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An Auto Mechanic School Student’s Guide to Removing Water From a Car’s Gas Tank

Published on April 15, 2021 by in Blog, CATI

Refuelling the car at a gas station fuel pump. Man driver hand refilling and pumping gasoline oil the car with fuel at he refuel station. Car refuelling on petrol station. Fuel pump at station

Fuel and water don’t mix, so it’s always unfortunate when water is found in a driver’s gas tank. When this liquid somehow finds its way inside of a vehicle’s gas tank, it can cause some serious performance issues. So how does it get there to begin with? Water can infiltrate a vehicle’s gas tank if a driver refuels at a gas station that has (illegally) watered down its fuel in order to make a profit. In some cases, the gas station’s supplier might be selling them contaminated gas unintentionally. Whatever the case, water should be removed from a vehicle’s gas tank as soon as it’s been detected. 

If you’re considering a career as an auto mechanic, here are some common signs that water has made its way into the gas tank, as well as some tips for removing it.

Auto Mechanic School Students Should Watch for These Signs of Water in a Fuel Tank

When water gets in to a vehicle’s gas tank, it can cause some unfortunate performance issues, especially when accelerating. Water can enter a vehicle’s combustion chamber when a driver puts their foot on the gas pedal, causing the engine to misfire and making the car’s acceleration choppy or hesitant. The driver may also have difficulties in starting their engine, as water can inhibit the spark plug’s ability to ignite and deliver power to the engine. The vehicle’s exhaust system may also be affected by the presence of water, creating white exhaust smoke as it evaporates and turns to steam upon exiting the tail pipe. 

White smoke coming from the exhaust can be a sign that water is present in the gas tank

White smoke coming from the exhaust can be a sign that water is present in the gas tank

If a driver experiences any of these symptoms, it raises the possibility that they have water in their gas tank. Professionals with car mechanics training can help drivers to remove water from their tank safely by following the steps below.

Step One: When Removing Water from a Gas Tank, Empty the Tank First

The first step to removing water from a gas tank is to empty the tank. The best way to drain the tank is with a vacuum machine, as this has the power necessary to remove every last drop of water from the tank. It’s important to let the tank drain completely before moving on to the next step, as any traces of water could affect a vehicle’s performance. 

Step Two: Replace a Vehicle’s Fuel Filter and Flush its Fuel Lines

After the tank has been drained, auto mechanic school graduates can replace a vehicle’s fuel filter. The presence of water in the gas tank can damage the fuel filter by weakening it. When a fuel filter isn’t functioning properly, it can let other contaminants into the fuel supply, potentially harming the engine. Next, it’s important to flush a vehicle’s fuel lines. Exposure to water can cause these lines to corrode, increasing the chances of a dangerous leak.

When removing water from a vehicle’s gas tank, it’s important to replace the fuel filter

When removing water from a vehicle’s gas tank, it’s important to replace the fuel filter

Step Three: Fill Up the Gas Tank, and Take Steps to Avoid a Repeat of the Problem

When the fuel lines have been flushed and the filter has been replaced, a vehicle’s gas tank can be filled up once again. If a driver wants to avoid getting water in their fuel supply in the future, it’s important that they make sure to use good-quality fuel when filling up their vehicle. Ethanol-free fuels won’t absorb water, making them ideal for drivers who are concerned about getting water in their gas tank. 

While water can be inconvenient when it enters a vehicle’s gas tank, it’s typically a simple problem for an automotive pro to fix. As a mechanic, make sure your clients recognize the symptoms of water in the gas tank in order to ensure that no lasting damage is caused.

Ready for a career as an auto mechanic?

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