2004 Chevrolet Cavalier runs out of gas

My daughters car runs out of gas after 150 miles and only takes 6 gallons when filling up. Is the fuel pump bad?

No, but the fuel pickup tube might be in the wrong spot. You’ll have to replace the pump to fix that but the engine still runs so the pump is good.

When the gas pump shuts off , thinking the tank is full, does the fuel gauge agree? i.e. does the fuel gauge also indicate the tank is full? If the gauge says the tank is not much over half full, then you may have an evap system problem that’s preventing you from completely filling the tank . Is the check engine light on? Any diagnostic codes?

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Thanks for the reply. I should have included this information. The fuel gauge is inaccurate and has been for over a year. The car was stored for almost 6 months outside in Arizona (2-1-18 to 7-18-18). I think there was approximately 2-5 gallons of gas in it. It was started every two weeks and run for 5-10 minutes each time. I added two gallons of fresh gas after two months of storage. I added 4 more gallons of gas mid July from a gas station and drove the car 5 miles. When my daughter returned she filled the tank and drove 150 miles before having problems. She fueled the car so I don’t know how full she got it. The check engine light isn’t on. She drove 60 miles after the 150 mile trip and fueling and the tank only took 2 gallons of gas. The car gets 25-30 mpg.

You don’t really know if you have a problem because you are not the one driving the car. Find a repair service and spend about 120.00 to have vehicle checked and get the fuel gauge fixed. This is your daughter driving this thing.

Thanks for the reply VOLVO_V70. My daughter lives with me and I work on the car so I know it’s quirks. I can drop the fuel tank if necessary and I know how to replace the fuel pump assembly. The fuel pump/assembly was replaced by Sears in 2014 or 2015 but I don’t know what they replaced. Sears charged her $700 for same day service. The fuel gauge problem is minor but having to refuel every 150 miles is annoying.

I know this isn’t the issue at hand, but I’ll point out that most of us feel that doing this is worse than letting the car sit. You want to run it long enough to get everything up to full hot temperature to get moisture out. I suppose that in Arizona that’s less of an issue, so you might get away with it in your case.

When you pump gasoline into the tank, the air inside the tank has to go somewhere, otherwise the tank will pressurize, and the gas pump will think the tank is full when it isn’t. That air is filled with gasoline fumes, so the evap system has several valves and hoses to route it to the charcoal canister. Your problem might be one of the valves is stuck shut, or a hose or the canister is clogged.

Have the car put on a lift to see if the plastic gas tank has collapsed.



I visually inspected the gas tank and it looks OK so I don’t think it’s collapsed. I removed the vent hose from the vent valve but left power connected. I can blow air through it. I also blew air into the charcoal canister and it is unobstructed. I completely removed the vent valve and applied 12 volts. I can hear the solenoid click. Can the vent valve solenoid behave differently when it’s hot?

I know it’s been a while since my last post but I think I fixed it. I drained the fuel tank and replaced the fuel pump assembly. I put a couple gallons of gas in the tank and the car started. I filled up the tank at a gas station and it didn’t shut off every second but did overfill slightly. The new Delphi pump whines so I may have to replace it again.