Is watered-down gas a real problem?

Watered-down gas is a concern among United States drivers and often occurs in gas stations in rural areas. Sometimes gas stations will dilute high-grade fuel with low-grade fuel, and other times natural wear and tear to equipment cause watered-down gas. Driving a car with gas that's watered-down can cause serious damage over time, so make sure you know what to do if you have watered-down gas.

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UPDATED: Dec 20, 2021

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Written By: Chris TepedinoReviewed By: Laura WalkerUPDATED: Dec 20, 2021Fact Checked

The Rundown

  • Watered-down gas causes anxiety in a lot of U.S. drivers
  • The risk associated with watered-down gas is low unless used for long periods
  • Watered-down gas should be reported to the gas station manager; be sure to note the number on the gas pump

Watered-down gas is a common concern among United States drivers. Many people believe that easily accessible gas stations that are right off the highway water down their gas.

While this may or may not be accurate or on purpose, some gas tanks or reservoirs naturally retain water if not properly maintained. Also, some gas stations have been known to sell regular fuel at premium prices.

A car gasoline engine running on watered-down gas may develop problems such as running rough or misfiring. Naturally, car issues may lead to increased car insurance rates, so it is best to be informed before you run into any problems.

Keep reading to learn more about whether watered-down gas is a real problem, including how to identify when gas is watered-down, and how to properly dispose of it.

Before reading further about the issue of watered-down gas, enter your ZIP code into our free online tool for car insurance quotes from companies near you.

Do gas stations have watered-down gas?

Can gas be watered-down? Whether unintentional or on purpose, gas stations across the United States have been known to have contaminated or watered-down gas.

Gas stations have underground gas reservoirs or storage tanks in which they hold their supply of gas. Water contamination occurs when the tanks or reservoirs are not entirely sealed, have a loose cover latch or a leak in the tank.

Modern gas storage tanks typically include an alert system that monitors gas for water contamination. This feature is designed to prevent drivers from buying watered-down gas or over-paying for diluted gas.

Unfortunately, it is also common to find a gas station diluting higher-grade gas with lower-grade gas to increase profits.

You will often find this happening in remote locations where a gas station is the only one around. Without competition, a gas station may have more room to do what it wants.

Regardless of how the contamination or dilution occurred, watered-down gas is harmful to your car and can negatively impact the way it functions.

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How do I know if a gas station has watered-down gas?

Typically, your car’s performance is the only way to know if a gas station has watered-down gas. But you won’t know it before you pump the watered-down gas into your gas tank.

Although your car shouldn’t run on watered-down gas, there won’t be immediate damage to it if it does. However, more severe damage may occur if you run your vehicle on watered-down gas for long periods.

Any damage to your car will be reflected in your car insurance rates, even with the best insurance companies.

You should know some symptoms of running your car on watered-down gas.

After pumping gas, the main thing to pay attention to is how your vehicle is performing. If you notice that your car’s performance is unusually rough and labored after a fill-up, this usually indicates watered-down gas.

You may also notice your car doing a lot of jerking or hesitation when accelerating or driving. In this situation, call the phone number listed on the gas pump to report the dilution and notify the station’s superiors.

It would be best if you also mentioned your suspicions to the gas station manager. Whether accidental or on-purpose, watered-down gas is an issue that should be taken care of as soon as possible.

How should I dispose of watered-down gas?

Because watered-down gas negatively impacts the performance of your car, you should minimize the amount of time spent running your vehicle on it. Thus, it is essential to dispose of watered-down gas properly.

The amount of water in your gas will determine how you fix it.

If there is a small amount of water, you can usually buy a fuel additive that removes moisture from the gas. However, these additives are not always able to do the job.

If you have a lot of water in your gas tank, you will need to drain all the gas from the tank and refill it. Because most people do not have the means of performing this task independently, we recommend visiting a mechanic.

Seeing a mechanic is an expensive option, but it will save you the money to repair your car’s engine from damage caused by watered-down gas.

Watered-Down Gas: The Bottom Line

Do gas stations have watered-down gas? Unfortunately, watered-down gas may be a common occurrence in some gas stations.

Water mixed with gasoline may be the result of natural wear and tear to a gas station’s holding tanks and reservoirs. However, some gas stations have been known to dilute gas and sell it at premium prices purposefully for a profit.

Regardless of how the dilution happened, watered-down gas is ultimately detrimental to your car. If you fill your tank with watered-down gas, you should know how to dispose of it properly.

If you need to dispose of watered-down gas, there are a few ways in which you could do so. You may choose to drain and refill the tank on your own or take your car to a professional mechanic.

It is also critical that you call the number on the gas pump and talk with the gas station manager to notify them of the watered-down gas issues. This will save the station and drivers from using watered-down gas in the future.

With more understanding of watered-down gas, enter your ZIP code into our free online tool for instant car insurance quotes from companies near you.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by insurance experts.

Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about home, life, and car insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and C...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent Laura Walker

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