Do new cans of race fuel have a shelf life?
Yes. We have purchased brand new, sealed 5 gallon cans of race fuel that were bad. At a dyno shootout at Daytona BikeWeek in March 2010, our BMW S1000RR SuperSport bike made three consecutive dyno runs measuring 181 RWHP using a can of VP MR12 we just purchased directly off of a VP truck at the event that day. Bone stock RR’s were putting down 186 RWHP, so we knew something was very wrong. First, we drained the bad fuel and retested with pump gas – the result was 203 RWHP. Next, we poured in MR12 from a previously opened can that had been stored in the trailer since the fall of 2009…our horsepower instantly shot up to a class-winning 211 RWHP! Bad gas can be REALLY bad…
After reviewing the situation with the guys on the VP truck, we realized that the first can had a date code that was almost 2 years old, even though it was “brand new” off of the truck. The pre-opened can from the trailer was dated less than 6 months old.
According to VP fuels website: “The length of time the fuel will stay fresh in a sealed drum depends on the fuel itself. A non-oxygenated fuel such as C12 should be used within a couple years. I personally have tested some that was eight years old and was fine. As far as an oxygenated fuel I would like to see these fuels used within a year or so. This way you know the oxygen content is still within spec. Both oxygenated and non-oxygenated fuels will most likely last longer than I have stated, but I feel that to ensure the best performance following these recommended guidelines will be to your benefit.”
To help alleviate bad fuel issues moving forward, we now look at the date code (side of the can as it tells the day and the year it was produced) to determine if the can has exceeded its usable shelf life. Here at Brock’s Performance, we will not purchase a can older than 1 year old and actively seek the freshest can the dealer has on the shelf. Most VP dealers will search for the freshest can, if requested. We also shy away from the 'sucked in' cans, if possible, as they have proven to be bad also, even with a relatively fresh date code. We believe the outward appearance of the can will often demonstrate if the fuel has been subjected to a wide variance of temperatures, which is undesirable, especially with oxygenated fuels such as MR12 and MRX02.
Please review this image to learn how to read the date code.
How to decipher the date code on your can: The "21" indicates the year (2021), the "B" indicates the month of February, and the "08" indicates the 8th day. So this was packaged on 2/8/21.
Shown Below: Pre-2021 Date Code Format