NEWS
07/05/2018 21:08 EDT | Updated 07/05/2018 21:40 EDT

Can A Full Gas Tank Explode In Hot Weather? We Have The Answer

Time to debunk the rumours.

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With a heat wave wreaking havoc on central and eastern Canada, a social media rumour has some people worried.

Is it possible for a full gas tank to explode in hot weather?

The short answer is absolutely not.

The long answer is a little more scientific.

The misconception that a full gas tank could explode if it's too hot out goes as back to at least 2011, according to the fact-checking website, Snopes. The "warnings" to car owners usually spread in the form of viral social media posts or chain emails.

Self-ignition temperature for fuel

Some of these faux warnings argue that on hot days, the fuel in a gas tank can become hot enough to spontaneously combust. But, the temperature required for fuel to self-ignite is around 246 to 280 C. Even on the hottest of summer days, fuel in a gas tank does not reach anywhere near those levels.

"To ignite gas without having a spark, is well over 500 degrees [Fahrenheit]," Kyle Loftus, an operations manager for the American Automobile Association, told ABC's 13newsnow. "The day it's over 500 degrees out, I'm sure we'll all know. And don't forget your sunscreen that day!"

Other online rumours say that a full gas tank can build up pressure on hot days, and this high pressure can jack up the temperature in the tank, causing an eventual explosion.

That theory is equally implausible because gas tanks in vehicles built after 1971 were mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release pressure so it cannot accumulate. Vehicles built before that also have mechanisms to release pressure slowly so they aren't dangerous in the summer either, Snopes confirms.

Earlier this year, Pakistan State Oil was forced to take to its Facebook page debunk the rumours.

"Filling your fuel tank to its full capacity poses no threat of any kind neither to the car nor to its passengers and is deemed completely safe and beneficial to the running of the car," the post said.

And it can actually be harmful to keep your tank deliberately low on fuel.

A vehicle's fuel pump depends on gasoline to keep it cool and lubricated. Without fuel, the pump risks overheating and even failing prematurely, according to AutoGuide.com.

So go fill up the tank before gas prices rise again, and don't worry about any explosions.

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