What is fuel stabilizer?

What in the world is that? It’s Fuel Stabilizer.

Did you know that gasoline has a shelf life? True story, I wouldn’t make it up.

But do you know how long that is? It depends on the type of fuel and the type of storage. There’s really no exact expiration date for gasoline, but most fuels and fuel blends, stored in an approved container will last 2-3 months before fuel degradation begins to affect it’s effectiveness.

How it goes bad
Water contamination. Regardless of how you store your fuel, eventually condensation will begin to form inside of the container. This can be a result of pre-existing moisture in the fuel or gathering condensation due to changing temperatures. Condensation can form inside your gas tank and lines from heat cycling.

Evaporation can cause fuel to go stale as well. Lighter chemical components can evaporate, leaving a less effective result.

Oxidation can cause corrosion in the storage unit. Oxidized debris can render fuel inadvisable to use, as the particulates can clog fuel systems.

Why it’s bad for the engine
For your engine to run it’s best, it needs a pretty specific combination of food and air. The air needs to be filtered, clean and plentiful and the fuel needs to be fresh and free of contaminates.

Maybe this will put it in perspective… how much poo would you tolerate in your food? Yep. That just happened.

Stale fuel does not ignite well and contaminated or chemically altered fuel tends to have questionable effects on the combustion system of most engines. Excessive carbon or corrosive build up, blocked fuel systems… these are a couple of biggies.

How stabilizer works
I will not begin to try to explain the beneficial qualities of hydro-treated heavy paraffinic distillates. How do they work? Hey! How exactly is a rainbow made? How exactly does a sun set? How exactly does a posi-trac rear-end on a Plymouth work? It just does!

What I can say is that fuel stabilizers contain their own chemical compounds that react with the contents of your fuel to counter the effects of evaporation, contamination, and corrosion.

According to Matt Irvine, an account executive at Lucas Oil
“Fuel stabilizer really is a series of lubricants and antioxidants. It slows down evaporation rate and it tries to keep water away…”

“Fuel stabilizer 101” by Bruce Waynewright (https://www.autofocus.ca/)

So, what’s it all mean?
If you intend to store gasoline for your equipment for the winter (or even more than a month or two), it may not last. There are several fuel stabilizing products on the market today. Lawnmowerpros.com recommends:


  • Triple antioxidant protection
  • Dual corrosion inhibitors guard metal engine parts against corrosion
  • Metal de-activator stops chemical reactions caused by dissolved metals in fuel
  • Detergent ingredients prevent gum and varnish build-up on engine parts
  • Water protection inhibitors protect against the harmful effects of water in fuel due to ethanol
  • Protects both 2- and 4-cycle gasoline engines

Follow the instructions and be aware of any stabilizer to fuel ratio.

So there you have it. Gas goes bad, take a proactive approach and invest in a good fuel stabilizer.

Pretty soon you’ll be cookin with gas! Ha!

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Bill Brown

Bill is the head of content creation for the LawnMowerPros Blog and DIY section. He’s been in the Outdoor Power Equipment Industry for years and he’s still learning new things everyday. You can often find him creating featured articles, DIY guides, videos, graphics and much more.