Problems with pumping gas

I am having a problem with my 2005 PT Cruiser that has been going on for several months. Whenever I am pumping gas, the gas seems to be bubbling back causing the nozzle to click off as if the tank is full. I have taken my car to a mechanic but he said he didn’t find anything wrong with it. It takes 15-20 minutes to fill up my gas tank because I practically have to dribble the gas into the tank.

As a teenager in the late 60’s early 70’s I worked at a full service gas station (no such thing as self service back then). There were certain cars that no matter what, you had to fill slowly. The 65-68 Mustangs I remember specifically. I think it’s the way the neck of the filler tube is shaped. Do other PT Cruiser owners have the same problem?

There’s a problem with the Onboard Refueling Vapor Recovery system.

As you fill the gas tank, the gas vapors are supposed to be forced thru the carbon canister in the EVAP system before the gas tank is allowed to vent back into the atmosphere. If there’s restriction in the ORVR system the gas tank can’t vent and this causes the pump to shut off.

Have someone check all the hoses in the EVAP system for a restriction.

Did you know spider egg sacs can cause this problem?


Other than spider eggs (or, I’d imagine, any other critter than might crawl in there), this can happen if you are in the habit of topping off the tank by continuing to fill after the auto shut off. This can eventually damage the ORVR system. So if you do top off the tank - then don’t do that anymore.

Thanks so much for the comments that I will forward to my mechanic. I am guilty of topping off the tank. I won’t do that anymore.

Some cars have a solenoid valve in the gas tank venting system that is supposed to be open when the car is turned off. It allows air to escape the gas tank as you fill it. If that valve fails to open when it should the air can’t escape fast enough as the tank is filled, the air pressure builds up quickly, which turns off the gas pump. A problem with the charcoal canister – it is clogged or just on the fritz – can cause this symptom too.

"I am guilty of topping off the tank."

Well, I think that we have identified the proximate cause of the problem!

@SmithP2–If I was about to cross the Atacama Desert, I would probably “top off” my gas tank, simply because I would be unlikely to find another source of gasoline before I finished my journey, and because running out of gas would be–literally–a life-threatening situation.

Luckily, those of us in more developed regions of the US are rarely more than a few miles from a gas station, and, as a result, this idea of somehow needing to “top off” a gas tank is…just not logical or necessary, and–in fact–is potentially costly.

You may need to replace the carbon canister, and/or the purge valve for the evaporative emissions system. Hopefully, after paying for that repair, you will stop pumping gas when the pump clicks off for the first time.


Does it click off at every single filling station you go to?

There are some filling stations in my area which I refuse to visit . . .

If it happens at every filling station, I agree with the other comments

Not to be too cynical, but you need to find a mechanic with a “go get em attitude”

If it takes 15 minutes to fill up your car, there is definitely a problem

Just because he hasn’t found it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist

I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Chrysler technical service bulletin in regards to your problem. There may well be an updated vent valve and/or charcoal canister

@Smith2 The typical cost for properly fixing a damaged canister and purging the system is about $500!!! So “topping up” the tank is a very expensive excercise. My wife, who does not tank her own gas, tells every gas jockey to “STOP AT THE FIRST CLICK”!!!

@Docnick Your wife would enjoy fueling her vehicle in Oregon. Self service has been illegal for at least my lifetime (61+ years) and attendants adding any fuel after the nozzle clicks off has been illegal since 2009. Our prices are very close to the national average so it appears win/win to me.

You mean you get an actual person to fill the gas tank in Oregon @sgtrock21? I haven’t seen that kind of personal gas station service in the USA provided in years. Probably some folks here in the forum remember back in the early 60’s, you’d pull into a gas station and two, maybe three well-appointed attendants (all with matching hats sporting the vendor’s logo) would show up, one filling the gas tank and washing the windows, one checking the tire pressures, and one checking the oil level on the dipstick? Last time I had that kind of service was when I visited Thailand a few years ago.

In the 1950’s, early 60’s, gasoline vendors such as Mobile, Standard were major media advertisers, often sponsoring popular TV shows. They had musical slogans and everything. “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star (Texaco)”. To compete against each other, they’d often offer promotions, gifts if you filled-it-up, contests. One of them I recall one of them promised they’d fill the gas tank, check the tires, and the oil, and all within a short time – 5 minutes I think – of your arrival. If they didn’t, you’d get a discount or something in compensation.

Since the thread has been hijacked…

Also New Jersey does not allow self-serve.

@GeorgeSanJose Of course I remember those days. As late as 1970 a gallon of regular (still leaded and 95 octane) was $.25. A vender would have been overjoyed to make a nickel per gallon profit. That was the main reason for all the great service. Keeping the customers happy was very important for retaining their loyalty. Even more important was maximum sales of TBA (Tires, Batteries, and Accessories). Accessories consisted of any fluid, part, or service you could make a profit on. Fuel profits would typically fall short of just being able to stay in business. Now days TBA has been replaced by the convenience store. The filling station I use most often will clean your windshield if they’re not busy. I’m sure if the law was repealed Oregon would become self service overnight.

Try angling the fuel nozzle to the right (i.e. The handle at the 5 o’clock position. I had a f250 that would keep stopping the filling process. If I angled the nozzle towards the back of the truck, it’d fill perfect. There must have been a sharp angle on the filler tube.

“New Jersey does not allow self-serve.”

Technically, yes.
Functionally, NO

While it is true that self-serve gas stations do not exist in NJ, the fact of the matter is that you can pump your own gas w/o being tackled by an attendant or being arrested for the “offense” of pumping your own gas. Every time that I see somebody post a statement about NJ “not allowing self-serve”, I ask the following question:

Can you find any instances of somebody in NJ being arrested or charged with an offense because he/she pumped his/her own gas?

Actually, I will save you the effort, because you can spend all day every day trying to find an instance, but you won’t find one. I pump my own gas in NJ about 95% of the time (the only instances where I can’t do it are at stations that require the attendant to insert his card in the pump in order to activate it), and not only has nobody ever stopped me from pumping my own gas, but most of the attendants thank me for doing it.

I honestly don’t understand why so many people sit passively while gas attendants decide how to fuel cars. All it takes is a bit of effort to get up off of one’s posterior and/or to speak up regarding how you want your car treated. In the few instances where I can’t take charge of the fueling process, I make sure that I am standing next to the pump when it clicks off, so that I can say, “That’s enough. No more!” (or, “Bastante, no mas!”).

Let’s see…
I can sit passively in my car while the attendant makes the decision about whether or not to overfill my tank–with the possible consequence for me of having to pay $300-500 to repair the damage…
I can get off my butt and do it myself/take charge of the situation.

Which do you think is the better course of action?