2014 Chevrolet Cruze - Car only works normally when gas talk is over half full

My Chevy Cruz seems to have issues when the gas level gets below half. When this happens, I can push the accelerator all the way to the floor and still only get up to 35 MPH. There is white smoke coming out of my exhaust. There are no dash lights to indicate problems. Once I fill the tank to full again, the engine seems to work fine. I am so puzzled!

You indeed have a perplexing puzzle happening with your Cruz! One idea, the fuel pump is on the fritz. When the fuel level in the tank drops it reduces the head pressure, which is the input fuel pressure to the pump. A properly working fuel pump is able to compensate for any fuel-level -related head pressure. But a failing fuel pump might work fine if fuel level is high enough, but not be able to deliver enough fuel when the tank-level falls. Suggest to ask your shop to measure the fuel rail pressure at various rpms when the fuel level in the tank is 1/4 or less. If it measures below spec, find out why. If the pump is the actual problem , you might be able to gain a little more time by replacing the fuel filter, if the Cruz-design sports a replaceable fuel filter.

As for the white smoke coming out of the exhaust, are you noticing any coolant loss? Do you have to top off the coolant from time to time? If so, that could be a head gasket problem, unrelated to the fuel tank level, but perhaps compounded by problematic fuel pressure. If not, no coolant loss, I’m guessing the white smoke is just exhaust smoke b/c the computer is not able to properly set the air to fuel ratio b/c of the fuel pump problem. Usually this problem would turn on the check engine light. Is it on?

OK, on re-reading your post, I see the CEL is not on. hmm … well, maybe it won’t turn on if the fuel pressure returns to normal before a certain number of miles, and you re-fill the tank before then.


The next time this happens, open the gas cap in a quiet area and tell us if you hear a lot of air being sucked in and if the car works normally after that.

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Have the fuel pressure tested.