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Summary
  • If your car won’t take gas at the pump, there might be something wrong with the EVAP system.
  • Other common causes include a faulty purge valve solenoid, a blocked vent tube, or a malfunctioning gas pump nozzle.
  • Some steps you can take to resolve this issue are to check the gas pump nozzle, inspect the fuel cap, clean the EVAP system and fuel tank, replace bad parts, and scan for trouble codes.

You stop by at a gas station to top up, only to find that your vehicle won’t take in more fuel. The fuel gauge indicates it’s not full, but for some reason, the gas won’t fill up the tank. Going to other stations leads to the same problem.

A car that won’t take gas is a frustrating problem, especially if you rely on it for your daily commute or have a long road trip planned.

See also  P0441 Code: Evaporative Emission Control System Incorrect Purge Flow

Left unresolved, it can have you stopping by stations more often. Plus, if you’re driving in areas that have miles between gas stations, it can put you at risk of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

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So what does it mean when your car won’t take gas even if the tank is empty or still has room for more?

Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Take Gas at the Pump

If the fuel tank won’t fill up, you might be dealing with a bad or clogged EVAP system, a blocked vent tube, or a malfunctioning gas pump nozzle.

Bad or Clogged EVAP System

The evaporative emission control system (EVAP) prevents gas fumes from leaking into the atmosphere. If any of its sensors (such as the fuel tank pressure sensor) act up, it can prevent fuel from filling properly.

Likewise, dirt and debris can accumulate and clog the hoses of an EVAP system.

blocked system can trap vapors and make it difficult to fill the fuel tank
A blocked system can trap vapors, making it more difficult to fill the fuel tank. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Blocked Vent Tube

illustration showing air pressure unable to escape the tank as you fill it if vent tube is blocked
If the vent tube is blocked or clogged in any way, air pressure won’t be able to escape the tank as you fill it. Instead, the pressure travels back through the fill tube, preventing fuel from entering the fuel tank. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
tube can also become dislodged and slide too far into the tank
The tube can also become dislodged and slide too far into the tank. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Malfunctioning Gas Pump Nozzle

In some cases, there might be nothing wrong with your vehicle at all. Instead, there could be something wrong with the station’s gas pump nozzle.

See also  Emission Control Systems

If the nozzle is clogged or malfunctioning, fuel might struggle to come out, making it impossible to top up your vehicle. It’s a good practice to ask for help at the gas station just in case.

What to Do If the Car Won’t Take Gas in Tank

The solution depends on what caused the vehicle to stop taking gas. Did it happen suddenly or did you first notice it and then discover it was getting worse?

Some steps you can take once you encounter this problem include inspecting the gas pump nozzle and fuel cap. You can also clean the EVAP system. Note, however, that you have to know how to do this, and some EVAP systems are very complicated. Further, the clog may be somewhere you can’t see it.

Check the Gas Pump Nozzle

Observe the gas pump nozzle when you fill up your tank. If no fuel comes out, tell the attendant you need to use a different one.

Clean the EVAP System (if you know how)

Dirt and debris can interfere with your vehicle’s EVAP system, preventing it from working properly and stopping the fuel tank from filling up properly. You can try cleaning the EVAP system if you have the DIY knowledge and skills to do so.

See also  A Short Course on Fuel Systems

Replace Bad Parts

If there are any damaged or faulty components in the EVAP system, they might be what’s keeping gas from entering the tank. Repairing or replacing them should fix the problem.

Components like the purge valve solenoid, the vent valve, and the charcoal canister can prevent the fuel tank from filling up if damaged. Ask a professional to inspect your vehicle and make recommendations if you suspect it has faulty EVAP system parts.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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