Letter: Canned Gasoline Question

Hi, I ran across this canned gasoline at my local Walmart that was available in both 2-stroke and 4-stroke. (I’ve included a pic, which also shows the price.) My question would be about the viability of using the 4-stroke as an emergency fuel for my car, keeping one in the trunk “for just in case”and a few in the shed for long-term storage. Although quite expensive, the octane is correct. I am amazed at the claimed shelf life of five years in the can and two years in the tank. I was under the impression the even with Sta-bil added, gasoline would only be usable for maybe two years. Are you familiar with this fuel? If so, do you know how it’s able to last so long and if it safe for a car?

HJL’s Comment:

It is my understanding that the life of gasoline is determined by how long the more volatile components, like butane, will stay absorbed by the heavier compounds. As they evaporate, the gas becomes unusable. Five years seems like a long time for storage to me, but I’m sure some of our readers will have more of an idea.


  1. The reason this has such a long shelf life is it is in a metal can with a metal seal on the cap. Unlike plastic cans that allow some air transfer through the plastic, thus also allowing the lighter butane and such to escape, metal is impermeable to the gases. Basically they are trapped and the shelf life is based more on the breakdown of the carbon chains then lose of light volatiles

    1. Simply go to your local small airport and buy yourself some aviation fuel. High octane and 8+ year shelf life without having to add any stabilizers. There’s non of that crap in it you buy at the gas station. You can store your equipment with out draining or “winterizing” it. It’ll start right up next spring. Your small engines will LOVE it!! (The exhaust smells good too!!)

  2. As an ASE certified Master Mechanic for almost 40 years now I can honestly say that good quality gasoline (not that alcohol added junk) can last up to 10 years if stored in a metal or high density polyethylene container with a good additive like “Pri-G” added. You must have a perfectly sealed lid on it to prevent vapor leaks. I personally have stored gasoline for up to 15 years and used it in my truck with no ill effects using “Pri-G” additive. Just to add I do not work for or get any kind of commission from this company. It is just the best one in my opinion.

  3. I use the 50:1 canned fuel for all my small engines because of our ethanol issues from regular gas, i have not had a single problem since using it.Quick starts in the spring, smoother running and better performance….for me its a great product, no more mixing oil and gas.I don’t know about 5 years but some i have is 3 years.

  4. After trashing all my 2 stroke engines due to ethanol fouling, I switched to only using the 2 stroke version, and have been using them for several years with no issues. The longest claimed shelf life I have seen is 3 years… I would be skeptical of 5.

    Though not directly related to this topic, here is a useful link with regard to Ethanol and recommended additives (note only Sta-bil and Star*tron pass muster):


  5. Love Trufuel for all my chainsaws, weed eaters, and blowers. Easy starting and no costly shop bills from ethanol gas. Usually try to keep at least 5 gallons on hand at all times. I have been thinking about having some 4 cycle on hand as a “just in case”.

  6. Yesterday my son rotated 5 gallons of standard 85 Octane unleaded from 2014. It was in surplus European fuel cans and treated with PRI-G.

    That fuel ran just fine. We’ve burned older gas put up similarly before without any problems. If it’s older than about 8 years we try to cut it half and half with fresher gas- if we remember that is 🙂

  7. Some of you may have seen the premixed 2 cycle fuel for high prices. My local small engine dealer informs me that this is alcohol free gas with 2 cycle oil mixed in. They achieve the same result by using aviation fuel (100 low lead) with 2 cycle oil.
    Plastic containers allow the slow escape of the lighter fractions. Try using a tightly sealed metal container with marine or aviation fuel.

  8. I am currently using gasoline purchased in 2012. I use a food grade plastic 35 gallon barrel and buy gas without ethanol and treat with Stabil as per directions. I would not normally keep it that long, but I got sick for a couple years.

  9. I store gas in the red plastic 5 gallon jugs in my insulated unheated garage, temperature swings between 20 and 70 degrees depending on the time of year. I currently am using a can from 6/2014 of premium 91 octane stabilized gas in my ATV is use for irrigating.
    The gas works fine but the motor is hard starting in the morning.

    1. It may not be available in your area, however, if you look around, there may be some vendors that have a posted sign at the dispenser stating that their high octane (usually 91 or 93 octane) gasoline contains no ethanol.

