it sit for an extended time.

However, the expert recommendation is to reduce battery availability to 80% before leaving the car sitting. A battery at 100% with no discharge option can actually be damaged if left to sit.

You can be confident that a battery at 50% is ideal; if your battery is at 20% or lower, you may damage it if you leave it sitting.

pair of electric cars charging in driveway

Ambient Temperature Considerations

It is very unlikely that your HV battery will be damaged by sitting unplugged. In fact, some electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf enter deep sleep mode when left unplugged.

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However, heat can damage the 12-volt battery that powers

  • lights
  • wipers
  • starter
  • electric door locks

Lead-acid batteries are fairly easy to charge if your alternator or charging system is functioning effectively.

However, once a battery starts to suffer heat fatigue, it will fail to hold a charge.

If you store or leave your electric car sitting for a time and come back to a dead car and it’s been warm, your 12-volt battery is probably the culprit.

electric car charging cable attached to a wall

Review Your Manual

There are some older models of electric or hybrid cars, such as an older Toyota Prius, that need to start and run for a set number of minutes each week or month.

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Of course, the Prius is a hybrid and the gasoline engine charges the battery. Electric vehicles need cables to power up the battery and get you back on the road.

The Mechanics

Once you have your electric car charged between 50% and 80%, you can park it in your garage and leave it unplugged.

It may be wise to go ahead and unplug your 12-volt battery to reduce unnecessary draw. There is no risk that your HV battery will be wiped out by draw pulled through the 12-volt battery. There is a risk when unplugging a 12-volt battery.

Even if you leave it in place, take care to remove the negative terminal first. Drape the cable outside the car so the metal terminal that was attached to the battery doesn’t touch any part of the vehicle.

Next, you can unplug the positive terminal. Again, keep this away from the body of the car and the negative terminal.

electric vehicle infographic

The Storage Situation

Something to keep in mind when parking your car for an extended period of time is that electric cars are heavier than gas or diesel-powered vehicle.

If you need to put your electric vehicle on a trailer for any reason for an extended period of time, make sure the trailer has the capacity to safely hold your vehicle until you are ready to drive it again.

In the end, storing an electric vehicle isn’t all that different from storing a gas or diesel-powered vehicle.

Protecting the starting battery is necessary in both cases, as is protecting the vehicle from heat, moisture, and excess sunlight.

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Posted on Published: November 3, 2022 — Last updated: March 20, 2023

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