By Contributing Author
If you find yourself in a situation where the fuel tank on your vehicle needs repaired or replaced, we can help. This post will be informative enough to walk you along the process all while giving you the encouragement and confidence to do the job yourself.
What you’ll need: jack & jack stands, siphon, repair materials, vehicle manual, wooden block, fire extinguisher, approved fuel container, and confidence.
Step 1: Park the Vehicle
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember your surroundings. Park the vehicle in a safe location, preferably on a flat surface.
Remember to be in a well-ventilated area! Inhaling fuel vapors can be toxic or deadly. You’ll also want to avoid any open flames, such as a water heater, dryer or cigarettes.
You’ll want to put the vehicle in park and give the engine time to cool down if you’ve been driving it prior to this job.
Step 2: Use Jack Stands or Lift
If you have access to a vehicle lift, use it! This will aid you immensely, but jack stands will also do the trick.
If using jack stands, you’ll first need to use a jack to lift the vehicle up until you can safely set stands under the vehicle. Remember to place the stands in secure places that can bear the weight of the car.
Do NOT place the stands on items such as the leaf springs, fuel tank, cross member, drive shaft, etc.
Step 3: Remove the Gas Cap
Now that you’ve got the car securely lifted, make sure you remove the gas cap to relieve any pressure that may have built up in the fuel tank. During this step, you can locate the battery of the vehicle and safely disable it.
Pro Tip: Some service manuals will have more in-depth instructions on relieving pressure on the gas tank of your specific vehicle. Always consult it or the appropriate dealership if you’re unsure.
Step 4: Remove Fuel
During this step, you will siphon all of the fuel out of your vehicle’s fuel tank.
If you are in a technical field, such as agriculture, mechanics, construction, etc., this may be a regular occurrence for you. In that instance, you would need to have a safe container for a large amount of diesel fuel to stay while you fix the fuel tank.
Step 5: Prepare and Remove Tank
When you’ve completed steps 1 – 4, it’s time to prepare for removing the fuel tank. First, you’ll need to make sure that any impeding components are removed. If there are any, remove those first and set them aside.
Now it’s time to remove the tank. Lift your jack and place a wooden block between it and the fuel tank. This will prevent any friction between the metal.
The jack and block will need to be secured under the tank to bear the weight while you are unscrewing.
Pro Tip: If you’re using a lift to remove the tank, now would be a good time to have a friend come to assist. They can hold the weight of the fuel tank while you’re gradually unscrewing it. Remember to put safety first!
At this time, make sure to remove the fuel line from the tank so no damage is done while you’re lowering it down.
Now it is time to begin loosening the bolts. Do so gently, taking care not to strip any.
You’ll want to loosen them a little at a time and lower the jack as you go. This will help keep some of the weight off the bolts, while not rushing the removal process.
Step 6: Repair or Replace Tank
Once you’ve removed the fuel tank, it’s time to decide if it is repairable or if you’re going to need to completely replace it.
If there is a large, rusted hole, it will probably be safest to replace the whole tank. Welding or soldering a fuel tank, though empty, is very dangerous.
If repairing a hole is the most cost-effective choice for you, it would probably be best to refer to a professional welder for this part of the job. Safety should always be your first priority!
If you simply need to replace the fuel pump or a gasket, do so now. Remember not to use any flammable liquids that could catch on fire once the tank has been re-installed.
If you will be painting the tank, only use paints that have been approved for this application. You can probably find them within most hardware stores or auto parts stores.
Pro Tip: If at any point during this process you see sparks, stop immediately! Grab your fire extinguisher and wait to see if any flames erupt. After a period of time, continue your work slowly and safely.
Step 7: Re-Install Fuel Tank
Whether you are fully replacing the fuel tank, or just re-installing a repaired one, all you’ll have to do is follow these steps backwards! Start with Step 5 and work your way back up.
After you’ve reconnected the tank, make sure your battery is also connected. From here, you will need to start the vehicle up to make sure it’s running like normal.
Replacing a fuel tank may seem like a daunting task, but with these 7 steps, you can accomplish it on your own! We hope we’ve given you the confidence boost you needed to be comfortable tackling this task.
Just remember to be cautious and take your time and you’ll do just fine. And congratulations, you’ve just learned a new skill!
If you have any other questions about specific tasks or skills, feel free to browse our website.
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