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While people stand in line you siphon gas

How to Siphon Gas: Safely Scavenge gas in a Car Bug Out

By lastminuteprepper

In All Articles
Sep 24th, 2014

Scenario “Siphon Gas”: Your family is escaping in a vehicle to your friend’s bug out retreat a couple states over. Your car is down to a quarter tank of gas and you have already used your reserve jerry cans full of gas. All the gas stations along the way are either closed or flooded with people trying to get gas. It looks like everything could get ugly soon so you decide it’s too dangerous to stop. So instead you are going to have to siphon gas and start being creative on where…

In this article we will discuss how to siphon gas and use that gas in the middle of a bug out by car without damaging your vehicle. Please keep in mind that some of the actions discussed here are considered illegal and should not be used unless it is a life or death emergency situation. However some tactics such as Gas Siphoning are legal if you have the consent of the person you are siphoning from, such as siphoning gas on the side of the road when stranded, or retrieving gas from your own vehicles or tools. Remember gas fumes are the dangerous part so don’t be anywhere near a fire or spark while doing anything mentioned here and able to smell fumes.

Where to Siphon gas from

  • Parked, stalled or abandoned cars — Depending on the nature of the emergency you may be able to find stalled or abandoned cars that have gas in them. Good places to check would be parking lots or garages. Alleys or side streets where people might park their cars. abandoned Garages or other place where a car might be left to sit. In the case of an EMP and you have a working car, they are all fair game!
  • Lawn Equipment — Riding mowers, lawnmowers and many other gas powered tools can be a great place to get gas from. Keep in mind some of these tools may use a gas oil mixture. You want to avoid those. So carrying a clear 1/2 gallon mason jar to pour some of the gas into to look for odd smell or discoloration before mixing it into your jerry can.
  • Gas Pumps or Cans — on a farm property there is always the possibility of a gas pump or gas walker somewhere on the property. You will need to test it to make sure it’s gas not diesel.
  • Boats & RVs— People who have boats and RVs parked may leave gas in these vehicles as well so it can be good to check a boat dock for gas or boat storage facilities.

Accessing the gas

  • Siphoning Gas — Siphoning the gas is the best method if you have direct access to the tank. You can buy a mini siphon ahead of time or you can make one for some small scavenged tubing. The store bought siphons tend to come with a pump on it so you don’t have to taste the gasoline and have their benefits. However if you scavenge one you will need to stick one end of the tube at the lowest point in the tank for maximum retrieval. Then suck on the other end until the gas comes out. Quickly transition the tube into your jerry can and hold it lower than the tank. be ready to switch tanks as needed as the gas doesn’t want to stop short of pinching it, plugging the end with your thumb or withdrawing it from the tank all together.
  • Opening a Locked Gas Cap — If you know lockpicking and have a lock pick set or this gas cap lock key (though more of a bump key) you can pick the lock on a gas cap to access the gas. Most new cars have a interior button or lever to open the door to a gas cap. This you could either take a pry bar and hammer and go to work on it directly or take a slim jim and open the car door to get access to it.
  • Punch a hole — If you can’t access the tank at the cap, you can use a jack to get under the car and punch a hole with a screw driver or other punch tool in the tank to retrieve the gas. If you have a siphon with you consider punching a hole along the side of the tank if accessible to be able to better control the flow by use of the siphon. If this isn’t possible punch a hole in the bottom but be ready for the gas to come out. Keep in mind you may need a second small hole higher up for air to easily get in to fill the void. Think the old juice cans.

How much Siphoned Gas should you take?

Ideally you want to be transporting about enough gas to refill your car’s own tank at least once completely. However on an ethical and practical perspective this is a subjective question where there is no right answer but I will give you some factors to consider.

  • How far is the trip and what is your gas mileage?
  • How much can you safely transport without it becoming a danger to the passengers?
  • does it look like someone might still need the car to bug out themselves? — You may decide not to take too much gas so you don’t leave them stranded. This is an ethical question, and personally I would only try to scavenge from an abandoned source.
  • Will you be back in this area again? If not you might want to get all you can. However if you can come back and the chances someone else will take it before then are low, then leave it in the car. The car’s gas tank will do a better job preventing moisture and air from getting the gas then your Jerry cans so leave it sealed if you can.

What should you transport siphoned gas in?

  • Jerry Cans — These are the best option. They are nato military grade jerry cans and made of out metal so they don’t allow the fumes out easily. This means you are safer with these on the ride
  • Commercial Plastic cans — not idea as they tend to still give off some fumes and overall the gas won’t last as long but they are still a good option.
  • Improvised — While anything can carry it you want something that will seal it. For this some 1/2 gallon sized mason jars are a pretty good improvised carrying device. Make sure anything you use to carry the gas is thoroughly cleaned, sealed tight, and safe from spilling or breaking. It is far worse to have the car go up in flames then to scavenge a few extra times with fewer, but better storage containers.

How to safely use the siphoned gas

Not all gas is worth taking or using. As mentioned before you will probably want to visually inspect any scavenged gas before mixing it into your jerry cans to make sure you don’t start contaminating good gas with bad.

  • Mr Funnel Fuel Filter — A great carry along item is the Mr Funnel Fuel Filter. It acts as a filter both to trap moisture that might impact the performance of your car but also to debris that might be in the fuel like rust particles, etc. This is an essential item to carry and save you a headache. It’s possible though not recommended to use a coffee filter and a regular funnel to filter out some particles. However you would still need a fuel cleaner like seafoam to help treat it for water.
  • PRI-G — This fuel additive helps with storing fuel but also recovering old fuel. So if the gas is being retrieved from a source that may have been sitting for a while like a boat or lawn mower you might want to treat it before using it.

What tools to Keep in your bug out vehicle

Items with a * are probably not good to keep in your car in day to day life, in case your car is ever searched by police. Depending on state laws these items might be considered “Criminal Intent”


It seems like scavenging gas would be as simple as get it and use it. However long term this could damage your vehicle and make your trip short. Use the tips provided in this article to get the best results. The faster and further you can move without making contact with people the better off you are. There is a risk to all of these tips so exercise caution and don’t try this unless your life is in jeopardy or you may see jail time as a result.

How would you handle this scenario?

Would you do it differently or are there other strategies you would use? Tell us in the comments below to help educate your fellow preppers.

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