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Fuel Stabilizer Usage in Car Racing

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In layman's terms, fuel stabilizers are products that are meant to preserve fuel sitting inside a gas tank and make it last much longer.

Yes, as it turns out, fuel does not last forever. Just like that chicken in your freezer, fuel has an “expiration” date, but unlike food, it doesn’t decompose and leave a terrible stench because of the bacteria surrounding it. Instead, fuel loses its volatility through evaporation and/or a shift in its chemical structure.

To prevent this from happening for as long as possible, fuel stabilizers provide protective layers as solutions, which are a mixture of lubricants and antioxidants on the chemical level. They are meant to repel water and limit fuel evaporation, making said fuel last longer.

Fuel shelf life

How long fuel lasts depends on the type of fuel, such as whether it is gasoline, diesel, kerosene, or something else. Either way, they will all eventually share the same fate of losing their effectiveness if they have been sitting in your fuel tank without usage for too long.

Let’s run you down some of the most known fuel types and how long they last.

1. Gasoline: 3-6 months

Don’t count on your gasoline to hit that six-month mark in workable condition – it will only really be able to last that long if it is stored in a

container that is airtight, clean, and made of plastic, which is something your fuel tank likely is not made of.

It still works just as well with a metal tank, but it will eventually be oxidized if left sitting and unused, making it lose volatility and in the worst-case scenario: not make your car work.

In fact, while gasoline can usually last between 3-6 months without problems, gasoline actually starts to break down inside your tank in as little as 30 days.

The older the gasoline, the worse it is for your car. If it gets too old without being used or replaced, solid gum-like black deposits will start forming inside and can clog your fuel tank.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, aged gasoline can damage or even destroy the inner parts of your engine. Seriously, don’t top up your fuel tank to full if you don’t plan on using it all.

2. Diesel: 6-12 months

Diesel, on the other hand, doesn’t share such a short lifespan with gasoline. Instead, it can last up to 12 months maximum in proper storage, depending on the temperature. If it is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, it will likely last the entire year. If the temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, its lifespan will be cut a little short, and can be reduced to half of its original lifespan (which is also the same amount of time gasoline in proper storage will last): 6 months.

Passing this amount of time will lead to diesel forming the same kind of gunk that gasoline creates if unchanged and left in the tank for too long, potentially causing severe engine damage as the gunk is spread throughout the engine when the car is started.

How long your fuel will last before evaporation and gunk formation depends on a wide variety of factors, not just its container storage. The temperature can slow down or accelerate the rate at which fuel evaporates, for instance, and you can’t be completely sure that gas stations are pumping new fuel or one-month old fuel into your car.

Why does fuel go bad?

At first, it might seem odd how fuel can go bad, especially when fossil fuels formed a million or so years ago.

But when examined closely, fossil fuels aren’t exactly the same as the many fuel and petroleum products that we use today. Wax, heating oil, and engine fuel all come from fossil fuels, but those end results only exist after fossil fuels are refined. In that sense, fossil fuels are “raw” components until they are turned into the products that we all know and love today.

Gasoline is commonly mixed with ethanol in the United States and Brazil, as ethanol lowers emissions produced by engines powered by gasoline.

However, ethanol can separate from gasoline if left untouched and unused for too long, and the separation can be sped up if gasoline is exposed to

water. Should they separate, the alcohol can prove corrosive. Ethanol can also cause gasoline to evaporate faster.

In other words, fuel “goes bad” because of the separation of chemical components that make up the fuel, thus creating new substances that may corrode or damage fuel tanks and parts of the engine. This happens over time.

Are fuel stabilizers necessary for race cars?

The substances fuel stabilizers are made with are meant to slow (if not outright prevent) these chemical changes from occurring.

One such substance is methanol, which promotes smoother burning and cleaner combustion for cars, while also reducing corrosion risk.

Do race cars need fuel stabilizers?

Unlike regular cars, when race cars are prepared, their fuel needs to be of the utmost quality, as it can literally make or break their engine. Older fuel is unlikely to be used and replaced for the race itself to ensure that the cars drive fast and with as little problems as possible.

Heck, even regular vehicles likely don’t need fuel stabilizers, so long as each drop of fuel in the gas tank is properly used before a lot of time has passed.

However, while race car and regular vehicle drivers might not need fuel stabilizers, people who don’t usually drive around or use watercraft that don’t get much usage such as boats may find themselves wanting for fuel stabilizers to keep their fuel working for as long as possible, and if you are

one of these people, make it count. There are lot of them out there, so make sure you choose the best fuel stabilizer.

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