Replacing Gas Tank

Discuss any maintenance you've done to your Vibe & Matrix and ask how to perform maintenance on your vehicle
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Digger02
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Digger02 » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:31 am

So, the gas tank on my 2003 FWD Base Vibe with 190K miles is leaking gas (for the third time). The first two leaks were a small hose fitting comes of the back of the tank - first, it rusted the whole way around the fitting, and I patched it with the 2-part gas tolerant epoxy. Then, it started rusting and leaking around that patch, and I extended the patch size. Now, it seems to be leaking somewhere off the top of the tank (but not visible from the access hole under the back seat. To retain my title as the cheapest person on earth, I'd like to change the tank myself. There are new metal Ebay tanks for $180, and pull it yourself tanks at a junkyard near me for $50. This leads to a bunch of questions:

1) How hard is changing the tank - rusty bolts? humanly impossible plastic hose clips which refuse to release the hose from the tank/fuel pump/evap canister?

2) Would you even consider a junkyard metal tank from the same rustbelt towns in western Pennsylvania?

3) Can you swap in a 2005-2008 plastic tank? Is it the same fuel pump with the same gaskets as the metal tanks? If I pulled a plastic tank AND its fuel pump does is save me a little work or lotta work?

4) Should I just take it to local mechanic (not dealer) and eat the $750 he wants to change the tank?

I have 190K miles on original fuel pump and no signs of trouble, and unlike some of my other cars, I don't have to drop the tank if/when the fuel pump finally dies - just pull the back seat, so I'm not feeling the need to swap fuel pump just because I'm dropping the tank.

Any input appreciated. State inspection is by the end of September, and the leak/smell is bad enough that the station is likely gonna fail me (plus that little check engine light.

Thanks,

Dave

tommytipover
Posts: 14
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:34 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by tommytipover » Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:36 am

Just replaced mine for the same reason. No real difficulties, just a little hassle wrestling it out from under the car. I would think the higher you can get the car the better. Got the tank and new straps from Rockauto. The heat shield between the tank and the exhaust is pretty rusty on my car and most of the brackets and hardware for the shield crumbled in my hand, had to rig that back together. Most junkyards poke a hole in the tank to drain it before putting it on the yard, so I would think finding a junkyard tank difficult.

Digger02
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Digger02 » Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:33 pm

I ended up doing the RockAuto tank also. It wasn't too bad of the job - I already had a pipe clamp behind the catalytic converter from when I changed it out, so I just had to drop the back half of the exhaust. The heat shield was nearly completely rotted away - I could not re-attach it after the tank replacement, and I need to decide if I will order a new one. After the exhaust and heat shield, took the back to strap bolts, and bent the straps down. Most everything went pretty smooth, except some of the fuel pump cover screws/bolts stripped. Nothing like cutting the heads off with a Dremel and sending a shower of sparks over the top of the tank that still had about 1/4 gallon still in it. The pressure relief came out easy enough. All the leaks originated at the same place - the little tube fitting on the back of the tank - it actually looked like it was soldered in, and the solder corroded away. I'm amazed the patches I did held as well as they did.

Some tips to future readers - even if you pull the fuel pump fuse and crank the engine for a while, gas is still gonna leak out of the line when you disconnect the main line running up towards the engine. Have a container ready to catch it - one that fits under the car.... Make sure you unbolt the passenger-side backseat and have the wiring connectors disconnected before you try to drop the tank.....

I agree about getting car as high as possible - I just had the back-end on jack stands, and I wish I had more room. I worked at a slow pace, and probably spent about 6 hours by myself. Good times...

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Baltovibe
Posts: 643
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:19 pm

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Baltovibe » Wed May 02, 2018 7:09 pm

Anyone know if the exhaust has to be removed before dropping the gas tank, or can the gas tank be slidden out from under the exhaust without having to remove the exhaust?

My exhaust is still going strong after 14 years, and I really don't want to mess with it and cause leaks and problems.
That which may be known of God is evident within man, for God has shown it to them, so that they are without excuse.(Romans 1:19-20)&nbspWhat do you want most in life?

Digger02
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Digger02 » Fri May 04, 2018 9:33 am

In my case, there was a slip joint with a clamp just behind the catalytic converter and resonator, so it was easy to remove the back half of the exhaust. I'm pretty sure I removed the whole back half of the exhaust and set it out the way - my gut feel was that the exhaust needs to be removed. If you still have the original welded system, there a spring loaded bolted connection with a gasket up in front of the catalytic converter. Other option would be to cut the system behind the cat and resonator and put a strap/clamp on it to put it back together (unless you are handy with welding - I am not).

Dave

Jeff2
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:20 am
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Jeff2 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:41 am

I'm in the exact same boat. The tank is leaking from the area around the vent tube that's on the upper rear of the tank. So this weekend, I'm going to try to patch it with the Permatex Fuel Tank Repair Kit (Part #: BK 09101). My hope is to get it to last until the weather is warmer then I can replace the entire tank.

I've got a 2004 FWD Vibe (no GT), so I'm guessing I have to pull the exhaust, which is welded, so that likely means replacing the hardware at the two joints (bolts, springs, nuts, and seals), which would be an added headache, especially if any of the bolts break when trying to remove them.

