What in the world is going on with my gas tanks?

Q. I have a 1992 Ford F150 with a 300 CID 6-cylinder engine. It has the long cargo bed and two gas tanks. I replaced the gas tanks six years ago with new ones. The front tank had a pinched vent hose probably due to when the prior owner had the fuel sending unit replaced. I made sure to replace that hose to eliminate the venting problem when I changed both tanks. A new odd phenomenon has showed up in the last five months. I always fill both tanks up completely. Then I always use the front tank's fuel first. I do this to balance out the trucks weight since that tank is mounted along the driver’s side. Therefore with it full and me in the driver seat, the left half of the truck is always loaded down way more than the right. I figure in slippery weather this may compromise handling. The new problem is: When I run the front tank down and switch to the rear tank, the rear tank goes down fast. I always leave a little in the front tank to fall back on (about 1 gallon). Yet, when I switch back to the front tank, I find the gas from the rear tank has found its way up into the front tank which then has nearly 1/2 a tank!?! Worse yet, if I fill both tanks up and mistakenly run off the back tank first, I will smell gas and see it coming up out the front tank filler cap and onto the ground! What in the world is going on with my gas tanks?

A. This is generally a problem with the fuel pump/sender check valve. This was a very common issue to the point that Ford extended the warranty to 12 years or 150,000 miles. Although you are well past the warranty period, it couldn’t hurt to call Ford. You and other owner’s can contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332 concerning this program

Q. I have a 2000 Buick LeSabre and the gas cap is very hard to get off. I have replaced it with a new gas cap from a Buick dealer. I still have problems getting it off to fill the car with gas. The dealer says it not the gas cap but the plastic inside the pipe to fill the tank. I clean it and tried a little WD-40 which helped a little but the problem is still there. The Buick dealer tells me that I have to replace the pipe. He estimated the cost to be $600.00 dollars. I was wondering if you have any ideas to solve this problem cheaper than the dealer estimate.

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A. A used part may offer some savings. You could also perhaps consider using a tool to reduce the effort needed to remove and replace the gas cap. If you do a search on line for “gas-cap” removal tool, you will find something to help. Although this won’t fix the problem, it may make the problem less of an issue.

Q. I have a 1996 Pontiac Sunfire in mint condition with approximately 20,000 miles. The car is garaged and only driven once a week. My problem is that it seems that when it is hot outside the transmission doesn't seem to go right into drive or reverse. There is no transmission dipstick and the owner’s manual says that the fluid never has to be replaced. It's not a huge problem but I don't want to do any damage.

A. There is a bolt that can be removed to check the transmission fluid level and, considering the car is 16 years old, it wouldn’t hurt to check the fluid level and condition. If the fluid shows signs of age, it would be wise to change the filter and perform a fluid exchange. That said, the first indication of a transmission failure is usually a hesitation to engage reverse gear. Although this is one of the signs of failure, it could easily last for many more years. Considering the age of the car, even though it is in good condition I wouldn’t be in any rush to overhaul the transmission until the problem becomes more pronounced.