How To Siphon Gas From A Newer Car In An Emergency

Do you need to siphon a bit of gas from a newer car? If you're in an emergency, then this guide has you covered.

Have you come to your 2020 vehicle with a garden hose expecting to siphon gas? Run into a small problem?

That’s because it’s almost impossible to siphon gas from a newer car. In some cases, it’s possible – but only with extreme patience and the right equipment.

Do yourself a favor, and don’t siphon gas from your newer car. Instead, go to a gas station.

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Can You Siphon Gas From A Newer Car?

Siphon Fuel From Car

In reality, no. Newer cars are fitted with anti-siphon components.

In your current situation, you might see them as a frustration. However, they’ve made it almost impossible for thieves to steal your fuel.

That’s a good thing. It used to happen all the time. All a thief had to do was open the fuel filler cap, insert a hose, and siphon all your paid-for gasoline into cans.

Put it another way – have you ever had gas siphoned from your car illegally? Almost certainly not. That’s because it’s nigh-on impossible now.

There might be ways around the anti-siphon as a list-ditch resort in an emergency, but it would be much better to prepare in advance. You’ll be taking a significant risk and could permanently damage your car.

Siphoning Gas From Cars – Is It Legal?

Buying a car

Nope.

It’s categorically illegal to siphon gas from anyone else’s car without their permission. It’s stealing and will be treated by the police as such.

If you’re stealing gasoline – or even taking it as part of a prank – expect criminal charges to come your way very soon.

Of course, in certain circumstances, you might be forgiven. Emergencies can happen – such as getting stuck on a long road trip – but these are the minute exception, not the rule.

Siphoning gas isn’t the most efficient solution in the above situation, anyway! Most people don’t carry a correctly-sized 1/4-inch hose around on road trips. It’s better to get in the other car, drive to a gas station, fill a couple of jerry cans, and return to your vehicle.

Why Is It So Difficult To Siphon Gas From A Newer Car?

Two components in a modern fuel system make it extremely difficult to siphon gas. These are:

  • The rollover valve
  • The anti-siphon device (often a screen or mesh, of sorts, in a particular shape)

Rollover Valve

Roolover Valve

The rollover valve is a ball valve. It’s essentially a one-way system. Gas can flow past it into the tank but can’t flow back the other way.

This has the following significant benefits:

  1. It’s almost impossible to get a hose past this valve, so it helps to prevent criminal siphoning.
  2. There’s somewhere for excess pressure and vapors to leave the fuel tank. Your car is much safer with increased ventilation and pressure/temperature management.
  3. Gas can’t leak out if you’re involved in an accident and your car overturns. This reduces the risk of a fire.

Anti-Siphon Mesh

Anti Siphon Mesh

The anti-siphon mesh sits across the fuel filler neck. It’s a shaped mesh, often part of another anti-siphon component, with increasingly tiny holes. It usually sits quite far down, not long before the tank itself.

It has two main functions:

  1. The mesh holes are so small that getting a siphoning tube past them is challenging. The component is also designed to be almost impossible to thread a small hose past.
  2. It collects any debris that might have got mixed into the gas before you pump it in. This keeps your tank clean and prevents buildup in the pump or lines.

In Which Situations Is It A Good Idea To Siphon My Car’s Gas?

Siphon Gas From Car

This website is all about car maintenance, protection, and good practice, so the official answer is: never.

In almost every imaginable situation, there is a better alternative. These include:

  • Storing jerry cans of gasoline in a safe location well in advance.
  • Bringing full jerry cans along with you on a road trip.
  • Using dual-fuel generators.
  • Getting a lift to a gas station (with jerry cans).
  • Getting to a gas station some other way (cycling, walking, even on a horse!) with jerry cans.

You should have exhausted all of these options before you even consider siphoning fuel from a newer car

Note: if you have an older model (pre-1980s), there isn’t much to stop you. You won’t damage the vehicle, and it’s easy to insert a standard hose and begin siphoning. This article concentrates explicitly on newer cars.

Why Is It So Important To Avoid It At All Costs?

Warning Danger

Because you might do significant damage to your car. These could include:

  • Breaking the anti-siphon mesh, causing debris to enter the tank and clog up the lines.
  • Breaking the rollover valve (unlikely but possible if you use enough force). This could make filling your car difficult and cause the Check Engine Light (CEL) to illuminate. It’s often irreplaceable apart from as part of an entirely new gas tank.

Sure, some people try to do it all the time, but they’re always running a risk. It’ll go wrong eventually – no doubt.

Accidentally ingesting gasoline provides a potentially fatal cocktail of hydrocarbons. If you swallow some, or even inadvertently allow some into your mouth before spitting it out, it could lead to:

  • Internal chemical burns
  • Poisoning
  • Severe vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pains
  • Pneumonia
  • Fainting or respiratory arrest
  • Death

If you need to siphon fuel, use a gas-safe pump or your thumb over the end of the hose.

The only conceivable situations where siphoning fuel might be a viable risk is if there’s a massive natural disaster or complete social breakdown.

