Research: How long does nitro fuel last?
Nitro RC cars are as powerful as electric cars, if not more powerful. But, unlike an electric RC that uses a battery to power its motors, nitro RC cars rely on nitro fuel.
The tricky part of using this fuel is that it can go bad at any time, especially when you buy so much and leave them sitting around for long periods. To prevent your nitro fuel from going bad, you need to know its exact expiration date.
In this article, we researched exactly how long each one of the compounds that make nitro fuel will last, to provide an accurate answer to how long nitro fuel last.
For how long does nitro fuel stay good?
When nitro fuel is out of its factory-sealed container, shelf life reduces drastically from years to months.
Studies have shown that factory-sealed nitro fuel can last up to 5 years, while open container nitro fuel will last for approximately four months, or 123 days in the air.
Nitro fuel, also known as glow fuel and hobby fuel, is commonly used in model RC cars, boats, trucks and planes.
You need to know that nitro fuel won’t last forever if you own a nitro RC car. Like gasoline, they go bad if not used after some time.
However, how long a nitro fuel will last will depend on how well you store it. If stored properly, they can last up to 6 months or more if the components that makes up the nitro fuel are still in mint condition.
Many RC enthusiast, both beginner and seasoned hobbyists, change out their nitro fuel every year. On the other hand, some RC enthusiasts store their nitro fuel a few years before it goes bad.
how long does each of the nitro fuel compounds last
Nitro fuel can go bad due to various reasons. One of the major reasons nitro fuel will go bad is because they are not stored properly. When you fail to store the nitro fuel in proper conditions, the compounds that make up the nitro fuel gets bad, rendering the nitro fuel useless. Three compounds make up the nitro fuel; methanol, nitromethane and oil.
While most solvents in their pure state have an indefinite shelf life when properly stored in tight containers and under proper conditions, others like methanol and nitromethane have an expiry date.
How long does methanol last
Methanol is the most important and dominant component of nitro fuel.
Regardless of its importance and foremost necessity, this solvent is hygroscopic; hence it easily attracts moisture if stored carelessly. When moisture enters into the fuel mixture, there’s no way your nitro fuel won’t go bad.
However, if properly stored under an airtight, opaque container where the temperature is stable, they can last for two years or more.
A good methanol will burn your eyes and nose if you smell it, while bad methanol won’t burn.
How long does nitromethane last
Nitromethane is a compound gotten from propane.
In its pure form, nitromethane can last up to 24 months or 730 days from the date they are manufactured.
However, their shelf life can reduce drastically after three months when constantly exposed to the sun.
How long does the oil compound last?
The oil blend in a nitro fuel varies. Some are made with castor oil, synthetic oil and other times, a combination of both.
Regardless of this, the oil blend in the nitro fuel will only last for five years before degrading.
In general, most chemical compounds have a shelf life of three years. However, nitromethane gets bad easily as exposure to sun and heat will accelerate decomposition.
How to tell if nitro fuel is bad
There are several ways to know when your nitro fuel is bad.
First, check the nitro engine. Poor engine performance will most likely occur when the fuel blend becomes contaminated with water. This will arise if you fail to preserve the container-filled fuel and the methanol attracts moisture.
You can also tell your nitro fuel is bad when the fuel looks cloudy and feels sticky. Technically, nitro fuel is clear. If the cloudiness refuses to go away after warming the fuel to 25°C (77°F), then your nitro fuel is bad and should not be used.
A bad nitro fuel will also change in color. This will usually happen when you leave the nitro fuel for long hours in the sun. If you find out that your fuel color is not as bright as when you bought it or the fuel color has turned black, it’s best to change your nitro fuel as a degraded nitro fuel can cause more hem to the engine than good.
Hence, you can identify a bad nitro fuel when you notice a faulty engine, a cloudy and sticky fuel and changes in the color of your nitro fuel.
Why shouldn’t you run a car on expired nitro fuel?
The main reason why you should not run a bad nitro fuel is that it will damage your nitro engine and cause it to smoke. A bad fuel will make it difficult for the nitro RC to start. Most times, you find that the car has a poor idle. Apart from this, the nitro fuel contains nitromethane which is highly flammable and explosive.
Hence, driving your nitro car with expired nitro fuel will not only put your RC car in danger but will also put you in harm’s way.
Should you store nitro fuel?
Yes, you need to store your nitro fuel in a tightly sealed container, or metal can make them last longer. Doing so will prevent air from entering the can, likely lowering the fuel levels. It’ll also prevent direct sunlight from penetrating the fuel, hence constantly keeping it in the right temperatures.
How to store nitro fuel
The main point of storing your nitro fuel is to ensure it lasts long and well for future use. To store your nitro fuel:
- Make sure the lid of the metal can or container containing your fuel is shut airtight. This will prevent the RC nitro fuel components, such as nitromethane, from evaporating.
- Choose a dry location to store the nitro fuel. It will prevent the methanol from drawing moisture.
- Store the nitro fuel in a room at a good temperature. You want to avoid locations with temperature swings as it can cause your oil to degrade.
- Keep the nitro fuel in a dark place. Nitromethane degrades under direct sunlight, and if kept under light for long hours, the nitromethane will break down.
RC nitro fuel is flammable.
Another reason you need to store your nitro fuel properly because, like gas, the nitro fuel is flammable.
Nitromethane makes up one part of the fuel mixture, and they are highly flammable liquids that easily ignite with small sparks or flames. If you fail to keep the nitro fuel in good conditions, you’ll be risking an explosive situation.
Ideally, nitro fuel can last between three to five years before going bad and more if stored properly, but when you keep the fuel in moisture and light-filled environment, they risk running bad, making the fuel only last between three to six months. Another variant that could cause your nitro fuel to go bad easily would be a switch in storage temperature. To prevent your nitro fuel from going bad easily, make sure to take precautions for each fuel component. Methanol and nitromethane will last for two years, while the oil mix can last longer.