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Dealing with sugar in gas tank

royallenroyallen Posts: 227
edited March 2014 in Dodge
The past 5 days I've been dealing with my wife finding a couple of teaspoons of sugar all around and inside the fuel filler when she gassed up. I had heard as a kid in the 50's that sugar in gas would ruin an engine and was puzzled my wife had driven at least 50 miles with no symptoms. When I talked to my mechanic about steps to take such as towing the vehicle in, etc, I was surprised he and another mechanic recommended doing nothing unless I had symptoms of fuel line blockage as they thought the sugar would not dissolve in gas and would be kept in the tank by the fuel pump intake filter. So I did two things, I had the fuel filter removed and cut it open to inspect it finding no sugar and I obtained test tubes and put 10 cc of gas in one, fuel injector cleaner in one and isopropyl alcohol in one then added two sugar granules. Using a hand magnifying glass I can easily see the sugar crystals still intact in all three tubes after 24 hours. So I now know the sugar does not dissolve in the gas or the additives I use and it is not getting out of the tank. Problem solved and myth of damaging power of sugar greatly diminished (a large amount could certainly clog the fuel pump intake).
Finally, if you drive a vehicle without a secure fuel filler like our '95 Caravan - get a locking gas cap.


  • you bet,this sounds like my have nothing better to do than trying to destroy others nice should be ok.i would get that lock on it today.also keep a light on near your car because vandals like to work in the dark.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    There are far worse things to put in a gas tank but I'm not going to reveal them for obvious reasons. Let's just hope vandals keep thinking sugar is deadly.

    Probably the worst thing that can naturally happen to a car's fuel system is rust or water, both of which might require dropping the gas tank and possibly replacing the injectors.
  • I think I saw in another post that the reaction took a couple weeks.
  • csandstecsandste Posts: 1,866
    Click and Clack deal with sugar (not that serious)...

    Modern Maturity (auto myths)

    Straight dope (could clog)

    2Car Pros (injectors probably plugged)...

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    If you put enough of anything in a gas tank it will foul it up. I'm sure Cheerios are as deadly as sugar. (and you can add milk, too!)
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    Thanks for the informative posts.
    o_h_w, I'll keep the test tube tests going and will follow-up in a couple of weeks. My last concern is that water condensation in the tank will dissolve some sugar. My strategy is to add 1/2 oz isopropyl alcohol with each fill up to dilute and minimize the sugar load downstream. I also plan to inspect a spark plug at the same interval to look for fouling. I'm also a little concerned that fuel injector contamination from sugar water/alcohol could be hard to clean since water can't be used - at least not in the usual way.
  • zr2randozr2rando Posts: 391
    If it dissolves in water then it will go through the filter (filter should stop water too but some still dissolves into the gas, especially when you use the water remover/alcohol/dry gas etc) and harden/plate out like laquer/glaze in the injectors/intake valves and is almost impossible to clean except by physical(abrasive) action. Keep it solid and let the filter catch it...just change the filter is alot easier...
    Years past I have always seen that sugar in the tank really had to have tank removed and rinsed/dried, fuel lines air blown in reverse to really clean it right. Best thing is to find the people responsible and watch them do the work.
    good luck
  • pblevinepblevine Posts: 858
    Why take a chance? I'd even drop the gas tank.
    And remember, "Equal" is better than sugar!
    In coffee, that is. Never in your tank.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    that dirt can really clog up a tank, having deposited several handfulls in one myself. Dad definitely was NOT happy.

    Seriously, I would drop and clean the tank immediately. The cost of that repair isn't bad compared to the dangers it can cause.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Someone telling me that a handful of moth balls would neutralize the gasoline.

    Never tried it.
  • royallenroyallen Posts: 227
    It is one week since I placed 10 cc of gas in a test tube and added 2 sugar crystals and the sugar is 100% in its original crystal form. My van is also operating normally with only a change of the fuel filter which contained no sugar.
  • mullins87mullins87 Posts: 959
    The thing I would be most concerned with is some of the crystals getting past the filter. I don't know what engine heat would do to them, but I could imagine them acting much like grains of sand as they move through the injectors into the combustion chamber.
This discussion has been closed.