Gas mysteriously disappearing after body shop stay

My car was in a body shop recommended by my insurance company for 10 days after it was damaged (rear bumper and quarter panel) in a parking hit-and-run. When I picked up my car the gas empty light came on almost immediately, even though when I brought it in there was more than 1/8 tank of gas left (I have photo evidence for this, so it’s not a case of faulty memory). The odometer reading is the same as when I brought it in, so that seems to rule out someone taking it for a joy ride. The car drives fine after I filled up and I don’t notice any signs of leaks (it’s been 2 days and 30 miles of driving), though I suppose I should bring it to my mechanic to double check. Are there any possible explanations for the missing gas before I go accuse them of stealing gas? I don’t understand why they’d bother with 10 dollars worth of gas when the repair costed 3K…

They may have needed to remove the gas tank or work around it for the work in the back. They may have drained the tank to work on it and then forgot to put the gas back in or mis judged how much to put back in.

I agree ! A body shop that has to do and welding or other work under a car is plenty smart enough to remove the contents of the gas tank to work on some areas. Just chaulk it up to the cost of repairing a car.

“…even though when I brought it in there was more than 1/8 tank of gas left…”
"I don’t understand why they’d bother with 10 dollars worth of gas when the repair costed 3K… "

Let’s see, 10 bucks worth of gas (1/8 tankful) divided by $2.50 (gallon price) is four gallons. That times 8 = 32 gallons (full tank capacity).

What make/model car is this? Is it diesel? Have I missed something?

10 bucks. I’d let it go and be more concerned about the work that was done. How was the job?


I would take it a step further. Depending on the damage, even if it were “just” body repair, I would like to see a few miles on my car to know it was road tested. And if there was anything they missed that affected the rear brakes, suspension etc, it would be a good way of finding out any other problems before I plopped by boney butt into the driver’s seat when I picked it up and found out it shook or couldn’t stop in a straight line. There is lot’s of wiring everywhere in a car nowa days…heck, my wife’s car has an electronics package in the back under a skid plate. Some one should be starting it up and running it at some point.

As stated above I would be more concerned about the quality of work and if there was even a test drive, than $8 +/- of gas.

"Just chalk it up to the cost of repairing a car.’

There are far too many things in this world to worry about already.

Careless idling of the engine could certainly account for the “loss” of that amount of fuel.
But, as was already stated, the quality of the workmanship would concern me much more than the cost of a few gallons of gas.

An eighth of a tank? Really? From 1/8 to the low fuel light coming on is maybe a gallon of gas, easily burned up starting and stopping the car numerous times moving it from one work station to another or just letting it idle for a period of time.

If you came back to me and accused my or my shop of stealing $2.50 worth of gas I would explain it to you exactly as I did above, probably in an incredulous tone.

Life is too short to be looking for something to complain about. And photographing the fuel indicator indicates that the OP was determined to find something to complain about. What else was photographed? Was the radio not on the same station when picked up?

Thanks for all the replies. Fully agree that 10 bucks is nothing, just worried if it could indicate something more serious like a leak. So it sounds like careless idling is the most likely answer then, and there’s nothing else I should be worried about? I didn’t take the photos btw, the shop did and sent them to me – I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. The repair looks good, though if you touch the lines you can notice a little un-evenness between the bumper and quarter panel compared to the undamaged side. Again having exact zero knowledge about body work, is it to be expected?

If you ask the body shop politely ( and I do mean politely ) they should be willing to explain the repair process and just how much can be done.

I do not know what type of car is being discussed but with the cars I’ve owned, and currently own, the Low Fuel light illuminates when there’s about 2 gallons of fuel left in the tank.
Two gallons on my cars is about 1/8 of a tank so this is likely a non-issue in my opinion as the cars of mine have roughly 16 to 18 gallon tanks.
Divided by 2 it comes up to an eighth or a little less; depending upon tank size and how full it was.

The needle on a gas gauge can also be a little contrary at times even when working properly.

I agree with @“VOLVO V70”

You may get an explanation for everything including the disappearing gas, which I still feel might be a safety reason. When metal is bent, it stretches and pounding it back into place may result in some unevenness. The bends in the mounting areas Also affect new panels put in place. I am sure your insurance company has something to say about going beyond what they did to make everything factory exact. But , on accidents I have had work done on, I accept these slight variations occasionally as part of the price of repair as well.

1/8 tank is fumes to me. Never take a car in with that low a fuel level. Evaporation and nit picking.