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Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

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Old 12 Jul 2010, 04:58 pm
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Default Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

Hey guys - Got a question.

I have a 2001 (non turbo) pt cruiser - automatic, touring edition.

For about the past maybe year, ive noticed my fuel gauge to be very "off". Here's a quick explanation of what I mean by "off".

When I fill my tank up, even if I "top off", the gauge will stay a good ways under the "full" mark - but above 3 quarter line. I just got back from a trip, and noticed when I would get down to a little under a quarter tank, or right at a quarter tank, i'd fill up, and I could only squeeze about 10 gallons, sometimes 11, in. Im only getting about 225-250 miles to the tank from "full" to when the gas light comes on...and i just had a $4000 bill getting a few things repaired and complete tune up, so i doubt that i'm just getting bad gas mileage.

I guess my question is, is my fuel gauge off, or is there something that is keeping my tank from being filled? If it is that my fuel gauge is off, this would be I should probably be around the quarter line when the gas light comes on, no?

What can I do to fix this? Is there a way to calibrate the gauge? Or a sensor? Any ideas? Maybe the best idea to test the gauge is to see how far I can drive on the gas light, and carry a gas can with me to fill up when I run out? Or is there a solid fix for this that anyone knows of?

**EDIT**: Update...Did some more googling on this issue and apparently many have experienced this problem, especially on the 2001 model. Havent really found a solid answer, but maybe the fuel sender?

Thanks guys!

Last edited by alexjbriggs; 12 Jul 2010 at 05:10 pm.
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Old 12 Jul 2010, 07:46 pm
CREWZIN's Avatar
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Location: West Central Florida
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Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

Two things. I have a 2001 also and I find it almost impossible to completely fill it to the top. I do find it makes a difference when gas station I go to. My closest if Chevron and their pumps won't let me come close to the top whereas the BP station further away (BP is on the crap list right now because of the spill in the Gulf) lets me go past the fill line.

Second. Word of warning in case you haven't read it on this forum. The fuel pump on the PT, which is at the bottom of the tank, depends on the fuel for lubrication and to keep the pump cool. Running the tank at or near empty can damage that pump. Probably won't hurt once or twice but eventually you will do harm to the pump.
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Old 12 Jul 2010, 08:32 pm
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Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

thanks for the response and the word of caution. I'll definitely heed your warning and not run it dry.

If it were getting even close to full, it wouldnt bother me too bad, but it seems as though its at least 3-4 gallons short of filling up. I have, though, also noticed different gas stations will allow it to get closer than others.

Any advice on if it is that the gauge is just off? Or is it that the tank just isnt filling up as much as it could? Or could it be either? Beings that its only putting in about 10 gallons when im just below quarter tank leads me to believe there is more in the tank than the gauge is reading, beings its a 15 gallon tank.
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Old 13 Jul 2010, 02:46 am
chigger_ns's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 278
Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

I was just thinking of making this thread myself.
Please don't call this a hijack, but when I fill up I can only use 2 brands of gas. It seems their pumps are set up to work right to fill my PT's tank. The rest just does not work right.
It shuts of way to fast and I can get 1 -2 more gallons in my tank with out really trying.

My second glitch happened this month.
I filled the car just before I did the water/Timing belt but after I noticed I had 3/4 of a tank.
I wasn't worried because I thought I was wrong with me filling it.
But the next time I filled it the gauge would only read 3/4 to 7/8 of a tank.
I filled it again at a gas station I usually go to and got the same result.
The only real thing I noticed was it has been very hot and humid out.

It recently went to its right mark when full after the out side temp and humidity dropped and the car sat for a day.

Why are these so messed? What can make the level read so wrong? Is there a physical reason why?
2001 PT 5 speed Touring Edition
Eibach Pro Springs, Energy Suspension HyperFlex Master Kit bushings, 17" RTX Euro wheels, K&N drop in air filter, MotoMaster flat plate AGM battery, KYB GR2 shocks and struts, Booger standard shifter bushings, Ooogah horn.
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Old 13 Jul 2010, 07:21 am
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Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

By pulling the rubber "bellows" hose back at the end of the gas nozzle, I've been able to put in over a gallon after the pump clicks off - I have been able to put gas until I can see it sitting in the neck going to the PTs tank....
If you do that, and tank doesn't read full, then you have a problem.

I have noticed the PT is sensitive to tilt - go uphill and gauge drops, go downhill and the needle goes up...
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Old 13 Jul 2010, 01:38 pm
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Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

I've had the same problem with my '01. I'll 'fill up', usually less than 11 gallons, and my gauge will burn through the first half of the tank (because it doesn't ever go completely full), and then hang on a quarter of a tank for the next week or so. It's ridiculous.

But anyway, as a side note, I'll be dropping my tank to plumb a return line when I turbo my PT so if I find anything that's messed up, I'll be sure to post back in here and let you know.
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Old 30 Jul 2014, 09:50 pm
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Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

Please help me , I have a 2002 pt that i adore i have put all new parts on this car it is like a brand new one now but during a repair the gas gauge quit working when you start the car it goes up to full and then drops down to empty no matter how much gas it has in it i did the reset for all the gauges with turning on the key and and holding in the trip miles also replaced the fuel pump still not fixed please please please help me
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Old 30 Jul 2014, 10:22 pm
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Pageland, SC
Posts: 64
Default Re: Fuel gauge inaccuracy?

all of this sounds to me like a bad sending unit/float? in the PT tanks or even a kinked line somewhere. I had an '01 Limited N/A and now a '03 Limited 5spd N/A both would kick off before they were full on the pump, if you pumped too fast, and like mentioned pulling back the collar on the pump and sliding it almost completely out will allow you to fill the gas tank Full. People say you shouldn't but I've never had issues with it. It could be a faulty gauge cluster due to these cars and most now using electronically controlled clusters. Sounds like a few of you will either be dropping the tanks or at least putting these things in the air to check gas lines for kinks or bends. I don't envy you but it shouldn't be horrible.

Side Note my '01 Limited Auto N/A sucked mpg and got around 250 mpg on a tank before the gas light would come on and normally you have about 30-40 miles once it does on flat ground. My '03 5spd has got 300 to a tank but it's 104,5xx miles were as the '01 was 211,xxx and probably needed a severe tune up and suspension work.
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