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Water in Gas Tank Symptoms – Here’s What You Need To Know

Water in Gas Tank Symptoms – Here’s What You Need To Know

As you may know, the fuel enters the engine and the internal combustion chamber where the ignition occurs. At this point, the spark plugs have to tell the ignition timing when to fire properly, igniting the fuel and air mix to power the car. The air and fuel mixture will then explode at the right time, which will enable the engine to run and move. 

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If the ignition timing is too early or too late, this will not be able to power the crankshaft or the engine. If there is no water entering the combustion chamber, the explosion will not be strong enough to power the car when the spark plug is igniting the fuel.


Keep in mind there are certain symptoms that can alert you to having water in your gas tank. By noticing these warning signs before they get any worse, you can prevent your engine from having any detrimental side effects that can harm your car’s performance, safety, and lifespan. 


  • Rough acceleration


Rough acceleration is one of the most common and noticeable water in gas tank symptoms. Since the water is alerting the sensors that are usually working on analyzing the air and fuel mixture like the oxygen sensor mass airflow sensor and the intake air temperature sensor, the air and fuel mixture will cause rough acceleration. The water in the gas tank will ‘trip’ the sensors and cause an improper reading of the air and fuel mixture, making it either too rich or too weak. 


There are many reasons as to why you might have rough acceleration in your car beside the water in the gas tank. When looking at the water in gas tank symptoms, there are other causes of rough acceleration, like a clogged mass airflow sensor, low fluid levels, faulty clutch functioning, and burnt transmission fluid. 


If you have an automatic transmission and you notice a slipping transmission, another common cause of your car having a rough acceleration is low transmission fluid. The transmission fluid is necessary to lubricate the parts and keep your car running correctly. A mixture of low transmission fluid and water in gas tank symptoms can cause a rough and unsmooth acceleration. 


If you are wondering why your car has rough acceleration when you push the gas, this means that the car engine revs, but no power is transferred to the wheels to move the car. If the lack of power is caused by low fluid, it will only get worse as the transmission overheats and friction builds during use.


  • Misfiring


If the water enters the combustion chamber, you will also notice misfiring when the water goes into the cylinder combustion chamber due to the water in gas tank symptoms. The misfiring could relate to cylinder misfiring of spark plug misfiring. 

Cylinder Misfire

When your car misfires, this means that the internal combustion in your car is not working. Even with the misfire, your car will still be able to run, but you might notice the performance is subpar and leads to smooth driving problems. Diagnosing the cylinder misfire causes can reduce any performance issues and water in gas tank symptoms. 


Along with the jerking, while accelerating, the engine cylinder misfire can be accompanied by exhaust smoke coming out of the tailpipe, the smell of fuel, and loud sounds coming from underneath the hood.


The engine misfire will be noticeable to the driver. The driver might notice that the engine will feel shaking, vibrating, and jerking while accelerating. After this happens, the engine will suffer from performance hindrances. Since these cylinder misfiring symptoms are obvious to drivers, you should get help as soon as you notice the misfiring and water in gas tank symptoms. 

Fuel-Related Cylinder Misfiring

If the ignition components, like the spark plugs, are working correctly, then the fuel system is the main culprit for the cylinder misfire. The first place to start diagnosing the problem starts by checking the fuel injector’s voltage and ensuring the injector does not make any loud sounds during use. If the fuel system is working correctly, you should find out why you have the water in gas tank symptoms affecting your engine cylinder. 


  • Rough Idling



If your engine has a rough idle due to the improper air and fuel mixture and the engine misfiring, then this can be a huge result of the water in gas tank symptoms. If your engine has a rough idle, it is susceptible to future issues and minor mistakes that can harm your performance.


There are many reasons why your engine might have rough idling – figuring out these main reasons can prevent the water from gas tank symptoms.


Vacuum Leak – Most vehicles have hoses in their internal engine system, creating a vacuum for the car’s fuel. In engines that have a carburetor, this vacuum is in charge of directing the fuel into the engine and powering the car. Most newer cars and modern vehicles have a throttle that is designed to regulate engine speed and airflow through the system. If the vacuum system were to be damaged over time, this could cause rough idling and water in gas tank symptoms.


Spark Plugs – If you have damage in the engine that is severe enough, you might also notice that your engine has begun running rough while driving or has a rough idle. Make sure when you're driving or sitting in your car that you pay attention to any jerks from your car or shaking while you are driving, especially if you are accelerating up a hill and notice the other water in gas tank symptoms. 


