What color is gasoline for cars?

Alright, we get it! This might be a weird question to pose. Gasoline’s probably among the most familiar substances people use every day. If someone was to ask you what color is gasoline for cars, what would you say? Wait, does gasoline have color at all?

We’re not saying you’d answer by posing another question. Still, such trivialities can inspire us to pick up on broader subjects. For example, we might ask why gasoline looks the way it does? To answer that – one would need to go further into the origins of gasoline territory.

In its natural state, gasoline is basically colorless. The dye is later added so we can easily differentiate various types of gasoline. Regular gas (octane rating: 87) is mostly blue-ish or green. Mig-grade gasoline (octane rating: 89) is usually yellow-ish. Premium gasoline (octane rating: 90+) is colored pink. Lastly, if your gasoline turns brown – it has probably gone bad.

Since that was a bit short, we’ll give you a more thorough answer in the text below. Stick around for another episode of our Gasoline 101 series.

Table of Contents

Gasoline for dummies (FAQ)

Here we’ll try to give you some basic facts on this fascinating substance. Let’s start out with the most obvious of questions.

What is gasoline?

Gasoline is a liquid we get from the process called fractional distillation. During the process, gasoline is extracted from crude oil (petroleum). The whole ordeal most commonly happens inside oil refineries, due to its complexity. All in all: when heated to a certain point, petroleum breaks into components. One of them, of course, is our main buddy here – gasoline.

We use gasoline mostly as fuel in internal combustion engines. There’s no need to mention most car models rely on gasoline for power.

Is gasoline a pure substance?

First, we’ll need to define what are pure substances. First of all, they have a constant composition. Also, pure substances possess characteristics that are the same throughout the whole sample. For example, gold and iron are pure substances. Gasoline, on the other hand, classifies as a (homogenous) mixture.

The aforementioned mixtures are materials formed from two or more divergent chemical substances. Also, those substances shouldn’t be chemically combined. Mixtures can either be homogenous (uniform) or heterogeneous (non-uniform). Gasoline, as we said, fits into the latter category.

Are there different types of gasoline for cars?

Yup, there are! These are the ones you’ll find on most gas stations:

  • Regular gasoline (octane rating of 87). About eighty percent of car models require you use this type. It’s also the cheapest option among gasoline types.
  • Mid-grade gasoline (octane rating of 89). Only seven percent of owner’s manuals suggest you use mid-grade gas.
  • Premium gasoline (octane rating of 90+). The most expensive gasoline type. Cars that run on premium gasoline give the best performance results.

The last sentence doesn’t mean you can run any car model on premium and expect the best results. Things are a bit more complex than that. Only use the type of gasoline that is proposed by the owner’s manual. By running your vehicle on the “wrong” kind of gasoline, you risk doing some damage to the engine. More info on different types of gas and other related issues you’ll find here.

Does gasoline go bad?

Yup. Unfortunately, gasoline does go bad after it lies for a certain amount of time in storage. Even when kept in optimal conditions, it has an expiry date.

Wondering how to find out if your gasoline’s gone bad (and what to do about it)? Feel free to visit this page. A quick hint: it also has something to do with color. We’ll talk more about it below.

Lastly, is gasoline flammable?

Yes, gasoline vapors can be easily ignited. Gasoline has a low flash point of -40°F (-40°C). It is the temperature at which it starts to release dangerous vapors into the atmosphere. That is why gasoline needs to be stored in proper containers, away from any heating sources. More about safe gasoline storage you’ll find on this page.

Okay. So, shall we tackle the main question for today?

A man sipping on gasoline in his black car, at a gas station.

What color is gasoline for cars?

You might’ve already known this, but gasoline is originally colorless. What do we mean by originally? Well, gasoline manufacturers add color dyes to it. They do this so they don’t mix up different grades of gasoline. Also, this makes it easier for folks to check their gasoline for water contamination.

Do different types of gasoline have different colors?

