Leaky gas tank?

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jacqueg

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Filling up my van yesterday, me (and several other folks!) noticed that my van was peeing gas. It being Sunday, and me in somewhat of a minor panic, I didn't know exactly what to do, so I drove 10 miles to the nearest rest area. Got out and checked underneath my van - no gasoline drips and no gas odor. Hmmm. Drove to the next rest area - same story, and no precipitous drop in my gas gauge either. By the end of the day, I had figured out that the gas only leaks when the tank is filled to just over 3/4 tank full, and only as it is being filled. Well, I can work around that for a while...

Question, how big a deal is it to replace a gas tank? And, am I now a rolling bomb?
 

gone2day

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^Do you fill up on the left side of the van right behind the driver door?

If so, you probably have a leaky fuel filler hose. A very common problem on Ford vans.

I had to replace mine a couple of years ago and it was quite a job.

PS: Probably a similar problem if you have the rear mounted tank.
 

jacqueg

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^Do you fill up on the left side of the van right behind the driver door?

If so, you probably have a leaky fuel filler hose. A very common problem on Ford vans.

I had to replace mine a couple of years ago and it was quite a job.

PS: Probably a similar problem if you have the rear mounted tank.

Yup, I fill up on the driver's side. How would I know if I had a rear-mounted gas tank? Gas did seem to be coming from there, but since my cargo carrier is loaded, my van is trending down toward the rear, so gas dripping from anywhere would travel toward the rear.

Good to know it's a known problem. As long as I don't fill the tank until I can get the leaking fixed, am I dangerous? The week before Thanksgiving is not an optimal time to find an available mechanic.
 

gone2day

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Your tank is a side-mounted 35 gall. Since yours is a V6 I thought you may have the smaller (~22gall) rear tank.

There are two hoses that get old and crack and start leaking. They are fitted between the metal filler inlet and the gas tank and are about 1 foot long. The smaller hose is a vent and needs to be replaced along with the leaky filler hose.

It is possible to replace these hoses without dropping the tank but it is a tough job. At least it was for me.

You'll need to find a shop that is familiar with what needs to be done and whether they would need to drop the tank or not....$$. A Ford dealer of course would be good but are probably going to be more expensive. With a dealer, at least you know it should be done right.

If you don't fill it up all the way you should be safe but try to limit your driving.

Do you know if your gas gauge is accurate?

The thing is, you have to check for any other leaks that you could have to make sure it's only the hoses. It's possible to have leaks from rust holes or from the tank hanger straps wearing into the tank.

Here's some reading you might check out:

 
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maki2

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There is usually a YouTube DIY video on common problems for common vehicles. Might as well start there to see if it fits your DIY skill set.
 

jasper

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The tank straps are often rusted and a real bear to loosen to allow the tank to drop enough for more room. I can get my hoses off with a nut driver as installed.

35 gallon tank on ground.

Picture of hoses attached to tank in a small space between the frame rail and floor.

Picture of metal fill pipes bolted at access door on side of van.

Picture of fill pipe. The tubing allows blowing a lungful of air into the tank, then releasing to start a siphon. The tubing has a couple of nuts safety-wired to the tube to keep it down, but not low enough to completely drain the tank. My experience has been the translucent, supposedly ethanol gas resistant hose will last about five years submerged before becoming soft and having to be replaced.
 

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jacqueg

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Your tank is a side-mounted 35 gall. Since yours is a V6 I thought you may have the smaller (~22gall) rear tank.

There are two hoses that get old and crack and start leaking. They are fitted between the metal filler inlet and the gas tank and are about 1 foot long. The smaller hose is a vent and needs to be replaced along with the leaky filler hose.

It is possible to replace these hoses without dropping the tank but it is a tough job. At least it was for me.

You'll need to find a shop that is familiar with what needs to be done and whether they would need to drop the tank or not....$$. A Ford dealer of course would be good but are probably going to be more expensive. With a dealer, at least you know it should be done right.

If you don't fill it up all the way you should be safe but try to limit your driving.

Do you know if your gas gauge is accurate?

The thing is, you have to check for any other leaks that you could have to make sure it's only the hoses. It's possible to have leaks from rust holes or from the tank hanger straps wearing into the tank.

Here's some reading you might check out:

After some calling around and getting referrals, I've located a shop that can fit me in tomorrow! (I am quite excited about this, because everyone else I tried was snowed under with work.) Guy asked me what seemed to be the right questions, so I am having hopes.

Meanwhile, I am at my daughter's, so if it turns out that optimism is the wrong call, at least I will not be paying for a motel.

And thanks so much for all the info. Even though I am nowhere near able to take on this job on my own, it is SO helpful to know what the mechanic is dealing with.
 

peteg59

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While it's still possible to work on, the mechanic will thank you if the tank is near empty when you bring it in for diagnosis/repair, (in the case the tank needs to be dropped/lowered from the frame to perform the repair).

It's typical to see staining in/around the areas where the leaking is coming from, so the tank shouldn't need to be filled again for the mechanic to see where the leak is located.

It has been my experience that whenever a fuel tank needs to be removed from its location it is wise to replace the in-tank fuel pump at the same time. Especially if you've never had the pump replaced and the van has significant mileage.
Murphy's law often comes back to bite especially IF you already have the tank removed, just bite the bullet and replace the pump in order to save additional labor costs should/when the pump fails afterwards.
If you have already replaced the fuel pump fairly recently, ignore the above advice.
Also, if the additional cost of the replacement fuel pump is outside your present budget, it's not the end of the world either.

As long as you don't smell raw gas fumes inside or see any more leakage it should be safe to drive without fear of becoming a "Bomb" on wheels!

Good luck, and post up what issue is found at the shop...
 
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