2008 Chevrolet HHR - hot sauce in the gas tank

Overnight someone put hot sauce in my gas tank. How much damage will this do

None. Unless of course they managed to put 5 gallons in the tank. Then you should have it drained and cleaned. If it was just a bottle, it won’t really hurt anything.

So how have you actually determined this oddity happened? Unless you saw it being done, someone 'fessed up to it, or there is hot sauce residue on the filler neck then you don’t know.

IF you’re serious I don’t see it hurting anything; unless solids in the sauce start blocking the fuel filter and injector screens.

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That is exactly what I was wondering. Did someone pull a prank? Maybe remove the gas cap and stick the empty bottle in the filler neck?

Thank you for the reply. Yes, positive that it was salsa / chili sauce. Also, positive that I saw residue in the pipe going in and on the outside compartment. Seemed very “pureed” so I am hoping that no chunks in the tank. Thanks again for your help.

OK, I’ve just gotta ask.
Was this the chunky stuff like Chi-Chi’s or like the smooth stuff from in Taco Bell packets?

And did they get it past the internal door in the filler pipe?

Salsa, by definition has chunky stuff that can end up in the fuel pump intake screen. You might want to have the fuel pump pulled so the tank can be inspected.

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You should report it to the police if you know who did it. If you aren’t sure, wait to see if it happens again. You might also consider a locking gas cap.

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Hi there… the way I discovered it was walking to my car, I see the door to the gas cap standing open, and the gas cap just hanging off. My initial thought was that the gas had been syphoned but upon closer look, I see the sauce residue on the inside of the top lip and going into the tank (could only see inside first inch or so) as well as drip onto the inside compartment and slightly down the side of the car and a little blob of it on cement directly under where the gas tank is (so I guess they spilled it when pouring it in). It is smooth like a well blended salsa and i do not see chunks outside.

Take a peek inside the filler pipe flap, just push it aside with your finger and look for clumps.

If you haven’t already started the car and want to be on the safe side, have the tank drained and cleaned. If nothing else you’ll sleep better

If you’ve already started it, well the bird has flown so you may as well see what happens. If it’s thin enough the stuff is past your fuel filter, down your fuel lines and being homogenized by your fuel injectors.with no further effect than increasing Taco Bell sales. Otherwise you’ll know soon enough, when the injectors start clogging and throwing a code, you’re looking at a system clean out.


If it were my car, I’d look inside the tank. I don’t know if that car has an access panel or you have to drop the tank. At the very least, I’d definitely change the fuel filter soon. And go buy a locking gas cap so it can’t happen again.

Did some gas seem to be missing as well? If so it might be that the culprit had dirty hands and that got on the pipe as part of the siphoning. The reason I say this is b/c it would be much easier to pour a gallon of water into the gas tank than trying to pour salsa in. Why go to all that bother with the salsa if the only purpose is to annoy the car owner?

Thanks to all for the responses… here is a picture of what I found that morning… you will see a picture of the gas tank and how it looked when I first saw it…definitely odd. I just keep asking why…smh

The gas cap was off? I was wondering how you noticed. It looks like it’s been there for a while.

I hope this doesn’t plug the fuel screen. Those are an internal part of the fuel pump and can’t be cleaned/changed. As I recall, it requires dropping the tank.

Why? Maybe someone took offense at you being on “their road”? You didn’t notice a car following you home, did you?

That’s very weird. Doesn’t’ really look like salsa or hot sauce from my vantage point. I think the best course of action is to not start the engine. Instead have it towed to a shop and have the gas tank drained and flushed of all that junk. True, there’s a significant expense to that. But if that stuff messes w/ the fuel pump & injectors, a much bigger expense.

How did the perpetrator remove the gas cap? Isn’t it locked somehow?

This happened overnight… the car is in our designated parking lot on private property. Wasn’t a case of someone following because the car was not moved for a few days… again… our designated area. I noticed it because when going to my car in the morning (5:45am) the cars gas tank cover was open and gas cap just hanging by the little plastic connection. No, it is not a locking gas cap.

Also… we wiped some of the red stuff onto a napkin and distinct smell of salsa or what you would think of chili sauce

Is anyone else seeing a web-advertisement for really weird looking lines about three posts above? I looks like that Voynich manuscript , I don’t dare click to see what it actually is … lol …

So what is the end result?

That is odd. Time to pick up a locking gas cap? (I did that when gas mileage dropped dramatically… fixed the prob.)

Maybe a friendly neighbor, or someone looking to pick up a cheap HHR. I look forward to how it comes out. Your insurance probably covers towing.