Lately at the dealership we have seen another rash of problems on the Chevorlet Cobalt and Saturn Ion vehicles. These are basically the same car, just different nameplates. What the customers are complaining about is a fuel leak at the fuel tank area, or a strong smell of gasoline coming from under the car. The problem they are experiencing is a common issue on some of these vehicles.
The fuel pump on these cars is located inside the gas tank. and is sealed with a large rubber gasket and a locking ring to hold it in place. What is happening is that the top of the fuel pump assembly is losing it’s seal around the opening and fuel is escaping from around the lock ring when the tank is full or the fuel sloshes upward during turns, acceleration, bumps, etc. Another problem on some of these cars is the fuel is actually making it’s way through the wiring connector or holes for the fuel lines. This obviously is NOT supposed to happen and can be a very dangerous problem. Fires, explosions, and personal harm can come about if this problem is not corrected.
Luckily, General Motors knows about this issue and has come out with a product safety recall to correct this problem. An entire new design fuel pump module assembly will be installed free of charge to the customer. This new design has been corrected and will not leak any fuel.
To replace the fuel pump module is a bit involved, but not an entirely hard job. The fuel tank has to be removed from the car to access the fuel pump area and replace it. This is best done when the tank is at or near empty. Lifting a completely full gas tank is NOT something we mechanics are fond of doing, so do us a favor and run as much gas out of your vehicle before bringing it in!
Once the tank is removed, it is a fairly simple process of changing over the pump. You have to remove the lock ring, then the pump assembly can be taken out. The fuel level sensor has to be changed over to the new pump, and then with a new gasket, the new pump assembly is reinstalled into the gas tank and sealed with the lock ring. Installation of the gas tank back into the car, fuel line attachments, wiring connector attachments, fuel filler hose, etc…and it’s all done. A quick start up after repairs are made will double check to make sure no leaks are found. All in all, a pretty straight forward procedure.
If you have a Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion, or Pontiac G5…you may want to check with your local GM dealership to see if your vehicle is covered or needs this repair done. If you’ve noticed fuel on the ground or smell gasoline, get it taken care of as soon as possible!
Below are a couple pictures of a job that was just done today on a Saturn Ion. You can see on the fuel tank how the leakage has run down the sides. This will give you an idea of actually how much gas can leak out of the top! And in the fuel pump picture, some descriptions are given to show where the leaks occur.