Gas Tank Problem

I have a 1999 Ford Escort. For about the last five months or so, I haven’t been able to fill the gas tank normally; it will be empty, but the gas splashes out when I attempt to fill it. Filling the tank is a weekly ordeal. It takes about ten minutes (I need to shut off the hose about every five seconds), and my rear tire and fender is inevitably doused with gasoline. I’ve taken it to the Ford dealership where I get it repaired four times, and they have failed to fix the problem. Does anybody know what the deal is?

This is one of our most frequent questions. See here for one man’s solution.

I’m curious as to why you went back to the same dealer 4 times when they couldn’t fix it in 2?

What’s your take on these situations? I mean, don’t these techs get the proper training or what?

The deal is the dealership. They’re taking your money and laughing as you drive away. Did you save the reciepts? This is a simple fix (For a real mechanic). The filler tube is constricted, or has a hole in it. Has the dealership replaced the filler tube? and if so was the work actually done? Probably not. The pump triggers at the gas stations are designed to shut off in the event of back-flow. Or, in other words, when you top off your tank (In a normal condition)the amount of fuel that is being forced back into the nozzle makes the nozzle automatically turn off. It is a built in safety catch. If it didn’t shut off and you topped off your tank, the fuel would just spill out like a full glass. The constriction in the tube is causing the fuel to back up into the nozzle just as if the tank was full. When the fill tube drains into the tank you are able to put more fuel in…until the filler tube gets backed up again. Fuel spilling onto your tire is no laughing matter. The heat created from normal breaking could set the residual fuel spill on fire which will travel all the way into your tank. At that point you better pray you have more fuel than vapor in your tank.
Ask for help from your closest fire house. They aren’t just there to put fires out or give first aide. They love to do “Service Calls” because it prevents a future tragedy.

First: Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Last, once you get this one fixed, don’t top off the tank. That can damage the vapor recovery system and cause the very problem you are seeing. When it clicks off, stop filling.

Roadrunner, you asked me what I think about mechanics who apparently don’t get the job done. Well, my view on this tends to be rather cynical (how could it NOT be!) but not necessarily toward the mechanics.

Those of us who have frequented this forum for a long time should realize we don’t always get accurate problem statements and reports from those who approach us with their car questions. So I will not be quick on the trigger to shoot the mechanics.

If we are advised “I’ve taken it to the Ford dealership … four times and they have failed to fix the problem,” I feel we should not take this statement too seriously. We don’t know what really happened. Maybe the problem was indeed corrected on the OP’s only visit only to recur the following month. We shall never really know.

JEGRibben, if your statement was indeed completely accurate, my apologies for doubting you. This outlook of mine is simply due to the unavoidable nature of these internet bulletin boards.