Sugar in a Gas Tank: What REALLY Happens?! (Explained)

The engine that contains sugar in its gas tank will create trouble-causing your car’s engine to stop working.

So what will happen if there’s sugar in a gas tank? The sugar will react with the gasoline turning into a semi-solid, gooey substance that will clog up your gas tank, fuel lines, and other parts of your engine. 

If your fuel lines get clogged by sugar contamination, your car will create unusual noise when you try to start it, or worse, it will seriously get damaged. 

Sugar in a Gas Tank

What Happens If You Put Sugar In A Gas Tank?

Putting sugar in a gas tank will affect your car’s performance by slowly contaminating the parts inside your car’s engine, causing you to have a headache. 

Short Term Effects

Adding sugar to the gas tank can lead to car trouble, like having problems starting your car’s engine. 

It could also lead to having poor performance when you are using it. 

Long Term Effects

The longer the sugar stays in your gas tank, the sugar gets caramelized. When the sugar substances in your gas tank are already caramelized, it becomes easy to spread like a virus inside your car’s engine. 

To prevent getting into this situation, always check your car’s engine. 

Symptoms Of Sugar In The Gas Tank

It is not a good idea to pour sugar into your gas tank or anyone’s gas tank, even if you’re playing pranks.

If you’re trying to be funny, putting sugar in a gas tank can be costly fun for the person you are pranking. 

But if you are the victim in this kind of situation, you should remove the sugar instantly as soon as you notice its signs. 

Here are the symptoms of sugar in the gas tank:

1. Having Low Fuel

If the fuel flow to the engine is restricted due to clogged inside the fuel filter, the engine will struggle to generate power to sustain the demand of your car. 

This problem will force the engine to create power over its standard capacity, leading to problems later on. 

Your car engine has the standard capacity, and it should remain that way to maintain the engine performance.

2. Engine Stop And Go

The worst scenario that you might experience, especially if you have emergency errands. Having a car that stops and goes and then stops again. 

If you neglect the first symptom and let your fuel transmission and filter become excessively clogged, it will get to where the fuel won’t reach the engine. 

If this happens to you, you won’t be able to use your car effectively. 

3. Less Tank To Fill

Since sugar granules already fill up space inside your gas tank, this limits the amount of fuel you can add up inside.

Your fuel tank capacity is much less than before. Hence, if sugar granules are just a pint amount, you might not notice the difference in your car’s fuel capacity. 

Still, it’s better to remove the sugar inside your gas tank, depending on how much sugar it contains inside.  

How Much Sugar In A Gas Tank Will Ruin It?

To estimate how much sugar in a gas tank will ruin your car’s engine, it is a teaspoon of sugar in every 15 gallons of gas you have.

When you don’t notice that someone put sugar into your gas tank and you start your engine, the sugar will make its way up to your engine, where it dissolves and caramelizes—creating a sticky, semi-solid component that will stick in your engine’s parts and ruin it.

sugar in gas tank

Can Sugar In The Gas Tank Really Kill Your Engine?

Putting sugar in the gas tank will not kill your car’s engine. First, it will just give you symptoms that your car’s engine needs fixing or changing. 

But if the sugar starts to dissolve and turn to caramelized semi-solid components, expect that these components will slowly take over the engine’s parts and ruin it. 

Once the caramelized sugar takes over the whole system of the engine, your car becomes useless.

Can You Tell If Someone Put Sugar In Your Gas Tank?

You can tell if someone puts or prank you with sugar in your gas tank because of its unusual noise. 

Like any sediment, sugar can clog the fuel injectors creating sounds that will alarm you that there’s something unusual happening inside your gas tank. 

Is Putting Sugar In A Gas Tank A Felony?

Yes, putting sugar in a gas tank is a crime. It becomes a crime, especially if you put the life of the person you prank in danger. 

For you, it might be just a joke, but that joke can be dangerous, especially if it comes to engines. Car engines are susceptible, so mixing sugar inside their parts can lead to severe problems.

If you don’t want to put at risk someone’s life and keep your freedom, never prank or put someone’s car engine on sugar. 

How To Get Sugar Out Of A Gas Tank? 

The two steps to get sugar out of your gas tank:

First, replace your fuel filter. Upon the sugar’s get inside your engine, it will stop first in your fuel filter, which its job is to collect solid substance. 

Next, change your fuel pump. If sugar already passes your fuel filter, it will stop next to your fuel pump. 

Like your fuel filter, you may need to change your fuel pump as well. Changing a fuel pump is a complicated job and should be done by a professional mechanic. 


In summary, putting sugar in your gas tank can be harmful. It could damage your car, or your car won’t start permanently.

If you notice that there’s sugar in your gas tank, call a mechanic right away. Never use it because it might cause more clogging inside your car’s engine. 

Lastly, if you have no knowledge to fix or change the damaged parts on your car’s engine, never do it; let the professional do the job for you.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more