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Help please. I see a bunch of posts on here about the gas tank, not being able to fill it up all the way, something about a "bladder", etc.

The other day, the fuel guage showed the last bar, and then it started blinking. I filled up, but it only took 7.6 gallons.

I know others have reported similar issues, but quite frankly I don't understand the concept of the gas tank bladder, how it affects how much gas can go into the tank, etc.

I've searched the board, but I would appreciate some reasonable explanation of what's up with the gas tank?

Thanks.
 

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Toyota installed a "bladder" in U.S. cars to eliminate some of the pollution in the air which is released when you pop gas cap and let trapped vapors in the tank get into the ozone. This has always been a recognized danger and one of the reasons you shut down your engine when at the gas pump. The "Bladder" in the tank is like having a balloon in the tank which is "full" when tank is full of gas and is collasped as fuel is used allowing no room for vapor to form. You have a 12 gallon tank and when bladder is plyable in summer heat you will be able to squeeze the 12 gallons in it. In the winter it becomes less plyable and will not inflate fully, restricting somewhat (really very little) the amount of fuel you can get in tank. It's all done in the effort to get "O" emmissions.
 

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It may not have anything to do with that. It seems to be a design flaw
in Toyotas that the tank is not designed properly. The automatic shutoff
is triggered easily when filling the tank. It should not be difficult to
prevent this. After all, other car manufacturers don't have this problem.
 

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I'm somewhat investigating the possibility that the place I fill up at somehow contributes to the issue. Have generally put in less than 10.5 gallons on either car per fill-up, regardless of how low the fuel gauge showed. After reading elsewhere here that someone was using a slower setting at the pump, I tried that on my wife's 2003 last weekend; the gauge was blinking and I was able to put in 10.551 gallons. Most I've ever put into my 2004 is 9.521; will try the above "trick" on my next refuel... in another week or two. 8)

Btw, for reference, the FIRST refuel was 8.344 on the 2003 and 8.639 on the 2004, although I don't remember how many bars were left (I don't keep track of that).
 

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Toyota has issued a Technical Service Bulletin for what it finally admits is an engineering mistake--at least on earlier '04. You must take the intiative and call a dealer for a fix since it's not a recall.
 

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Is there someplace we can access this bulletin? It is very annoying
that the auto-shutoff on gas pumps gets activated multiple times each
time you fill the tank. :(

Is that even mentioned anywhere?
 

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Actually, I downloaded a copy from somewhere on this site, but now can't find it. TSB runs 13 pages. You can look at one at a dealer, although mine (Broadway in Portland, OR) didn't receive theirs until 2 weeks ago.
 

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the tank fix will not stop the multiple shutoffs when filling. that is a simple fact of life. the bladder acts like a balloon. the fuller it gets the more back pressure will be encountered when filling the tank causing the shut off.

the TSB should make your gas gauge more accurate. as it stands now, many are refilling at one bar and only getting 7-8 gallons in there even with the multiple shutoffs. the TSB should enable the gauge to be accurate and allow fillups exceeding 10 gallons.
 

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Some fillup results

My April 2004 born 2004 Prius does seem to have accurate gas gauging. I have tried running it down to the blinking fuel light, and keeping track of how far it will drive. 25 miles is not a problem.

I drove it to 30 miles once, and the General Fault triangle light came on while driving! I immediately pulled into a nearby gas station, gassed up, and the light went away. My surmise is that it noticed the extreme low gas state and turned the engine off, and lit up. I don't know this for a fact, but it would be nice if this safeguard was in there.

I usually can put in about 10.5 gallons 20-25 miles after blinking light time. Once I stuffed it to 11 gallons by going 4-5 times after the auto gas pump shutoff point. On a recent trip, an oversensitive (?) shutoff led me to only put in 7.5 gallons, which seemed odd, and was proven to be 2 gallons short on a long drive.
 

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My gas gauge fix was just done by my selling dealer (B-way in Portland). Took over night 'cause it was the first one they'd done. They have to replace the entire dash innard to get at the gas gauge, as well as change the filler neck. Will watch carefully if it's more accurate but other posts say it works.
 

