The other day I received this e-mail on siphoning gas from cars:
“While doing some maintenance work on my gasoline powered electrical generator, the thought struck me that back in the old days, and in case of an emergency, one could always siphon gasoline out of their car’s gasoline tank and use it to run things like generators. However, that seems to be not the case nowadays. I tried inserting a conventional siphon hose into my tank but it “bottomed-out” on some obstruction before it touched any gasoline. I looked under the hood of my car (2001 Toyota Highlander) for a place where I could tie into my fuel line. I found none.
A cursory examination of the bottom of my fuel tank revealed no drain plug. So, I went to a local auto parts store and asked the folks if they had anything to siphon or pump fuel from the tank on any modern car or pickup truck. They had no suggestions.”
In the past, I can remember when we used to siphon gas out our cars to fuel our lawn mowers or other small engines. Siphoning gas out of the older vehicles was easy, but when was the last time you tried to siphon gas out of a car? It has been years since I have tried. In a real disaster, like an EMP strike, obtaining gas from damaged vehicles may be necessary to keep older vehicles running. This got me to wondering how to siphon gas from the new cars.
NOTE: Wondering if any vehicles will still be operating after an EMP? Be sure to read my note at the bottom of this article. If you’ve read One Second After, you may be surprised by my findings.
A little research into modern-day siphoning, revealed that all new cars have an anti-rollover valve on all the openings into a gas tank. These valves also act as a siphon prevention system, which is the reason why nearly all the siphon devices and pumps sold these days are useless. However, there is a way to do it without damaging the vehicle if you have the right tools. Most gas thieves today simply drill a hole in the gas tank, take what they can, and let the rest run out on the ground. But there is another way.
The anti-rollover valve is a ball or butterfly valve. This leaves enough room for gas to flow through the fueling tube into the tank, but if the car flips over and gas begins to flow the other direction, the ball moves to the inlet and blocks the gas from escaping or the butterfly flap closes.
The trick to siphoning gas without damaging the vehicle is to use a small diameter, stiff hose like the ¼-inch hose that runs to your refrigerator icemaker. Cut the end at a sharp angle and spin, or “corkscrew”, the hose as you insert it. It may take you a few tries to master this. Now, siphoning gas through this small tube by gravity is slow and can take up to eight minutes for a gallon of gas. If you can find a small hose with a hand pump like this one, it can go much faster.
You may want to carry a larger hose for vehicles that will accept it. Just remember that stealing gas in illegal and should be avoided.
ABOUT THOSE VEHICLES…
Most every reader of One Second After is convinced that virtually every vehicle on the road will suddenly stall and be incapacitated forever. Dr. Arthur T. Bradley, NASA electronic engineer and author of Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms, disagrees. He says there are so many variables that will affect whether or not the electromagnetic surge will damage vehicles that he believes only 30% or so will be damaged. The rest may experience a slight glitch and then resume running. This doesn’t mean transportation will be a piece of cake in a post-EMP world. With millions of vehicles stranded on every type of road, bridge, and tunnel imaginable, transportation would still be difficult.
This article updated 10-24-16.