Digger02
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Digger02 » Tue Nov 27, 2018 9:48 am

The Permatex does seem to be a workable temporary solution. The area you are trying to apply it to seems to hold some dirt and grime - so you might want to hit the area with an air hose. I actually made up a ball of sticky Permatex and dabbed it all around the crack to try pick up as much loose dirt as possible.

When I changed the catalytic converter, those spring loaded bolts actually released pretty easy. It was a bear putting it all back together with a new gasket. You have to push a lot to compress the spring enough to get the tip of the bolt to grab onto the threads - so you pushing, twisting, feeling, and struggling. I was ready to go and buy longer bolts to make the process easier, but I finally got it. The disassembling is much easier than the reassembling. If I had to face redoing that whole process, I'd probably cut the exhaust and put it back together with a fat stainless band clamp loaded with some sticky goo.

Dave

Jeff2
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:20 am
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Jeff2 » Mon Dec 03, 2018 5:00 am

Yesterday we has some relatively warm (60 degrees F) and dry weather so I applied the repair kit to the gas tank. I used the kit that came with the liquid like epoxy, fiberglass resin, yellow mastic, and a disposable small brush for application. I prepped the area by using my small rotary tool with a small flap sanding attachment (80 grit, less than 2" diameter and about 1/2" wide). This got rid of the paint on the tank around the rusty vent area. I sprayed it with brake cleaner and when that dried I used the kit's alcohol wipe to get rid of any remaining dust. I also loosened the clamp and pulled the hose out about 1/4" so that the fiberglass and epoxy could get right up against the vent tube.

First I stretched out the mastic to cover the still rusty circular area around the vent tube and pushed it firmly onto the tank. I then cut the fiberglass strip into two pieces and notched the sides of both to go around the vent tube. They overlapped a bit, which is what I wanted. The epoxy sets up quickly, so you have to mix it in its pouch in less than two minutes, apply the first layer of epoxy, stick the fiberglass to the epoxy and tamp it down with the brush, then add the rest of the epoxy over the fiberglass. It was cool outside, according to the instructions, so I waited an hour before checking it. By then the epoxy had set up rock hard. I then moved the hose clamp back to the end of the hose.

Here's hoping this repair lasts until the summer when I can replace the entire tank. I can tell that's going to be a pain just dealing with all of the rusty hose clamps (that will all need replaced). I'm sure I'll also have to replace a few of the hoses back there as well (like the one that's now got epoxy on the end).

Jeff2
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:20 am
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Jeff2 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:20 am

Well, the patch I put on the tank didn't last long. So for the last several months I've been keeping the tank less than 1/2 full and backing it into our driveway so gas doesn't leak everywhere.

I ordered the new tank and a few other bits from RockAuto and hope to get the tank replaced this weekend. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Digger02
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:15 pm

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Digger02 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:32 pm

Good luck!

Bookworm
Posts: 233
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Houston, TX

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Bookworm » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:01 pm

Good luck with it! I look forward to the report.

Jeff2
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 5:20 am
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by Jeff2 » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:35 am

Finally got it done today. Broke several bolts holding the exhaust shield to the tank. Broke one bolt holding the parking brake cable. Drilling and tapping those added a bit of time to the job. I also sprayed some rust converter and some high temp silver spray paint on that rusty shield and the metal straps. In retrospect, I should have just ordered two new straps, which would have saved me a lot of time and hassle.

To get the exhaust out of the way, I cut the tailpipe after the last resonator in the pipe and re-joined it with a coupler and a couple of exhaust clamps. The flange connection at the back of the exhaust did come off, but the connection was rusted badly and already leaking exhaust out of the connection. So it looks like I'll be doing the exhaust next (a kit to do what I need is about $200 at RockAuto).

The screws holding the ring over the fuel pump refused to budge. I used a small impact driver on it, but that just shattered one of the bits. The screw heads just stripped out. So, out came the angle grinder, which is a scary thing to be using on a gas tank that still had some fumes in it. I taped up all the openings before I started grinding. I did it out in the middle of the yard, for all the good it would have done me if it went "boom".

One of the connectors to the EVAP canister was stubborn and had to be persuaded with a couple of screwdrivers jammed into it to pry the clips open. At least none of the connections broke. I did replace the evap hose that went to the top of the rear of the tank. And several of the hose clamps on the evap hoses were either rusted away or broke when I took them off. So I had to buy a pack of assorted evap hose clamps.

All in all, it was a big pain to do in the middle of the sweltering heat. But at least I can finally fill up the tank again!

zbyers
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:12 pm
Location: Sheffield, Pennsylvania

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Post by zbyers » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:05 pm

Jeff2 wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:35 am
Finally got it done today. Broke several bolts holding the exhaust shield to the tank. Broke one bolt holding the parking brake cable. Drilling and tapping those added a bit of time to the job. I also sprayed some rust converter and some high temp silver spray paint on that rusty shield and the metal straps. In retrospect, I should have just ordered two new straps, which would have saved me a lot of time and hassle.
If you want new straps, I have a pair of brand spanking new ones boxed and ready to ship. Can do $30 shipped for them. That's exactly what I paid for them. Was going to install on my '03 GT, but the car is beyond help so I have no use for them now. Let me know.
(2) '03 Bases, '03 GT, '04 AWD, '06 AWD, '07 Base, '09 AWD
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