Installing a new fuel tank strap on LH body car


#1

I am replacing a broken fuel tank strap on a Dodge Intrepid (96). This is the LH style Chrysler.

There is only one strap on this design. The tank is plastic and also rests on the rear cross member.

The strap has a triangular shaped brace on the drivers side making it impossible to get it around the exhaust pipe with out dropping it.

In my infinite wisdom I decided to bend the strap slightly on the passenger side of it and fish it through he drivers side wheel well going over the tail pipe.

I could not bend it back exactly as it was but I figured it would flatten out when I tighten it up. At least in theory it seems close enough.

I am now about 2 inches short on the far side when trying to install the bolt. The original bolts are M10 x 25mm or 1 inch long and are useless at this point. Can 't go much longer or it will not fit when tightened down.

I got a 70mm long M10 stud and figured I can use this to pull it up with a nut. Maybe even leave it there with a double nut. As I started to do this it started to get real hard and bending the top of the strap in a place It should not be bending. I am also concerned of any stress on the plastic tank. I stopped for now and am reflecting. It almost seems like the strap will not be long enough. Short by about an inch or so. It is an after market Spectrum SP 159. What are the odds of the part being a poor design? Or just wrong for this car? Probably very low but I have seen an application catalog mistake with this vendor a few years ago. It does happen.

Before I go further I wanted to think about it for a day and get the opinion of the esteemed users of this community. I am sure someone out there has direct experience with this body type and this repair as they made a million of them and they are now pretty old.

Is this normal or typical of this job. Is it safe to crank the heck out of it? I uploaded two pictures showing the stud and nut on the strap. It gives an idea of how much more it needs to tighten up. I can tighten it a bit more than shown pretty easily… It is the last inch that is hard. It also shows the bottom of the strap and the existing slack in it.

Thank you all in advance!


#2

I don’t know if I’d be too fussy with a 1996.
If it were me though, I’d get a lock nut with the nylon insert and a good washer
on the bolt and snug it up. THen check after you use up a tank of gas and snug it up again before filling up, to see if it will go any further.

Yosemite


#3

Yosemite, That is a good thought! I only have a 1/4 tank of gas right now so it is not too bad. But I could still burn some and lighten it by another 15 lbs.

I did not mention it but this bolt also supports a bracket that is backing up the bottom of the sway bar bushing to its left. The bracket is not shown in the picture. So if it does not fully pull up or bottom out the sway bar bracket will probably break from not being supported on this end. I could put a 2nd nut or spacer on it I suppose???. It is getting complicated. Playing with gas, so I want to be cautious.


#4

then I’;dv just run a nut up it to secure the sway bar bracket then a washer your strap then a washer and the lock nut.

Yosemite


#5

The strap should be soft steel. Can you bend it to conform to the bottom of the tank?


#6

Insightful, yes …Somewhat, but it is hard to control. You really need to over bend it due to spring back.
Thanks.


#7

Just for more clarity here is a picture of the drivers side with the new strap and sway bar bracket in place.
The tank strap is suppose to be sandwiched in between the body and bracket as shown. Only two bolts that go into threaded holes in the body. The hole on the far right was open.


#8

The aftermarket strap may be a “one size fits all” made to work on a broad range of models. Your car may have a bigger gas tank…Just be sure the tank is positioned properly on the top side and the strap supports it snugly…At the factory, with a new soft tank and exact fitting strap, they just torque it down perhaps deforming the tank a little in the process…


#9

Maybe @Caddyman is right about this strap being a “one size fits all”.

Why not move to the outer hole on the strap on the drivers side.
This should give you enough on the other side to get the strap snugged up.

Yosemite


#10

Guys, that is a great idea but there is a triangular bracket welded to it on the drivers side. I think that is to make sure it does not touch the exhaust. My pics don’t show it but If you Google image on the part Spectra ST 159 you will find a picture of it and see what I mean. Right now the vertical side of the formed bracket is right up against the tank. It has no leeway in that direction. I played with it a bit tonight after dinner and I was able to tighten it up a bit by rebending the strap on the passenger side. Still about an inch shy. I think I will remove it, straighten the sharp 90 degree bend on the passenger side… Rebend it as best I can while giving me another inch along with that I will drag or re-drill the hole. Similar in effect to to Caddyman’s idea but on the other side. What a PITA. I thought about bringing it back but then I need to get the counter guy to believe me and then I may still very well have the same issue.

Thanks!


#11

If it would work, Assuming the strap is a little short, I guess what I would do is put a short piece of tubing as a bushing between the frame and the strap. Then tighten it down. In effect all you are doing is lengthening the strap.


#12

@Bing; I was think on the same lines.
Maybe a 3/8 inch pipe coupling. That would have a little over 1/2 inch hole
and give you an extra 1 1/4inch length.

Yosemite


#13

I went back to the NAPA I purchased the part at and spoke with the manager.

I was expecting some kind of a fight but she was very understanding and did not seemed surprised with my experience. I tried 9 ways to Sunday to make it work and it just is not happening. While I was there she called her tech support at Spectra and it was not productive. She just wanted some dimensions to confirm that the part was right or not.

For what ever reasons they would not do it. Maybe it was late in the day and they did not want to get out of their chair and look it up. (sarcasm). Maybe he is getting a lot of these calls and he was trained to get the customer to just go away. I don’t know. If someone who works at Spectra reads this feel free to weigh in!!!

She even called some of her other sources and no one else makes the part. (The dealer no longer carries it). It appears Spectra is the only manufacturer making it.

She ordered in another Spectra part (hecho en China) from the Napa warehouse and fingers crossed it would be better. (2 days later). I went in this morning and the dimensions are the same. About 2" too short on the passenger side again!

She seems just as frustrated as I. I do appreciate the effort she extended. She offered a few dollars off for my troubles. I don’t think the Big box stores would go to this much effort for a small customer. .

I will just rework the top bend location by 2" and add a new hole or use the out side hole if it aligns.

Thanks to all who weighted in and offered their ideas. This is a great community.

I hope this is a small isolated issued and limited to one lot of parts but who knows. Other from other regions may have the same issue and they can turn here to find some work arounds.

Now I just need to go do it. !!!


#14

I had the same type of thing happen once and I just cut the strap and added a piece of mild steel to lengthen it.

Yosemite


#15

That works too if you have the material! There are many ways to skin this cat. You work with what you have.

Mission completed and I am satisfied with the outcome, but man… it took so much time to go through all this nonsense.

If I were doing this for a living It would have lost my shirt on this job. I wonder how often mechanics have to go back to their customer and say I can’t get the right fitting part so I will rework something or similar. However I have to charge you x extra hours in addition for all the running around and extra time to make it happen. Not my fault the only part supplier can’t deliver.
In the mean time a car a down for days and the customer must be wondering is this guy nuts or incompetent. It must be really hard on the small shop mechanic. The dealer shops are saying come up front and buy a new car. The average consumer see such a simple part and must be dumbfounded.

Looking back I recall the initial reaction from the manager at NAPA was one of total belief so I gotta believe this type of thing happens more than it use to. More than any of us would like to believe.
This part was not cheap either. $40 some odd dollars for a strip of .08 sheet metal with a few bends, spot welds, 4 holes and a galvanized finish. Nothing was deburred. All of the edges where sharp. And of course Hecho en China.!

Thanks again to all who weighed in.


#16

Glad you finally got this fixed and are back on the road.
These problems can be frustrating!!!

Sometimes every mechanic has to swallow a loss on a job like this.
Some poeple, after you tell them of the troubles give you a nice tip for your troubles.
Others want change from the $20 after paying the 19.95.

Yosemite