Most of the year, the weather is nice, and getting our classic rides out of the garage is a foregone conclusion — if the sun is out, so is the car. During this time of frequent driving, we put a lot of fuel through the carburetor or EFI. But other than religiously buying the highest-octane pump gas we can find, how much thought do we really put into the fuel we feed our rides?
The quality of fuel available to hot rodders has been hotly debated in recent years, and keeping your vehicle running at peak performance can sometimes be a difficult task. The market is flush with additives and octane boosters, but are they really necessary? To find out why including a fuel additive can be a great resource for enthusiasts, we reached out to Bob Galuska, brand manager at STA-BIL.
The STA-BIL Storage fuel additive is formulated to protect the fuel from deterioration for up to two years. This is a good thing for enthusiasts because our cars tend to sit in the garage more than they are driven. Adding a fuel stabilizer means the fuel will remain at full strength and not varnish or gum up the internals of your engine. To combat the effects of stagnant fuel, we have even heard of enthusiasts draining the fuel from the car’s tank before extended storage. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily a good thing. If the tank is empty, condensation can form, and rust will occur. Nobody wants rust in their fuel tank. Adding STA-BIL eliminates the need to drain your fuel before storing the engine. Worried about rust and the dreaded corrosion caused by today’s blended fuels? STA-BIL also protects fuel systems when used in today’s ethanol blends as well.
Even if long-term storage of your ride is not on your agenda, did you know gas can go bad very quickly? According to Bob, “Gas will start to degrade as soon as it leaves the refinery. Think of it almost like purchasing milk. You buy it and it has a ‘best by’ date. Yes, it could last a few days past that date, but best practice is to use it before its expiration date. Gas is the same way. It leaves the refinery, and by the time it is at the pump — whether it is ethanol or non-ethanol fuel — it is already degrading. What’s more, depending on the quality of the base fuel, it could go bad in as little as 30 days.
“What we are seeing today, is people are getting a month to a gallon, they should really fill their tank full of fresh gas and add STA-BIL when the gas is fresh. Adding STA-BIL in two months, after it is been sitting, is only going to keep the gas as fresh as it currently is, it will not bring back any lost flammability to the fuel that may have been lost.”
There are various STA-BIL products available, and if you’re confused about which is best for your needs, here’s a short answer: The original Fuel Stabilizer (red) is specifically designed for storing fuel rather than for use at each fill-up. Many classic cars are stored for 30 days or more, and they require a stabilizer to keep fuel from causing damage. Therefore, the use of STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer is recommended in cars that are used infrequently to prevent fuel from causing corrosion and gum/varnish formation. The stabilizer works with all gasoline, including ethanol blends.
STA-BIL’s 360 Protection additive is a product designed for use during every fill-up to protect against the harmful effects of ethanol found in today’s fuels. It’s no secret that ethanol attracts water, deteriorates fuel faster, corrodes metal, and can damage rubber and plastic parts. Hence, the need for corrosion protection and a powerful fuel-system cleaner. The addition of 360 Protection will keep fuel fresh for short-term storage or infrequent use, but the STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer is still recommended for any extended storage lasting more than a year.
There is also a Marine formula, that is designed for — you guessed it — boats. It contains a higher concentration of anti-corrosion and rust inhibitors as well as water removers for effective use in these environments. It is still usable in all two- and four-cycle gasoline engines and is safe for use in any engine that requires ethanol-blended gas. If planning on using a marine vehicle for the season on a daily or almost-daily basis, 1 ounce of marine formula per every 10 gallons of fuel used is recommended.
“The overall reason to use STA-BIL is, piece of mind,” Bob affirms. “For a couple of cents per gallon, it is simple to keep your gas fresh, the fuel system clean, corrosion controlled, and the water removed. Don’t try saving the couple of cents it costs to use STA-BIL, or you may end up spending a lot more money on new fuel pumps, tanks, carburetors, injectors, and all the other fuel system components. If you use the 360 product at every fill-up (1oz to 5 gallons), it is cheap insurance to keep your ride starting, so you can enjoy your next adventure every time.”
Finally, the folks at STA-BIL want you to know it is not just for classic cars or enthusiasts. During COVID-19 your daily driver may be sitting more than normal. Starting the car or taking it for a short drive is not a way of keeping your gas fresh. If the gas is in the tank longer than 30 days, it’s degrading. STA-BIL 360 provides benefits for daily drivers as well as increased fuel economy, fuel system cleaning, water removal, and corrosion control. Basically, anything that takes gas, it is recommended to include STA-BIL as a cheap insurance policy that your fuel system is always protected.