Are you thinking that your gasoline is diluted with water and you are asking yourself, what if I have water in gas tank? What will happen in this case? If that’s the case then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to water in gas tank.
Having a problem like this could be a pain. Mostly because it could damage your engine. Engines do not like water and enough water can corrode your fuel system as well as cause your engine some permanent damage if it gets into contact with the cylinder walls.
As we all know, the cylinder walls are protected by the motor oil that is found behind the oil rings, so if you put water in the block, this might corrode the cylinder walls and develop scarring on the walls in the cylinders from the rust buildup.
This will eventually make your engine lock and cause some permanent engine damage that is irreversible to repair. So, once you notice water in gas tank it is key to react. But before you react you need to learn the symptoms.
That’s why in this article we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to gas water in gas tank. We are going to learn what is water in gas tank as well as the symptoms of water in gas tank. Then we will learn the possible damage that your engine could suffer from this water in gas tank and we later we will learn how to fix this problem permanently. So, let’s get to work.
What Is Water In Gas Tank?
Water in gas tank is as the name implies a situation when water is entering your gas tank. This contamination is something that you really don’t want happening to you because there could be some permanent damage to the engine and other components in your system.
The only way that a huge amount of water can get into your fuel tank is by some maleficent human being that wants to do some harm to you and your car. For example, if the gas cap cover doesn’t lock, they could simply open up the gas tank and put water in your gas tank.
What is worse with this is that you will not notice until you start to feel some of the symptoms that we are going to discuss a bit later in the article. Nevertheless, this situation is not good and needs solving ASAP after you notice this problem.
Another way that water can get into your gas tank is if it rained when you were filling the tank up. Small amounts of water can drip down and make your fuel dirty and contaminated. But this is a rare instance.
The most probable reason is either a bad fuel cap or contaminated fuel. Let’s first see the bad fuel cap issue.
When the fuel cap is bad, it means that this fuel cap isn’t making a proper seal. So, this could mean that water can get inside of your fuel tank and make your fuel go bad, and cause you a number of different problems that you probably don’t want.
And the other reason is the contaminated fuel. This means that when you pour the fuel is already contaminated.
Symptoms Of Water In Gas Tank
But how you will know that if you have water in gas tanks if you don’t know the symptoms right? In this chapter, we are going to cover everything you need when it comes to understanding the symptoms of water in gas tank and learning from them to conclude if you really have water in your gas tank or not.
Some of them are a dead giveaway, while some of them are hard to diagnose and connect with this problem. But we are going to dissect every little detail for you to have a clearer understanding of how it looks when you have water in gas tank. So, let’s get into it.
1. Rough Idle And Misfires
One of the first symptoms that you are going to notice if there is water in gas tank is the uneven idle.
You will notice how the needle of the tachometer is working unevenly and jumps up and falls down. This is a clear indication of an uneven spark in the combustion chamber or a problem with the fuel delivery system in your car.
When the water gets in there these surges are caused. So, this is one of the prime symptoms.
The rough idle is often accompanied by frequent misfires. A misfire is a failure in the combustion process. Its name clearly tells you about this condition.
The misfires are simply small taps that can be heard from the engine. They are quite unique and easily distinguishable. Also, you can notice them in the rear end where the exhaust gases escape. There should be pops and bangs that will often quite a bit when there is water in gas tank.
What is bad with this symptom is that you cannot clearly deem that this is caused by water. And some other reasons like bad injectors, bad spark plugs, clogged fuel filters or fuel lines can also be one of the culprits. But more on that later, now let’s discuss the other symptoms.
2. Uneven Power Output
Uneven power output is also present when you have water in gas tank. But how come? This uneven power output you can notice when the car doesn’t have power after you press on the gas. But then it suddenly lurches forward.
This lurching can be so aggressive at some points that will probably annoy you quite a lot. And not only does that it will annoy you, but it is also quite dangerous.
Imagine that you drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic and the car lurches all of a sudden. You could easily rear-end the car in front of you. And this is not a simple repair because some serious damage can be done if you damage the rear tub of the vehicle in front of you.
The cost to fix his car will probably be thousands of dollars and a lot of nerves lost in explaining how this happened. Since not a lot of people will believe you and it probably is better to fix this problem of water in gas tank soon after you notice this symptom.
