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Replacing Gas Tank

Posted: Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:31 am
by Digger02
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.



Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 10:36 am
by tommytipover
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.

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Posted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 1:33 pm
by Digger02
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...

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Posted: Wed May 02, 2018 7:09 pm
by Baltovibe
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.

Re: Replacing Gas Tank

Posted: Fri May 04, 2018 9:33 am
by Digger02
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).