How to Clean Your Car’s Fuel Tank

Manually cleaning your fuel tank isn't the easiest job, but depending on the age of your car and the shape of your fuel filter, it may be worthwhile to get all of the sediment and other accumulated debris out.

If you are wondering how to clean a fuel tank without removing it, we have some bad news. The best way to clean out your gas tank is to remove it. If you are working on your fuel pump, this is a great time to clean out your gas tank.

Please remember to keep proper safety precautions in mind when you are working with fuel. Remember that gas is a highly combustible substance and thus extra care must be taken. For instance, make sure that your workspace is well-ventilated and you should have a fire extinguisher on hand. Additionally, make sure that nobody is working with flame near your work space or smoking cigarettes. Finally, make sure to adhere to all proper fuel disposing ordinances in your city. Do not dispose of gasoline by pouring it into open sewers, and make sure that any gasoline-soaked rags are not thrown into general waste bins.

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How to Properly Clean a Gas Tank

1. Drain

Drain fuel tank into an approved container.

2. Clean Outside of Tank

Clean rust and debris from the top of the fuel tank.

3. Remove Fuel Pump

Remove the fuel pump from the tank.

4. Swirl

Swirl gas tank, pour out remaining gas and debris.

5. Clean Inside of Tank

Clean the tank interior with a low-suds soap and water mixture.

6. Swirl Again

Swirl cleaning solution inside the tank.

7. Drain and Dry

Drain tank and dry with compressed air and/or lint-free cloth.

8. Inspect

Visually inspect the tank and replace tank if damaged.

9. Check if Dry

Confirm tank is completely dry (approx. 30 min).

10. Refill

Refill tank with fresh fuel.

Ensure fresh fuel is used with the new fuel pump. This prevents contaminations from going back into the clean tank.

Manually cleaning out your gas tank shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon once you get some practice under your belt. And an afternoon invested in your car is certainly worth it.

Why Should I Clean My Fuel Tank?

Did you know that most replacement fuel pump failures are due to contamination from the fuel tank? Contaminants in the tank cause the strainer to clog, forcing the pump to pull more current and amperage resulting in a burnout, damaging the new fuel pump that was just replaced. Depending upon the amount of contaminants it is estimated that It can take up to three fuel pumps to clean the tank. Sometimes a dirty fuel tank might not cause the pump to fail, but dirty fuel tanks can also affect your gas mileage and clog your fuel filter.

The original pump went into a clean tank. To ensure the same level of performance, the new pump should go into a clean tank too.

To make the job easier, we carry Delphi Technologies’ fuel tank cleaning kit (FFC01) designed to help your customer easily clean their fuel tank. The kit includes a low-suds cleaning solution specifically designed to treat and rinse up to a 40 gallon tank. This solution removes microbial growth in the tank and breaks down the other contaminants that might be in the tank.

If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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