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can you paint a car gas tank

Can You Paint a Car Gas Tank?

If you’re a car enthusiast, then you know that you take pride in just about every single piece that is installed onto your car. Having everything shiny and paint-matched makes your car look that much better when your build is complete. But, can you paint a car gas tank without any issues? The answer is yes. You can paint a car gas tank as long as the necessary preparations are taken, and the proper type of paint is used.

When it comes to painting a car gas tank, it all comes down to personal preference and looks. However, we aren’t talking about painting a gas tank on your modern day car, but on the older generation cars such as the classics, or even on your drag strip weekend racecar.

Most of the time, the gas tank is underneath the car underneath the trunk, but there are many instances where the gas tank gets relocated into the trunk. Both of these spots means that you have the chance to make your gas tank stand out or blend in beautifully with your car.

Is It Ok to Paint a Gas Tank?

Painting your gas tank will not harm it in anyway. However, there are a few things you have to keep in mind. Most aftermarket gas tanks are steel and will usually come with some type of protection to protect against rust and corrosion. Galvanized or zinc-coated gas tanks are most commonly used among the gas tanks in today’s market.

In order to be able to paint your gas tank without issues, you will either need to use the correct type of paint based on your gas tanks material that will adhere to your gas tank, or you will need to prep your gas tank before painting it.

Painting a gas tank is actually a great way to “restore” it, or make it look new again even if it is not new. This is especially true if you are using an OEM gas tank, as these can be very old and may have even started to rust.

The old coatings on the gas tank may have started to come off which allows the air to oxidize with the steel which will create rust. However, if you prep and paint your gas tank, you can make it look like it has never aged a day.

Some of the most common colors that gas tanks get painted are: aluminum, black, and grey. All of these colors will give your gas tank a timeless and clean look, which is what many car enthusiasts strive for.

What Kind of Paint Can You Use on a Gas Tank?

There are a few different types of paint to use on a car gas tank, but most importantly, you will want to use a paint that is specifically formulated to prevent rust and corrosion.

Acrylic Lacquer Paint

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One of the most common used paints is acrylic lacquer paint. The single most popular brand that many use to paint their gas tank is Eastwood Anti Rust Tank Tone. It is an acrylic lacquer paint that is mixed with a zinc coating.

The zinc coating will help protect your gas tank from rust, and various engine fluids such as brake fluid, transmission fluid, oil, and anything else that might find its way onto your gas tank.

It comes in an aerosol can, and no primer is needed. Simply spray it on and you’re good to go.


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POR-15 is a special protective coating that dries faster when moisture is present. This has the total opposite effect of ordinary paints. Once this is cured, it will form a coat that is indestructible with a hard, tough finish.

How Do You Paint a Gas Tank?

There are two types of gas tanks we will be looking at. An old used gas tank, and a shiny brand new gas tank. Both of these gas tanks require prep work, one more than the other.

Prep the Gas Tank

If you are using an old gas tank, the first thing you will want to do is inspect it for rust and corrosion. The next step is to remove the old galvanized or zinc-coating. Once you have removed the old coating so just the steel is left, it’s time to sand it smooth.

The quickest and most efficient way to do this is by using a power sander to remove any of the remaining coating.

Remove the Rust

Once everything is sanded down and smooth, you will need to go over all the spots on your gas tank that have rust. Use a rust remover to remove rust in all the hard to reach places such as the edges, corners, and hard to reach places.

Do not skip this part as removing all the rust is very important if you want your gas tank to last. It may not be possible to remove every inch of rust, and that’s understandable, proceed to the next step which will cover

Use a Degreaser and Rust Reformer

Once you have sanded down your gas tank, and removed all the rust, the next step is to use a degreaser. Use a degreaser around the entire gas tank along with a rust reformer. Once this is done, your gas tank is ready to be painted.

Paint With an Airbrush or Aerosol Can

Depending on the route you choose, you will either be using a rust protective paint or an aerosol acrylic lacquer paint from a can. If you are using paint out of a paint tub, the best way to apply it is with a paint sprayer.

If you are are using an aerosol can simply apply it in even coating all around the gas tank until you have used the entire can.

Here is a helpful video showing what this process looks like from start to finish:

Final Thoughts

A gas tank can definitely be painted as long as the right steps are taken. This includes making sure there is no rust, prepping the area for paint, and painting it with some type of protectant or lacquer paint with rust preventative measures.

Restoring a gas tank by painting it is a great way to bring it back to life. As gas tanks age, their original protective coatings start to wear off which causes rust and corrosion.

If caught early enough, a gas tank can be restored with a little bit of elbow grease by sanding, cleaning, and painting. Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!