One of the most popular product introductions on Autos.ca concerned an emergency fuel substitute that could be used if you run out of gas. For those who wanted some “out of gas” insurance, two litres worth of this stuff could likely get you to a service station, so it made sense to have a container in your trunk, “just in case.”
Many people emailed to find out where this product could be purchased, but we had to remove the article because it was only on the market for a short time. It turned out that there were patent disputes that kept the product off the shelves, and what seemed like a good idea to many was soon no longer available.
Well, it’s back. With the uninspired but admittedly accurate name “Spare Fuel,” you’ll find it at Canadian Tire stores in an oddly sized 1.89L container for $19.99.
Spare Fuel is described by its manufacturer as a, “non-flammable gasoline derivative.” Although it works like gasoline, explains the manufacturer, “it is not gasoline. It contains no volatile butanes, pentanes, hexanes or heptanes, and is therefore safe to store in the trunk of your vehicle and used as fuel additive in an emergency “out of gas” situation.”
While Spare Fuel is combustible, it’s not designated as a flammable substance. The product information indicates that if you pour some on a lighted match, it will douse the flame. Therefore, while you’re not advised to carry gasoline in the trunk of your car, Spare Fuel is a safe alternative, and it has a shelf life of 10 years.
Spare Fuel’s octane rating is 91+ and its rate of consumption (L/100 km) will match that of your vehicle as if it were burning gasoline. So, if your car averages 10 L/100 km, you should be able to drive about 20 kilometres on a container of Spare Fuel; twice that if you use two containers.
Spare Fuel works by utilizing residual gasoline left at the bottom of the gas tank. It pushes that residual gasoline into the engine permitting it to start, then keeps the engine running until, hopefully, you’ve found a gas station. Because it’s a gasoline derivative, it has no negative effect on catalytic converters or oxygen sensors, according to the manufacturer. It is 100 percent biodegradable.
Spare Fuel, it should be emphasized, does not work in diesel-powered vehicles.
Personally, I think this is a terrific product for those prone to running out of gas, new drivers or for those who may live in a remote area. Running out of gas is something that has happened to most of us, and the Spare Fuel container even comes with a funnel for the fuel filler. That said, the plastic funnel split when I attempted to open it in -20-degree weather. You can still use the product, but it would be nice if the funnel was cold-proof.
Do you need to carry Spare Fuel? Many automobile associations and car manufacturers provide roadside assistance that includes emergency gasoline service for the stranded motorist. Of course, if you’re pushed for time or you don’t have signal for your cellphone you may prefer to have a container of Spare Fuel on hand for added security.
Something else to note is that the instructions do mention that Spare Fuel should be used while the vehicle’s engine is still warm. A cold engine will be harder to start when using Spare Fuel, they suggest, although it would seem to me that you’d likely add it right away if you find yourself at the side of the road.
The US PBS television show, “Motorweek” tried Spare Fuel in an “out of gas” Jeep Wrangler. It started right up.
Spare Fuel is available at Canadian Tire stores across Canada.