Gasoline shooting out of the tank!

Dear Cartalk,

I’m the original owner of a 2003 Nissan Sentra and have had no major issues with it so far until last week.

My check engine light came on, but with no change in how the engine was performing I figured it probably was an oxygen sensor that wiggled loose again. Things changed when I went to the gas station to fill my car. Within the first two gallons of the fill, strange gurgling sounds starting coming from the gas tank (the sounds you normally hear when you’ve almost filled it). I took the nozzle out and the sound continued follow by a stream of gasoline being shot out of my gas tank.

I have had to fill my car by putting in a half gallon, waiting until the gurgling sound stops, filling another half gallon, and repeating until full.

Is my gas tank possessed? How much will this exorcism cost me?

These posts that describe problems filling up intrigue me. What is going on with all these different cars that have problems filling up? Is the leak detection pump pressurizing the tank? Maybe the code is a clue.

Adding gasoline will cause the jellyfish in the tank to sneeze.

If you always added more fuel after the pump clicked off, you’ve probably damaged something in the tank by doing so, will be costly to fix(around $500 if it’s a charcoal canister)

Most of the questions like this I like to blame the driver for topping off the tank and causing the problem, but this time it sounds like something else.  There are several possibilities with the vent system and there could have been a problem with the pump.  

[b] I do suggest getting that check engine light read As Soon As Possible as it may not be the oxygen sensor and it may tell you where to look for this problem. [/b]

bscar is probably sort of right. You code is probably for the evaporative emissions system, and you probably do have a habit of “topping off” the tank - or running it again after it has shut off automatically.

Leading from somewhere on your gas tank or filler neck are some vacuum tubes whose job it is to carry gas fumes to a charcoal canister probably located someplace under the hood. Under there are some little doohickeys that will feed those fumes into the engine to be burned.

Your whole evaporation is probably filled up with gasoline. Gas fumes have no place to go and are building up and actually pressurizing your tank. The part I can’t fully explain (see I keep saying “probably”) is why the fumes can’t escape out the neck while you’re filling your tank - but I’ll bet someone else can. It may or may not have something to do with a check valve at the filler neck.

And as bscar noted, new charcoal canisters aren’t cheap.

Is that something that would normally be covered under warranty?

No - because it would be attributed to you overfilling the tank.

If the OP hasn’t topped off a lot, then it’s probably some kinda kink in the filler neck, or it could be the anti-spill valve.