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Shelf life of Diesel Fuel?

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Knowing, from observing many various past threads, that there are a number of resident 'petrolheads' here......  😉

Have just come in to possession of two 5 gallon jerry cans filled with, pretty much 100% sure, diesel fuel.

BUT also pretty sure they have been sitting filled like this for over a year at least. 

Any quick comments from anyone here IF the stuff wil be safe to pour the stuff as is straight into the tank of our own 2012 turbo diesel saloon? OR is there some sort of 'shelf life' to diesel?

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Motor fuels are full of all sorts of stuff, including detergents and anti foaming agents. It's unlikely a mix of chemicals like that would remain time stable. I'm sure you could check on google though and find out.

What I find best in these sorts of circumstances is to mitigate the effects. So I would just put in a small amount each time I filled up the tank. If you do say 1 gallon at a time or so that's probably a 10% mix and not too much hassle. Note this is not a guarantee that it will not cause issues ! You get free, unqualified stuff that could have any old crap in it and shove it in your car you take your chances. I wouldn't do it just before an MOT. This is especially true since modern cars are quite sensitive to fuel formulation. With older diesels its a different story.

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Ive kept diesel in Jerry cans for over a year and I wouldn’t recommend it unless stabiliser / anti-fungal has been added. Believe it or not stuff actually grows in standing diesel and you end up with a brown sludge at the bottom. If you can filter what’s in the cans then it’s fine to use in the car, mixing it with fresh diesel. If you just pour it straight in and it contains sludge then it could clog your fuel filter or at the very least lessen its life.

Also, after you empty the cans you’ll probably need to clean them if they have been standing for a while. The gunk tends to stick to the bottom.

Max I’d keep untreated diesel for is about 6 months and even then keep an eye out for gunk when you use it and clean the cans after.

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On 04/04/2019 at 14:16, EMac said:

Ive kept diesel in Jerry cans for over a year and I wouldn’t recommend it unless stabiliser / anti-fungal has been added. Believe it or not stuff actually grows in standing diesel and you end up with a brown sludge at the bottom. If you can filter what’s in the cans then it’s fine to use in the car, mixing it with fresh diesel. If you just pour it straight in and it contains sludge then it could clog your fuel filter or at the very least lessen its life.

Also, after you empty the cans you’ll probably need to clean them if they have been standing for a while. The gunk tends to stick to the bottom.

Max I’d keep untreated diesel for is about 6 months and even then keep an eye out for gunk when you use it and clean the cans after.

Thanks for that.  I have been quite surprised to learn this, and seeing similar comments searching elsewhere. Whilst not expecting it to last forever I was a little shocked to learn that the shelf life could be so short.

What I haven't been able to find out thus far though, for future reference and not this lot of fuel i have come into possession of, is how long does the stuff last IF these stabilisers / anti-fungals are added to the fuel at time of purchase and original storing.

Finally...assuming then that the steel jerry cans in question have now accumulated such gunk sitting at their bottoms, as you describe, then when finally emptied what should be used to wash out the gunk?  a bit of petrol? or something else?

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I guess there’s not much info about how long it could last because there are so many variables and not many have tried/studied the subject in depth. I would guess you could extend the life out to a few years in ideal conditions but if you did that you’d probably want to keep an eye on its integrity and clarity every so often. As long as you filter out the ‘bits’ that may form I think you can still make use of it but it might not give the power that fresh diesel would.

For cleaning I’ve just used water so as not to leave any residue of anything in there (obviously let it dry thoroughly) but petrol might be ok too. The difficult bit is getting in there to scrub any stubborn deposits off - I had a thought that maybe a jet wash on low power would do the trick but prepare to get wet from the blow back!

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I had such a jerrycan of diesel in the shed (after a threatened tanker drivers strike back around 2012). It developed strands of fungus type stuff after a year or so. I just filtered it out through some multiply folded old tights and added it a couple of litres a time to a tank almost full of fresh diesel. Never had any problems, ran fine. it was a common rail turbo diesel with a catalytic converter too (Focus 1.8). 

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What about shelf life of petrol?

I have a motorbike, but rarely use it - currently not insured. Is starting it up, pushing it outside hence sloshing the fuel about, ok?

The fuel is from last Sept.. I could just run it until it's out of fuel. I've got jerry cans to refill when I need it.

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