Removing 3 1/2 year old gas from an '89 Camry

A friend gave me a '89 Camry V-6 that hasn’t been run in about 3.5 years.

1st thing to do is get rid of the old gas. But do I have to have it towed to a place with a lift–remove, drain and replace? Ouch $$$

Will a 1/4" hose work to siphon an '89? Last time I tried this in the 70’s there was an access door in the trunk to the sender unit but I’m told that is a no-go these days.

Would it be possible to use the pump, perhaps running it for 5 minutes, then off for 10 till the ~4 gallons is pumped through?

A quick way to drain the tank is, remove the fuel filter. Adapt a hose to the fuel filter inlet line and point it into container. Locate the fuel pump relay and remove it. Insert a jumper wire into the secondary side of the relay socket. Turn the ignition switch on so the dash lights come on and the fuel pump will run to pump all the gas out. As soon as the fuel pump stops pumping gas, shut the ignition off.


I did a like, wish there was a love button!

Be sure to use the common sense precautions when working with gasoline, like extreme caution to avoid open flames and sparks, have a known-good fire extinguisher of appropriate size on hand, avoid worse-case-scenerios, like maybe do it outside so if things get out of control at least it doesn’t burn down your house, etc.

The way Tester described is how I’d do it I think. Locate a schematic for the fuel pump relay circuit and verify what it is you need to do exactly to turn the pump on and nothing but the pump. There is a possible downside that the fuel pump will suck debris which will get stuck in the inlet screen and possibly cause problems. But that probably won’t happen.

If that’s a concern, as alternatives to completely removing the tank, it might also be possible to just siphon the gas out through the fill tube. On newer cars this has become difficult due to the complicated evap systems, but on a 89 it might work. If you want to do it by siphoning though the sender access instead, it may be possible to access the sender by simply removing the rear seat. The shop manual would say for sure one way or the other.

Open the gas cap and take a good whiff of the gas! Does it smell at all like fresh gas from the pump at the station or does it have a disgusting “dead” smell unlike anything you have ever smelled before? Does it smell kinda like gas but not exactly? If this situation, I would fill up with fresh gas to dilute and not worry about it. If it smells dead (you will know when you smell it), get it out of there however you do it.

Another concern is why has the car sat so long? Who would do this to a perfectly good car, even if older in age? Was something wrong that wasn’t worth repairing 3 years ago?

Any rubber components like belts and hoses should be changed no matter what. Also give the car a good oil change as soon as it starts and runs well. Also consider any tune-up parts.

Also inspect for bug and rodent nests and key areas. Look for chewed on wires and such. I have seen some “campfires” waiting to happen under the hoods of some cars, including my own. This can appear overnight so who knows after this long…

If it smells rancid, like dead rat, get rid of the old fuel.

If it smells rancid, DO NOT try to start the vehicle. You may very well plug up the pump.

There’s a small, rectangular box under the hood with a flip-up lid labeled “Diagnosis”. Inside are a bunch of female electrical connectors. The legend in the lid should allow you to identify terminals labeled B+ and Fp. If you jumper these two together the fuel pump should run. You should be able to remove the fuel line somewhere and pump out the tank.

I’m working from memory here, someone else chime in if I’m wrong.

You DON’T want to use the vehicle’s fuel pump to drain the tank




Because that old junk in the tank may plug up and/or destroy the fuel pump.

I’ve seen it happen.


Well then, if you’re going to drop the tank to drain it might as well replace the fuel pump while the tank’s out.

Using the fuel pump to drain the tank into a container will protect the fuel injectors. Once the tank is drained and fresh gas is added then it can be found out if the fuel pump requires replacement.


@Tester using the fuel pump to drain the tank of that crud may protect the injectors, but damage the pump. It might be damaged already, but I would try to save it at this time.

But don’t tell it to me. OP’s the one with the potential problem.

I think the safest thing to do is remove and drain the tank (either siphon it out or drain it when the tank is removed.

Then the pump and sender should be removed and cleaned as best as possible.

And the inside of the tank should be wiped clean, if possible. If the fuel has severely degraded, there will be plenty of varnish and crud lining the inside of the tank. Some of it may have even solidified.

Seen it.

I will tell you what a customer did.

The car sat for a number of years.

He tried to start it.

The tank had fuel level senders inside, but the fuel pump was external.

Well, the pump tried to suck that crud up and IMMEDIATELY seized, never to move again.

Fuel pumps are always suspect to me when they’ve been sitting in aged gasoline. Once up and running again they can be prone to quitting at any time and if the car were mine I’d probably throw a new pump in it even if the current one works.

I’m not a fan of sitting on the roadside. :slight_smile:

Fuel pump? Fuel pump? Fuel pump.?

Pump the old gas out and add new gas to see if the fuel pump is shot.


If the fuel pump is going to go, sure draining the tank is better, but I agree with tester it is worth a shot