Dirty Fuel Injector – Sometimes, internal parts have accumulated debris in the engine and can be the rough idling engine’s main cause. Fuel injectors disperse and transport fuel into your car’s engine, ensuring optimal performance and causing rough idle. That being said, if the fuel injectors in your car are dirty, then this can contribute to poor gas mileage and other water in gas tank symptoms. 


  • Check Engine Light


Most cars monitor the various sensors in your car that are in charge of analyzing the different fluid levels and vapor levels. If one sensor is not working correctly and getting faulty results, it will send the incorrect information to the car’s computer, the engine control unit. The engine control unit will then store the trouble code, which can sometimes be false due to the damaged sensor. This will cause the check engine light to come on due to the water in gas tank symptoms. 


There are certain reasons why your check engine light will go on that goes hand in hand with the water in gas tank symptoms. 

Oxygen Sensor Failure

The oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen stored within the exhaust system in your vehicle. The oxygen sensor is in charge of transmitting the signals to the vehicle’s electronic control unit, which uses this information to determine how much air and fuel mixture enters the cylinders.


The engine will be able to run even if the oxygen sensor is faulty or has become damaged. However, just because it is running does not mean it is running efficiently. Oxygen sensor failure can cause the water in gas tank symptoms and the check engine light to illuminate on your dashboard. 

Loose Fuel Cap

A loose fuel cap is also one of the most common reasons why the check engine light turns on – if you just filled up your tank and forgot to screw the cap back on tightly, it can immediately turn on, which will alert you as soon as you drive away. A loose fuel cap can trigger the check engine light and other water in gas tank symptoms. 

Catalytic Converter Failure

The catalytic converter is a key part of your engine and exhaust system, turning the gaseous carbon monoxide into a usable carbon dioxide. Although this part is simple, it is expensive when it needs to be replaced. Luckily, it is pretty easy to prevent failure by staying on top of your regular maintenance. However, if you let this part fail without replacing it in time, it can cause the check engine light to turn on, which can spur the other water in gas tank symptoms. 


  • Steam from the Exhaust


When you have water in the combustion chamber, this can evaporate and lead to steam. If you cook water at too high of a level, it will evaporate and turn into steam instead of being used in the gas tank. If you notice a lot more steam being produced from the exhaust pipe than usual, it could be the water in the gas tank symptoms that is causing the steam. 


  • Slow Acceleration


The various sensors in your vehicle are in charge of monitoring the output or input of vapors, liquids, and gases. They function to ensure the air and fuel mixture is at the correct ratio to mix at the proper time. If there is water going through the engine, the sensor can pick up a faulty reading and cause the engine to run too lean or too rich. This can cause the engine power to become much less than usual due to the fluid mixture’s improper analysis, with many symptoms occurring like slow acceleration and reduced horsepower. 


A reduction in engine power, performance levels, and acceleration can be due to the water in gas tank symptoms. There are other reasons why you might be having a slow acceleration like the car is running out of fuel, or the power is not sufficient enough to keep the car running. 


  • Hard Starting Condition


The moment at which your engine starts is critical for your car’s performance and the performance of your engine. The fuel mixture has to be at the proper air and fuel ratio, or the spark plugs will not have enough fuel to ignite the mixture, causing the spark plugs to not be able to create a spark and turn on the ignition. If this is the case, the hard starting condition is a clear result of water in gas tank symptoms. 


  • Engine Does Not Start


If your engine does not start, you might have too much water in the fuel, causing your engine to not be able to ignite with the spark plug ignition. If your engine is hydro-locked, this directly refers to the water in gas tank symptoms, since the water will not be compressible to use as fuel.


Water cannot be compressed like air can, meaning that the pistons cannot compress the air in the cylinder, and the internal parts of the engine can be damaged due to the excess liquid. If this is the case, unscrew one spark plug to see if the crankshaft can work properly. If not, the engine not starting is detrimental water in gas tank symptoms that can harm your engine’s functioning. 


  • Problems Begin to Appear


If the vehicle has been standing for a long time, fuel will float on top of the water due to the various liquids’ weight. If the fuel pump is pumping the fuel and the water is mixed in with the gas tank, the vehicle will push the water to the tank’s book. If this is the case, the fuel pump will only be able to gain fuel from the bottom – meaning that the water sitting at the bottom of the gas tank will be siphoned to the rest of the engine, leading to water in the gas tank symptoms and performance disadvantages. 


To prevent water in gas tank symptoms from hurting your engine and causing further problems in your car, you need to figure out the main causes of these issues to keep your car running at a high-performing level for a long period of time. Keeping your engine working efficiently and safely includes having your air and fuel mixture at the proper ratio to combust and ignite at the right time.