Bleach In Gas Tank – Will The Engine Blow Up?

by Conner Mckay

Are you curious what would happen if you pour bleach in gas tank? If this is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic when it comes to pouring bleach into your gas tank.

And before we start with the article, let me tell you that anything else except gasoline in your fuel tank is a death sentence to your engine. Some cars react more, some of the cars react to a lesser extent when the gas gets mixed with different compounds. Either way, this is not good news for your engine and you risk losing your engine completely and be needing to purchase a new engine that can be quite an expensive thing to do.

We understand that this idea of bleach in gas tank is in the mind of some maleficent human beings who want to do harm to you and your vehicle by ruining the engine of your car. So, it is very advised for you to learn the symptoms of bleach in gas tank that we are going to cover in this article. Knowing the symptoms will help you save the engine before it gets too late and there is nothing worth saving.

That’s why first we are going to learn what is bleach and how it reacts with gasoline. Then we will learn the short-term and long-term effects of running bleach in your gas tank as well as the symptoms of having bleach in gas tank. Then we will learn how to remove the bleach from the gas tank and drain the system. Lastly, we will cover the cost. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

What Is Bleach?

Now before we learn what happens if you pour bleach in gas tank, let’s see first what is bleach in general terms. This will be useful for everybody out there that is curious about this stuff. Knowing the bleach compounds will be extra handy in understanding the effects that it could possibly have on your car. If you want you can move to the following chapters, if not, keep up with us.

In general terms, bleach is a chemical compound called sodium hypochlorite. This compound is a mix of sodium cation and hypochlorite anion.

This chemical compound is used since the 18th century in households for disinfection or as a bleaching agent. A bleaching agent is any chemical product that serves the purpose of removing color from fabrics or cleaning and removing stains through a process that is named bleaching.

Many of these bleach products are used to sanitize swimming pools and control the bacteria in places where sterilization is quite essential. Bleach also finds its purpose in various industries.

What is notable when it comes to bleach is its oxidizing properties, this is the case because bleach contains a certain amount of chlorine. This chlorine is the active agent that is used in a lot of household bleaches. Namely, Clorox which is one of the most popular bleach brands on the market contains chlorine.

And oxidation as we all know is not good news. Especially when mixed with gasoline and other compounds. But more on that in a bit when we will cover the bleach in gas tank.

What is worth noting when it comes to bleach is that this is a health hazard. Meaning that it is quite toxic for humans and you should always handle it with care.

How The Bleach React With Gasoline?

Now before we learn what will happen if you pour bleach in gas tank. Let’s take a look at how bleach reacts with gasoline in general.

As you probably know, bleach is mostly water. Meaning that the chemical compound sodium hypochlorite that makes up the bleach is diluted with a good amount of water. And as we all know, water and gasoline do not mix.

The water will fall on the bottom of the gas tank because it is heavier. While the main compound of the bleach which is sodium hypochlorite will mix with the gasoline. Resulting in chlorine burn.

So, instead of gasoline to burn with oxygen. It will start to burn with chlorine. Which is an ingredient in bleach. Meaning that the bleach will continue burning along with the gasoline and you will not feel anything else while you are driving the car since there is only a fraction of chlorine inside of the bleach.

But if you put 100% sodium hypochlorite that is not diluted inside of the fuel tank, you might be facing some explosive reactions. This is known as an exothermic reaction. And is really dangerous. Your gas tank could explode if you pour a 100% sodium hypochlorite that was not diluted. Normally, in Clorox bleach that is relatively diluted and weak will not cause this reaction.

But since bleach is a powerful oxidizer, it could cause some problems if you pour bleach in gas tank. More on that we will cover in a bit where we will describe the short term effects and long term effects of bleach in gas tank.

Short Term Effects From Running Bleach In Your Gas Tank

Now as we covered what is bleach and what are the main compounds that it is made of. Let’s now focus on the short and long-term effects of running bleach in gas tank. What could possibly go wrong in the short term and also in the long term if you pour bleach in gas tank? Let’s elaborate.

In the short term, the bleach will not do much harm. Especially if it is a small amount poured into the gas tank. By small amount, we mean a really small amount.

In fact, a small amount of bleach can even improve the combustion process in your car. As we learned this bleach has chlorine and the chlorine is causing an exothermic reaction inside of the combustion. Meaning that the fuel will burn much better than without chlorine.

So, you shouldn’t be worried because of a small amount of bleach inside of your fuel tank in the short term. The engine will keep running and will burn the bleach altogether.

That’s why if it’s a small amount of bleach, should not be any problem. But if you pour a whole jug of this bleach inside of the fuel tank, then there could be a big problem with your engine as well as with the fuel tank itself. And more on that in the following chapter where we will elaborate more on the long-term effects of bleach in gas tank. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.

