How To Clean An Aluminum Fuel Tank

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Most motor vehicles, such as boats, cars and trucks, have aluminum fuel tanks. When a fuel tank needs cleaning, from lack of use or any other reason, it can be a challenge. Fuel tanks are not a part of the vehicle that most people are familiar with besides the fact that they fill it with gasoline. There are several methods and precautions to consider when cleaning aluminum fuel tanks.

Things You'll Need

  • Fuel Tank Cleaner
  • Muratic Acid
  • Hose
  • Water
  • Empty the fuel tank. Fuel tanks are heavy even when they're empty, so any extra fuel in the tank will be adding unnecessary weight. Buy a fuel siphoning pump, which cost less than $5, from a local auto parts store to make the emptying process easier.

  • Isolate the aluminum fuel tank. The vehicle manual should explain how each part of the fuel tank is connected and how the tank can be removed. Every vehicle, and therefore every fuel tank, is different, so it's important to follow the directions in the vehicle manual.

  • Wash the fuel tank out with water. Get the tank as clean as possible by rinsing it out with a garden hose.

  • Put a metal chain in the tank if there is a lot of rust inside of it and continue to rinse it out with water. Rolling the chain around inside the tank will loosen the rust. Continue doing this until no more rust comes out.

  • Wash the fuel tank with acid wash or fuel tank cleaner. If you are using fuel tank cleaner then follow the instructions on the bottle. Dilute the cleaner with water if directed to.

  • Buy muratic acid from the pool cleaning section of a hardware store. Make sure to wear gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and pants when using muratic acid. Never use muratic acid indoors either because the vapors are strong.

  • Fill the fuel tank with enough water to slosh around and then add a cup of acid. Always add acid to water, never the reverse.

  • Sloth the acid around and then dump it out somewhere where the circulation is good and no living plants will be affected. Repeat this until the wash starts to come out looking relatively clean.

  • Let the tank sit overnight with a weak acid solution or weak fuel tank cleaner mixture inside and then empty it out. Wash the tank out with water until all remaining chemicals and sludge are removed. Let the tank dry out completely, for at least 24 hours, before reinstalling it in the vehicle.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be careful and patient when dealing with fuel tank cleaning chemicals, as they can be hazardous. Make sure to wear the appropriate protective gear and perform the cleaning in a well-ventilated area.
  • If you've never cleaned a fuel tank before you should try and work with someone who has until you feel comfortable with what you are doing, especially when removing and reinstalling the tank.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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