Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

Car has trouble starting after filling up.

I am looking for an educated guess for my question. The scenario is my gas tank empty light is on and i drive to a gas station about 15 miles away. So i am driving with my light on for a good distance. I get to this particular gas station and get filled up. It then takes my car 3 or 4 times to get started and to get it to start i pump the gas pedal a little bit. The last 3 times i have done this my car has had trouble starting. But in between those 3 times i have gone to a different gas station after driving on my empty gas light for a while and my car starts up first try with no gas pedal applied. I am starting to thinkg this one gas station has tainted gas. Is that a possible reason for my car problems after filling up from empty at this one full service gas station?

Comments

  • edited October 2007
    My friend, you're very lucky you haven't fried your pump. Or otherwise damaged your fuel delivery system. Driving around with your empty light on is asking for trouble. The gas cools your pump as well as running your engine.

    My guess is that at the first station you had run to gas down to the level where you actually got air in the line and it took some tome to get pushed through the system. And you continue to do that intermittantly. You, my friend, are courting a breakdown.

    Do you realize that it's just as inexpensive to fill it everytime it gets to 1/4 as it is to wait until the light comes on?
  • edited October 2007
    Gasoline, like water, has dirt of all kinds. The dirt normally settled to the bottom of the tank. In your case, the fuel pump which pumps the gas to the engine thru the injectors will include the dirt, so your fuel filter get clogged, your injectors too, etc... If you are wealthy, go ahead & continue doing it. I will fill up when I get to between 1/3 & 1/4.
  • edited October 2007
    The injectors won't get clogged, that's the point of the fuel filter.
  • edited October 2007
    Try filling up at a different gas station and see if it's any better.
  • edited October 2007
    I am starting to thinkg this one gas station has tainted gas.

    I am more inclined to think you have picked up the water and other contamination that is in almost every gas tank and it may have blocked the fuel intake screen, fuel filter or damaged the fuel pump. Driving until the tank is almost empty is a bad idea. It is hard on the fuel pump and has no measurable good effects.
  • edited October 2007
    Just an added thought.

    Your gas pump is not made to pump air. It will suck fluid, but will spin hopelessly in air. If you get an air pocket in the pump it may stop pumping until it gets primed. Priming may be happening by the "head pressure" when you fill the tank, which is basically just the weight of the gas....in essence the fluid is trying to seek a common level between the tank and the gas in the line, and the opening of the injectors is venting what's in the line and allowing the gas to get to the pump just via the fluid finding its own level.

    In short, start filling up earlier. You're courting disaster and have been lucky in spite of your practice of running the tank dry.
  • edited October 2007
    My wife has a friend who loved to drive on vapors! She burned out the fuel pump in her Ford Windstar. After explaining to her the need to keep enough gas in the tank, as well as stopping at the pump's first click to allow the vent cap to function properly, she is very careful with her new Honda Odessey.
  • edited October 2007
    "Do you realize that it's just as inexpensive to fill it everytime it gets to 1/4 as it is to wait until the light comes on?"

    As logical as that statement is, I am quite sure that there are many people who somehow think that they are saving gas by running the tank almost dry. On the other extreme, many years ago I had a boss who would stop for gas for his Buick every day or two, and would buy "$5.00 worth" each time. (He only did about about 100 miles per week in city-type driving conditions, and needless to say, that Buick was not an economy champion.)

    I once asked him if he realized how much time he wasted by stopping for gas 4 times per week instead of just once per week, and he mumbled something about "not wanting to get gypped". Needless to say, this guy wasn't too bright.
This discussion has been closed.