3. Car Doesn’t Start
This could be a big problem if the car doesn’t want to start. If you have water in gas tank, this could be caused by too much water being sucked in.
This water can prevent the engine from starting since it will damage the internal components of the engine and make them unusable.
This is a phenomenon called hydro lock. So, if the engine is completely dead, you will only hear the starter click and that’s it.
The engine wouldn’t want to turn over at all. Deeming your engine for a rebuild to be performed on it. If the engine is too far gone, you will need a fully new engine.
Either way, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars to repair the car. When this happens 99% will result in a new engine since rebuilding an engine is not always economically feasible and would cost more than to perform a complete engine swap.
Also, the end result with a rebuild could be worse, since this engine is opened, and an opened engine simply isn’t the same anymore.
So, when you feel some strong symptoms like lurching, misfires, and uneven engine work, it is worth addressing the issue sooner than later.
4. Bad Fuel Economy
There will also be a bad fuel economy if you have water in gas tank. Remember that all cars are computerized and they know that there is a lack of octane number in the fuel.
So, the computer decides to dump more fuel into the system to bring the octane ratings back to normal. More fuel dumped into the cylinder means more money spent on gas.
The fuel economy numbers can get worse by 5 mpg or sometimes even 10 mpg. That’s why when you are experiencing some bad fuel economy, it is worth taking a look at the gas tank and seeing if there is water condensation inside.
5. Rust In The Gas Tank
Rust in the gas tank will also be present if you have water in gas tank. Why is this the case? This is the case because water causes rust. More water into the gas tank, more rust deposits formed, and more trouble.
Rust can even get so much worse that will make holes into the tank and your gas could even leak. Causing an extremely hazardous situation where a fire could cause an explosion in the worst cases causing permanent injuries or death.
So, if you are running an older vehicle that has a fuel tank made out of metal, it is a good idea to replace it with a new unit. Modern cars have plastic fuel tanks, so they are not that concerned with this problem.
But how you can inspect rust in the gas tank? For this, you will definitely need to put a camera probe inside to see what could cause this problem. Or removing the fuel pump that is located under the rear passenger seat and from there with a flashlight inspect the interior of the gas tanks for water in gas tank. Then, you will know what to do next. But more on that later.
Damage Caused By Running Water Into The System
In this chapter, we are going to focus on the possible damage that could happen if you run water for a long time into your fuel system. Knowing the outcomes will surely make you want to solve this problem far quicker than you have previously anticipated.
Since most of these components cost a ton of money to replace. So, what are the possible outcomes when it comes to damage? Let’s find out in the following chapters.
1. Fuel System Components Malfunctioning
If there is water in the gas tank, damage to the fuel system can also be present. More precisely the fuel pumps and injectors.
The fuel pump is located inside of the gas tank and has the role of pumping fuel into the system. Having too much water in it can cause these systems to malfunction and not work properly.
If the fuel pump is overloaded it can fail altogether and it will not deliver any more fuel into the engine. In this case, the engine will crank, but it will not have fuel to ignite basically. Which will be rather unfortunate.
In addition to this, the fuel filter can also suffer some damage while running the engine like this. The filter is designed to purify the fuel. So, if you throw water in it, will ruin it.
This paper filter is not designed to work with thick water. As we know the water has a far thicker consistency than gasoline. So, the fuel filter will be destroyed and will not perform its job fairly well as it did.
Also, water can corrode the fuel lines and cause some problems with fuel leaks. The fuel lines are made out of metal and when they come in contact with water, they start to develop corrosion. It is enough for small water droplets to form on these fuel lines and make them develop rust.
Once rust starts to develop, there is no turning point. So, in cars that have excessive rust in the fuel lines, there are also fuel leaks that are developing as well.
In addition to this, the injectors can also get damaged. They are meant to run fuel and not water. So if it’s a direct injection engine, they can be permanently damaged.
2. Engine Damage
Engine damage by running water into the system is unavoidable. Engines are not meant to include water in their running process, except for cooling where the coolant is mixed with distilled water. But that is a wholly separate system that doesn’t come in contact with the ignition system.
When water enters the combustion chamber there could be caused evaporation from the exhaust system. This will result in white smoke coming from the exhaust. This is something that is normal. But sooner after the car gets up to temperature, this water should be not there.