They most absolutely do. As we said, color dyes are used to “mark” different types of gasoline:

  • Regular gasoline (octane rating of 87) – usually slightly blue or green.
  • Mid-grade gasoline (octane rating of 89) – usually yellowish.
  • Premium gasoline (octane rating of 90+) – this one is usually pink.

This makes it easier for users to spot if they’re sipping the wrong kind of gasoline. As we’ve already said, the “wrong” kind of gasoline can do some damage to your engine.

Does color play an important role when storing gasoline?

Alright, this question is formulated in a way it answers itself. Of course, color does play an important role in the process of gasoline storage. You’ll need to watch out for changes in gasoline color. Just so you know if it spoiled or not. Let’s elaborate on that.

At first, gasoline is almost transparent, regardless of the color. That’s how we recognize fresh gasoline. As time goes by, it will eventually turn darker, towards a more brownish tone. This happens during the process of oxidation. In other words: gasoline gets in contact and mixes with oxygen.

Is there something else to watch out for?

Actually, there is! The way your gasoline smells will change over time. Once you start to notice a sour smell – it most likely means you’re stuck with bad gasoline. It’s pretty much opposed to the smell gasoline has when it’s fresh. A really strong-smelling odor.

Why is bad gasoline bad?

It’s important you avoid sipping bad gas into your vehicle since it can:

  • cause your car to experience ignition problems.
  • make your car have trouble while accelerating. 
  • significantly damage its engine.

How long does it take until gasoline goes bad?

Well, it depends on the kind. It’s regular, pure gasoline it can stay in your storage anywhere from three to six months. In optimal conditions, that is. If it’s ethanol-blended gasoline we’re talking about, it has a shelf life of two to three months. Lastly, fuel-stabilized gasoline has a shelf life of one to three years. Adding some fuel-stabilizer to your stored gasoline will prolong its shelf life.

Anyway, watch out for the changes in smell and color. Noticing brown gasoline should be a cause for alarm. Wondering how to dispose of unusable gasoline? No worries, just click here.

And while we’re talking about color…

It’s good we also mention different color codes when it comes to liquid containers.

  • Green containers are used for oil storage. Also, crude oil is mostly black or brownish. Although it can come in many colors (yellow, red, and green).
  • You’ll find gasoline and other flammable stored in red containers. We already talked about the color of gasoline.
  • Yellow containers are for storing diesel fluids. Diesel can be either green or red. The latter is to be used with agricultural machinery. Bio-diesel can be golden, or dark brown, depending on the method of production.
  • Blue containers contain kerosene. Kerosene is typically colorless, although some manufacturers add dye to it.

What color is gasoline for cars? – a quick sum up

Let’s take a quick look at what we’ve learned today.

First of all, we’ve mentioned some basic facts about gasoline:

  • It’s classified as a mixture and is extracted from crude oil. The process of extraction is called fractional distillation.
  • We mostly use gasoline as fuel for internal combustion engines. In other words: gasoline is mostly used to power vehicles.
  • We can differentiate between regular, mid-grade, and premium gasoline. Their main differences lie in the octane rating.
  • Gasoline can go bad while stored. Also, it’s highly flammable so make sure you store it properly and away from any heating sources.

We also learned that, in its natural state, gasoline doesn’t have color. The dye is later added so people don’t mix up different types of it. Regular gasoline is mostly slightly blue or green. Mid-grade gas is kinda yellowish. Lastly, premium gasoline’s usually pink.

That’s that for fresh gas. If your gasoline turns brown in storage, that means it has gone bad. Avoid using it after it spoils since it can do some damage to your engine. Add some fuel stabilizer to prolong its so-called shelf life.

Last but not least, gasoline is usually stored in red containers.

Final words

That’s about it, dear folks! If you’ve wondered what color is gasoline for cars, now you have your answer. Until next time, read up on more gasoline facts you’ll find right here.