Does petrol and diesel go off? Fuel shelf life explained | The Sun

DUE to the fuel prices rising, hoarders have been stockpiling fuel at petrol stations across the UK.

But before you start storing it, you must know if it has a shelf life and where it's best to keep it. All is explained below.

Do petrol and diesel expire? 

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

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

If you use expired fuel, 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".

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

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

The RAC states: "If your tank is full of old fuel (especially old diesel) have it drained by a garage or a professional mobile service.

"If you suspect your petrol or diesel is stale the best advice is to try topping up with fresh fuel from a filling station."

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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 advises 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".

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 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 accommodation 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:

  • Plastic container – storing up to 10 litres
  • Metal container – storing up to 20 litres
  • Demountable fuel tank – storing up to 30 litres

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."


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Be aware of containers that previously held petrol as the fumes my remain.

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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