How to Siphon Gas from a Car

Print Friendly

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.

Another good reason to keep an empty fuel tank in your car.

Another good reason to keep an empty fuel tank in your car. Carol is always prepared…

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

A manual fuel pump could help you easily siphon gas from many cars.

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?


  1. joe306tow

    August 18, 2015 at 5:04 am

    I going to have to disagree with this post. Regardless of the context or content. You see sometimes by posting things like this, you can cause problems instead of find solutions. This topic is one of those: “How to Sipon Gas from a Car” , It may help folks in a jam in a bug out TEOTWAWKI situation, but it also opens up to problems with
    folks that have evil intentions, showing yet another way to rob and piliage their neighbors. In fact since an Indiana refinery scaled back operations due to repairs, the price of gas in the Midwest has spiked above the national average, So, now those folks now have an excuse and the how to knowledge, will start to steal fuel from their neighbors. Way to help them in their theft!!

    • Pat Henry

      August 18, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for the comments Joe,

      I think I understand your problem with this post, but that is the same argument that says if you just make guns illegal, criminals won’t ever use them in a crime. You can’t simply not talk about subjects to keep criminals honest and I seriously doubt that by posting this I motivated anyone to become a thief. If I did, then I would also argue that they were already a thief and didn’t need the help of this article.

      Siphoning gas isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination and there are plenty of honest reasons why people could need to know how to do this. I wish my articles were so compelling that they could drive people to action because we talk about a lot of subjects on the Prepper Journal that could save lives in the right circumstances. I also talk about self defense in your home. Does that mean criminals now know better how to barricade themselves in from the police? We talk about harvesting rainwater. Does that teach criminals how to steal water?

      What I was trying to do was help people who do not have criminal intent. I can’t really do anything about people who are trying to break the law and not sharing information that could help good people doesn’t stop criminals from doing what they want to do.


      • Tony

        June 23, 2017 at 9:45 am

        Well said. My thoughts exactly.

  2. Steven Thornton

    August 18, 2015 at 5:53 am

    All you need in a true emergency: 1. Sharp knife. 2. Container for fuel. Use knife to bore hole in fuel tank. Catch fuel in container. 3. Refuel your vehicle.

    • Jonny Dplrbl

      March 26, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      My thoughts exactly. The only catch is that with low-clearance cars, it will require a low-profile drain pan. Trucks will be easy.

  3. Deborah

    August 18, 2015 at 10:11 am

    I appreciate you sharing your wisdom to help us to survive in a bad situation. I agree that people with evil intent does not have the need to be on websites like this to seek knowledge how to commit evil, they already have the skills, people like me who are seeking the knowledge to prepare and survive are the ones on these sites and appreciate that you are taking your time and wisdom to share. Being a female, I would need the info you shared, as I have never had to conceive why to know how to siphon gas, but in these times we are facing uncertainty, I sincerely need to possess these skills, thank you so much for this info, there are many of us who have gratitude for this info, please never stop helping those of us who have the need to gain wisdom to survive. The evil have no need to read your info they are fully skilled to do crime and harm to others. Keep up your great work, God Bless you

    • Pat Henry

      August 18, 2015 at 10:28 am

      Thank you very much for your comments Deborah! I am glad it was helpful to you.


  4. Steve LaFontaine

    August 18, 2015 at 11:43 am

    only DINOSAURS do it like this. nowadays we shove the entire length of the hose into the tank. leaving just a handful sticking out. we place our finger tightly over the end of the hose, forming a airtight stopper, and withdraw the hose rapidly.the gas is lifted and you can dump it into the gas can. we NEVER touch anything with our mouth. better yet get one of these. http://shoreline-marinedevelopment.com/products-ezsiphonhose

  5. Danny Lee

    August 18, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I would suggest that for the sake of space in the trunk that you carry 2 of the collapsible water jugs. One for water and one for emergency fuel. I know that there are safety concerns but this is an emergency…

    • Pat Henry

      August 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Excellent suggestion Danny! Amazon has 5 gallon collapsible water bladders http://amzn.to/1Ku4sLD but I don’t know how long they would last with fuel. It could be a good option though.

      • EgbertThrockmorton1

        August 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm

        Collapsible water bladders are NOT sympatico with gasoline. Far better to have a real gas can instead.(don’t ask me HOW I know this)
        Also, having had a serious case of “gasoline-reflux” when attempting to siphon gas as a wayward youth, I like Steven’s post above. Sharp implement, container to hold the fuel, drain the tank. No “gasoline-reflux” which is extremely unpleasant to deal with. Just trying to help from “Uncle Egbert’s list of things NOT to do…”.

        • BobW

          August 18, 2015 at 8:59 pm

          Been there, brother. Last year, I bought a cheap pump like the one shown in the top pic from Harbor Freight for around $5. The boy and I were able to pump a 5 gallon fuel can into the trailer’s fuel tank in under minutes. Repeating that process, but with the fuel can below the trailer’s tank proved far more difficult. It resulted in massive arm pump, aching shoulders, and took closer to 15 minutes due to the arm pump.

          Point here is to remind folks that gravity matters. Receptacle should be lower than the ‘donor’ fuel cell.

          Now that I know the little hand pump works well, I’ll be buying new ones to stash in the trucks. The old one will be the ‘sunny day’ usage version to avoid stinking up the vehicles with gas fumes.

          • Jonny Dplrbl

            March 26, 2017 at 9:13 pm

            Indeed… Harbor Freight Transfer Pump’s are awesome. I have 2 for fuels/oils and 2 for water transfer… all marked appropriately. They move a lot of fluid fast.

        • Pat Henry

          August 20, 2015 at 7:28 am

          Thanks Egbert. I thought they might be too flimsy for the gas but honestly haven’t tried it myself before.

  6. Jonny Dplrbl

    March 26, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    If it’s that bad out there, I am going under the car with a large drain pan and an ice pick.

  7. Jonny Dplrbl

    March 26, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I think the author mentioned the numerous anti-theft devices which make that method impossible on any recent car.

  8. Flattop

    June 20, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Growing up on a ranch, I have used the thumb over the end method, and most of time if the tank is not full, the tank end will be sticking up out of the gas. ( Murphys law ) Blow into the hose and if you hear gas bubbling in the tank, you are good to go. If you don’t hear bubbling, turn the hose 180 degrees and try again.

Leave a Reply