The fuel tank as you may know is one of the most important components of your motor vehicle. As important as it might be, it is equally dangerous and potentially deadly. An exploding fuel tank can cause serious damage to your vehicle and result in possible fatality for your or your passengers. In order to avoid a disastrous outcome it is vital that your vehicle undergoes regular inspections and servicing. It is also beneficial to conduct thorough research on the safety and durability of the vehicle components before making a purchase. However if your car is in need of a fuel tank repair, there are a few factors that you should be aware of before proceeding on with the repair.

What is a fuel tank and how does it work?

The fuel/ gas tank is the component which is responsible for containing/ holding the majority of fuel in the fuelling system. The tank is filled via a small hole from the outside and then closed with a fuel cap. Over the years a lot of improvements and adjustments have taken place on motor vehicles. They have evolved tremendously both visually and mechanically in the last decade alone, with more dynamic and innovative designs available to us. Among the issues that car manufacturers have overcome, a lot of time and effort has gone into addressing fuel consumption which refers to the amount of fuel used by the engine. The fuel consumption in modern vehicles has more complex systematics and involves a lot of programming as opposed to having an altered physical fuel system layout. However a few of the latter mentioned systems do exist and this can be either from factory or due to fabrication.

Before the fuel reaches the engine it goes through a few steps:

  1. The fuel enters the fuel pump. The pump is responsible for physically pumping the fuel out of the fuel tank). Some vehicles can have multiple fuel pumps or even multiple fuel tanks however, the pumping system will still remain the same.
  2. The pump then proceeds to push the petrol/ diesel into the fuel lines. Fuel lines can be either metal or made from reinforced rubber (prevent kinking or splitting) in the majority of vehicles. They run from the fuel tank toward the car engine. The fuel lines are components that are not generally exposed to the elements and will not excessively heat up from the exhaust or other components giving off heat.
  3. Before getting to the engine, the fuel passes through a fuel filter. The filter will then remove and debris or impurities that might be present in the fuel before it gets into the engine. The fuel filter is highly important as having debris enter the engine can lead to severe irreversible damage to the vehicle. Therefore filtering and having a clean fuel filter is vital and the key to having a clean running engine with a longer lifespan.
  4. After filtration, the fuel finally reaches the engine.

There are only two likely ways which could cause damage to your fuel tank. That is either by putting/ having something in the fuel tank that should not be in there or physical damage to the vehicles undercarriage. As mentioned, the fuel filter serves to prevent unwanted debris from entering the engine. Debris can enter the fuel tank if you use the vehicle without a fuel cap or fuel door or if there is sediment surrounding the fuel pumps at the gas station, but these are very rare and unlikely circumstances. However, it is advised that you do get a professional to drop the tank and clean out any debris by hand, if you do suspect that there is build up in the tank.

The engine is situated under the hood in most modern vehicles (front- engine). This means that the fuel tank is located towards the rear of the car. It is therefore important to drive in an appropriate manner and avoid any scraping of the vehicles undercarriage on speed bumps or curbs as it could damage the fuel tank. If you do suspect that you have damaged the fuel tank then it is important to check for leaks in a timeous manner. A significant fuel leak would cause the fuel to drip out forming a patch or puddle under the vehicle. A leaking fuel tank is extremely hazardous for you and other motorists and in such an instance it is recommended that you get your tank checked and repaired by professionals in the industry.

If you have any concerns regarding your fuel tank and are situated in Durban, stop by at Silverton Pinetown or give us a call. We have trained and professional staff who specialize in aluminium welding and fabrication and would offer you the best advice and service to get you on the road again!

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