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Home > Tech Tips > Build/Modify Sheetmetal

Motorcycle Gas Tanks - Sealing

By Jason Van Wyhe

Do you need to seal your gas tank before painting it? Of course you should... maybe. It depends on where you live, how much you drive, and the quality of the sealing job.

By sealing the gas tank, we are referring to coating the inside of the gas tank with a special sealant that binds to the metal and prevents leaks and rust. The tank should be sealed before painting. The benefits are obvious - prevent rust and leaks. The drawback is that the gas lifts the sealant over time, filling your gas tank with globs of sealant, clogging your fuel system, and basically leaving your tank in worse shape than if you did nothing at all.

Here are the scenarios that you should be aware of:

  • If you ride all year round, you probably don't have to seal the inside of your tanks. Just keep it full of gas.
  • If you live in a very dry area, you probably do not need to seal the inside of your tank. With little humidity in the air, the chances of the inside of you tank rusting are slim. Make sure to keep the gas cap on, and fill it up with gas if you store it for any length of time.
  • If you live in a wet environment, or one with long winters where your bike has to be stored, seal your tank. The humidity will rust the inside of the tank, especially when stored over the winter.
  • If the tank has been repaired, or if you have potential leaks, obviously seal it.

Ultimately the choice is up to you, but if you are in doubt, seal it. Note: You need to fix the leaks first - sealant or JB weld should not be used in place of proper metalworking repairs as they will break down over time.

If you decide to seal your tank, there are a couple of routes you can go.

The first is the most popular, which is to use Kreem Sealant kits. Many people swear by this product, but to be honest we've had mixed results. On some tanks, it worked great; on others, it was a disaster. The big thing is to make 100% sure the inside of the tank is completely free of all contaminants. I can't emphasize this point enough. Clean out the inside of the tank, repeatedly, with wax and grease remover. When tanks are rolled out, the sheetmetal is usually treated with oil. You need to to get rid of all this oil first. I know the kits come with their own cleaner; its not enough, especially on big tanks. The final thing is read the directs carefully. This is not the project to cut corners on.

If you are unsure about doing it yourself, another option exists. Most radiator shops can seal and pressure test the gas tanks for you. The sealant they use is generally a stronger professional grade, and seems to hold up better. They can also do a low pressure test to check for leaks. The price for this depends upon where you live, ranging from $50-$150. Make sure you choose a reputable place to do this. If they don't properly clean the tank, the coating will lift as surely as if you did yourself. Also, they need to use low pressure when testing the tanks; too much pressure will blow your tank out at the seams.

Once your tank is sealed, its time for priming and painting!


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