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How to Fix Sugar in a Gas Tank

by Jessica Jewell

Discovering that sugar has been put in the gas tank of a car may cause extreme panic for the vehicle's owner. This is largely because legend has it that the sugar will melt in the tank and then pass to the engine, where it will turn into a kind of cement and ruin the car. In this case, however, the legend is simply fiction. In fact, sugar does not dissolve in gasoline, as proved by Professor John Thornton at University of California, Berkeley, in 1994. Sugar could cause some problems, however, and cleaning out the substance could prevent damage to the car and high costs for the owner.

Replace the fuel filter. The sugar's first stop will be the car's fuel filter, which has the job of collecting solid substances. If you do not work with cars regularly, you should consider having a mechanic change the filter for you. To do it at home, you can follow Resource 1 to the Car Pros, who have illustrated instructions and safety precautions for changing your fuel filter.

Change your fuel pump. If the sugar has passed through the car's fuel filter, then its second stop will be your car's fuel pump. Like the fuel filter, the pump will also need to be changed. This is a complicated procedure and should be completed by a mechanic. If you would like to try to change the fuel pump of your car at home, you can follow the link at Resource 2 to Auto Media, where there are complete illustrated steps for changing one.

Take your car to a mechanic if the sugar has already passed through the fuel filter and pump. If the sugar has made it that far, its next stop will be the car's fuel delivery system, such as the carburetor. The auto mechanic will take the tank out of your car and clean it.

Tip

  • Lock your gas tank to prevent further vandalism. While it may seem unlikely that your car will be vandalized more than once with sugar in the tank, it can be a laborious and expensive process to change the filter and clean the tank. Therefore, have a mechanic install a locking gas cap in your car. It will protect your tank from vandalism and also from theft.

Warning

  • Changing the fuel filter and pump can be dangerous. Do not attempt to do so at home without proper instruction or experience. If you have never performed any moderately challenging auto repairs on your car alone, or if you have little to no experience with electrical and pressure circuits in your car, you should take your car to a mechanic and have him fix the fuel filter and pump. While it will cost more money for the labor, you will prevent possible serious injury to yourself.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jessica Jewell is a writer, photographer and communications consultant who began writing professionally in 2005. Her chapbook, "Slap Leather," is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Her recent work has appeared in "Nimrod," "Harpur Palate," "Copper Nickel," "Rhino," "wicked alice," "Poetry Midwest" and "Barn Owl Review." Jewell was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She earned her Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University.

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