Every car owner knows how frustrating it is to have your car fail to start at the most inopportune times, such as after getting gas. So, your car almost didn’t start after getting gas? Do not worry, the fix for a car that won’t start after getting gas is quite simple and straightforward.
When your car fails to start, the first thought in your mind is usually a dead battery. However, this is not the case for this problem. Neither is a poor battery connection, a faulty alternator, issues with the ignition key, a faulty starter motor, or a locked steering wheel.
If your car struggles to start after putting gas in then the problem most likely lies within the fuel system. In this article, we are going to dive into the causes of this problem and how to fix it yourself with ease.
What causes your car to not start after getting gas?
The list below shows the various reasons why your car is experiencing this issue. The problem is common for vehicles such as Honda Civic that won’t start after getting gas. Your car may be afflicted by either one or several of the causes below. It is therefore advisable to look into all of the causes listed before confidently taking your car back to the road.
Gas fill-up problems
The first fault that may be causing your car to not start when you add gas has something to do with the way you fill your fuel tank. It may be easy to jump to the conclusion that the issue is an internal one, however, sometimes the issue may lie outside of your vehicle.
Some of the things to do before checking the interior components of your car include:
- Gently and slowly remove the gas cap to see how it affects the vehicle.
- Make sure that you are not placing the gas nozzle in.
- Vary the level at which you fill your tank. If your fuel tank capacity is 20 liters, try filling it up to just 19 liters to see if there are any changes.
- Ignite the engine at different temperature levels.
- Ride the car for about ten to twenty miles and notice the difference.
In the majority of cases, the above scenarios are unlikely to be the cause of the malfunction. It is even more so unlikely if your car takes multiple tries to start after getting gas. If the above actions didn’t help you get rid of the issue, then it is time to proceed to the next diagnosis.
Clogged fuel filter
The purpose of a fuel filter in your car is to clean the oil long before it reaches the engine. Needless to say, such a dirty job leads to the accumulation of dirt and debris on the filter resulting in its failure.
A clogged fuel filter can lead to poor engine performance and eventually affect your car’s ability to start after refilling. The most prevalent symptom of a clogged fuel filter is a problem starting the car. Dirty fuel filters may lead to ignition problems but a clogged fuel filter completely stops the car from starting. The reason for this is that it blocks all the oil being added from going to the fuel injectors in the engine.
Another issue caused by a clogged fuel filter can be poor gas mileage or the presence of low-quality fuel in the engine.
One way to clarify that this is what is causing issues to your car is to see if it has any of these other signs:
- Acceleration issues.
- Your car frequently idles and sputters.
- Emission of fumes with strong odors from the vehicle’s exhaust.
- Your engine misfires.
If you notice a combination of several of the above symptoms then the cause of the issue is probably the fuel filter. Expert mechanics recommend you replace or clean the fuel filter every 10,000 miles. A more intensive maintenance cleaning procedure can be done once a year to help clean your vehicle’s entire fuel system.
The duty of the fuel filter is a high priority and hence requires every vehicle owner to take major responsibility for it.
Fuel pump issues
The fuel pump in your car has to be kept at cool temperatures by the fuel available in the tank. This dependent relationship results in the fuel pump getting too hot when the fuel level is low.
If the fuel pump becomes too hot, then it will malfunction the second you add cooler fuel into the fuel tank. Major drivability and engine performance issues will arise if you have a broken fuel pump. The severe problems are because the fuel pump is in charge of supplying fuel to the engine for normal functions.
Apart from difficulties in starting your car after getting gas, take note of the following symptoms to diagnose your fuel pump:
- A sputtering engine usually at high speeds.
- A whining noise from the fuel tank may indicate a faulty fuel pump, lack of enough fuel in the tank, or contaminated fuel in the fuel system.
- Your vehicle stalls at high speeds.
- Loss of power when the vehicle is under stress.
- Low gas mileage.
The first thing to do in diagnosing a faulty fuel pump is to check the fuel pressure. Checking the pressure will help you determine if the pump is on and working properly. In case the pump is not working, then the issue may lie in the voltage delivery to the pump.
