Last Updated on January 5, 2021
Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location after some really bad stuff has gone down. You aren’t able to call AAA anymore and your buddy probably can’t come pick you up. You thought ahead to carry some extra fuel, but long lines in traffic and multiple detours have depleted even your additional supplies. If the situation called for it and you were desperate, would you know how to siphon gas from a car?
Many of us have tried this before with mixed results. I can remember shoving a length of garden hose in the tank of an old Ford truck I had and drawing the gas out with my mouth. In case you were wondering, a mouth full of gas is not a pleasant experience and it takes a whole lot of brushing to get that taste out. This manual method is only slightly better with clear plastic tubing but you still run the risk of getting some amount of gas in your mouth.
Would this be acceptable in a grid down situation? Of course, if there was no other option. However, with a little planning and practice now, you can have a solution to your fuel needs in an emergency.
How to get gas out of a car
It would stand to reason that in even the most dire, apocalyptic scenarios you can imagine, there will be gas somewhere. We have gas in cars obviously, stashed in lawn mowers and in spare cans in sheds. Businesses have diesel stored in forklifts and heavy equipment. Gas at fuel stations can even be tapped into with a little know-how even if the electricity isn’t working. Gas is a vitally important resource and even if we have some global EMP, this fuel will still be valuable to the people who can obtain it but not everyone has experience with getting gas out of their car short of driving it around all day.
Cars that have been abandoned would seem to be some of the best and easiest places to acquire extra fuel to keep you going. I am not advocating stealing but should you determine that your situation requires it, siphoning gas can be a pretty simple way to get an extra few gallons in an emergency. Even 3 extra gallons could potentially get you dozens of miles away from danger or just closer to your destination.
Older cars didn’t have some of the anti-theft measures that more modern vehicles have now that make getting gas from a car more of a challenge. Depending on your situation, even with anti-theft devices you can still get fuel. The process is basically the same regardless of the vehicle but the methods might need to change. You simply need to draw or drain the fuel in one tank to a container. The easiest way to do this requires gravity and a little help from a siphon. The siphon you choose can be the suction you create with your mouth (not ideal) or from a pump. There are manual hand pumps and electric pumps that I’ll discuss in a minute but it might make sense to procure one of these methods now before you find yourself needing gas and have no way to get it.
Siphon gas from an older car
There are two methods I think that are brilliantly simple to siphon gas from older cars. When I say older, that is a general term because no two cars are exactly the same. In newer cars, probably from the 90’s forward, there are flaps installed on virtually all gas tanks now that would make it harder for you to remove the hose, but in older vehicles it was pretty much a straight opening into the tank. You also have round balls in the tank hose that prevent hoses from being easily stuck down into the tank so older cars are easier to get fuel out of. If possible, an older model car would make the best targets for siphoning gas.
There are dozens of manual fuel pumps on the market like the 3 in 1 Hand Pump on Amazon. You can use this not only for siphoning gas from a car, but you could also use it to get other fuels into or out of containers. Maybe you have a 50 gallon drum of kerosene and you need to fill your lanterns and heater. This manual pump would be handy.
You can also use a modified method of manual siphoning with your mouth that I haven’t seen before but I wish I knew about a long time ago. You would insert the hose into the gas tank as you would on any siphoning method, but instead of sucking fuel up the line, another hose creates the pressure needed to push fuel into your hose. You can see a great video of the concept below.
How to siphon gas without a pump
The manual pump method works great on older cars, but what about newer vehicles? If you are desperate enough you can puncture the fuel tank with a hammer and screwdriver but this destroys the tank first of all and is riskier from the standpoint of creating a spark around fumes. Along with that, you would make more noise and have to get under the car so that might prevent you from observing the area as closely as you need to.
The Gastapper is a system that runs with an electric pump and it is supposed to get around the anti-theft devices on modern cars. The video below shows the process which is a little more involved than the manual pump method but could be a great alternative if you do have electricity. This could also be a good device for obtaining fuel from underground fuel storage tanks at a gas station.
How to siphon gas from a newer vehicle
So there are a few methods of obtaining fuel in an emergency. I think I am going to get a manual fuel pump and stash that in my vehicle EDC kit for emergencies. What is your method of choice to siphon gas from a car?