How Long Can Diesel be Stored Before It Goes Bad: Learn the Truth


You want to make sure your BOV (Bug-Out Vehicle) still runs in an emergency, but it’s diesel. Can you store some extra in gas cans like you would for a regular vehicle? What’s the expiration date, and is there anything special you need to know about it? Making sure you’re prepared is vital, but all those details can get confusing and frustrating. Luckily, you can relax because I have answers. Storing diesel fuel doesn’t have to be complicated. I’ll explain everything you need to know, so you and your vehicle will be ready for anything.

How long can diesel be stored before it goes bad? You can store regular diesel for six months to a year. After that, the fuel typically degrades, and it can damage your engine. Fortunately, you can help extend the life of your diesel fuel to the maximum with the following smart tips and tricks. 

Proper Diesel Fuel Storage

Like all flammable fuels, how long you can store diesel safely before it goes bad depends on you. Improper storage could cause your fuel to spoil or leak. Fumes and fires are pretty severe side effects, so you need to be cautious. That said, it’s not hard to figure out where to put diesel.

The three main things that affect standard diesel storage are temperature, tanks, and exposure to elements such as water and oxygen. Different conditions can cause your diesel to spoil faster. Naturally, to get the most out of your fuel, and avoid danger, you should follow safety guidelines for storage.

Opt for a high-quality diesel storage container like the Arksen 35 Gallon Portable Gas Caddy from Amazon. The ability to roll your fuel wherever you need it is a significant bonus. Plus, you can use this caddy to transport fuel from a larger tank as required. Pick up your Arksen by clicking here. 


Diesel should be kept around seventy degrees for optimum storage. It is okay up to eighty-five, and down to about thirty degrees. Outside that zone, you may risk gas expansion, leaking, freezing, gelling, clouding, bacterial growth, or other serious problems.

When the temperature gets too low, you need special additives to maintain your diesel. Similarly, when it gets above eighty-five, the fuel will react with oxygen causing rapid degradation. Warm diesel will turn gummy and clog both the tank and your engine.


Using the right kind of container for diesel storage is essential. Metal and polyethylene plastics are the most common materials. Additionally, you need the correct cap on your tanks. Never use subpar equipment.

For small amounts, you can use portable five-gallon gas cans. For a little more, an oil drum is sufficient. However, those who wish to store a fair quantity for emergency use need a larger diesel tank.

I recommend the Eagle UI-50-SY Type I Metal Safety Can from Amazon. Whether you only need five gallons, or you store a lot more, this small container will allow you to move a little gas easily. The galvanized steel is corrosion-resistant, which is vital. Check the reviews right here. 


If you’re storing diesel above ground, then it’s essential to make sure it’s in a covered area, shielded from the worst of the sun. Underground storage is often better, but you need to check your local ordinances first.

Metals like zinc and copper can interfere with your diesel. Plus, certain additives cut down on the storage time. Moreover, any water pooling on your storage tanks can lead to fuel problems like tank rust and extra water leaking into your diesel.

Keeping both water and oxygen out of your tank helps diesel longevity. Oxygen causes gumming, but water allows fungal buildup. Both are bad news for your fuel supply. Store tanks as full as possible and make sure they have no leaks. This will give you the most extended shelf-life possible.

Summer Vs. Winter Diesel

Summer diesel or Diesel #2 is what most Americans are probably used to seeing in the lower 48. Diesel #2 is what you might call ‘regular’ diesel. This variety will burn longer and require less fuel over time.

Alternately, Diesel #1 or Winter diesel has kerosene added for cold climates. While it makes the fuel consumption higher, that component is key to starting a diesel engine in extreme cold. When the fuel gets too chilly, it begins to cloud up and forms a jello-like consistency. The kerosene prevents this, so your engine will still run.

According to some users, Diesel’s #1 stores for longer. However, I would recommend that you always adhere to safety standards. Practicing proper storage and disposal is a part of smart survival.

How to Tell When Stored Diesel Goes Bad

There are several ways to tell when your stored diesel has gone bad. Black smoke, darkening of the fluid, algae growth, and gumming all indicate problems. Essentially, anything that causes your fuel to stop doing its job is a bad sign.

