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Help! There's a hole in my gas tank!

My husband is a wonderful man and a fantastic mind… most of the time. He was recently saving us hundreds of dollars of shop work by tending to some maintenance and repair issues on my 2002 Toyota Camry which I absolutely LOVE. His brain become disconnected while drilling a hole to secure the heat shield to the underbody of my beloved car… and he drilled a hole in the bottom of the GAS TANK instead :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: He plugged the hole with a screw temporarily…
He bought some epoxy like stuff, I think, from the auto parts store, specifically for repairing a leak in a gas tank, and doused himself in gasoline while attempting make the stuff adhere to the tank. My car still smells of gasoline three days later, the trunk is REALLY bad, and there seems to be a very slight leak, as there was some on our driveway surface.
He figured he should try it again once the tank is empty and gas isn’t pouring out of the hole. I ran it to pretty much bone dry last night, save a cup or two, but I am wondering if this is really a legitimate manner of repairing a hole in the tank or should we be having another tank installed on the car?? I am admittedly afraid to even broach the subject with him right now, he is so distraught about his mistake, which he has said took great effort repeatedly to drill that darn hole in the first place!
So my question(s): 1) Can a gas tank be repaired with a topical patch such as what I described? 2) Should I be afraid of driving the car ie., could it combust and burst into flames while I am driving 65 miles an hour down the highway?? 3) Why does my trunk smell so much stronger of gas than the interior of my car? 4) Do you think there could be a hole in the TOP of the tank too, and that’s why it reeks in the trunk and car?? 5) Is there anything else (besides my husband’s undiagnosed brain disconnection issue) that I should be concerned about here? and finally 6) What can I use to launder his work jacket that has been washed twice and still REEKS of gasoline??

I LOVE my car - despite it’s age, it’s in great shape and has 138,000 miles on it and HEATED seats. I guess the same could be said of my husband, too, but I love him MORE than the car!! Please guide me as to how to address the repair issue if you disagree with the topical application!!

Thank you!!

I do believe it’s time for a new fuel tank

There are plastic epoxy welding kits out there, but I’m going to guess they’re not meant for plastic fuel tanks

In any case, epoxy welding probably wouldn’t work unless the plastic is bone dry inside and out.

A new tank will probably cost several hundred dollars, including labor charges. Given your husband drilled a hole in the tank, I’d be inclined to not let him install a new tank. Bring the car to a reputable independent shop, tell them what happened, and ask them to install a new tank for you.

  1. only temporarily
  2. now would be a great time to give up smoking if you smoke. And keep the windows open a few inches.
  3. your trunk smells stronger because that’s where the gas tank is under. The odor grows weaker with distance.
  4. Depends on whether he was drilling holes above the tank also
  5. I think it’s all covered here. You need a new tank and to keep the windows down some for a while.
  6. get him a new jacket… AFTER he’s done doing whatever he’s doing.

NOTE: you may want to replace the trunk mat and lining also after the car is repaired. That’s probably saturated with the odor by now, and while gasoline is aromatic and the smell will eventually dissipate, I’d want to accelerate the process as much as possible by changing the lining and mat.

Not Sure What Type Insurance Coverages You Have Or What The Deductible Amount Is, But I’d Check With Your Agent.

Not sure exactly, but I believe self-inflicted damage/(vandalism LOL) is possibly covered by Comprehensive Insurance. Years ago, my then 4-year-old high-energy son jumped up inside our Pontiac Fiero and cracked the windshield with his head. Didn’t hurt him a bit and the agent was amused when she said we were covered.

Believe me, your husband isn’t the first person to damage his/her own vehicle. My agent says a common source of claims is spouse-car hitting spouse-car in home garage or driveway.


Well, I know what I would do and it would involve a self tapping sheet metal screw, a fender washer and some Seal-All.

Give The Gas Smell/Fumes A Chance To Evaporate & Dissipate Before You Do Much Of Anything About The Odor. You’d Be Surprised What A Couple Days Will Do After All Leaking Is Stopped.


If This Car Has Several Years Of Life Left I’d Consider The New Tank. Sounds Like That Would Bring You Peace Of Mind.

Where I live a 2002 driven in winter would be a rust-bucket with one tire in the auto grave-yard (regardless of low miles) and I’d go the screw/washer/Seals-All recommended by Twin Turbo. I don’t know where you live (Rust Belt?) and can’t see under the car to check for rust. Your call.


Good options. Just remember though, gasoline as a liquid…and now gas fumes behave differently. The conservative advice from me is to call a tow truck and have a professional tow and fix it. At this point, you have created a situation where static electricity could set off a real nice fire in the neighbor hood, enough to melt the hot top. I would not like to be around anyone near who catches on fire. What you really do is up to you. But “officially”, dear old hubby has now created a hazard and any work on the tank should be done after it has been drained…and not at home in a housing development ! Hubby is lucky he isn’t at a burn clinic somewhere.


