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Gas Pumping Problems: Check for Broken Tank Parts

By Junior Damato, February 27th, 2016

strong>Dear Doctor: I have a 2003 Toyota Corolla. Within the past month I have been having trouble filling the gas tank. It fills a gallon or so, and then the gas pump clicks off. I keep pumping, but it clicks off again every few seconds. It takes me a while to fill the tank. What is this problem? Jordan

Manufacturer photo: 2003 Toyota Corolla
Manufacturer photo: 2003 Toyota Corolla

strong>Dear Jordan: When filling the gas tank the fuel causes pressure that has to be released while not escaping into the air like it did back in the old days. To vent the fuel fume pressure and capture it vehicles have a charcoal canister, a vent solenoid, and vapor recovery valve, which are often the culprit. In some rare cases, if the vehicle is equipped with one, the rollover valve will also cause this problem. The most common cause on the Toyota is the charcoal canister. And these parts can fail without setting the "check engine" light.

strong>Dear Doctor: I purchased a 2012 Jeep Liberty with the six-cylinder, power brakes, automatic transmission and only 35,000 miles on it. When I apply the brakes the Jeep takes off even with me standing on the brake. One time going under 5 mph in my driveway it took off and drove over my new lawnmower and landed on the windshield of a junked 1996 Monte Carlo hood. Another time, I had to drive into a snow bank to stop it. After these instances I took it back to the dealer since it's still under warranty. They can't find out what's wrong. Help. George

strong>Dear George: A vehicle that has any kind of unwanted acceleration needs to be checked by a qualified ASE-certified technician who is skilled in vehicle performance and electronics. The first step is to check for fault codes in the computer memory, followed by a check in Mode 6. Next is a full inspection of the throttle body connections, looking for any binding and any carbon buildup. Then an examination is performed with a lab scope connected to the throttle body and gas pedal sensors, including a slow sweep of all sensors, observing for glitches in the voltages. I looked on Identifix and Alldata, but found no history on this complaint.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2001 Honda Civic with 83,000 miles. I use 3.5 quarts of 5W20 Mobil One full-synthetic at each oil change. I mistakenly mixed one quart of 5W30 with 2.5 quarts of 5W20. I'm now concerned about poor engine performance or internal damage. Do I change the oil now or wait until the next scheduled oil change? Vincent

strong>Dear Vincent: It's very important to use the correct oil and viscosity on all late model vehicles, especially vehicles with variable valve timing. There should be no problem with your minor mix up and the full-synthetic oil helps even out the small mistake. When buying a late model car, make sure to follow the recommenced oil type and maintenance schedule.

strong>Dear Doctor: I own a 2009 Honda Pilot with 106,000 miles. The dealer has recommended a $2,000 service such as: timing belt, water pump, valve adjustment, spark plugs, and several fluid changes. I am considering these services. One fear I have with the 2009 Pilot is Honda's poor transmissions, as we had to replace our Odyssey minivan's transmission at 90,000 miles. What is your opinion regarding performing all of these services? Anthony

strong>Dear Anthony: The timing belt replacement is a must. Engine valve adjustment is also recommended and while the intake manifold is off replace all of the spark plugs as well. As for the water pump, it is not much more to change it while the timing belt is being replaced, along with the tensioner and other pulleys. Fluids on Honda vehicles are also important. Yes, the transmissions on Honda vehicles have been an issue. We recommend a simple drain and fill once a year and it only involves about 3 quarts when drained. I would price the job out at any AAA-approved shop in your area that employs ASE-certified technicians.

strong>Dear Doctor: How often should I have my vehicle's tires rotated? Trish

strong>Dear Trish: Periodic tire rotation is important because when the tire is changed from front to rear it will wear more evenly and last longer. I like to see tire rotation done once a year for the average vehicle. I also suggest changing the air pressure a few pounds at oil change intervals. Changing of the air pressure gives the tire a different footprint to the ground, which also increases tire life.

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