You should check your stored diesel every six months to a year. Although it’s possible to store diesel for longer, testing helps avoid problems. Naturally, any diesel that doesn’t flow properly out of the tank is suspect.

Your diesel should be the same color and consistency as it was when you first placed it inside the tank. Running bad diesel in your engine can ruin your vehicle.

Use a high-quality pump like the Ruitapro 12V Electric Gasoline Fuel Transfer Pump to help keep your stored diesel flowing. Fitted with a nozzle you can padlock, the Ruitapro allows you to add a layer of security and prevent theft. To find out more on Amazon, Click Here. 

Recondition Diesel Fuel

Instead of wasting money on more fuel that you may not need, you can recondition some diesel fuel to keep it in good shape. Start by pouring a fifty-gallon drum of fuel. You’ll need to do this in batches if you have a lot stored.

Use a graduated cylinder and measure out 3.125 oz. of PRD-D or 280 oz. of ether. Then carefully add this to your fuel. If you need to work on smaller or larger batches, then measure 5.6 oz. of ether or 0.0625 oz of PRD-D per gallon of diesel.

After adding the fuel conditioner, you need to leave your diesel alone for two days. It takes time for PRD-D or ether to permeate your diesel. Similarly, you can add this at the time you store your fuel.

If necessary, make sure to filter out any water that has gotten inside your tank. Not only does it cause algae, but it changes the consistency of your fuel. This will wreck your stored diesel. Another alternative is to add a stabilizer that will extend the life of your stored diesel. Check out Sta-Bil Diesel Fuel Stabilizer. This can be had at Amazon for your convenience.

What Happens if You Use Bad Diesel Fuel

Using diesel fuel that went bad in storage causes some easily apparent signs. For example, if your engine won’t start, or hesitates, it may be dirty diesel to blame. Bad diesel can clog your filters and injectors.

Naturally, that causes all sorts of issues with your engine. Reduced mileage is another sure sign of bad diesel. Plus, you can look out for idling. Moreover, when you go to accelerate, and your vehicle hesitates, that may mean your diesel is bad.

By checking your diesel regularly, you can help avoid problems. Additionally, by using the additives prescribed for reconditioning, can help save on fuel waste. There’s no reason to lose your stores if you exercise caution.

Part of any good emergency preparedness plan is testing and inventorying your supplies. Hence, you should keep track of your diesel use so you can replenish it as needed helps a great deal. Plus, a bi-annual test to assure yourself that the fuel is in excellent condition can save you a lot of trouble and money.

Cleaning an Engine That Had Bad Diesel

Assuming you catch the problem before it does extensive damage, you can save your engine. You’ll need a multifunction diesel additive with detergency. However, this is not an instant fix.

Typically it takes a couple of tankfuls before you get all the lousy diesel out of your system. The good news is that it’s easy to add your multifunction diesel additive with detergency. Simply follow the directions on your package.

Disposing of Bad Diesel Fuel

Do not pour old, bad diesel down the drain. It’s vital to dispose of it properly, so pouring it on the ground, or even putting it into the garbage is not only hazardous but also highly illegal. Emergency preparedness is about sustaining life, not getting arrested, or making yourself sick.

Most cities have disposal centers for old fuel. If you don’t already know where your nearest safe dump is located, you can find it easily. Try using an online resource like to figure out where you need to go.

Improper diesel disposal can hurt you or others. In addition to its flammable qualities, diesel is toxic. You could end up poisoning local wildlife you need as a food source or water you might end up drinking from.

Final Thoughts

Diesel fuel will store for a long time without going off if you treat it right. Always opt for an underground storage tank if it’s legal in your area. Dirt will provide temperature control and help keep moisture out.

It’s vital to have an emergency fuel storage plan in place. Making sure you have a long-term supply in case of gas shortages, lack of delivery or any SHTF scenario is just good common sense.

So long as you remember to check your fuels, use them promptly, and store them right, you’ll make it through almost any crisis. Never slack on diesel fuel storage.

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