Mercury Villager

I have a 1996 Mercury Village which emits a gasoline oder only in the winter. This smell occurs when I’m driving, idling, or have turned off the ignition.

My mechanic tightened a hose clamp for the fuel line, but the smell of gasoline remains.

Does anyone have any suggestions as what could be the problem? One suggestion was a gasket has shrunk due to the cold weather permitting gasoline to leak. Another suggestion is a problem with the fuel pump.



Are you in an area where they use ethanol during the winter time?

I had a similar problem with my car. Turns out a mechanic hooked up a couple of vacuum lines wrong before I purchased the car, and inadvertently disconnected the purge line to the charcoal canister. This line allows the gas fumes collected in the canister to be sucked into the engine to be burned. The canister became saturated with fuel and was letting fumes escape. Took me a bit to find out what was wrong, but hooked everything up correctly, and the fumes went away.

You may have a canister issue or a vacuum line issue, but it is something to look at.

Yes, I am in an area that uses ethanol.

I’ll call my mechanic and run this by him. Thank you.

Here’s a TSB for you to give your tech. 97-26-16 That’s the OEM number.

Hi, I took my villager into my mechanic who told me he did not think he could help and referred me to the Ford service center in town. The service center told me they would have to remove the gas tank but were hesitant too because there might be rust on the gas tank as well as the straps to hold the gas tank in place but were hesitant since Ford no longer made parts for the Villager, including the “canister.”

So, my questions are:

Is there any truth to what the service department told me?

Where is the “canister” located?

What is the function of the canister?

Would it make sense for me to go to my local salvage lot and purchase a used one?

Meanwhile, I still smell the gasoline, but I do not see any gas on the ground, and my mileage dropped from 23 MPG to 18 MPG.

I appreciate any help or insights>


It sounds to me like both the mechanic and Ford service center are basically saying “we don’t feel like bothering with this.”

I think that it is most likely that you have a problem that will take a lot of time to figure out but probably not take very much in parts to repair (e.g. just some vacuum line or o-rings). In comparison to repairs involving expensive parts the profit margin is less. Maybe I’m just cynical. But I just do most of my own car work these days b/c its just too obvious to me that car repair businesses do think in terms of making money rather than in solving problems. (See, they make money whether problems get solved or not as most people have found out at one time or another).

Unfortunately there are lots of different places that you can get fuel smell and they do run all the way from the gas tank (behind you when you’re in the car) all the way up to multiple points under the hood. So assistance by internet is not likely to be all that effective.

Since you smell it while in the car driving & idling I’m going to make an initial guess that leaks at the fuel tank itself are not very likely. I’d imagine that its someplace under the hood in reasonable proximity to the firewall (the wall separating you from the engine compartment).

There are two different things that can be leaking. One is the actual fuel lines that carry liquid gasoline. The other are evaporation lines that carry fuel vapor only (ok - well they’re supposed to only have vapor). The “canister” is part of that system - its sort of a storage tank for the gas vapors from the tank. I don’t know exactly where it is on this car but its usually buried under the hood somewhere - such as inside of a fender well.

Anyway, at this point I’d suggest that you become your own best assistant. The next time you’re been smelling fuel, open the hood and start sticking your nose around. See if you can at least figure out the general area where the smell is strongest. If you can figure that out folks might be able to direct you a little better.

You might also ask your mechanic what -exactly- s/he did to try to figure it out. (And what hose clamp was tightened - since there shouldn’t be any except maybe back at the filler neck on the tank). You might also ask around for suggestions for another mechanic. You want a local, owner-operated shop.

BTW: I’m sure that parts for this van can be had. Its likely that what the dealer shop was saying is that they can’t get OEM parts.

Is your check engine light on?