What If My Gas Tank Won’t Open

Gas tank won’t open quite a common problem affecting all vehicles regardless of their brand or model. It can be tricky to deal with or prevent without the proper know-how.

Furthermore, gas tank doors are categorized by how they operate. There are the mechanically and electrically operated gas doors. Both differ in design, but you will discover that the mechanical gas tank door is quite straightforward to fix.

In troubleshooting the cause of gas tank won’t open, inspect the dents to the door, lack of lubrication, or broken levers. A simple physical inspection can sometimes tell you why the door won’t open.

Relevantly, this article will explain how to open gas tank cover that malfunctions, how to fix fuel door release, and properly diagnose the cause.

what to do when petrol cap wont open

What Causes the gas tank won’t open?

Below are the causes of the tank not opening.

1. Broken fuel door spring 

The gas tank or fuel door spring is a coil that aids in opening the fuel door whenever the gas lever or open button is activated from inside the vehicle. It also ensures that the fuel door remains closed and prevents the fuel from external contaminants.

However, in some things, the spring can get broken or experience other types of damage which will prevent the door from opening. The only way to fix this problem is to replace the spring.

2. Faulty release cable

The release cable is a part of the mechanical operation of the fuel door. When the fuel door lever is pulled, the cable is activated to release the fuel door to open. It allows you to get access to the gas cap fully.

Furthermore, the cable can get snapped due to corrosion or overstraining. When this happens, the fuel door lever will become nonfunctional. The door will not open anytime the level is pulled; this time, the fuel door will have to be opened manually with a key or other alternative.

3. Broken latch or plunger

The latch is also part of the mechanical component of the fuel door. It is responsible for locking and unlocking the fuel door. Once the latch is activated, the fuel door is locked, and the fuel vapor will be sucked in automatically into a charcoal filter. 

The door becomes stuck on close when the latch is broken or damaged. Once the latch is bent due to mishandling or other causes, you might need professional help to open the gas tank.

Other factors that could affect the latch are accumulated dirt, dust or rust, which can make the latch extremely difficult to open.

4. Corrosion

Another major cause of the gas tank not opening is corrosion.  Corrosion in major parts of the gas tank door or cap will cause the tank not to open. Corrosion in parts like the gas latch, door spring, and more will ultimately destroy the affected parts and cause them to the nonfunctional.

Corrosion can also happen in places like the release cable. The corrosion can eat deep into the metal cable, causing it to snap, affecting the gas door open level.

5. Bent fuel door

The fuel door has a lot of parts that enable it to open and close safely. Factors like a collision can cause the door to bend, making it stuck and difficult to open even when opening manually.

When the door is damaged from a collision, other factors of the gas door are affected. Parts like the latch could get broken; once this happens when the gas door is closed, it would become stuck. Opening the latch with a key might not work.

Also, the cable’s components could be affected, making it difficult to open the gas door inside the car.

6. Lack of lubrication

The gas door, cap, and other components have metal parts that could get rusted. Once the metal parts are rusted, their movements are limited or completely stopped. The metal parts of the gas door and cap must be lubricated. Parts like the internal spring or lever can get stuck due to rust and lack of lubrication.

Read Also: How to Fix Water In Gas Tank?

How do you Fix if your car gas tank won’t open?

To be able to fix a gas tank won’t open problem, you first need to troubleshoot the problem to find out what could cause it. There are many ways to troubleshoot; however, we will look at two.

Below are ways to troubleshoot and fix a tank that won’t open issues.

how to open gas tank door from outside

Method 1: Check the fuel door lever or button

There are different types of gas doors, which include the mechanical-operated gas door and the electrically-operated gas door.

The mechanically operated gas door uses a level at the driver’s side of the vehicle and a cable that links the lever to the gas door. The cable automatically pops the fuel tank open when the lever is pulled. All is done mechanically with no electrical aid.

On the other hand, the electrically operated gas door uses a button. Once the button is pressed, a signal is sent to a solenoid that will trigger the locking mechanism of the gas door to open.

