Help with 2003 Santa Fe. Won't start after filling with gas

Hi, I have a 2003 hyundai Santa Fe that has had a problem for a few years that I can not figure out, nor can the hyundai dealership. (Though they seem to only want to hook it up to a computer, which tells them that nothing is wrong.) After filling up the car with gas, the car will turn over, but will stall immediately. You can press on the gas and it will stay going, but once you take your foot off the gas it stalls. It act like when you used to flood the charborator. It takes about 4 times of turning over the car and stalling before it runs normally.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! It is a GLS 4-cyl automatic AWD.


Hi Liz; I did some looking around on the web and it seems to be related to over filling the tank. As long as you’re engine light isn’t coming on is good news. So try to stop fueling when the pump auto shuts off. What is happening is some gas is getting into the fuel evaporator system, which will eventually cost you major to replace the evaporator canister and probably the fuel purge valve, too. Not to mention if you’re fueling process is causing the pump to shut off instead of a good even flow. Is characteristic of evaporator problems I’m not sure if the purge valve is in the tank stem but there is a valve of sorts in the stem that shuts off when the evaporator engine code pops up causing that lengthy fill process.

(I also recommend doing your own research on customer complaints on your model and year to 2004 as to determine future costs that are inherently coming down the road as I have read.)


binkman, brought a good point. Topping off the fuel can cause problems like the one you have. It may not be the problem and you may not be topping off the tank, but if you are topping it off when filling it, that would be the first thing to check. Try only filling it half way a few times and see what happens.

Good Luck

Thanks for your comments. We do not top off the tank. I was reading on the web that it may be related to the purge valve. It has been doing it for a number of years. Do you think we have problems coming down the road if we do not get it fixed?


Sounds like the purge valve is stuck open and as you fill the tank, gasoline vapors are flooding the engine for a few moments…Today, smog cars have complex fuel tank venting systems that are designed to trap gasoline vapors, collect them, then burn them in the engine in a controlled manner. The “purge valve” is what directs the flow of these vapors and if it sticks open, when you fill the tank, the vapor can flood the engine…Usually this condition triggers a check engine light with a resulting evap system code…But sometimes not, making the problem more difficult to diagnose…

Thanks everyone for the info. Is the purge valve something that a handy person could replace, even if they don’t know much about cars? Or should I just let my mechanic do it?

Hi; no it’s not something you could do. It should checked on to see if it is working or could be made to work. I.e. a vacuum leak…

I doubt its as simple as the purge valve. The vent valve would almost certainly be involved as well. But that’s why DIY is probably not a great idea. Guessing at parts that need to be replaced quickly gets expensive.

It is also the case that evap system issues are notoriously hard to track down. So in the long run you’re probably better off having someone who does know about cars track down the exact issue. This itself can, of course, be very dicey since it can be hard to find someone competent enough to do it.

Did you find out what was causing the problem? I also hve a 2003 santa fe doing the same thing?

Thanks for all the help. I have not taken it in yet to have it fixed. Let me know if you find out anything on yours.