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Does petrol and diesel have a use-by date? Fuel shelf life explained


HOARDERS have been filling up jerry cans at petrol stations across the country amid the fuel crisis.

But does petrol and diesel have a sell by date? Here’s all you need to know…

Man filling plastic fuel cans at a petrol station

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Man filling plastic fuel cans at a petrol stationCredit: Getty

Do petrol and diesel expire? 

When petrol is oxidized it can expire.

If it is kept correctly – in a sealed container at 20 degrees – it can last up to six months.

However if it is stored in higher temperatures, it can expire at roughly three months.

If expired petrol is used it can cause impurities to clog up and damage the inner mechanisms of your engine.

Meanwhile, diesel can be used for between six months to a year before it expires and becomes ‘gummy’.

‘Gummy’ diesel is when it becomes sticky over time, and this can clog your engine.

However, it is possible to rejuvenate old petrol or diesel that is sitting in a tank by topping it up with new fuel.

If your tank is full of old petrol or diesel your tank will need to be drained to ensure it doesn’t cause engine damage.

Are you allowed to store petrol at home? 

You can store up to 30 litres of petrol at home or at non-workplace premises without  informing the Petroleum Enforcement Authority (PEA).

Despite being legal, the Health and Safety Executive advices not to store petrol unless you absolutely have to.

The AA has also previously said it was “desperately worried” about people storing petrol and diesel in their cars, which is described as “incredibly, incredibly dangerous”.

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A spokesperson said Brits “shouldn’t even contemplate storing it at all”.

What is the best way to store fuel? 

The best place to store petrol is in the tank of your car.

However if you must store fuel for filling up a lawn mower or garden tools there are some safety precautions you can take.

It should not be stored in a home – and should be kept in a shed or garage that is separate from where you live and sleep.

Containers of petrol should only be stored in a well-ventilated, secure outbuilding away from living accomodation and from all sources of ignition, such as fires, lights and any electrical points such as sockets or fuse boxes. 

Children should not be allowed to have access to petrol. 

It is best to store it in:

  • suitable portable metal or plastic containers
  • one demountable fuel tank
  • a combination of the above as long as no more than 30 litres is kept

Always decant fuel in the open air – not inside a garage or shed – and use a pouring spout or funnel.

An HSE spokesperson said: “Petrol is a dangerous substance; it is a highly flammable liquid that gives off vapour which can easily be set on fire and when not handled safely has the potential to cause a serious fire and/or explosion. 

“This means there is the risk of serious personal injury if petrol is stored or used in an unsafe way.”

An empty container that previously held petrol may also be unsafe because of the fumes that remain, so ensure you keep the cap securely fastened and follow the same advice for storing petrol.

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