If there is voltage running across the component then the pump itself is broken and needs to be replaced. Do not worry, replacing the fuel pump is not a hard task, all you will need is the model compatible with your car and where to get one. Your vehicle’s manual may also have instructions on how to access the fuel pump to make repairs or place replacements.
Purge control valve faults
A faulty purge control valve is the main cause of this issue. If the purge valve isn’t then the likely cause of these four causes will be the faulty fuel pump.
The purge control valve is part of your car’s EVAP system that helps in regulating and controlling the emissions that come from your vehicle. The purpose of the purge control valve in the emissions control system is to ensure the engine vacuum takes up fuel vapors from the EVAP system canister into the engine intake manifold.
A purge valve will usually go bad if it gets stuck in the open position. At this position, the purge valve sends fuel vapor into the engine during ignition instead of staying closed. This malfunction will lead to excess fuel; vapor in the engine, thereby flooding it.
A flooded engine will force you to step on the gas pedal more to open the throttle body and bring air into the engine for combustion. That is the biggest sign that a faulty purge control valve is causing your car not to start.
Replacing the purge valve is not complicated cause all you would need are tools and manuals to help you access the EVAP system. The location and type of valve will vary from car to car, make sure you check your vehicle’s manuals before following any generic repair procedure.
Q: Why does my car sputter after getting gas?
A car sputters after refilling the fuel tank because of issues in the fuel filter, pump, or fuel injectors. If dirt and debris clog any of these parts, the rest will fail since they are interconnected. However, the most common cause lies in the fuel pump. A faulty pump can cause your vehicle to sputter, typically at high speeds before going back to its usual operation.
A malfunctioning fuel pump causes the engine to sputter because the fuel pump cannot give a consistent flow of fuel to the engine at the needed pressure.
The fuel filter may be the culprit of engine sputtering if the sputtering occurs at low speeds. At high speeds, the fuel filter’s blockage may not be easily noticeable due to the high-speed delivery of fuel to the system. At low speeds, the blockage in the fuel filter, however minor, will be noticed with the sputtering of the engine.
Q: How do you prime a fuel pump after running out of gas?
Priming a fuel pump is easy since all you have to do is turn the ignition key on after refilling the fuel tank. Proceed to turn the ignition key off. Do this procedure a couple of times and you will successfully prime your fuel pump.
Priming a fuel pump is good for getting rid of air that may be trapped in the fuel lines.
Q: Can bad gas make my car sputter?
Bad gas is usually contaminated with different residues and inclusions. As a result, the bad gas will require more filtration and cleaning via the fuel pump, fuel filter, and the small filters in the fuel injectors. Excessive contamination will block these components causing your car to sputter.
Q: Can low gas cause the car not to start?
The more gas you have in your fuel tank, the less air that is in it. Less air in the fuel system will prevent air-related malfunctions such as ice formation that may damage the fuel lines and cause drivability and engine performance issues.
Q: Why is my car struggling to accelerate?
There are many reasons why your car may struggle to accelerate. The reasons include; a faulty catalytic converter, clogged air filters, a bad O2 sensor, or even a dirty MAF sensor.
In the case of your car experiencing difficulties in starting, the issue will point to a faulty fuel filter, fuel pump, or fuel injector. A clogged fuel filter will prevent enough fuel from getting to the engine resulting in acceleration difficulties.
Faulty fuel injectors can be caused due to blockages in the injectors that have accumulated over time. The blockage will prevent the injectors from regulating the amount of fuel for different situations such as acceleration. A bad fuel pump will also fail to deliver enough fuel for acceleration.
All of the diagnoses and fixes mentioned above will help you fix the issue completely. The purge control valve malfunction may require an inexperienced car owner to take it to the mechanic. A repair of such magnitude that entails checking the fuel pump, purge valve, and fuel filter will set you back approximately $150 to $200.
In conclusion, having a car that won’t start after running out of gas and refilling is an easy problem to fix which can be easily prevented with regular cleaning and maintenance. Keep the fuel system clean and save yourself from going to spend a lot of money at the mechanic shop.