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Clear Symptoms of Water in a Car's Gas Tank and How to Fix It

Symptoms of Water in a Car's Gas Tank and How to Fix it?
This post from WheelZine will tell you the ways in which water can enter the gas tank, its symptoms and effects, and also the means by which you can remove water from the gas tank.
Mukta Badipatla
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Did You Know?
If you are using E10 gasoline for your vehicle, then make sure that you install water separator filters in the engine. Also, check and replace the filters as required, as they might clog quickly due to the water separated from ethanol.
There are many ways―either accidentally while washing the car or due to natural water condensation―in which water can accumulate in a car's gas tank.

Subsequently, the compression and combustion of fuel, which is vital for a running car engine, goes for a complete toss. Such a situation is known as hydrostatic lock, where the engine refuses to start.

Be it a small cup of water, or a liter, it can cause engine problems and eventually, engine stalling. Further, WheelZine has listed out the other ways in which water enters a car's gas tank, its symptoms, effects, and ways to fix it.
How Can Water Enter a Car's Gas Tank?
● The chances of water entering the gas tank increases if the tank has a bad top fuel pump.
● Condensation of atmospheric moisture leads to accumulation of water vapor into the gas tank.
● Another cause can be the poorly sealed cap on top of the tank. Therefore, rains or a regular car wash can prove to be a big disaster to the tank.
● If someone maliciously pours water into the tank, as a prank, the owner of the car will soon have to get the tank repaired.
● There is a long way that the gas travels before coming to the gas station. Before being shipped through trucks, it is distilled from refineries and is pumped through pipelines. If the fuel is not handled properly through these stages, it can be contaminated by water.
● It can also happen when ground water seeps into the storage tank at the gas station. Thus, the fuel pump circulates water all across the fuel lines and the fuel injectors.
Symptoms and Effects
● As gasoline is lighter than water, when water enters the tank, it settles at the bottom of the tank. Usually, vehicles do not pump gas from the bottom of the tank. Only when the tank is almost empty, the vehicle pulls in the water from the bottom to the engine. Eventually, the tank begins to rust.
● Unexplained and sudden increase or decrease in speed while driving.
● The vehicle starts to splutter when the gas pedal is pressed.
● The frequency of filling fuel, in the tank increases as water occupies the gas tank.
● Have you just filled gasoline in your car and it suddenly has starting or idling trouble? A more than likely cause could be the presence of water in the gas tank.
● The watered-down fuel in a car can make it sputter and behave as if it has lost power.
● Water in a gas tank can lead to bio-degradation of the fuel.
● It can also cause microbial growth in the fuel, which will damage the entire fuel system and induce filter plugging.
● Certain other likely effects of this problem are holes in the fuel tank and failure of the fuel injector.
How to Get Rid of Water from the Gas Tank
● The best way to remove water from the tank is to change the entire contaminated gas in it. Replace it with a high quality, non-ethanol blend gas. Fuels containing ethanol have a short shelf life. They start absorbing excess water within a few weeks. They draw about 50 times more water than any non-alcohol gasoline.
● If there is gas left in the tank, then you can fill it up with high levels of octane gas, and rapidly exhaust the gas tank. This will leave the tank dry and exhaust all the moisture.
● There are products like Hydroburn G® and HEET® which contain special fuel additives and methanol, which help in removal of water from the tank. But remember, fuel additives will not work if the quantity of water in the tank is more.
● If you are unsure whether you have to drain the entire gas out of the tank, or just add a fuel additive, it is always best to seek expert advice, consult a mechanic. Although, taking your car to a mechanic can be expensive, it is definitely effective and will solve the confusion.
● If the water level is very high, you not only have to drain all the existing gas, but also put in new filters.
Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Water
● Rubbing alcohol helps in eliminating water from the gas tank by sinking to the bottom of the tank and absorbing the water.

● Once the water is absorbed by the alcohol, it turns into a mixture, which is safe and doesn't harm the engine. Eventually, this mixture is burned off through the exhaust.

● Nevertheless, rubbing alcohol might as well damage your vehicle due to the amount of water it bears. So, if at all you use a rubbing alcohol in your tank, use it under the guidance of a professional mechanic.