Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Novice Mistake or What. HELP!

I thought I am a decent used car buyer, until this last experience. I finally decided to part with my old Galant, as the miles were up and many repairs needed and even then I felt it is not going to be a hwy safe car at this point. So I proceeded with the purchase of a “one” owner '02 Sonata. I had all the proper inspections done, or so I thought. I was going to put a puzzler for the correct guess of what went wrong but I think I am loosing patience already.

One hour after the purchase of the car I went to the gas station to fill up the almost empty tank with the light on and you guessed it, can’t put gas in the tank. The pump keeps clicking off. The attendant thought it should be my first car, so with his chest pumped up came to help. The look on his face was not funny after struggling and not being able to pump more than 0.2 gallon at a time. I have used the search engine and have tried the hose down the filler neck solution. It helped for the first 3 gallons but not more. The hose goes as far as 3 feet. Now every mechanic I take it to thinks I am making it up. The dealer wants to change the filler tube. I am thinking the tank is not venting. I have no check engine light and no gas drips from the charcoal canister. The tubing under the tank to the canister and etc is a bit complex and hard to reach even on a lift. So my questions;

Do you guys try a fill up prior to the purchase of a used car?

How do I go about the repair. I am not sure if the dealer is the best place since I don’t have any warranty, but then none of the locals want to go at it. Any suggestions on the sequence of throwing parts at the car so I don’t go broke.

If it’s the cannister, be prepared for about $400.

Checking to see if the tank can be filled is something I would never have thought of.

It could be a saturated charcoal cannister, as lenjack suggested, but there are a number of other possibilities. All of the vent lines need to be checked, as well as the purge valve.

As a stop-gap, can you feed gas in slowly with a gas can?

Thanks, at least one other person does not check this while buying a car.

I thought the charcoal canister would generate a CEL. Checking online parts I can’t find any canister or valve for this car, seems like all are dealer items.

CCV are avalible ANYWHERE.


happy shopping.

I agree with the dealer on the filler tube.

I took a look at the factory shop manual for my 02 Sonata & unfortunately there is no flow chart for a slow fill condition.

The book leaves a lot to the imagination, but it looks like if you remove the rear seat & a sheet metal cover it will give you access to the “fuel shutoff valve” which is at the end of the filler tube & to the “fill vent valve” which feeds vapor to the canister during refueling.

I dont know if one of these valves could be the problem or not, just thought i’d toss it out there FWIW.

BTW, i’m with NYBO, checking to see if the tank would take fuel is’nt something i’d have ever thought of either.

I hear you on the dealer only parts thing. Just had the first & only problem with the wifes 02. The steering pressure hose was seeping & the “dealer only” price for the new hose including fittings was OUCH $279.

But we bought it new and at 117,000 miles this is the only problem we’ve had with it, so not so bad.

Did you get the 2.7 or the 4 banger?

I do not know why everyone is so quick to blame the charcoal canister. Monkey see monkey do, I guess. One person says a thing is so and everyone copies.

Pull a hose off the canister and see if liquid gasoline drips out. If so, the canister might actually be the culprit.

You have a defective valve somewhere. I don’t know which or where. Replacing the canister won’t do you any good unless in your case this valve is actually a part of the canister itself.

If I had this trouble I’d get the factory service manual and see if it had a detailed description of the fuel system and EVAP system. Try to locate the various valves. Good luck.

I also agree there’s a problem in the filler tube not allowing the gas tank to vent as it’s being filled. There are two ways gas tanks are vented. One system has the vent tube running along side the fill tube. The other system has the vent tube surrounding the fill tube. In this system the fill tube is made from plastic. One end is attached to the fill collar where the gas nozzle is inserted. The other end points into the tank. As the tank is filled, the gas goes down this center plastic tube, and the tank vents out from the outer tube. If the plastic inside tube breaks off the fill neck and slips down into the gas tank, this results in trying to fill the tank using the vent tube. When this happens, the gas tank is no longer able to vent properly. This then builds pressure in the gas tank as it’s being filled which cause the gas nozzle to click off.


Thanks for the responses so far. 87-Ranger, I got the 4 banger, with the gas prices the way they are I thought it might help, we will see. I hadn’t thought of the rear seat, have to look into it, maybe nest weekend.

Tester, when I look under the filler hose, it is a rubber hose. From above when you take the cap off there are two small vent holes on the side of the filling orifice that has the flap. As I said I tried the hose down the neck, it goes 3 feet in but even with the tank 7/8 full I suck on it and no gas and the tip comes out dry. I am not sure if the end is in the tank or not yet. Looking at the fill tube from outside it shouldn’t be longer than 3 feet, but I am not sure.

I looked at the canister, hard to reach tucked under the rear fender and many small tubes leading to it making me wonder.

The rubber hose you see is the vent hose. It’s inside this rubber hose that the plastic fill hose is located. If the plastic hose has become detached from the filler neck, the gas is now going into the tank through the rubber hose. This prevents the gas tank from venting correctly as it’s being filled.