Long Term Effects From Running Bleach In Your Gas Tank

So, what are the long-term effects of running bleach in gas tank? Let’s say that you poured one or two jugs of bleach in your gas tank and you left it like this, what would happen in this case?

Well, in fact, there will be a lot of problems. Bleach is a powerful oxidant. This means that the bleach will greatly corrode everything that comes in its way. It doesn’t matter if it’s rubber or metal.

You will have a lot of trouble with this bleach in gas tank. Your whole fuel system will suffer. If you have a steel fuel tank, you can expect it to start rusting from the inside in the first 24 hours.

Then the fuel lines will start to rust as well. Also, all the fuel filter which is usually made out of cardboard will suffer immensely from this bleach in gas tank. It will probably dissolve and cause a lot of trouble for you.

Even inside of the engine there will be problems when this bleach will end up in the cylinders. It will cause the spark plugs to foul and weird smoke will start to show from the exhaust.

If you have a direct injection engine, you could also damage the high-pressure fuel pump as well as the injectors. Overall, a bleach in gas tank is a bad idea and you should definitely notice whenever the car is developing symptoms.

So, what symptoms could be experienced when you have bleach in your car’s gas tank? More on them in the following chapters where we will cover them in depth.

Symptoms Of A Car Running Bleach

Now as we covered what is bleach and what are the short-term and long-term effects of having bleach in your fuel system. Let’s elaborate more on the symptoms that you will experience when you are running bleach in your engine.

Bleach In Gas Tank

These symptoms indicate that there is a problem with the car itself. This needs addressing before the problem becomes bigger. In the following few chapters, we will go through the most common symptoms when your car has bleach in gas tank. So, follow along.

1. Engine Misfires

The first thing that you are going to notice when you have bleach in gas tank would probably be engine misfires. So, why is this the case, what do engine misfires have to do with the problem of bleach in gas tank? Well, they have a lot to do with this problem.

Namely because as we know, the air to fuel mixture should be ideal all the time. If let’s say you add bleach in the fuel tank. The gas will mix with the bleach and will create a concoction that will not be at the right octane level as it should be for the combustion to be complete.

So, whenever this happens, you will face a lot of problems like engine misfires and engine knock because of the low octane levels. When the engine starts knocking, you know that something is seriously wrong with the engine.

Also, the misfires will be represented as small ticks and occur on top of the cylinder and they will be heard from the top of the engine. Also from the rear exhaust. The exhaust note will be quite different and will not be as it should. This is a clear sign that you need to check the fuel tank and see if you have bleach in gas tank.

2. Rough Engine Idle

Another symptom that you will experience if you are running bleach in gas tank is the rough engine idle. This rough engine idle can basically mean a lot of things. But it can also mean that there are low octanes in the gas that you are running in your car as well.

You will notice how the needle on the tachometer is fluctuating at idle speed. It goes up and it goes down. You constantly need to apply the throttle to keep the engine happy and running.

And whenever this happens, it is a clear sign that you need to take things further and diagnose the problem as quickly as possible. Diagnosing the issue quickly will help you prevent further damage to the system and prevent paying a ton of money to get things sorted out.

As we said, the consequences of running your car like this for a long time are really serious and will cost you thousands of dollars to fix if you delay fixing this problem with bleach in gas tank.

3. Smoke From The Engine

Another symptom that you will notice when your car has bleach in gas tank is the smoke coming from the exhaust. This will be quite noticeable whenever the car is running on bleach.

There will be an increase in condensation and you will notice how there is white smoke from the engine itself and also white smoke from the exhaust pipe.

When the car starts smoking badly, then you might assume two things, a blown head gasket or something wrong with the fuel that you are running.

And in this case, is the second thing. There is bleach in gas tank, which contains a lot of water since it is diluted with water. And this water evaporates and creates this smoke. If there is too much water inside of the engine, it could hydrolock the engine and damage it permanently.

That’s why whenever you notice white smoke, bleach in gas tank is one of the possibilities and the gas tank has to be checked in order for further damage to be avoided.

4. Weird Smell While You Drive The Car

When you have bleach in gas tank, you can assume that it will start a chemical reaction with the gasoline that is inside the gas tank.

This smell could be quite toxic for you and your occupants. As we already explained above in one of the previous chapters, when bleach gets in contact with gasoline it will start a chemical reaction.

This reaction will be mild because the bleach is not 100%. But still, it will be enough for you to start sensing some weird smells inside of the cabin.

In fact, these smells are an easy way to determine if you have bleach in gas tank. If the gas inside of the cabin smells like bleach, then you know that there is bleach inside.

Some people though, don’t know how bleach smells and for them. It could be somewhat tricky to tell if this is a smell of bleach or something else is going on inside of the gas tank. Either way, when something is not smelling as it should, is a real wake-up call for you. You need to start diagnosing the problem and determine if you have bleach in gas tank.

