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What Happens When Gasoline Goes Stale in the Chevy Volt?

The Volt will automatically burn off gasoline when it senses it may be getting old.

Published: 16-Sep-2010

Chevrolet often touts its Volt electric car’s 40-mile range by saying many drivers would never have to use the car’s gasoline engine. But people with lawn mowers, motorcycles, outboard engines or other seasonal gasoline-powered equipment may winder: Won’t the gas go bad?

It is true that gasoline has a shelf life, though that can be hard to pin down. Because it is made with elements that evaporate and otherwise decompose, gas can spoil and “gum up” engines when it is left in the tank too long. Fuel stabilizers help, but only for awhile. And the Volt could wind up being driven for years with unused fuel sloshing in the tank. So what happens?

A Chevy spokesman says the Volt, which uses a gasoline engine as a generator to power its electric drive system, will automatically burn off gasoline when it senses it may be getting old. The car’s electronics also keep track of when the engine should be run in order to circulate the oil and keep its moving parts lubricated. The car will let you know when it plans to run the engine, and you can override it initially. But eventually the car will take over and turn on the engine to start using up the aging gas.

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