However, even in these cases, you might need your car! What if you can’t fix the problem and put it out of action? Is it really worth it?

Probably not.

What Years Can You Siphon Gas From?

Classic Car 1980s

For any car before the 1980s, siphoning gas will be pretty straightforward. Those were the days before rollover valves and anti-siphon devices.

They were also the days of common fuel theft, though, don’t forget.

Any newer car – certainly the 2000s and onwards – has a manufacturer-designed anti-siphon device. It could take any shape or form, and you may or may not be able to siphon without causing damage.

The advice remains the same. It’s so much easier and less risky to get your gas some other way.

How To Siphon Gas From A Newer Car

Drain or Siphon Gas From Car

If you’re reading this far, it’s assumed that you’re in a dire emergency. If you aren’t, please find another (much better!) option, such as those listed above.

Below, you’ll find the necessary instructions to siphon gas from a newer car.

Please note – most modern cars and trucks have advanced anti-siphon components. You’ll most likely find that the method listed below doesn’t work.

Each manufacturer designs its own anti-siphon techniques. In most cases, you need to get a tiny pipe past a minuscule opening at an impossible angle – all while you can’t see anything. In short, yet again, get your gas another, better way. Don’t waste your time.

Equipment You Need For Siphoning Gas From A Newer Car

Gas Pump For Siphon Gas

Get the following equipment together:

  • 8 feet of 1/4-inch (or smaller) diameter piping
  • 2 or 3 feet of thicker hard plastic piping (1/2-inch)
  • Gas-safe pump (plastic) or bulb on the 1/4-inch piping
  • Gas-safe container or jerry can (plastic)

Note: if you can get out to Home Depot to buy all this, why not go to a gas station instead? You’ll be spending a significant amount anyway!

Don’t use any metal components! You’ll create a spark. This will ignite the vapors in the tank and cause it to explode. It will most likely be fatal. Ignore all the articles that tell you otherwise! This includes metal piping, screwdrivers, and drills.

Similarly, don’t use anything that might cause the fuel to ignite. This includes anything remotely hot, lighters, and smoking.

How To Siphon Gas From A Newer Car

Turning Ignition On Car

Follow these instructions to siphon the gas from your car. This method bypasses the rollover valve and anti-siphon mesh using the small-diameter piping.

  1. Turn your engine off.
  2. Remove the locking filler cap.
  3. Insert the thicker pipe down the neck until you feel resistance. This is the rollover valve. For now, the thicker line will serve as a directional guide for the smaller one.
  4. Cut the end of the smaller pipe at a 45-degree angle. A “pointy” end will be easier to work past the valve and mesh.
  5. Insert the smaller pipe into the neck by running it through the larger one.
  6. Once you feel resistance, it’s time for patience. You must twist the pipe like a corkscrew to get it to slide past the ball valve. It will take time.
  7. After you feel the pipe run past the valve, you’ll hit the anti-siphon mesh (if the car has one). It’s now time to work it through one of the holes. Again, expect this to take some time.
    – The mesh could also come before the valve.
    – If you’re still stuck after a while, your pipe might be too thick to get through the mesh. Whatever you do, don’t break it!
  8. Once you feel the pipe moving past the mesh, push it well into the fuel tank.
  9. Slide the larger tube out and connect it to the other end of the smaller one.
  10. Attach the gas-safe pump to the other end of the larger pipe. If you find one, you could use a squeezable bulb on the 1/4-inch tube to siphon instead.
  11. Use the pump until gas starts to flow. Next, pull the pump off and cover the end of the tube with your thumb.
  12. Place the end of the line in the jerry can, ensuring it’s below the fuel tank. Don’t let it leak, as much as possible.
  13. Gravity will do the rest, pulling gas from your fuel tank into the container.
  14. To stop siphoning gas, lift the end of the siphoning hose above the level of the fuel tank. There’s no longer any way for the fuel to leave.
  15. Carefully remove the small tube.

Conclusion: Siphoning Gas From Newer Cars

Rejecting

Here’s the undeniable conclusion if you’ve made it this far through the article. Don’t siphon has from a newer car. It’s not worth the hassle or the risk, and there are much better ways to get it.

In the end, if you try siphoning gas using the above method, you’ll probably be okay. You’re likely to get stuck, especially if you don’t know what the anti-siphon device looks like, but damage is improbable.

But why?

These are much better options:

  1. Store gasoline safely – prepare in advance!
  2. Use the newer car with a full tank to drive to a gas station and get some.

Only attempt to siphon gas from a newer car as an emergency, last-ditch resort. Depending on the manufacturer’s anti-siphon device, it’s almost impossible anyway.

Even if you can get past the valve, you probably can’t get past the mesh without breaking it. And don’t do that!

Save yourself time and effort by filling your car or jerry can up in the usual way – at a gas station!

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Benjamin Kitchen

Ben is an automotive author from England. With experience in a fast-fit garage, he's an IMI-qualified light vehicle technician. He aims to help drivers worldwide with common automotive problems. You’ll often find him working with his 1.2 Vauxhall Corsa – it may have a tiny engine, but in eight years it's never once let him down!

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