Car: Fuel problem after disuse.

This problem has now happened three years in a row (we are slow learners, apparently).

We return from 2 weeks vacation. My gf’s big Dodge pickup truck (120,000 miles, automatic), which normally gets used daily, sits untouched in our heated garage. When we return home it runs like shit for a few days.

I took it out on the road right after we got back the other day. Started up fine, but anytime the rpms went over around 2200, it started to sputter and kick. Put in some dry gas without help. Eventually I was barely able to keep it running. I was doing 15 mph max on a 45 mph road, bucking and sputtering. I pulled off the road to call AAA , but called my gf first to ask where she wanted it towed.

She had her phone shut off:(. Tried calling few more times, then tried to restart the truck and it ran a little better. I was able to limp home. Today she tells me it is running better than ever.

Ideas? Prevention for next time?

Fuel pump?

Several companies make fuel additives to keep gas from ‘going bad’. But it doesn’t seem like a couple of weeks should make a difference. I suspect a different problem like dirty injectors. Or fuel pump going bad.

The fuel pump was suggested by friends the first time this happened 3 years ago. But would it do fine for a year, then repeat after 2 weeks of disuse?

We could ask my gf’s parents to drive it daily, but they are already doing a ton of work feeding/caring for her horses, etc.

Heated garage question: It’s no so warm/moist in the garage that you are causing condensation to accumulate on wires/dist cap (if so equipped) etc, right…???

Fuel won’t go bad that fast, although ethanol crusaders lurk everywhere… so stand back if they chime in.

Yes, the garage is a bit humid (integral garage with some puddling during rain). Wall mounted gas heater keeps it around 40 degrees F.

Two weeks sounds rather short for the gas to go stale or gum up the injectors. Still, it does sound like the probem. Next time I would add Stabil or other brand of stabilizer before the last trip. Let it work into the system so the injectors and all are protected. You could also try fuel injector cleaner after the problem develops.

Do you always buy the same brand of gas?


I won’t rule out the gas going stale and I would be curious what your exact mixture is (something in the pumps at the BP just below Butler always gives my machines fits in the winter). I know enough people who have that problem with their motorcycles that they use a “stabilization additive” in their gas all the time. They claim to notice rough running and starting after as little as a week off and after a winter (not everyone is as crazy around here as I am) most friends drain their gas and start over fresh.

Kayaker ----- if you ever pass Bohn’s on Rte 51 below the Liberty Tubes, stop in and grab a bottle of the stuff they sell. The name escapes me but I’ve used it now and then and found it works well.

GF works in Pittsburgh, she can stop!

I’ll try to remember to update this thread in a year.:smiley:

Could there be condensation causing water in the gas, said water might freeze in the gas line, how cold was it when you had the problem.

If this could be the cause, make sure the gas tank is full before storing the truck to minimize the condensation.

Check the spark plug wires. If they are worn and there is condensation there could be rough running until the truck heats up and dries the wires out.

Do you notice problems in damp or rainy weather at all?

Nope. Truck runs fine except for once a year, right after our 2 weeks away.

Electrical system doesn’t like the dampness, which might be substantial. That’s my vote. Spark plug wires, etc. How old are the wires, etc?

It ain’t the ethanol and you don’t need Stabil or other ethanol treatments. Two weeks? Really, people? Chiming in about the fuel after two weeks?