Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. How Long Does a Fuel Tank Last?

How Long Does a Fuel Tank Last?

fuel tank

The fuel tank is responsible for holding the gas or diesel that runs the vehicle. Obviously, this job is very important. On top of being extremely inconvenient, a leaking or faulty fuel tank is downright hazardous. Gas vapor is a big contributor to smog, and will ignite easily in the right concentration. Liquid gas is flammable (and should be cleaned up whenever it’s spilled), but it is still much more stable than vaporized gas. For these reasons, fuel tanks need to be reliable and have to last a significant amount of time. Modern cars have fuel tanks made of lightweight plastic materials. What a tank is made out of is a big factor in the lifespan of the fuel tank.

What are fuel tanks made out of?

Car manufacturers have been using coated steel fuel tanks in vehicles since the early days of automotive production. A tin-lead coating prevents corrosion and ensures the tank will last for years. For applications where weight was a concern, aluminum serves as a good alternative to steel. For the last couple of decades, the use of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) has been gaining in popularity.

HDPE is a type of plastic that is strong, durable, and resistant enough to shock and extreme temperatures to be used for such a crucial part. Because HDPE is so malleable and flexible when it is warm, it can be formed into very complex shapes to perfectly fit wherever there is space under the car. This means manufacturers can place the tank in a spot that is more resistant to puncturing in the event of an accident. Since there are no seams in the tank, there are no weak points that may break if the tank flexes.

How long does each type last?

For metal fuel tanks, the minimum that manufacturers aim for is 10 years of use. Now there will be some variance in how long each material might last individually, either coated steel or aluminum, but unless there is some external damage done to the tank then it will last at least a decade. Some tanks last for decades, so metal tanks only need to be replaced if they are damaged or if they have corroded severely.

HDPE fuel tanks can potentially last a very long time, as the plastic is not prone to corroding and can flex slightly when put under pressure. HDPE itself was developed specifically to contain harsh chemicals and is used to hold chemicals significantly more dangerous than gasoline, so in that respect tanks made of HDPE are over-engineered. Durability wise, they will last at least 10 years with the average being above that. The worst enemy of HDPE is shock and extreme temperature, but the material is durable enough to deal with average wear and tear.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...
Auto Safety Tips
Driving is more than a way to get from point A to point B. Owning and driving a car can also be a highly enjoyable experience. Whether a person is driving...

Related questions

Q: Gas gauge not registering fuel level

Hi there, and thanks for asking about the problem with your 2016 Lexus RX450H. This doesn't sound like a tank problem, but rather the scenario where the tank includes 2 fuel gauge sensors, and 2 fuel pumps - a fairly...

Q: When Should I Have the Fuel System Inspected?

There are many parts to a fuel system but only a few that actually can be inspected visually or otherwise on most vehicles. There are several things you can do to keep your fuel system running smoothly. Try to get...

Q: Q: Fuel tank door not opening

The fuel door on this van also has a safety switch inside the door that will disable the automatic side door if the fuel door is open. The fuel door has to be opened in order to see if it...