Car Fuel Tank Problem

I drive a 1996 Ford Escort wagon with a little over 96,000 miles on it. I smelled gas when outside my car and so I took it to the dealership. They just called and said that the seam of the gas tank was starting to seperate. They do not do gas tank patches because of liability issues. So I decided to have them put on a new tank.
My questions are; why did my gas tank do this and did I make the right choice.

Most likely corrosion on the welded seams, although it should have lasted longer.

Yes you did the right thing – it was the only thing. If I am not mistaken it is now illegal to repair gas tanks.

You could’ve probably fixed it yourself with epoxy putty.

Spray some degreaser solvent…brake cleaner is perfect…on the seam and wipe it clean. Then just mix equal amounts of light and dark putties into a uniform grey final product, and press into the seam, feathering the edges.

Should set up fully ion 24 hours, max, for under 10 bucks.

Where it is the seem of the tank I think I’d be leaving the putty alone and try to weld the seem together or just replace the tank. And yes you can weld fuel tanks safely if you know how. Putty is handy in certain situations but along the seem no thanks.

If it’s already falling apart at the seams I wouldn’t trust it to fix it with putty. It will probably just spring another leak somewhere else. Time to replace the bugger.

While it is possible to repair them with epoxy (and I’ve even welded on one filled almost entirely with water), my opinion is that most any tank failure is worth getting a new tank over for the same reasons engineer_comp_geek said. It’s one of those car repairs you kinda just have to grin and bear it and write out the check for, IMO.

I put in a new tank myself, not the kind of thing you want to do…there are places on the net that have stuff you put in the tank & it seals it but you have to have the tank out. If it’s rusted, using some ‘bondo method’ isn’t going to seal the seam.

One time there was a pinhole on the bottom & i put some bondo on a penny & pushed it against that hole & it worked perfect.

I am replacing the tank. A big bullet to bite. :frowning: I am assuming that it rusted from the inside out and that I could end up with filter or engine problems later.

I was told the story of a former employee where I work who used bubble gum to seal a gas tank leak. A few days after doing this he called in and said he would be late because the fire department had to clean up the gas spill from his car and had blocked him in.

I think that I will take this car to another Ford dealership that a co-worker recomended and have this car checked out throughly. I have had the 90,000 mile tune up in December and since then I had to replace the timeing belt, spark plug wires, oil pan gasket and now the gas tank.

Lot of problems for a '96 low mileage car!

It’s a Ford, what do you expect? Lot’s of Ford topics on the board, esp around 100k.

Hmmm… I’m very, very familiar with your gas tank. If you tell the dealer to return it to the plant, it’s possible I may be able to get you an answer as to exactly why it failed.

As for cost, consider taking your car to a junk yard and having them install a new tank. Or if it’s not a full service junk yark, buy the tank and have Western Auto or someone like that install the tank.

Trust me, you don’t want to weld or patch up the tank. If you look at the tank, there are two halves – and upper and a lower. One’s put on top of the other, and they’re welded around the circumference. Welds aren’t like stitching – they don’t just get undone. However if any of the post-welding paint come off the tank, that leaves an avenue for rust. The tank steel itself has a very good Magni rustproof paint, but resistance welding burns it off. So there’s unprotected, bare, steel there if the paint chips off it. That’s just a possibility. The manufacturer’s plant would be able to give you the true cause of the problem.

All in all, though, fuel tank weld failures on Ford vehicles are exceptionally rare. You can have confidence in a salvage yard tank.

Shops that are willing to weld gastanks usually fill them with argon or nitrogen first. Many welders refuse to weld even near a tank. A fire truck factory in my home town burned down because an employee brought his own car into the shop to weld on a trailer hitch. :eek:

Shell out the cash, and make sure the vent system is not plugged.Put a straight edge on the bottom of the tank, if it is bulged, that is your problem. After the Pinto and Crown Vic problems gas tanks are rigorously inspected.

To make things perfectly clear I am replacing the tank. I will ask to see the old tank when I pick up the car. I am curious if it was corrosion around the tank seam or did the weld actually pop. So Balthisar if I ask my lacl Ford dealer to send the tank back to the factory will they do this?

Boudica, probably because it’s such a young tank. There’s a very small possibility that it won’t be wanted since the tank finished production in July. Have the dealer try to send it back to Dearborn; the manufacturer should definitely be interested in why it failed. If you have a camera, take it with you when you look at the original tank. If the manufacturer doesn’t want the tank, I’d at least like to look at the photos and could probably tell you what happened. I’ll bet that the seam weld didn’t just pop, though.

Also, what’s the name of the dealer and where is it located?

bojon, if the tank is rounded it’s not necessarily a problem. They expand a little bit naturally when under pressure. Of course off the car it shouldn’t be under any pressure!

I’m also very familiar with the Crown Vic tank. There’s nothing wrong with the tank per se. The deal with the police interceptor is there’s a chassis component that, in a rear end collision, supposedly punctures the tank. The Mustang tank, for what it’s worth, is virtually identical and goes through the same manufacturing process.

The Pinto’s before my time, so I can’t add anything there.

Anything I say is my opinion and not necessarily that of anyone I may or may not have any type of relationship with.

The dealr is Bird-Kultgen Ford in Waco TX

Well, what I’ve heard is since the tank is out of warranty, the dealer may not want to ship it back to the plant, since it would otherwise be free of charge to the dealer. But I have someone trying anyway. I’ll let you know if I find out that anything is happening.

Glad my E-150 van never heard this - still hummin’ at 244k.

Some years ago I had a motorcycle with a gas tank which developed pinhole leaks in the upper, rear surface, next to my crotch, and a bit of gas would leak from there and make my pants smell of gas. I tried repeatedly to repair it with epoxy but it still leaked. I was probably not doing it right. It was a fire waiting to happen and yet it never happened. That’s how lucky I was. Looking back it was crazy to go around like that.

The new tank is on the vehicle I will pick the car on Tuesday afternoon