How to Siphon Gas Without Damaging Newer Vehicles


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.

Small pumps like this one will make siphoning gas a lot quicker.

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.



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.

17 thoughts on “How to Siphon Gas Without Damaging Newer Vehicles”

  1. my moms car was hit—the rubber line off the tank someone added a “T” connection & a valve & cap so they could use a portable pump on it any time (night) thinking she wouldn’t figure it out. during a Vehicle inspection they found it-.they repaired it. soon, hit again. but she had a out door camera. GOT THEM.

  2. Nice article. I have some tubing from a refrigerator we bought a while back. Think I will try it. Nice Disclaimer. Haha

  3. My fuel pump went out right after I filled up my tank. In order for me to replace the pump, I have to drop the fuel tank, which meant I had to drain the tank first. After trying a garden hose, I took your suggestion. The important part is cutting the end to a sharp point. It couldn’t work unless I did that. Thanks for the info!

  4. Hmm, that was interesting. If you are bugging in, the time wouldn’t matter so much. You could just walk away and come back later. Having a longer hose, and putting the gas can all the way on the ground, would help because it would give more gravity to the situation.

    Oh, and the hardware store is full of cheap hoses of all different diameters. I just bought one for my aquarium protein skimmer. The old one got aged and stiff.

  5. left coast chuck

    Though the experience of having gas stolen from my gas tank while I had the vehicle in storage, I found out that there is a connection to the gas tank of a 2003 Odyssey that can be disconnected to drain the gas tank. I haven’t gotten under to look but when I took the vehicle in to have it checked after the gas was stolen that’s what the mechanic told me. Don’t know about other vehicles, just the 2003 Odyssey.

    1. How did you drain it? Does it have a capless gas tank, thos have anti siphon filters. I need to drain a 2013 eclipse that’s been sitting 3 years

  6. Christian Gingras

    The pipe that connect to the fuel injector is easy to disconnect safely. You need to put the container close, which mean above the level in the gas tank.
    Turn the key to “run” (don’t start the motor). The gas pump will run for 2 seconds. Turn key to off, then run, you get another 2 second worth of gas. Repeat until you fill your container.
    A more efficient method would be to identify the relay for the fuel pump, remove it from the socket and insert a wire between the pin that correspond to the relay contact. The fuel pump would work continuously.

    1. Be very careful doing that. All fuel pumps are lubricated by the fuel itself. I would avoid draining all the fuel so that you don’t run the pump dry and damage it. It’s not easy replacing a fuel pump bc engineers decided it is more efficient placing the fuel pump in the fuel tank. It’d be a really old vehicle for it to be outside the fuel tank.

  7. charlers scarmardi

    I having problems draining gas out of my 2017 mustang and I cant get the 1/4 inch holes past the ball valve at the bottom into the gas tank.I taper the end of the hose an d still having a problem.

    1. I think Fords use something like a butterfly system instead of the ball. That may be the issue, call parts store and ask what part is there. Good luck!

  8. Well I just had my gas stolen and I am not happy that it is so easy to do and freely discussed, I have to live on a very small SS check

  9. I own a 2005 ford freestar. Visit family on an island where gas is $1-2+ more a gallon. Would like to siphon gas from vehicle in a most convenient manor. In fact found a gas pump handle on CL for $10, not sure if it will be useful or help bypass butterfly valve.

  10. so when most tanks are dropped during repairs they dont drain most of the gas first? at 20 gallons that’s 120 lbs I realize they do this with a lift but still that’s a lot to transport

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get our very best prepping advice