Fuel! You forgot to take care of the fuel before parking your bike. Instead of getting ready to get on the bike once the sun peeks out, you freak out about the gas damage to your bike. Maybe you don’t really care. It’s only been a few months and you think fuel stabilizer is just another elixir made by corporate bigwigs to get your money. Well, that’s not entirely true.
The fuel stabilizer is a very important component for proper storage of bicycles. Without it, there’s a good chance that modern fuels will cause you problems. Problems you need to address if you want this bike to perform the way it was designed.
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What happens to the fuel when it sits?
Ethanol gasoline is volatile and hygroscopic. As it sits, the fuel naturally evaporates as the water is absorbed. After so long, you will end up with a mixture that is not optimal for combustion.
An interesting result of fuel sitting too long is that the octane rating will drop. If you can even run the bike on old fuel, chances are your engine will detonate and run poorly.
That’s not all, however. The evaporating gas will also leave behind a varnish that is not going anywhere fast. This residue will build up throughout the fuel system and you will need to deal with it in extreme cases. As if that were not enough, the collected water can cause corrosion of metal parts.
Long story short, you can use a stabilizer to eliminate or minimize these issues when parking the bike for a period of time. It’s also best to get out and start the bike once in a while to get things going.
What is fuel stabilizer?
Fuel stabilizer is and is not a miracle product. In reality, it is just a simple chemical mixture of lubricants and antioxidants that prevents fuel from evaporating and absorbing water. Anytime you store a bike, or any other vehicle for that matter, you want to add a fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from going stale.
For the most part, it does what it’s supposed to do, and bike owners rely on it because of its efficiency. However, you really need to use good gas to start getting the most out of it.
And like everything, fuel stabilizers have limitations. You can’t expect them to work miracles. Some claim to work for up to 24 months, and you can trust that within reason. However, if the bike is stored outdoors or hasn’t been maintained properly, you may still need to run the fuel system before that first ride anyway.
How long can fuel sit?
Not all gases are the same. Some fuels can last several months before deteriorating while others will expire within weeks. This is why it is important to buy your gasoline from a reputable station. Even then, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and put on a stabilizer whenever you plan on letting the bike sit for a few weeks or more.
On that note, just because you’re paying for premium fuel at a crap gas station doesn’t mean you’re buying better fuel. There are no extra additives or miracle blends coming out of this nozzle. It’s just higher octane fuel, which your bike might not need anyway.
If you want to know more, you can read all about How Long Does Gas Last Here.
Will the treatments reverse the effects?
There are treatments designed to reverse the effects of time on gas. If it’s only been a few weeks and the bike seems to be running relatively well, you might be able to lean on them. Is this sufficient for your standards? It depends.
If the bike has been sitting for months and no stabilizer has been added, your best bet is to get rid of it completely. Drain the fuel system and add fresh gas to ensure there is no chance of stale fuel flowing through your system.
In extreme cases, you will need to clean the entire fuel system. This fuel leaves behind a varnish that is now all over the work pieces. Fresh gas might clean it up, but there’s really no promise of that.
Since fuels degrade at different rates and the condition of your bike as a result can vary, there is no definitive time frame for a bike to settle down to warrant a thorough cleaning. Unless it’s been a few years, skip ahead to cleaning the entire fuel system. You can’t rule out doing it even if it’s been a few months since it’s unclear what to expect.
Each time you drain the fuel, inspect the gas condition and take a look inside the tank to determine the best course of action. If the fuel is excessively cloudy and you can see varnish inside the tank, you know you have work ahead of you.
What needs to be cleaned?
Cleaning the fuel system is a simple job, but you have to be thorough. It’s easy to worry about just the tank, but that old fuel is looking to cause trouble wherever it is. So take care of the tank, but don’t forget any of the other internal cogs.
In case you are dealing with an older bike, you have to go through the carburetor. Varnish and grime can easily accumulate in the jets and many other small passages, which is sure to bog this bike down. The majority of you who love fuel injection don’t get off easily either. The injectors and the pump must also be cleaned.
As long as the fuel lines are in good condition, you may be able to reuse them, but it’s usually best to replace them. It’s just one less thing to worry about, and that way you know there’s no chance of dirt getting through the system. While you’re at it, you might as well replace any seals and o-rings you come across to make sure you don’t run into any leaks.
Motorcycle Fuel Stabilizer FAQ
You have questions. The reader has answers.
Q. Can you mix new gas with old gas?
A. You can simply add fresh gasoline to the tank to revitalize the old fuel. It’s not your best option, though, as that old gas will bog down the quality of any new duel you add. It’s best to just drain the tank, get rid of the old gas, and run only fresh fuel through the system.
Q. How often should you start your motorcycle?
A. Once a week and let it run for 15 minutes. This will ensure fuel is flowing through the system, preventing it from sitting down and causing problems. Also, just as importantly, it will prevent gaskets and seals from remaining dry, causing them to shrink and crack.
Q. What is considered old gas?
A. Any gas that has sat for 30 days is considered old. Now, you can argue with that if you’re using high-quality fuel, but there’s no place to take chances on something you pick up at a dodgy gas station with suspiciously low fuel prices.
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