10 Steps to Repair a Leaking Ford Explorer Gas Tank

Your Ford Explorer gas tank will not last you a lifetime if you do not maintain it properly. A gas tank can easily get a hole, which will require repair. A leak in the gas tank is a threat as it can cause a fire and it will waste a lot of fuel. If you notice that your Ford Explorer gas tank has a leak, repair it immediately. Follow these steps to ensure you are doing the repair in the right way. If possible, stop using the car as soon as you notice the leak in order to remove the risk of an accidental explosion.



Drain the Gas Tank

The first step you need to take in order to repair the gas tank on your Ford Explorer or any car is to drain it. In order to drain the tank you need to locate the drain cock that is usually located underneath the fuel tank. Look at your owner’s manual for the specific location. If you still cannot locate the valve you will need to drain the gas tank by removing the fuel lines. Be sure to use an approved container to hold the fuel.


Disconnect the Electrical Source to the Fuel Pump

To be safe you need to find and disconnect the electrical wiring from the fuel pump. Locate the black (negative) and red (positive) wires and disconnect them both before doing anything else. If you cannot find the fuel pump or the wires that come from it, you can open the hood, locate the battery, and disconnect the cable that is connected to the negative terminal of the battery. After this, you can proceed to remove the gas tank.


Remove the Fuel Tank

Before removing the tank you need to put a support underneath it, something like jack stands or a wooden support structure, to prevent it from falling. You may have to lift the vehicle to remove the fuel tank. Once the tank is supported, remove the filler and vent pipes from the tank. After removing these items, loosen the nuts, screws, and bolts that secure the tank and the straps that are wrapped around the fuel tank. Lower it slowly while paying attention not to drop it. Remember all the steps that you follow at this stage or take pictures with a digital camera to help you reverse the process when you install the tank after the repair.


Inspect and Clean the Tank

After the tank is removed, inspect it. If the car is a bit old, you will notice rust spots that you will need to sand with emery paper. Wipe and clean any dust or dirt that you might notice as well as any grease. Patches and paint will not stick to a dirty surface. To clean the gas tank add one part of acetone or thinner into a bucket of water and rinse the gas tank with it, then drain it and let the gas tank dry.


Finding and Plugging the Leaks

If you do not know exactly where the holes are, cover the area where the leak is suspected with a thin film of liquid dishwashing detergent. Blow air through the fill opening and any holes will bubble. Circle the hole with a grease pencil so you do not forget where it is and move on to the next area to be checked. Once you identify all of the holes, apply fuel tank putty over it. Choose quality putty, such as Permatex, for this job. Fuel tank repair putty can be found at your local auto parts store. Every type of putty is a bit different, so read the label to see how you need to use it. Apply a thin layer of putty, but make sure it is even and that it covers an area of about one or two inches around the hole.


Sand Excess Putty to Provide a Smooth Surface for Paint

Allow the putty to cure for at least 24 hours. After it is completely dry, sand any excess putty with a piece of emery cloth, available at your local auto parts store. You need to ensure the surface is smooth and that the hole is sealed. At this stage, you need to do another test to ensure the patch is working. Do this by coating the repair with a thin layer of dishwashing detergent and blowing air into the tank to look for bubbles.


Paint the Gas Tank

To increase the lifespan of the gas tank and to prevent future rust spots, you will need to paint the gas tank. Be sure to use paint made specifically to adhere to metal. You only need to paint the affected area. However, it is recommended that you paint the entire tank, which helps prolong the life of the tank. Allow 24 hours for the tank to dry completely.


Mount the Gas Tank

This is the reverse process of taking it down. Reconnect the fuel lines and the two straps that keep the tank in place, attach the electrical connectors, and fix the gas tank securely into its place. Be sure all nuts, bolts, and straps are securely tightened so the tank does not come loose when driving. Reconnect the car battery if you have disconnected it.


Refill the Tank

When you are done installing the gas tank, you can refill it. It is advised to refill the tank without actually starting or moving the car in order to check if there are other leaks. After you refill the tank, do not move the car for another 24 hours and then check for leakage again by looking at the area beneath the gas tank.


Check the Gas Tank During the Next Few Weeks

Mechanics advise to monitor your car for a few weeks after you repaired the gas tank. You need to know if the putty was good enough and if everything was secured into position correctly. Check the ground under the car before you start it for signs of leaks.

It is not safe to drive your car if you suspect that you have a leaking fuel tank. It is very dangerous and the repair is not that difficult or costly. Fuel tank putty and other similar products are available at your local auto parts store and if you have a little mechanical knowledge and some tools, you can easily remove and repair the Ford Explorer gas tank. Once repaired, check the fuel tank from time-to-time for leaks.