What Are the Symptoms of Bad Gas in Your Car?
What is bad gas, and how can you tell if you’ve accidentally filled your car with it? Unfortunately, fuel quality inspections are not mandated by the federal government, and inspections in most cases are only conducted yearly if at all.
Since gas is often stored underground, water runoff and rock sediment can sometimes leak into fuel containers. This can contaminate gasoline supplies before they even reach mass distribution at gas stations.
Is your car performing oddly or even cutting out at times? Bad gas may be the reason behind it. Here are our top symptoms of bad gas and how to identify possible contamination in your fuel.
Are you Experiencing Reduced Fuel Efficiency?
You may not always know exactly how many miles you’ll get from one tank of gas. That being said, one symptom of bad gas can be reduced fuel efficiency. If you start to notice that you are burning gas faster than normal, there is a chance that your last gas fill-up was not as high-quality as you may have first thought.
Bad gas is a term used for gas that does not combust as efficiently (or worst case, at all) when compared to most gas sources. Cars and other vehicles use carbon-based combustions made from burning gas to move.
Thus, if you have bad gas in your car, your car may not be able to get you as far as normal. Consider filling up at a different gas station or getting your fuel tank checked if your gas mileage reduces significantly.
Is Your Engine Stalling?
Similar to having reduced fuel efficiency, your engine may stall if you have bad gas in your tank. Having bad gas can also mean having diluted gas in your car. This could result in your car not having enough combustible ingredients to continue to run.
Unfortunately, this can result in an unplanned engine stall and your car stopping suddenly. This can be an additional reason to be wary of driving with a low level of fuel in your car.
Always aim to drive with at least 1/2 of your gas tank full, depending on your car and make. You can use this handy “miles until empty” table to determine how far your car may be able to make it (on normal fuel) after the low fuel light is illuminated on your dashboard.
Are you Experiencing Lack of Acceleration?
Your gas quality can have direct consequences on the power of your driving acceleration. Since accelerating requires a sudden burst in power, more combustions are needed, and more gas is used to get you moving.
Bad gas can directly affect your ability to accelerate on the road. If any portion of your gas is not as quality as the rest, you may notice varying degrees of power, seemingly randomly, within even one tank of gas.
It is important to test the acceleration power of a car when test driving any new or used vehicle. While your car’s power may decline over time, any drastic changes in performance may be symptoms of bad gas.
Take your car to a different gas station and see if a new tank of gas rids you of the acceleration problem.
Is Your Check Engine Light Illuminated?
Your check engine light is notoriously ambiguous. While other lights on your dashboard may give you a hint as to what the check engine light is trying to convey, you can also get a free reading of your check engine report at any automotive repair shop.
If your check engine light comes as a symptom of bad gas, try filling up at a different gas station moving forward. There’s a chance that after using a tank or two of new, quality gas in your car, the check engine light will turn back off.
It is never a good idea to ignore a check engine light for long. Consider filling up at an alternate gas station if you don’t have time to get your check engine light reading read.
Are you Experiencing Delayed Gear Shifting?
If you own a manual car, the last thing you want is for your car to shift gears without you moving a finger. Rough or delayed shifting is a sign that your manual car may have a transmission issue and need maintenance.
When it comes to symptoms of bad gas, sputtering and even unintentional gear shifting could also mean that your gas quality has been compromised. When gas is tampered with, watered down, or even added to your tank after sitting around for too long, it may be too inefficient to allow for quick changes in gears.
Stale gas, in particular, may have separated from itself at a molecular level. This could mean that the highly combustible molecules have evaporated or are no longer evenly distributed throughout the gas.
This separation results in a loss of fuel efficiency and engine responsiveness.
Combat Symptoms of Bad Gas
Having car problems doesn’t have to be the end of the world. While certain delays in starting up and engine stalling could mean costly repairs to your transmission and engine, they could also be symptoms of bad gas.
If you’re noticing any problems with your car, bring it to a maintenance shop for a routine check-up and consider visiting an alternate gas station as well. Sometimes, a simple gas station switch can save you from inefficient fuel and a plethora of vehicle problems.