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1990 camry wagon fuel problem

Old 05-13-2013, 12:58 AM
JBW is offline
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Default 1990 camry wagon fuel problem

Hi all, I hope I have this in the right section!

My Camry has been running like a dream for the most part, however it is now having a problem where it will stop running when driving when the fuel is at about 3/4 full when it idles or I am slowing down, ie take foot off accelerator. It acts like when a car runs out of fuel, but it is definitely not. When I fill up it starts but floods, and I have to wait until that settles and I can restart, but of course blows heaps of white smoke. It needs to be revved to do what sounds like clearing it thru, then it will run and start with no probs until fuel gets down to around 3/4 full again.

There is plenty of spark, fuel pump is fine as is the pressure when all is working, but problem reoccurs once fuel drops again. It has a strong smell of fuel when it gets going again.

Also, there is a hole in the muffler about the size of a 20c piece, not sure if this is relevant but thought id mention it as well just in case.

Would greatly appreciate any advice, Im not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but can understand basics and would love some advice before going to a mechanic and getting the 'dumb female' treatment, and possibly ripped off.

Cheers all
Old 05-13-2013, 12:40 PM
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What engine model, V6 or 4 cylinder?

When you fill the tank with fuel do you stop when the fill nozzle shuts off or top off the tank?

The hole is in the muffler located at the back of the car as in after any A/F or 02 sensors?

Any difference in engine stalling when the engine is cold versus hot?

Could be the fuel tank is not venting properly or,

the car fuel tank also has its own emissions system. Fuel tank fumes are not vented to the air but stored in a charcoal canister to be later routed into the engine to be burned.

If this system has a problem it could be possible for fuel instead of fumes to be routed into the canister and then into the engine which could explain the flooding and excess gas smoke out the tail pipe.

The canister is round in shape having several small hoses and located in the engine compartment and may near the can shaped fuel filter.

The car may have a sticker inside the engine compartment diagramming this system.

For now try unloosing the gas cap to vent the tank to the air and determine if your symptoms stop or lighten up. Note the check engine light may come on indicating air leak in the tank caused by the loose cap.

If topping off the tank at fill up stop when the nozzle shuts off.
Old 05-14-2013, 07:50 PM
JBW is offline
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Thank you Joey P, what a magnificent reply!

As a non expert in mechanics , although a little daunting at the things I need to determine, that is quite easy to follow.

To answer the easy questions, it is 4 cyl, and yes I stop filling when the nozzle shuts off.

The car will only start when it is full or above the 3/4 level, and it is only when I start car for first time after it has stalled and I have filled it that it blows the smoke, but I think this is because I have to hold accelerator on full to start it the first time as it sounds like it is blocked. Normally I can start this car just by turning key, no acceleration really required.

From my understanding of what you have written, I think that the fuel tank emission system may be the problem, as the first time this happened I had roadside emergency look at it and when he had the plug out of the cylinder and asked me to try and start it, fuel came spewing out of the cylinder, only on one though.

I am not sure on the cold/hot question - the first time this happened it was cold as it had been idle for a few hours, the last time I had been driving for about 5-10 minutes and it just cut out as I was driving, but decelerating.

The most notable thing is that this only happens when tank is showing 3/4 full. Above that, the car seems to start and run just fine.

The hole in muffler question I am not sure about A/F or 02 sensors as I do not know what they are (but will try and find out), but it is near the back of car at the back of the muffler before the final exhaust pipe section.

I will try to follow up on your directions and see what I can learn. Again, thank you for your help!
Old 05-15-2013, 08:47 AM
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Location: PTW
Posts: 11,738

Given your symptoms, suggest you have the fuel system checked out. Pump, fuel filter and injectors.

Note: None of these areas are monitored by the cars check engine light system and if were a problem here the check light may not come on.

For the muffler hole. If in the muffler at the back of car would assume would not cause problems.
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