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Ford focus with old Dinosaur Soup

I was given a 2000 Ford Focus. She’s got 103,000 and is pearl white. It’s the 4 door sedan zts model running the vetek 2.0 motor. Here’s the problem. The car has been sitting in a car port for two years now. It has one flat tire, and a dead battery. Those were the obvious problems. I bought a new battery and at the advise of others I cranked the car and it fired up! It was sputtering for about 5 seconds then died on me. I cranked it again and like magic the car sprang to life only to die a few seconds later again. Now, all attempts result in nothing but the sound of the starter cranking. I know the gas is old. The tank registers in at 1/4 full right now. How should I proceed? Did I clog up the injectors by running that old gas through it or do I just need to fill the tank with new gas, or even drain the tank and start with all new? The car is in pristine condition besides the problem mentioned above. Any help or advice is much appreciated!

Sounds like you answered your own question.

After 2 years, it is no longer gasoline in that tank. Siphon as much as you can, then fill up with new gas. Or replace the entire tank. Then cross your fingers that no harm was done to the fuel system.

While mliech may well be correct, I would not expect that fuel in a modern (closed vent) fuel system would age enough in two years to cause the car not to run.

What are the chances that some kid fueled this thing up with a garden hose or some other liquid at some point during that two year period? If so, advice is still the same - empty/flush or replace the tank. If you find a lot of water, the fuel pump may be toast.

Remove some of the liquid in your gas tank and see what it looks like, what color it is. it should be almost clear…I suspect yours will be a burnt orange color…

Replace the fuel, change the fuel filter, purge the fuel line (there is a test port on the fuel rail that feeds the injectors) and try again…

When you turn the ignition key to the on position can you hear the fuel pump kick on and hum for about 1-2 seconds then shut off? Often when a car sits with old gas in it, it will gum up the fuel pump and soon after starting to reuse it the fuel pump will go bad.

I want to pull the fuel to see it, but I don’t really have the tools to do so. I’m a complete novice at this stuff and was going to make this my first project. I can’t siphon the gas since ford uses a gate that won’t allow a hose down into the tank. It does stink pretty bad when I try to start it and when it was running. Smells like high test fuel almost. I’m going to go check the air intake system now. I’ve heard that little animals can build apartment complexes in there and stop the car from starting. It just sounded really chocked when it did run for those few seconds. A very weak and erratic idle then nothing.

I’m pretty sure on the Focus that underneath the rear seat is an access port to remove the fuel pump from the tank. You can remove the fuel pump and dip the old gas out of the tank.

I hate to second-guess good advice twice in the same thread, but I am very cautious about suggesting that a self-professed novice access the fuel pump opening on a gas tank. That is one of the more dangerous tasks you can perform on a car. A metal-on-metal spark or a static electricity spark too small to see can ignite that vapor/air interface and cause grave bodily injury. A flash fire at the fill cap is exciting to see but usually harmless. A flash fire in the back seat could be serious.

Is there a safer way to pull the fuel that won’t be too challenging? I’d rather not blow my face off trying to get to the fuel.

Get a 7’ length of 1/4" clear vinyl tubing and I bet you can work it down into the tank and siphon the gas out that way…Slow, but it will work…The small diameter tubing will usually slip past the check valve that blocks larger tubing…

If you are not accustomed to using a siphon hose, I should point out that the way to start the siphon is NOT to suck on the hose. Gasoline vapors are bad for you and gasoline liquid is very bad for you.

To fill the hose so you can start the siphon, you seal the area around the hose in the top of the fuel neck and then blow into the hose. A plastic bag wadded up works well as a seal. You should feel the hose bubbling in the bottom of the tank. If it does not bubble, the hose is in either too far or not far enough.

Once you have pressurized the tank a bit, you put the end of the hose into the receiving container that is, of course, lower than the tank, and the pressure should push the fluid up to fill the hose so the siphon can start.

Where else but Car Talk can you go to learn how to steal fuel?

Remove the fuel cap and take a sniff of the odor coming out of the gas tank. If it smells like gasoline then that’s not the problem. If it odor is more of an acrid/varnish smell, that’s the problem. Especially if the gas contains ethanol.

You can read about it here.