The Dangers of a Leaking Fuel Tank

Fuel leaking from your gas tank is never something you should ignore. A gas leak will lead to reduced fuel economy and, more importantly, carries with it a risk of fire or explosion. The good news is that your gas tank may be able to be repaired instead of replaced.

The Dangers of a Leaking Fuel TankSigns of a gas leak include a gas smell or gas pooling under the tank. It is important that you get your vehicle checked out right away if you notice either of these signs. It also is important for a professional to confirm if the leaking fluid is truly gasoline. If it is, they will need to determine the source of the leak. Gasoline can leak from fuel lines so knowing the origin of the leak will determine what steps need to be taken next.

The gas tank is exactly what it sounds like. A reservoir for gasoline that powers a vehicle’s engine. Gasoline is filled from outside the vehicle, down a filler neck, and into the tank. Gas tanks are usually made of metal or plastic. Some may be built with the fuel pump inside the tank. Regardless of where the fuel pump is located, fuel is pumped from the tank to the engine where it mixes with air and is burned. A leak in the fuel tank may cause flammable vapors to escape the tank.

So what causes a gas tank to leak? It usually comes down to two common reasons:

  1. Corroded or leaking tank: Over time, gas tanks may corrode and begin to leak. This is common in colder regions because snow and salt can accelerate corrosion. Leaks on the seam of a gas tank are usually the worst type but all leaks will become worse if they are not fixed.
  2. Punctures: While gas tanks are solid, punctures can occur. A punctured gas tank is a serious issue and difficult to repair so it is likely the entire tank will need to be replaced if this is the case.

If you suspect you have a leaking or punctured gas tank you need to take it to be serviced as soon as possible. A mechanic will inspect the tank to identify the source of the leak and then determine if the tank can be repaired or needs to be replaced. If the tank needs to be replaced, the mechanic will first drain the old tank, disconnect the fuel lines and determine if they if they need to be replaced. The straps that hold the tank will then be removed so the tank can be dropped. Once a new tank has been installed and the parts are reconnected, the mechanic will put fuel in the tank and start the vehicle to make sure that the new tank is working properly.

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