What Happens if you Put Sugar in a Gas Tank?

Mary Poppins always said that a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down, but this sadly isn’t the case with your car’s gas tank. Sugar in your gas tank might not destroy your car, but it can lead to costly cleaning for your car’s engine.

In this article, you’ll read about the signs that there is sugar in your gas tank. You’ll also learn about what you need to do when the sugar damages your car’s engine.

Different ways sugar can end up in your gas tank

Thankfully, there aren’t many ways that sugar naturally ends up in your gas tank. Sugar isn’t involved in the car manufacturing process. The closest that sugar could get to your car was maybe the milk chocolate that a random factory worker ate during their break.

The most infamous way that sugar can get into your gas tank is part of a prank. Someone deliberately pouring sugar into your gas tank is the easiest way for it to happen.

Symptoms of sugar in gas tank

There are different symptoms to look out for if you suspect there might be sugar in your gas tank. Some of these symptoms might be more obvious than others.

1) Engine stalls

In some cases, the fuel transmission lines can become completely clogged. This can lead to your car’s engine stalling when you try to drive faster.

Your car might also struggle when it idles. In some situations, the car might also lurch forwards and backwards. The car will also stall right after being restarted.

2) Car refuses to start

In most cases, sugar in gas tanks will lead to the car refusing to start. Excessive clogs from sugar in gas tanks can block the engine’s access to fuel.

A lot of the time, you’ll see that the engine won’t start at all. At other times, the engine might turn over when turning the ignition. But that’s all that will happen.

If you keep trying to start the engine, you could wear out the battery. This will lead to a clicking sound when the engine is trying to start. It’s also possible that there could be damage to the components under the hood, engine, and alternator.

3) There are power surges during acceleration

The clogging from sugar in gas tank’s leads to less fuel being used by the car’s engine. This will lead to power surges when enough fuel can be used for combustion. Then when the acceleration will be slowed because of the sugar clogs.

4) Failing fuel pump

Sometimes the sugar in your gas tank might caramelise on your fuel pump system. This can happen when the fuel filter is after the fuel pump.

When there is enough sugar buildup over a long time, the fuel pump can stop working. This can lead to your car refusing to start. In some situations, you might hear your pump make a whining and squealing sound. There might also be some unusual sounds when the sugar starts forming a coat.

5) Your car doesn’t perform as well as it used to

Sometimes, you might not notice the obvious symptoms of sugar in your gas tank. But you might notice that there might be something slightly off with your car. This is a less obvious symptom that there is sugar in your gas tank.

Because of the fuel flow in your car, the sugar grains can make their way to the engine. The sugar could be affected by the heat in the cylinders, pistons, and valves in the engine. This can caramelisation will lead to a sugar coating on the engine.

Here is what will happen if you put sugar in a gas tank

When sugar is poured into a car’s gas tank, it won’t cause as much damage as water in the gas tank. The sugar won’t dissolve and settle at the bottom of the gas tank.

The fuel flow in the car will affect the way sugar behaves in your car’s engine. If enough sugar goes into a gas engine, it could lead to a clog that decreases the effectiveness of fuel filters. But remember, it will take multiple pounds of sugar for this to happen.

Sugar in petrol tank

There is the myth that pouring sugar will have a negative reaction to the petrol in your car’s tank. Instead, what will happen is the sugar will settle at the bottom of the petrol tank.

The most damage that can happen is the sugar forming a sticky coating. Plenty of sugar can also damage the fuel filters in your car’s system.

Sugar in a diesel fuel tank

Sugar in a diesel fuel tank will have similar to pouring sugar in a gas and petrol tank. The sugar won’t dissolve and settle at the bottom of the tank.

How much sugar in a gas tank will ruin it?

The estimate is that at least a teaspoon of sugar for every 15 gallons (ca. 57 l) of gas can ruin your engine. If you don’t notice sugar in your gas tank in time, the sugar will be able to make its way through the car’s engine.

The sugar in the car’s engine will then dissolve and caramelise. This will lead to the sugar forming a semi-solid and sticky coating that could harm parts of your car’s engine.

Will sugar in a gas tank ruin an engine?

Sugar in a car’s gas tank is never a good thing, and it can lead to problems in your car. But it won’t completely destroy your car’s engine.

It won’t cause as much damage as having water poured in your gas tank. While sugar is in the gas tank, it won’t dissolve. It will instead settle at the bottom of the tank.

Can sugar in gas tank be fixed?

The simple answer is yes, you can fix your fuel tank after sugar was poured inside. You might be able to clean your car’s fuel tank by yourself if there is a lot of sugar in your tank. But you will be able to hire a mechanic to help you clean out all the sugar.

What to do if there is sugar in your gas tank

When you realise that there is sugar in your gas tank, your first question might be, “What do I do if there is sugar in my gas tank?”

Your first choice might be to clean out the gas tank and affected engine components manually. The fuel tank will need to be taken out from the car. You will also need to disconnect the tank from the lines and pump.

You and your mechanic will need to remove as much fuel as possible before doing this. This help reduce the risk of being exposed to fume. It will also make the tank lighter. 

To do this, you’ll need to put the fuel tank on a surface level. You can then siphon the leftover fuel from the tank. Then you’ll need to use a pressurised hose to clean the tank. After that, you can use a vacuum to get rid of any sugar, debris, or rust that’s left in the tank.

The last step involves cleaning out the sugar from the gas tank and wiping down the interior. After cleaning out, you should let it dry out for a minimum of one hour. This is to allow extra moisture to evaporate.


Is putting sugar in a gas tank a felony?

The short answer is that yes, pouring sugar in someone’s gas tank is considered a crime. It is considered a serious crime if you endanger the life of the car’s owner or the driver. This is what makes putting sugar in someone’s gas tank a dangerous prank.

Car engines are particularly sensitive. This means that having sugar in your engine could lead to serious problems. If you don’t want to risk getting a criminal record and hurting someone, then you might want to consider using another prank.

How much it cost to get sugar out of gas tank?

The process to get sugar out of your car’s gas tank can be a long and complex process. This will depend on how much sugar was poured into your gas tank.

You will need to get your car to a professional mechanic. You’ll need to take your car to a mechanic. If your car refuses to start, you might need to have your car towed to the nearest mechanic.

The process of cleaning out all the sugar from your gas tank can cost between $200 to $300 for this service. This might be a lot of money to someone who was the victim of this prank.

Someone put sugar in my gas tank, will insurance cover?

This will depend on your insurance policy. In some cases, insurance companies might cover this. This can happen if your car’s break down is because of the sugar poured in your car’s fuel tank.

Sometimes insurance companies might consider sugar in a gas tank as vandalism. The vandalism can be filed under comprehensive insurance. You might still be required to pay your deductible while the insurance pays what’s left of the bill.

You’ll need to check with your own insurance provider if they will cover the damage caused by sugar in your gas tank.

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Author: DJ

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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