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How long can gas stay in a parked car?

Is It Bad To Leave Your Car Running?

Yes and no —an idle engine can be a bad idea, but it depends on the situation. “Bad” is a vague term. The true products of a running engine include air pollution, wasting gas, and frequent oil changes. If you take anything away, just know it’s never good to run an engine for long periods of time.

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What happens if you leave your car idling?

Nothing good —leaving your car running for long periods can damage your engine and fuel injection system. But that’s just the start! Let’s boil it down.

To create energy, your vehicle’s engine is constantly working. Energy production generates heat. That’s why you need a cooling system to prevent overheating. Some cooling systems use coolant, while others use airflow. Stop moving? There goes some of your airflow.

Generally, it’s not bad to let your car idle at a stop light or intersection (though some newer cars have auto start-stop functionality). Leaving the car running while parked, in a confined space, or for long periods of time, however, can have a disastrous outcome.

So, if you’re asking, “Can I leave my car running?” There’s your basic answer. Below we break down each major effect.

Wastes gas

An idling car wastes about a gallon of gas every hour . So, for purely practical reasons, those with a small gas tank or older vehicle should avoid idling.

Some claim that running the engine is a good way to
warm up your car

. This too can be debunked. Experts claim you only need about 30 seconds to warm up a cold car , getting the fluid flowing. Idling for more than 30 seconds can damage your engine.

In 2009, an EPA study that found decreasing idling would save Americans an enormous $5.9 billion in fuel costs alone.

Bad for the environment
Want a safe engine and a healthy environment? Don’t worry—these two passions go hand and hand!

Not only should you be concerned with damage to your car, but idling vehicles also release harmful emissions (like carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere for no good reason .

The EPA estimates that idling for 10 seconds creates more pollution than restarting your engine. Furthermore, personal vehicle idling generates around 30 tons of CO2 each year . Those numbers add up.

Considering global warming, creating a sustainable planet has never been more important . Want your kids to enjoy the same driving experience (and ice caps) as you? Maybe cut back on unnecessary vehicle idling.

Decreases vehicle performance
Back to basics. Engine idling can decrease performance and cause lasting car engine damage.

Over time, idling overheats your engine. The more you do it, the quicker overheating occurs. So what’s the issue with a little heat? The answer: a lot .

For starters, excessive heat damages head gaskets, spark plugs, radiators, and cylinder rings . The lack of essential components obviously worsens performance. What’s more is that overheating impacts the exhaust system, alternator, and oil . Letting the engine run can burn off oil more quickly, leaving behind a sticky, gunky buildup.

In short, letting your car run for long periods can damage its most essential elements—necessitating repairs and demolishing your engine health.

Drains the car battery
Update: Idling does not charge your battery !

In fact, you’re losing about as much battery life (if not more) than you would in park. Depending on your vehicle’s age, this can create a lot of drain. Only idling when absolutely necessary is the best road to a healthy battery.

How long can you leave your car running?

The EPA recommends you leave your engine idling for no more than 30 seconds , which wastes more gas than restarting the vehicle. This may seem extreme. But it’s nothing compared to the 6 billion gallons of fuel modern cars waste each year.

Idling doesn’t just waste an enormous amount of fuel, drain your battery, or damage your car—it can also hurt you. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a very real fear that happens when a car continues to run in a confined space.

To avoid build-up, do not leave your car running in a house or garage. Once in your bloodstream, carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal in less than an hour. So, vacate to an open area if you get a headache near a running vehicle.

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How Long Can Gasoline Last in Your Tank?

Many drivers are always on the lookout for ways to cut their spending at the gas pump. They may choose to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle, such as a Honda Insight or Toyota Prius. However, this isn’t an option for everyone, especially those who need larger cars for work purposes.

Trucks and large SUVs usually use more gas than smaller cars. For some drivers, it makes sense to limit their daily driving as a method of saving money. However, letting gas sit in your car’s tank for too long isn’t a good idea. What’s the average shelf life of gasoline, and what can you do to extend it?

How long does gasoline last?

Different types of fuel have different lifespans. For conventional gasoline, it usually lasts anywhere from three to five months in your gas tank. Diesel fuel can last twice as long, around six to twelve months.

The reason these numbers are so broad is that it’s hard to tell how old the gas actually is. It may have been sitting inside the gas pump for a month already before you came to fuel up. You also don’t know how long the gas was stored at the refinery before it was transported to the gas station.

Generally, it’s best to be cautious and use all the gas in your tank before a few months have passed. When gasoline goes bad, it won’t burn correctly inside the engine. It could also be exposed to water contamination, which may lead to corrosion in the fuel system. The same goes for other things that use gasoline, like lawnmowers or scooters.

A man with mask makes gasoline from a gas station in Turin during on the Italy Extends Coronavirus Lockdown

Your tank should always be as full as possible to reduce water condensation. If you know you’re about to put your car in storage for the winter, don’t leave its tank half full beforehand. You should also avoid topping off your tank, which can damage the tank’s vapor recovery system.

Find the freshest fuel

As annoying as it might be, try to find the gas station with the most customers to purchase your fuel. Since the pumps are being used often, there’s a good chance that the fuel is always new. Get to know the gas station’s peak activity times so that you can avoid crowds of cars.

Make sure the gas cap fits

The gas cap keeps out water, dirt, and other things that could potentially damage the fuel. If it’s lost or doesn’t fit, your fuel won’t have that protection. Fortunately, a new gas cap is a quick and inexpensive fix.


Related

Use a fuel stabilizer

If you think your car’s gas has already gone bad, you may be able to fix it with a fuel stabilizer. Fill the gas tank to the top, add the stabilizer, and then drive the car for at least 10 minutes. This will ensure that the stabilizer has had time to circulate through the fuel system. After adding the fuel stabilizer, the gas in your tank could last for up to a year.

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