Why Use Fuel Stabilizer? | ANSWERS

After several months of storage, reader Mike Curry's bike started making loud pinging sounds and wouldn’t run right. What happened?

Q: Last winter, when I put my bike up for storage, I bought some fuel stabilizer to keep the gas from gunking up the engine and fuel injectors. I poured a bottle of it into the tank, and the bike sat for several months before the weather warmed up enough to go for a ride. But after I started the engine and rode it awhile, it started making loud pinging sounds, like detonation, and wouldn't run right until I drained the tank and put fresh gas in it. I thought the fuel stabilizer was supposed to prevent this. Why do you and every other magazine recommend using fuel stabilizer over the winter?

Mike Curry
Seattle, WA

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A: You didn't say what kind of fuel stabilizer you used, but it sounds like you used too much. It doesn't take a lot—only a few ounces for a full tank—to treat the entire fuel supply and protect the carburetors or fuel-injection system. Any more than that and you dilute the gasoline so much you're likely to get detonation and a loss of power.

To avoid this happening again, read and follow the label directions. Sta-Bil fuel stabilizer, for example, recommends using just 1 ounce for up to 2.5 gallons of gas and starting with a tank that’s almost full to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank over the winter. After putting the stabilizer in the gas, slosh it around. Then start the engine and run it for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer circulates through the entire fuel system—and to keep your carbs from looking like this one.

Other winter-storage tips include lifting the bike up off the tires so they don’t get flat spots from sitting in place for so long or slightly over-inflating them if you can’t get them off the ground. If you park your bike on the sidestand, leave the transmission in gear so you don’t accidentally knock it over while you’re lugging firewood or your snowblower out of the garage.