Due to the difference in the operation of the gas door, we will be looking at two ways to inspect the lever gas door.

Troubleshooting a mechanical gas door

Inspect the lever: The gas lever is connected to a cable which can be traced to the gas door of the vehicle. If the cable is broken, the lever will not function.

Remove the floorboard or dashboard, depending on where the lever is located on your vehicle.

Check if the cable is still connected to the lever. If the cable is not connected, it must be replaced immediately.

Trace the cable to the fuel door: After inspecting the lever and the cable, if their connection is good, you need to go further to ensure the cable is properly connected to the door.

Remove the cover behind the fuel door to access the door cable properly, pull the cable, and note the result; in this case, you may need a second hand.

Once the cable is pulled, if the cable moves without clicking, there might be a problem with the locking mechanism. However, if the cable does not move but is connected to the lever, there is something wrong with the cable. Remove the cable and replace it.

Read: What Happens If You Put Sugar In Gas Tank?

Troubleshooting an electrical fuel door

Regarding electrically operated fuel doors, it is best to refer to an expert if you are not experienced in fixing such parts. The electrical fuel door has many components, making it very tricky to troubleshoot the problem.

Below are some of the components of an electrical fuel door that could cause a gas tank won’t open.

  • Electrical solenoid
  • The fuse responsible for the solenoid
  • Locking cylinder
  • Wires harness
  • Relay switch
  • Button or activator in the vehicle

Once any of these components is damaged, there will be issues with opening the gas door. If you can diagnose and determine that any of the components are damaged, it would be best to contact a professional mechanic.

Read: Can You Put WD40 in Gas Tank

Method 2: Check the fuel door for damages

If the lever or button that opens the gas door is in good condition, the next step is to check the fuel door. It could be the reason why the gas tank is not opening.

Below are steps to diagnose and fix a damaged fuel door.

Step 1: Open the damaged fuel door.

To troubleshoot the issue with the door, you must find a way to open the door. The type of gas door operating mechanism will determine how the door will be opened.

To open a mechanically operated door, remove the trunk interior. Once the trunk interior is removed, access the cable and manually pull until the gas door opens.

If this method does not work, you might need professional help opening the gas door.

For the electrically operated gas doors, the manufacturers make way for alternative options to open the door. In most cases, it is usually a button behind the interior of the fuel door. It could be different with different vehicle brands and models. Check the owner’s vehicle manual, showing how to access and use the alternative option.

Read Also: What To Put in a Gas Tank To Ruin an Engine

Step 2: Inspect and fix the probable cause of the problem.

Electric-operated gas doors have two components that are likely to be the cause of the problem: the plunger and the pop-open spring.

Firstly, the plunger ensures the door is properly locked; it will pull open once the solenoid activates. With the help of a second party, check the following components.

Inspect the plunger: Leave the gas door open and press the plunger down to move to the lock position. If there is no snap when this is done, the plunger is damaged and should be replaced.

If the plunger snaps, tell your assistant to press the door gas unlock button within the vehicle. Once the plunger pops out, the issue could be with the door or the link between the plunger and the door.  

Inspect the pop-open spring: Move the door left and right without closing it and observe the sound and stiffness of the spring. If the spring seems stiff or creaks, apply some lubricant or penetrating fluid like WD-40 to loosen the spring. The popping string must be replaced if there is any obvious damage.

After following the method stated above, and the gas door remains damaged, you must take the vehicle to an expert. There the car will be properly diagnosed and fixed. Ensure that the mechanic is certified by the necessary authorities.

Final Words

You might be wondering how to open the fuel door from outside or how to pry open the gas tank door. We advise that you avoid doing this, as it could destroy the gas tank door and other components like the fuel tank cap. As mentioned in the article, there are different ways to open the gas tank without causing any damage. If that does not work, have a professional open the gas door for you, and they can further fix the issue.   

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am passionate about everything automotive. Right from when I got my first toy car as a kid, I developed an interest in the inner workings of vehicles. As I grew up, my love for mechanical stuff became more substantial enough for me to pursue a career in it. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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