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How To Clean A Motorcycle Gas Tank? [Video] Rust Removal

Motorbike with gas tank and iron engine on river bank

Whether you’re a professional rider or an amateur enthusiast, a motorcycle gas tank is an integral part of your vehicle that needs to be maintained and inspected every now and then.

If you’re new to motorcycle riding, you might not think about it. Still, your gas tank is a dirty, dark, and generally unpleasant place. It should be inspected for rust regularly to avoid costly repairs in the future.

Cleaning a motorcycle gas tank depends on the accumulation of dirt and rust. In most cases, you can simply use a cleaning solution (mild acid and agitators) and scrub away mild corrosives and dirt. If the corrosion is severe, replacing the gas tank might be in order. 

How to Clean A Motorcycle Tank

1. Examine the inside and outside of the tank visually. Note the overall condition and the rust level. This will allow you to decide whether the gas tank is salvageable or not.

2. Removing the Rust

Rust is a naturally occurring corrosive. It is a brownish or yellowish-colored substance that occurs when iron comes in contact with oxygen and water. Still, it can be easily prevented by proper care and regular maintenance.

There are three methods to safely and effectively remove rust from metal surfaces like a gas tank.

  • Manual – use a steel brush to scrub the rust from the surface. This is a significant step if you’re trying to reduce the amount of work involved in cleaning a high accumulation of rust on your gas tank. 
  • Chemical – rust removal using chemicals is a cost-effective and safe way to remove rust. Still, it requires regular maintenance to ensure it works. This is a more effective way to clean the tank because of its ability to penetrate the hard-to-reach areas, thereby removing rust. The process is simple too! All that’s needed is to soak the tank in acid to melt away the rust. 
  • Mix of both – so far, this is the best way to remove rust from your fuel tank, as it is gentler to the tank too. 

The process of removing rust

 Step 1 Preparation

Before starting the rust removal, you need to empty all the fuel. Then, you need to seal all the holes. You can use silicon or vacuum caps for this purpose. Don’t forget to seal the petcock outlet and crossover tubes. 

Step 2.  Don’t clean your tank inside your garage

Working with fuel and chemicals is a dangerous business. Aside from the hazards it poses, it can also give you respiratory issues. As such, it’s highly recommended that you work in a place with proper ventilation. And, since you will be using acids as a cleaning agent, make sure you wear gloves, a mask, and goggles. 

Step 3 Check the chemical reaction

Chemicals react when mixed with other chemicals. If you’re unaware, these reactions can be varied and may result in foul odor, thick deadly smoke, fire, or sometimes, explosion. As such, check the volatility of the agitator and the cleaning agent. Simply take a sample from the chemicals you’re using and mix them in a small bowl. Check for reactions such as gas or smoke emission, bubbling, fire, etc. 

4. Remove the gas tank.

When removing a gas tank from a motorcycle, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to do it correctly. If you don’t have a manual, use the following methods:  loosen the gas line or hose. Also, some motorcycle tanks have a fuel valve and low fuel sensor. Remove them as well.

5. It’s time to deal with the rust. 

Add the acid to the tank. Our recommendation here is to use FDC 99.6 Pure Oxalic Acid Powder C2H204 (Ehaneodic Acid Dihydrate) Rust remover. It’s straightforward to use. Alternatively, you can use vinegar. Fill the tank with vinegar and leave it for several days.

6. Add the agitator

You can use nuts and bolts or BB pellets. Fill the tank halfway through. This will be enough to give the agitators room to move around once you shake the tank. The purpose of the agitator is to scrape the rust away, leaving it to float in the chemical or vinegar. You may have to do this repeatedly over a few days. 

7. Flush the tank

Once satisfied with the result, flush the tank using a clean, hot water stream. A brush can also be used to dislodge the debris inside the tank.

8. Wipe the tank dry. 

The tank should be dried using a lint-free cloth. To fully dry the tank, you can use compressed air. Do not install the tank and put fuel after this process. You need to make sure the tank is truly dry. Keep it in a cool, dry area for a few days.

9. Post-cleaning inspection

Depending on how thick the rust is, removing it from metal can damage or significantly thin the metal to the point that it becomes unusable. At this point, the goal of your inspection is to check if the tank is still usable or not. 

10. Final Touches

If the tank is usable, add the fuel line antifreeze/water remover to help absorb any leftover moisture. 


With the steps we covered, you should remove rust from your gas tank. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions, and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it.

To conclude, removing rust from a gas tank is a process that takes time and a lot of effort. Still, it’s very doable if you follow the instructions carefully.

Thank you for your time.