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How can I tell If someone put sugar in gas tank?

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Old 06-20-2013, 07:55 AM   #1
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Default How can I tell If someone put sugar in gas tank?

I know some of you guys are really smart in the area of Automotive stuff, and others like me are great at messing it up more then fixing it.

Well some time ago I had issues with my late 80's bronco. I had left it parked for sometime, but then got it running after replacing the ignition module. But then had it sit some more because it blew the "new" module.

Well I discovered that the "new" modal was installed with out enough grease (did I say I was better at messing up then fixing). So a new, new one was put on (with lots of grease), and truck started. I drove a few miles, and then no go.

I ended up having to have the fuel tank pulled and cleaned. Needed to replace inside fuel pump assembly, and inline filter, and some fuel line. Was able to get injectors running by running cleaner though them.

Stuff in the gas tank was like a nasty black stuff.

Could someone have sugared my gas tank?

I had my mechanic do all the work. Not cheep. He could not say "why" this stuff was in tank. Or what it was or if it was gas that turned to gunk... Kind of left the why and what etc... An opened question.

I had used fuel stabilizer because I knew truck was going to sit.

The same gas was in my boat for even longer and that gas ran fine and did not get gunky, etc... Your thoughts etc...

I do have two likely neighbors on my block that are dumb punks enough to do it. "we" have had a few issues over the years because they are 18 to 20 something, and I'm an old fart that gives them ( and their buddies) crap about their behavior. Like beer bottles on my front yard, or firing large fireworks over my house, etc.

Truck does not have locking cap on it. May be time for one.

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Old 06-20-2013, 09:24 AM   #2
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I dont know myself, but I am sure it tastes sweeter! Sorry to make a joke, but it came to mind right away.

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Old 06-20-2013, 11:15 AM   #3
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Well I got the pistol so I'll keep the Pesos
Yeah and that seems fair

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Old 06-20-2013, 12:55 PM   #4
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:57 PM   #5
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My neighbor got sugar'd by his ex-wife. Getting the sugar in is tough, and it was everywhere. Since you've already had it all cleaned and fixed, it's probably not laying around. She also used his pink lemonaid mix to do it, so it was pink and smelled like lemons. Was a pretty easy problem to diagnose. I never did see what it did to the fuel though, but the amount of work you're describing sounds about right, especially if you got it running for a little bit. That ignition module is a PITA, too...had to put one in my Bronco once. This crap that comes out of gas pumps these days turns yellow-ish green when it sits for about a year, I deal with it all the time in old dirtbike carbs. There's nothing in fuel that should/can turn black, unless there was some contaminate in the tank prior.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:38 PM   #6
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May have been moth balls or bleach. They will ruin an engine for sure.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:24 PM   #7
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how is it hard to put sugar in a gas tank.

get a 1 gal gas can add in 1/2 pound of sugar fill with gas shake and pour.
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:50 PM   #8
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As I recall, table sugar typically doesn't dissolve well in gasoline, powdered sugar or demeraire sugar will dissolve more easily although I don't think a half pound will dissolve in a gallon can. Maybe so, I've not run an experiment although years ago I did see a lawnmower that had sugar in the tank. Granules outside on the tank and the inside had crystals in the bottom like sand. No junk however, and I believe it to be because sugar in the gasoline will stay in solution until burned, during ignition it carbonizes and causes deposits on valves and pistons.

I remember reading an Alistair McLean novel "Ice Station Zebra" in which fuel had been contaminated with sugar, they solved the issue by 'washing' the fuel, i.e. mixing the fuel with water (sugar has a higher affinity for water than gasoline) and then straining the water out. But, that was a fictional book and I can't vouch for the veracity of it. I would think that gas blended with ethanol will have a higher water content than leaded gasoline from years ago, if the sugar dissolves in water in preference to gasoline then it would pretty much stay in solution for a long time.

I would be skeptical that someone 'sugared' the tank but I would change gas stations !

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:25 PM   #9
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If you suspect that someone put sugar in your tank, make sure you collect a good sample of it in a clean well sealed, preferably clean glass container. They have sample containers that are specially designed for such things that you can get from various places (Grainger should carry them). Get as much of the material as you reasonably can.

Make sure you record the date, how it was taken out of the tank, etc. do develop the start of a "Chain of Custody" for the sample. There are various labs that perform such tests. It wouldn't tell you who did it, but would confirm exactly what it is.

I could research a bit to see if there are some other means of determining if it is sugar or not. I'll get back to you later on that when I find out.

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:38 PM   #10
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First on the ignition module. If you used "dielectric grease" it was the wrong stuff. Some new modules actually come with the wrong stuff. They are supposed to have a thin layer of "heat sync compound" applied to the base. Just enough to fill all the pores and fine dimples between the 2 surfaces. It's available at Radio Shack if you have one close. Dielectric grease is an insulator and not good at transmitting heat away from the module.

On the fuel tank. I had a couple of vehicles that had the gas turn to black gunk. Both had open exposure to the atmosphere. One the gas cap was missing and the other had a gas line rusted off. On both I ended up replacing the gas tank because they were badly rusted inside. The whole fuel pump/sender assemblies were coated and badly rusted from the bottom up to the level of the gunk in the tank. The gunk is a combination of water (condensation/absorption), spoiled gasoline, and rust particles. It is probably a bit thicker than good gasoline. Had kind of a "wet Shellac" smell.
There is a way to "clean" rusted tanks but it's very labor intensive and involves pea gravel, water, and kerosine

Last edited by North_Tex; 06-20-2013 at 03:44 PM.
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