If there is a significant increase of water inside of the engine, the engine will simply hydro lock itself. And you probably don’t want that thing to happen with your car. This means that the engine will not want to turn and will remain locked until disassembled and the damage repaired by technicians.
It is worth noting that a small amount of water can’t do anything to your engine. A few droplets don’t change much. But if the gas tank is filled with water and you start your car, the engine as we said is going to lock itself and the only way around this problem would be rebuilding or replacing it. Something that could cost thousands of dollars to do.
So, these instances are rare when the engine gets damaged and are mostly caused by someone intentionally dripping a lot of water into your fuel tank. Make sure that your car always has its filler neck locked to avoid these situations and always park your car in a safe neighborhood.
But how can you fix the water in the fuel tank problem? Let’s find out in the following chapters.
How To Fix Water In Gas Tank DIY?
Now let’s get to the main point and that is how to remove the water from the gas tank. For this job, you will have to be somewhat mechanically inclined and equipped with the right tools. This is because this process requires the removal of the gas tank from the vehicle.
For this, you will need wrenches to loosen up the gas tank and then properly remove it from the vehicle. The fuel tank is located in the rear of the vehicle in most cases. Or right in front of the rear wheels. This is wherein most of the modern cars this gas tank is located. If you run a classic car, then for sure it is at the rear.
Depending on the condition of the tank, you will either have the option to clean it and dry it off or replace it completely. If it’s a plastic fuel tank then removing the contaminated fuel and drying out the tank would be enough. But if the fuel tank is made out of metal and has rust deposits on the inside.
Then the only solution would be to completely remove the gas tank from the vehicle and replace it with a new unit. If you have an old steel tank, this is mandatory, since these tanks do not last more than 20 years. A new unit is also affordable. It will probably cost you less than $300.
Also, when replacing it, make sure that the fuel filler neck and cap are in good condition. Because these might fail and condensation to creep up and cause water in gas tank again. In addition to this, the rubber seal that is holding the fuel pump is also essential to replace if you don’t want the fuel tank to breathe. Overall, that’s it.
Cost To Fix Water In Gas Tank
The cost to fix water in gas tank depends much on what is needed for the work to be performed. Let’s say that you only need cleaning of the gas tank. Then it will probably cost you nothing if you do it by yourself. If you take your car to a shop it is going to cost you about $400 to $500 for a good cleaning.
It is expensive because the whole tank has to be removed and cleaned, this work will probably be a couple of hours. To get things into perspective, one hour of labor is between $50 to $100 depending on the shop. So, you could make your conclusion of how much it will cost you to get it done.
If you need to get a new fuel tank this will probably cost you $300 or less, plus the labor for installing it.
If the moisture inside is caused by moisture getting from the filler neck, then you will need to get a new filler neck and a new gas cap. This will cost about $50 to $150. Overall, the repair for this problem with water in gas tank depends much on what you need replacing. If you do the job by yourself, you can expect to pay the least money.
Can I Continue Driving Like This?
Driving like this is not recommended. Depending on the water level inside of the gas tank. If there is too much water that is causing a problem with the fuel system as well as the engine. Then the more you wait and run the car like this. The more broken it will be and in the end, the car will simply stop working altogether. And you will be required to get a new engine.
Or if somebody pours water into your fuel tank and you start the car, the engine will be destroyed in an instant. So, in this case, driving is questionable. The car will simply not going to run and the engine is done.
The only way around will be for you to get a new engine that you will install in the car or find a way how to rebuild the engine that you have. Even though, this isn’t quite a good solution because this engine would probably never be the same again.
Conclusion To Water In Gas Tank
In this article, we covered quite a bit about water in gas tank. First, we learned what is water in gas tank and what are the symptoms are concerned with this problem. As we can recall, the main symptoms are uneven engine work. Problems with the fuel system, and also increased fuel consumption.
By running the engine like this. There is a serious chance for engine damage to happen. And it can ruin the whole engine. That’s why the best thing would be to get the fuel tank removed. And give it a good cleaning to solve the problem. Also, the fuel filler neck and cap are recommended to be replaced. Since these components can cause the water to sip into the fuel tank and cause water in the gas tank.