Car won't start after fill-up

I have a 2008 Volkswagen Jetta, which usually runs well. About a month ago the check engine light came on. I didn’t notice any other problems until I went to fill up the car with gas and tried to start the car afterward and it took multiple tries to get the car started. I took it into the garage and they did a diagnostic, and said the leak detection pump needed to be replaced. So they replaced that, and the check engine light went away and I thought all was well. However, I took it to the gas station yesterday and had the same problem trying to start the car after filling up. What could this be? The leak detection pump ran me $500 so I hope I didn’t have it replaced for no good reason!

You may have a problem in the evaporative emission control system. When you fill the car with gas, the air and gas vapors inside the tank get routed through a charcoal canister inside the engine compartment. When the engine starts, it sucks the gas vapor out of the charcoal canister and burns it.

The canister can get contaminated with liquid gas if you overfill your tank, and the gas in the canister will then mess up the proper fuel/air ratio in your engine, flooding it with gas and preventing it from starting properly.

Have someone check the canister. You may need to replace it, and don’t “top off” your gas tank. Always stop filling once the automatic cutoff on the gas nozzle cuts off the first time.

Along with @Jesmed’s very valid analysis, floor the gas pedal next time and hold it floored while starting the car. On fuel injected cars, that runs the car without injecting fuel into the cylinders so may help unflood your car.

Thanks for the suggestions! I never top off the tank, so I know that’s not the problem. I will try flooring it next time and see if that helps…

I have the same problem with my 09 Hyundai, only after I fill up with gas. The ‘check engine’ light does not come on.