I do believe it's time for a new fuel tank

There are plastic epoxy welding kits out there, but I’m going to guess they’re not meant for plastic fuel tanks

In any case, epoxy welding probably wouldn’t work unless the plastic is bone dry inside and out.

I just looked at my 02 Camry, the tank is metal.

the tank is under the back seat you can access the fuel pump and sending unit through a hatch under the seat cushion.

True, but the fumes can collect in the trunk easier than in the front of the cabin because the trunk is enclosed and there is a fairly direct passage. The seat prevents passage of the fumes a lot better than the patrician between the tank and the trunk, which is loaded with passages for wires and such.


Wow . . . I would have thought a 2002 Camry would have a plastic tank

Since it’s all about weight savings nowadays

I’ve been under my 2005 Camry plenty of times, but I never bothered to really look at the tank

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with my tank

No offense intended to anybody reading this

There are shops that can weld a gas tank to repair it. Not a do-it-yourself issue as it can make a very large BOOM if precautions are not taken. Call around to a few local mechanics and tell them what your husband did. Once they get done laughing, ask if they can fix the tank or if they must replace it. You’d be surprised how often this type of thing happens even with professionals.

We do get that gas fumes in an enclosed environment is a huge safety issue. With fumes permeating through the seat and into the cabin area and the trunk, you can bet that would be totally unacceptable on a boat. It’s not more acceptable in a car just because we know how to economically plug a hole in a tank.

Call a garage and have it towed and fixed while hubby is at work and be done with it. There is nothing he should be doing himself that won’t soak his apparel more in gasoline. If you love your husband, tell him to stay away from the car, as you should, till it is fixed.

There are several ways to go with this but I do not know how far you and your husband are prepared to go both financially and from a mechanical perspective if a DIY job is done.
Ideally, the simplest and cheapest route would be to silver solder the hole shut with a hand held torch.

Much could depend upon how mechanically inclined hubby is and inadvertently poking a hole in the tank is not a sign of an oaf at work. Those kind of accidents happen to anyone who has ever worked on a car including the most proficient of mechanics. Nothing to feel bad about at all.

“Silver solder the hole with a hand held torch” ? I vote no. He has already doused himself with gasoline while trying to plug it with gasoline still running out from the outside, and OP is running around trying to “drive” the car empty while we are making suggestions that more knowledgable persons with the right equipment could do…provided they emptied the tank the correct way and remove and prep it to begin with. There is still a stick of dynamite left in the system and we are just maybe throwing out suggestions on how best to collect on his whole life policy. ;))

When a lot of us do repairs ourselves, we have an imaginary account that we deposit the savings in. Then when we really screw something up, which is inevitable, we simply pay for it out of that imaginary account and don’t worry about it.

Put a new tank in. No problem, no sweat, nothing to worry about and don’t make a big issue out of it. Simply say I made an appointment to have a new tank put in just to make me feel better. Then go have a glass of wine, bite your tongue, go behind closed doors and laugh out loud, and never bring it up again-never.

NAPA used to sell a gas tank repair kit that worked great on metal tanks, It included sandpaper to rough up the patch area, a large plastic bag with the epoxy inside and an attached tube of hardener. It also had a wax stick to plug a leak. It is probable overkill for a drilled hole, if you get the tank dry, I would sand the area you want to patch and use some J B Weld, the original formula , not the 5 minute one.

I’m in full agreement that a new fuel tank is the best option. While at it and considering the age of the car, a new fuel pump is a great insurance policy if the tank has the original pump.

My point about the cheap repair is this. I read the OP’s statement that the husband is mechanically minded and sharp. This was just a random mechanical faux pas that can happen to anyone.

Per draining the tank and allowing it to air out, the tank can be soldered or welded on safely by doing one thing. Back up another car, lawnmower, or what have you and route a hose from the exhaust into the filler neck of the tank on the downed car.
Allow it to run for 5 minutes and continue to run while applying the torch and solder.

The CO will displace the oxygen in the tank so no smoldering crater.

There are also several different gas tank repair kits on the market that would probably work fine.


You don’t want to use exhaust gases to displace the oxygen. The pressure can’t be controlled and could blow the molten steel away from the weld area when welding.

Instead you want to inject the argon/CO2 gas from the tank of the welder into the gas tank at a very low pressure to displace the oxygen. So now the oxygen is displaced out of the tank to prevent combustion, but you also have the shielding gas on the back-side of the weld.