What to Do When Sediment Is in the Gas Tank

by Steve Smith

Sediment, dirt and even rocks may enter your fuel tank under a variety of circumstances. Off-roading often leaves dirt on the truck, which falls into the gas inlet when you fuel the tank. Or dirt gets into your spare fuel system and eventually finds its way into your tank. Even through common usage, it is possible to see sediments collecting in your tank. When this happens, the sediment must be removed.

Car Gas Tanks

In cars, sediment in the gas tank may become a problem, but the removal of the sediment is very difficult. It is wise to consider both the time and cost of removing the sediment, as well as the potential for damage to the car. Although cars have fuel filters designed to remove sediments from the gas, there is the possibility that the sediment gets into the engine. This causes poor performance and may harm your engine's sensitive parts. However, to remove the sediment the entire tank and fuel tank must be removed. This involves many hours of labor (sometimes as many as 10 hours or more) and that is expensive. Once the tank is removed, the sediment is simply cleaned away. Then the entire system must be reinstalled. Most fuel filters will catch and clean much of the sediment in a gas tank.

When to Remove Sediment

Only when you know there is a great deal of sediment in your car gas tank should you consider removing and cleaning it. If your car is exposed to dust, dirt or a lot of sediment over the course of time, and you notice a lack of performance from your car, it may be a result of sediments in the tank. Before you remove the tank and clean it, first check your fuel filter for excess dirt on the filter. In some cases, simply changing the fuel filter more often will help to reduce the amount of sediment in the tank over time. This is a common fix for the problem. The other solution is the complete removal of the tank and washing it with hydrochloric acid.

Lawn Mowers and Recreational Vehicles

Lawnmowers and recreational vehicles are frequently exposed to dirt and sediments. They also tend to sit for longer periods of time, and when gas is inside of a tank for months, it breaks down and forms sediment. These tanks are often very easy to access. For instance, lawnmower tanks are located right on top of the engine. In this case it is very easy to remove the tank by removing the attaching bolts. Wash and clean the tank using hydrochloric acid and rinse thoroughly.

About the Author

Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera gas tank image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com