Fuel Tanks Can Fail

Fuel tanks for cars and other small vehicles are made of either metal (steel or aluminum), or, more commonly these days, from high density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. The plastic tanks can be configured in complex shapes that give auto manufacturers great design freedom in placing the tank over the rear axle to save space and improve safety in crashes. Early fears that the plastic would not last are a thing of the past; although, like any fuel tank, a plastic tank should be monitored for soundness.

Gas tanks are subject to several types of problems that can result from damage to the tank, fuel contamination, and sensor issues. Before attempting to repair a gas tank that is leaking, damaged, or shows other signs of problems, it is imperative to drain all gasoline from it and remove it from the car.

Common Fuel Tank Problems

Fuel tanks can experience several different types of problems:

    • Rust can eat through a metal tank to cause holes or leaks. It can also rust out the straps that hold the tank in place, which runs the risk that the tank can fall off the car. While plastic tanks do not rust, they can have defective or damaged seams that lead to leaks.
    • Since tanks are placed in front of the rear axle, owners can create holes or leaks in gas tanks by drilling into the trunk and hitting the tank. This can happen if owners try to secure a stereo system or trunk organizer and failed to account for the location of the tank.
    • As a result of fender benders and driving over potholes, fuel tanks can suffer from dents and other damage that leave the tank weak.
    • Fuel lines leading into the gas tank can fracture. The extra heat or sparks of the source could cause a fire or explosion
    • Bad or contaminated fuel can cause performance issues and damage other parts. The symptoms are often loss of power, stalling, profiling, and premature fuel injector and fuel pump failure.
    • Slow filling, indicated by a tank that does not want to accept gas, or a gas station hose pump that keeps shutting off, can result from a faulty vapor venting system inside the tank.