Fuel odor from 2002 Toyota Tacoma

October 23, 2009

Help! I am at my wits? end. For the last two months, there has been a very strong smell of gasoline emanating from the driver?s side on my 2002 Toyota Tacoma (4 cylinder, 5 speed, 49,000 miles, two wheel drive). The smell tends to get worse later in the day, especially after being parked in the Arizona sun.

My truck has spent almost as much time at Brake Max in the last month as at home, and I have spent a total of $967.21 there, but the smell is still there. I hope you can help solve this problem.

To give you a brief history of the problem, I first took my truck in on October 1 complaining of the strong odor. My gas mileage had also been reduced by 2mpg. Brake Max performed a smoke test for fuel system leak, found no leak, replaced my fuel cap and replaced the spark plugs (which had been done about 20,000 miles earlier). The smell did not go away, so I took my truck back. This time, on October 3, JJ, the branch manager, said he found a kink in the flex hose to the evap canister and straightened it out. Still the smell did not disappear.

October 5 after not finding anything new, JJ picked me up at work in my truck, and while he was driving, the check engine light came on for the first time ever. When we got back to Brake Max, he agreed there was a noticeable gas smell and, keeping the truck running (the check engine light is still on), used the scanner, getting an evap code. He asked me to return the truck to Brake Max on October 8, which I did, and after removing the fuel tank, said there was a wet area of fuel on the outside of the tank which was probably causing the smell. He asked to keep the truck overnight, and on Friday, replaced three gaskets on the fuel tank. He indicated he had test-driven the Tacoma and there was no fuel smell. I got the truck back on Monday morning, October 12, and by afternoon, when I drove it home from work, noticed the smell again. Deciding to wait a while before returning to Brake Max, I called back on the 15th. I spoke to Bob, the counter man, and told him I was getting pretty frustrated and wondered if I should take the truck to the local Toyota dealer. He said, ?Give us one more chance,? so I took it back.

October 15 the mechanic Nick (I am on first name basis with everyone in the shop) removed the fuel canister to weigh it, thinking if it were heavier than it should be, it would be corrupted. When I returned to get my truck, Nick informed me I needed a new fuel canister because a small part of it was not performing properly, although the carbon filter still seemed okay. On October 20, Brake Max removed and replaced the evap canister.

Now that it has cooled down in Tucson, the strong fuel smell becomes prominent later in the day, but it is still there. JJ originally suggested it could be oxygenated fuel. If that is the case, why did I spend all that money to repair something that wasn?t broken? Any insight you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Ann Tousley 520-629-8819 atousley@pima.edu

I had a 99 toyota 2wd pickup and the fuel filter for proper installation suggested removal of the starter motor. Was there any maintenance done that correlates with the smell?. I assume you do not top off the tank.

No, I do not top off the tank. The only maintenance preceding the smell was a July 20 oil change and air conditioning check, including adding refrigerant and evacuation, recharge of a/c system. This also involved an injection of a/c dye looking for leaks.

I’m thinking possibly the purge solenoid or valve.

I found this cool little sketch of how the system is put together. All of these system components can be tested, however Brake Max is not the place to do it. A good full service shop should be able to help.

You spent all that money to replace thing sthat were not broken because you unfortunately took it to the wrong shop. You went to an ear doctor for a toothache. These guys are just replacing parts hoping one will do the trick. That doesn;t usually work well.