Automotive Fuel Tank Problems

Can't fix your car problem on your own? Ask a live mechanic!

new fuel tank
New Fuel Tank

Although fuel tank problems are not very common, I have seen issues that needed to be addressed from time to time. Since it’s not a common automotive problem it is also not written about on the Internet very often.

Some of the problems with fuel tanks that we will talk about in this short article have to do with the overall construction of it. These over-sized liquid storage containers are more complicated than most people realize. We will also talk about a vehicle not taking fuel . This is where the fuel tank doesn’t accept the gas fast enough and the pump nozzle turns off while trying to fill it.

Sometimes we think that we will never have to worry about our fuel tanks at all. And in most cases you are correct this is one car part that is engineered well for safety and performance. However as I write this article ford is getting the word out to there customers that it has issued a recall on about a decade’s worth of F150s. Ford is going to replace the fuel tank retaining straps on these trucks because of heavy rusting.

They do not want gas tanks to start hitting the road surface during accidents. Although at this time I have not heard of any incidents of this happening. You can call your local dealer and provide them with your vehicle identification number to see if your truck is included in the gas tank strap recalls.

Sometimes gas tank problems are self-inflicted. As an example when I was a young man, I had a stereo system installed in my 79 Trans Am. the Car audio shop mounted an amplifier in the trunk. After I filled up the fuel tank a couple of times I noticed an overpowering gas smell in the car (not good for smoker). Upon further inspection I found that the stereo shop drilled holes to mount the amplifier right through the fuel tank. This is a good reason to learn how to install car audio and car alarms yourself.

Things to know about fuel tanks

The gas in the tank must survive very cold temperatures and then very hot temperatures as well. To contain vapors and allow for expansion and contraction of the petroleum fluid modern tanks have a separate air chamber that resembles a dome at the top. Also shape and mounting position of the fuel tank only allows for liquid to be installed in 90% of the compartment leaving 10% open for expansion and movement.

Most automotive fuel tanks have slosh baffles or surge plates to prevent gas from splashing around on the inside of the tank they also helps slow down the movement of it. Another advantage of these baffles is they can help funnel fuel to the pump when the tank is low and prevent the fuel pump from sucking dry.

fuel tank vent
Fuel tank vent

The fuel filler tube looks different depending on the year make and model. All the ones that I have seen have a built-in restriction that prevents the full entry of the larger diesel fuel nozzle. The filler tube itself is mounted well above the gas tank and is usually short in length to prevent kinking. The filler tube is one of the leading causes of a tank to refuse to take gas.

If the tube is damaged or crushed gasoline will not flow quick enough into the tank and the safety on the gas station pumps will kick off. Another reason for a tank not to take fuel would be problems with the venting system. Although car-makers are not allowed to vent fuel vapor into the atmosphere they still vent it to a holding tank. As liquid rushes into the tank pressure can build up during the process. Most modern tanks have a vent system of some kind and when this malfunctions it can make it hard to put gas in the tank.

Check my fuel tank for what

An occasional inspection should be performed and an immediate inspection performed if problems are suspected. They should be inspected for leaks, road damage; metal units should be checked for corrosion and rust, defective or damaged seams. Also the mounting hardware should be checked for tightness and damage.

As I mentioned above on my Trans Am the gas tank was drilled into. Holes in plastic and metal tanks can sometimes be repaired by using special tank repair kits. I do not recommend this personally. When I tried it on my Trans Am it didn’t work. Also you really want to maintain the integrity of the original design.

My last recommendation about gas tanks is if you have to remove one always drain it before you begin removal. It is really harder to pull one that has fuel in it. It can also be dangerous. Give this page a bookmark just in case you run into some problems down the road. Or share this article with a friend that is having fuel tank problems. For more interesting articles this next link will take you back to the home page for the auto repair information blog.

Can't fix your car problem on your own? Ask a live mechanic!

10 Replies to “Automotive Fuel Tank Problems”

  1. Al Stumpf

    This morning I dropped off my 2007 Chrysler Pacifica for the fourth time to repair fuel system problems. The vehiclle does not want to fill properly (possible vent problem) in addition the fuel guage suddenly goes from 1/2 tank down to empty in seconds after we have driven for approx. 100 miles after filling. This morning while waiting at the dealership to open the miles to empty went up while sitting with the engine running and the guage moved accordingly. Anybody have a clue as to what needs to be done. They have replaced two pumps, and I believe two sensors. HELP!

  2. Allan

    I have a 1995 Camaro Z 28. And I also have the problem of not filling the gas tank. It pours in about $1.50 into the gas tank and it stops, I tried different gas pumps , And they all do the same It Stops. How can I fix this problem? I know about engines but nothing about gas tanks. Any help please.

  3. Mark

    Allan: I can’t tell you exactly whats wrong with your Camaro as that would need some hands on diagnosis. BUT I can tell you a few common problems that can stop fuel from flowing freely into to the tank when at the gas station. One I’ve seen more then once would be a collapsed fill hose that runs from the fuel fill tube down to the tank. This is even more common on cars that have had rear end collisions but since the hose is 20 years old it’s something to check.

    The other common problem to mention would be a stuck closed fuel tank vent. This is usually on the top side of the tank and lets air out during fuel filling. If the air doesn’t exit the tank gas stops going in. There is also a vent hose that connects to the valve. If this is kinked or collapsed it has the same affect.

  4. harry miller

    Long story but I now have a drill bit sitting at the bottom of my fuel tank. 2005 Highlander. Leave it or have it taken out?

  5. Richard Hubbard

    I have a 99 Ford lightning and the stock tank has been removed. i now have an Aluminum Tank mounted in the Bed of truck. I live in AZ. and gets real hot, 105 to 112 degrees, seems the fuel is getting Hot is their a Fuel Tank i can buy that doesn’t get as hot as the Aluminum, The Aluminum Tanks are not the way to go in AZ. Help Please tank will be mounted in the bed of truck.

  6. Leslie

    Did Chrysler stop putting baffles in their fuel tanks? I have a 2015 Chrysler 200 and the gas is free to move and you can hear it if you move your car by hand when its shut down.

    • Mark Gittelman

      Leslie: As far as I known Chrysler still uses baffles in the tank. Often you can still hear the sloshing of fuel in between the baffles. How much noise you hear depends on how they are configured inside.

  7. Vicki S.

    Is what you call a filler tube also the neck? Dealer replaced a cent valve and a filler neck b/c of engine code. They replaced the charcoal canister and now the tank makes thumping noises when at stops and when filling tank which I think is the tank expanding and contracting like a milk container. I can’t get them to fix this since it is not throwing a code. What does it need to make the thumping stop?

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