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Vapor Canister

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5 Easy Steps to Installing a New Vapor Canister

Also known as the charcoal or EVAP canister, the vapor canister is a device that reduces carbon emissions and increases fuel efficiency. Normally, vapor canisters do not require service beyond keeping it clean and free of debris, although cracks and deterioration on the canister body may cause it to lose pressure and fail. And once it starts to show signs of failure, the vapor canister must be replaced immediately to prevent fire, explosions, and other incidents due to the outside air mixing with the fuel vapors in the canister.

Required skill level: Novice

Needed tools and materials:

  • Car jack
  • Wheel chock/bricks
  • Socket wrench
  • Pliers
  • Prepping the vehicle

    With the car parked on level ground and the ignition safely turned off, pull out the fuel system relay. You can refer to the car's user manual for the location of the fuel system relay, although it is usually marked as C/Opn on the relay panel. Once the relay is detached from the system, turn on the ignition. Allow the engine to run until it uses all of its fuel and stops. Disconnect the battery cable.

    Propping it up

    Lift the rear of the car with jacks and place jack stands on each side underneath the frame. Slowly lower the car into the stands and slide a chock or a brick in the front tires to keep it from moving.

    Finding and removing the old canister

    The location of the vapor canister varies from one vehicle to another, although it is often located near the fuel tank. Once you've found the canister, pull out the hoses that attach it to the fuel tank. The hose is usually secured by a clamp, so use a pair of pliers to slide the clamp down the hose until it comes loose. Once the clamp is out of the way, take off the hose. Unscrew all the mounting bolts securing the vapor canister in place with the socket wrench. If the canister is held in place by a clamp, a screwdriver should be used to pry the canister off the clamp.

    Installing the new canister

    With the old canister out of the way, take your new canister and slide it into position next to the fuel tank and bolt or clamp it down and place. If the canister is held by mounting bolts, we recommend inserting all the bolts first so that the canister is held firmly while you tighten down the bolts. Reattach the hoses to the canister and slide the clamps back into the hoses.


    Replace the fuel system relay and remove the jacks and chocks or bricks on the wheels. Reattach the battery battery cable, start the engine, and take the vehicle for a test run to see if the canister has been installed properly.

    Vapor Canister Articles

    • AC Delco vs. Motorcraft Vapor Canister: A Head to Head Comparison

      The vapor or EVAP canister is an integral component in the fuel system of modern automobiles, so a replacement vapor canister isn't that hard to find. In fact, with so many brands offering OE vapor canisters it can be hard to wade through all of the technical terms and find out whether a particular canister will actually do the job right. So we took two of the most popular brands - Motorcraft and AC Delco - and installed their vapor canisters in a 1996 Ford Ranger to see which one is up to the challenge.


      Both brands claim that their vapor canisters are a direct fit for the 1996 Ford Ranger, and when we installed the canisters it felt like we were installing a factory canister. We did have a bit of trouble disconnecting the AC Delco canister, however. The quick disconnect fittings on the canister did not disconnect as easily as we expected, although it was not that difficult to remove.

      WINNER: Motorcraft


      The AC Delco and the Motorcraft vapor canister were designed to match the exact specifications of the factory canister, so we didn't expect anything exceptional. We did have a couple of instances where the engine light turned on, but we later found out it was because of a loose vacuum line connected to the canister purge valve. But overall, both canisters worked fairly well and didn't cause any problems when we drove the Ranger around the block.

      WINNER: AC Delco and Motorcraft


      The price of an AC Delco Vapor Canister ranges from $40 to $100 and comes with a 1-year or 12,000-mile limited warranty upon date of purchase, while Motorcraft canisters go for $60 to $130 and have a 1-year or 12,000-mile warranty.

      WINNER: AC Delco

      The verdict

      Both AC Delco and Motorcraft vapor canisters do as exactly as what they are advertised: they provided the exact same performance as one would expect from a stock vapor canister straight from the factory floor. But with AC Delco vapor canisters having a lower price tag, their vapor canisters might be the wiser choice for shoppers looking for a replacement canister on a tight budget.