5. Weird Noises From The Engine And Engine Failure

The most critical symptoms that you might experience if you have bleach in gas tank are noises coming from the engine and complete engine failure.

This rarely happens though. But if there is nothing left in the gas tank and the engine starts to such from the water from the bleach, then the engine will potentially hydrolock itself.

This is the situation when the engine decides that enough is enough and there are no conditions to keep working. It will seize to prevent further damage in case water is injected from the injectors.

And even if it keeps running like this, the piston rod could get bent or even break. Resulting in catastrophic engine damage. So, you can conclude that having bleach in gas tank is somewhat dangerous for your engine and will for sure going to damage it as soon as the water level gets too high.

Besides the corrosion that the bleach creates, this type of damage is the most critical and could completely scrap your engine. But what you could possibly do when you have bleach in gas tank? Well, that’s what we are going to cover in the following chapter.

What You Need To Do If You Have Bleach In Gas Tank?

Now let’s say that you have bleach in gas tank. What you should do in this case? Let’s elaborate on this in detail of what should be your next steps.

The simplest thing you can do in this situation is to stop the car and call a tow. Bleach is somewhat corrosive and needs to be removed from the gas tank. Normally, if you want to resume driving the vehicle. If you run your car with a considerable level of bleach. It will corrode your gas tank as well as the fuel lines, fuel filter, fuel pump, and other important components.

So, to clean it off, the fuel tank has to be removed and washed thoroughly as well as the fuel pump. When these components are fully cleaned. There is a relatively low chance that the engine could get damaged.

Modern cars are using plastic fuel tanks and corrosion is not that great of a threat. But there are a ton of rubber seals on the fuel pump and overall in the fuel system that can corrode and get damaged from this condition of bleach in gas tank. That’s why cleaning it thoroughly and pouring fresh fuel will guarantee that the problem is resolved.

Cost To Fix Bleach In Gas Tank

Now let’s see what is the cost to fix this problem of bleach in gas tank. How much will probably cost you to fix this problem permanently?

Well, it’s not cheap. This is the case because the whole fuel tank needs to be removed and washed. Along the fuel lines that need to be cleaned and the fuel filter replaced. All this work is laborious and could cost you a good penny. About $500 will be the minimum for this type of work. And even more in some cases depending much on the shop where you take your car to.

If you do it by yourself, you can expect to pay about $50 for a new filter and that would be it. But this normally requires tools and other equipment that you need to get this work done.

Can I Keep Driving Like This With Bleach In Gas Tank?

But can you keep driving with bleach in gas tank? The answer to that question really depends much on the level of bleach that is inside the gas tank.

If it’s a small amount of bleach, then you surely be able to drive your car like this. Just top off the fuel tank so the octane level is not ruined and the car will just work fine. The water deposits will burn and evaporate.

Bleach In Gas Tank

But if you have a steel tank, cleaning the tank or replacing it would be the right way. If you want to remove the rust that has accumulated because of the bleach in gas tank.

Bleach in a Gas Tank Facts:

  • Adding bleach to a gas tank can cause a visual change in the car and cause the car to stop running and refuse to start again.
  • The length of time the car will run with bleach in the tank depends on the amount of fuel left in the tank.
  • Bleach is made up of chlorine and water, and chlorine is a corrosive oxidizer that will pre-burn or oxidize the fuel before it reaches the engine.
  • Driving a car with bleach in the gas tank for a short time can cause minimal damage, but if it stays too long, it can cause toxic sediments in the vent valve and combustion chamber.
  • A biofuel additive like ethyl-alcohol can be used to absorb the bleach residue.
  • Long-term exposure to bleach can corrode and destroy metal and rubber parts in the fuel system, including the fuel injector, fuel pump, and evaporation control system.
  • The amount of bleach needed to completely destroy an engine is large, but pouring a reasonable amount into the tank and driving the car for a long time can cause damage.
  • Pouring an entire gallon of bleach into the tank with a small amount of fuel can destroy the engine within 5 to 10 minutes.
  • If you suspect or know that bleach has been added to your gas tank, do not start the car, and flush the entire fuel system.
  • It is never a good idea to add bleach to a gas tank, and doing so can cause extensive and costly damage to your vehicle.

Conclusion To Bleach In Gas Tank

In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the bleach in gas tank. We learned what this problem is and what are the effects of bleach in your gas tank. And the effects are not good. Even though you might face some increase in combustion from this chemical. The result will be detrimental to the components in your fuel system. Mainly because there will be a lot of rust development inside of the engine.

Then we covered the symptoms of this situation, there will be smoke, weird noises, engine misfires, and more. The clearest symptom that indicates a problem with bleach in gas tank is the smell of bleach that will be felt inside of the cabin.

Lastly, we covered how you can sort this problem by cleaning the fuel tank. As well as cleaning the fuel lines. It’s not a cheap job but it has to be done. In order for you to return the car to OEM spec.

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