      Checking websites may also be useful for finding non-E-10 fuels.

    2. Try your local Walmart, in farming/ranching communities. We have one such Walmart south of San Antonio ( Devine, TX.) that offers non-ethanol regular unleaded. It costs about the same as premium, but worth it.

    3. by the lake. Boaters seem to avoid the ethanol. I can get non ethanol for same price and the other if i drive 12 miles to the lake gas station

  10. Word of warning aviation fuel is leaded, the designation is 100ll or lead laden. Most older small aircraft burned leaded fuel and lead is still added that is the reason for the high cost. Most small engines will love it but it will have a bad effect on catalytic converters if you use it for more than emergency use.

  11. 100 low lead aviation fuel isn’t good for fuel injected automobile engines. Low lead aviation fuel has about 100 times more lead then low lead car fuel. It will plug up the injectors.

  12. I agree with Mike in above comments.
    Sta-bil is not the be-all-end-all for gas treatment.
    Pri-G is the way to go. Overdose (double the recommended amount) your gas with Pri-G and you’re good to go. I regularly use 5 year old gasoline treated this way. I rotate a collection of 10, 5 gallon containers like this and have never had a problem.

  13. Year ago, during the fuel embargo due to the US coming to Israels aid, people were putting gas in cans in their trunk “Just In Case”.

    Several got into wrecks and the loose cans bouncing around during such caused a number of problems (FIRE).

    I was dispatched from the hospital I was assigned to, to meet an aircraft from another base. I did and the dental records they flew in let to the positive ID of the driver of a car, involved in a wreck, with a gas can in the trunk.

    I really can’t recommend carrying a can of gas in the trunk “Just In Case”.

  14. I have a few 5 gal poly cans stored in the shed, in the Texas heat. I had some filled and dated 9/13, almost 4 years old and none was treated with anything and it all looked and ran perfect. I used some the other day in the push mower and ride mower (both were out of gas) with no ill efftects, and poured the rest in my truck. Just my 2 cents. God Bless!

    1. Our gasoline is about that old, too, with no ill effects for all our motorized equipment even when the temperatures average around 10 degrees. The fella who delivered our gasoline (stored in 500 gallon farm tanks above ground) told us Stabil wasn’t necessary as the alcohol content acted as the preservative. These days there is so much conflicting information out there and I am always leary of marketing gimmicks, so since this advice did not require us to buy more stuff, I’m inclined to go with it.

  15. I have used ethanol free gasoline E91 with PRI G for decades. pI personally had two five gallon USGI metal cans with fuel which was eleven years old (labeled when filled and then misplaced in a corner of barn) It was taken out and I ran it in a generator, mower, and then even mixed up a 50 to 1 batch of two cycle mix for a chain saw and blower. All ran fine with no ill effects. The gasoline at time of storage was winter blend.

  16. It doesn’t seem like anybody answered the first part of the original question, about: “viability of using the 4-stroke as an emergency fuel for my car”. I’m curious too. Would the minor amount of oil a gallon or two of 2 or 4 stroke gas cause any lingering problems in my car? Would I even notice any difference (minor smoking?)?

  17. Years ago, I ran out of gas at midnight on the NJ Turnpike in my 8 cylinder 1985 Thunderbird. I carried cans of dry gas which I would put in every several thousand miles to absorb water in the gas tank. Desperate, I dumped in my two cans of dry gas. The engine started up and I got to a gas station about 5 miles away. I don’t know if they still manufacture and sell this product.

  18. If you guys canget it aviation 100 low lead will last over 10 years in a tank. I have started aircraft which have been stored for that long with gas in their tanks by adding a battery. aircraft dealer, test pilot and mechanic.

  19. there is mis-information in earlier post regarding modern vehicles vs avgas/leaded gasoline. Leaded fuel is not going to do anything bad to your fuel injectors. It may have a negative effect on your catalyic converters when used long term. One tank, to get yourself saved from an out-of-fuel emergency isn’t going to cause any big problems.

    Leaded fuel will cause problems for oxygen sensors, and this is really the big reason that a person would not want to run leaded fuel in a modern, computer controlled vehicle.

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