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The fuel gauge/pump issue (as well as other earlier TSBs) is supposed to be fixed already on late-2004 and 2005 cars. One can assume that once they know enough about how to fix an issue that they're sending a service bulletin to dealers, they're already making sure it's fixed on new cars rolling out of the factory.
 

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I'm looking forward to getting that fix in another 2500 miles when I go in for my 15K servicing. Lately the tank has been taking noticeably less than I expect each time, based on mileage, but this last fill up was the worst. On the tank were only 309 miles, 46.0 mpg, but down to the last bar. The day before, I had sat in Lincoln Tunnel traffic for almost an hour, killing tank mileage by over 1 mpg, but I just don't see how it could have dumped out 3 gallons of gas. 300 miles should have been just over 6 gallons, showing 3-4 bars.

Anyway, when I went to fill up, I tried to take a poster's advice by pumping a few gallons fast, than stopping it and filling the rest up slowly. Stopped it at 4 gal., but it wouldn't pump after that. It just kept clicking off! Squeezed in another 2 gallons or so, but it was a struggle. It now reads full. I have a hunch the cooler temps are making the difference, but I don't remember this happening in March when I got the car.

Susan
Silver BC 04
 

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Susan5s said:
I tried to take a poster's advice by pumping a few gallons fast, than stopping it and filling the rest up slowly. Stopped it at 4 gal., but it wouldn't pump after that. It just kept clicking off! Squeezed in another 2 gallons or so, but it was a struggle.
The next time this happens, pull the pump nozzle back out of the car and allow the fuel trapped in the nozzle to drain out into your tank, then restart. This has worked for me on several uncooperative pumps.
 

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that is a good idea.

i normally would never encourage topping off the fuel tank but in your case, i would definitely try it to see how far it will go.

keep in mind that when you are nearly full, you will not be able to put in more than a few pennies at a time. just remember to "burp" the tank occasionally to reduce the possibility of "spitback"

also its been my observation that the gauge is not linear. when i first hit the last bar, i usually have just under ¼ of a tank left not a tenth as the gauge might suggest.

so expect to go as far on the last bar as you would on the first bar. usually my first bar average is 120-150 miles. i think you can safely cut that in half and have nothing to worry about.
 

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melgish said:
Susan5s said:
I tried to take a poster's advice by pumping a few gallons fast, than stopping it and filling the rest up slowly. Stopped it at 4 gal., but it wouldn't pump after that. It just kept clicking off! Squeezed in another 2 gallons or so, but it was a struggle.
The next time this happens, pull the pump nozzle back out of the car and allow the fuel trapped in the nozzle to drain out into your tank, then restart. This has worked for me on several uncooperative pumps.
No, no....I was the one who said that, but I said to start pumping fast, then slow down the flow. I did not say to stop pumping, then start it slow!

Stopping it causes many pumps to prematurely "click off." The only way to re-enable them is to start a new transaction. Much too involved for busy people.

Do it all at once. Start it fast, then let up JUST A LITTLE BIT on the handle, but don't let go, or that will trip the shutoff!
 

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Hi, BIF,

AHA! I did stop the flow and then try to restart it. So I'll try it again without stopping. Right now, because so little gas went in that last fill up, I have 190 miles on the tank but only 4 bars showing, at 45.8 mpg, so I have to fill up this morning before I go sing a gig in upper Westchester. Frustrating. Well, less than 2000 miles now until I get that guess-gauge fix. Looking forward to it.

BTW, Melgish, I did pull the nozzle out each time before trying to squeeze more gas in. Didn't help. Probably what BIF mentioned, that the pump shuts off until the next transaction.

This is OT, but I'm kinda amazed at how much mileage I'm putting on - almost 2K/month. I don't commute because I work out of my home; I drive to NYC usually only 1/week, and drive my kids to & from school (nearby!!) & activities. No travelling sports this year, either. How does it add up so much?? :shock: Looks like I'd better get the extended warrantee soon :roll:

Susan
04 Silver BC
13200 miles 45.8 mpg this tank
 

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Susan5s said:
BTW, Melgish, I did pull the nozzle out each time before trying to squeeze more gas in. Didn't help. Probably what BIF mentioned, that the pump shuts off until the next transaction.
I guess the stations I go to still have the older style pump. Us folks on the Space Coast can be a pretty backward bunch when it comes to technology :p
 
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