How to Remove Rust From a Gas Tank

by Chantel Alise
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pumping gas image by Mat Hayward from

If a gas tank isn’t properly cared for and kept full, rust can occur. It can easily find a way to take hold in gas tanks that simply aren’t used regularly and are therefore not properly flushed. Rust is almost certain to take place within gas tanks that are left unattended for months on end. It is also prevalent among vehicles that are stored for long periods of time.

Step 1

Plan to handle rust before it can happen. Use a rust prevention product to keep the tank clean and free flowing.

Step 2

Coat the tank with rust prevention materials like polyresin, fiberglass resin or Vinylester. Check with your vehicle’s manufacturer to determine which product might work best for the vehicle involved.

Step 3

Keep gas tanks full, leaving little room for rust to take hold and spread. Leaving space where air can be trapped and mix with the conditions of the atmosphere to encourage rust may eventually damage the gas tank permanently.

Step 4

Use vinegar to flush rust out of the tank. Remove the tank to complete the process to be certain so nothing can make its way into the vehicle. Rinse the tank thoroughly with pressure washing equipment. Be sure that all excess gasoline residue is removed (until the water runs clear, without a gasoline odor). Then, fill the tank with vinegar and let it sit for between 12 and 24 hours. Remove the vinegar from the tank and rinse it thoroughly with water once again. To counteract the vinegar’s acid, add between one-half and one cup of baking soda, depending upon the tank size. Making sure the baking soda coats the entire surface. Let that sit for between 20 and 45 minutes. Rinse thoroughly again with water. Make certain that no water remains in the tank before filling it with gasoline again.

Step 5

Use a professional gas tank flushing kit. These can be purchased from many car part stores or even through the vehicle’s manufacturer. These kits are designed to safely remove rust. Follow the instructions provided on the brand of product chosen. Repeat as recommended.

Step 6

Take the vehicle to an automotive shop that has equipment that can safely blast the rust out of the tank with carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 leaves absolutely no residue behind and is one of the safest ways to clean rust out of a gas tank.

Step 7

Remove the gas tank and take (or send) it to a company that can not only remove the rust but also re-galvanize or coat it using a process that will help to stave off additional rust.

Step 8

Remove rust from the outside rim of the tank immediately. Rust tends to spread rather quickly once it takes hold. Therefore, it is important to remove it the moment it is first spotted.

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