Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Dave asks: Today I was at the gas pumps talking to a lady who had a new pickup She told me there was no gas cap. The truck has some kind of self-operating opening and closing stuff at the top of the filler spout, behind the gas door. I was not impressed. And told her thusly. My vehicles:
1969 Chev 3/4 ton Chevy 402.
1985 LTD Crown Victoria.
1992 Topaz winter car.
1994 Topaz summer car.
81 years. I repair all of them in my shop. And rebuild some. I use them all at various times of the year. Plain to see, I am odd-ball. Really appreciate your columns!
My reply: All new Fords (and a number of other vehicles) have what are styled “capless” fuel fill systems. Instead of a physical cap that is screwed on and off, there is simply a fill neck with a flapper valve; one inserts the nozzle and that’s it.
The reason for the system isn’t primarily the convenience of the owner; it’s to deal with evaporative emissions (gas vapors) which like all forms of vehicle emissions are under close scrutiny by Uncle. Also, to deal with the Modern Problem of the car’s computer throwing a code – and lighting up the yellow “service needed/check engine” light in the dash – because the driver didn’t tighten the cap properly, allowing evaporative emissions to escape.
These capless systems are relatively new so we have no data to base projections about long-term reliability upon. But I expect that it will involve more money to fix a capless system than to buy a new fuel cap and just screw it on.
I do know – from experience – that capless systems make it a PITAS to fuel a car by hand, as when you run out and need to pour a gallon in from a jerry can. You need a funnel to insert into the filler neck and then you pour the gas into the funnel . . . trying not to slosh to much of it on the paint!
Also, I have dealt with several capless-equipped new cars that are a PITAS to fill at the pump. Which keeps turning off as you try to pump gas in the car. Apparently, the capless systems are so “tight” that they more readily trigger the pump’s automatic shut-off feature, which is supposed to do that when the tank is near full and it senses resistance. The problem is the capless system sometimes makes the pump think the tank is approaching full before you’ve pumped even a gallon in.
Then you have to find the sweet spot of just enough flow – and just the right position – to get the job done!
One thing I miss most, though, is a feature my ’76 Pontiac has and which I haven’t seen in a new car since the early ’80s: A fuel door mounted in between the rear tail lights, at the back of the car.
I never have to think about approaching a pump from the right side because – in my TA – either side is the right side!
. . .
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