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Have you ever wondered why your car wont start after getting gas? I’ve been driving for years, and I own four cars now. Recently, one of the vehicles won’t start after getting gas. I immediately checked the ignition system, purge solenoid, fuel system and compression. Thankfully it was just a clogged fuel line and fixed it in no time by following the step by step process.

The National Gas Station Owners Association says that every year “over 200,000 car owners call a tow truck every year because a car won’t start after getting gas”.

Here, I’ll walk you through the 3 common reasons why a car won’t start after getting gas, how to diagnose and fix each one. 

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car wont start after getting gas
  • Ignition Issues
  • Failed Fuel Pump
  • Compression Issues

Ignition Issues Causing Car Wont Start After Getting Gas

Automobiles have an ignition switch system that controls all necessary components in the vehicle. Ignition fuse issues are a common problem with gas-powered cars. About 50% of vehicles experience this problem after filling up with gas.

Over the past decade, the percentage has been steadily increasing. According to Consumer Reports, a car’s engine is not designed to handle the current high-octane gasoline available at most gas stations. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that 10% of car crashes are caused by faulty ignition.

How To Detect Ignition Issues

Here are a few of the most common issues that you should look out for:

  • If your key refuses to turn.
  • If you’re experiencing fluctuating dashboard lights, it indicates trouble with the ignition.
  • No noise from the starter motor after turning the key.
  • Worn-out ignition coil and spark plug.

My ignition tester comes in handy in such situations. I recommend testing the ignition system regularly to reduce risks. Here’s how to do it using a smart ignition analyzer.

Step By Step Guide On How To Solve Ignition Problems (DIY)

  1. Run a through ignition test using an analyzer to collect electronic error report.
  2. After that, begin by checking the ignition switch or starter at the steering column behind the ignition lock cylinder to be sure it’s not worn out. 
  3. Open your bonnet. 
  4. Look at your battery terminals. If there’s a drop of liquid dripping from it, the battery is low.
  5. Next, you check your fuel system by taking a look inside the gas tank and fuel line. You may notice a light indicating the fuel level. 
  6. Next, check the spark plug by getting into the car and sticking a plug end inside the cylinder. 
  7. Lastly, check your spark plug socket to ensure that the spark plug is correct by putting it in the socket and turning the spark plug to check that the spark plug is plugged into the spark plug socket.

It is wise to have portable jumper booster set in your vehicle’s toolkit.

Are you panicking over low engine oil pressure issues? Calm down and read my guide on quick fixes for low oil pressure here.

Failed Fuel Pump Causing Car Wont Start After Getting Gas

A car’s fuel pump is the part of the car’s engine in charge of converting the raw fuel from liquid to gas and injecting it into the machine. The race of fuel from injector to engine, all starts when you put even few ounces of pressure on your gas pedal.

Some cars have their fuel pump in the gas tank, while others have it located in the engine’s fuel line. These fuel pumps are not made to last forever. As time goes by, they will deteriorate and stop working. The failure rate is between 3% and 10%, which is the same failure rate as the rest of the engine. Most manufacturers usually recommend replacing a fuel pump every 60,000 – 100,000 miles. 

How To Detect Fuel Pump Issues

I use an awesome smart fuel vapor leak detector pump for my car. You should get it too, check detailed compatibility here.

Here are a few ways you can check to see if your car has a failed fuel pump:

  • If your Car jerks when you turn on the ignition.
  • If you are facing difficulty in starting your car.
  • Your fuel pump might be failing if you experience an incorrect fuel gauge.
  • You might be experiencing fuel pump failure if you hear a loud whining sound from the fuel tank.
  • Completely clogged fuel filter and fuel line caused by bad gas and dirt.

What did the car salesman make selling you the car? Find out here.

Step By Step Guide On How To Solve Fuel Pump Issues (DIY)

  1. Open your hood. 
  2. Take out the gas cap and, if the fuel pump is installed directly on top of the gas cap, gently tap it to make sure it is secured.
  3. Take a peek at the inside of your fuel pump. If there are two metal parts – the part that pushes the fluid back and forth in the pump and the part that presses on the pump shaft – then it’s a good sign that the fuel pump is attached to the pump shaft.
  4. Check the fuel pump to ensure the metal parts aren’t broken and the wires aren’t pulling out of the engine. Check the fuel lines for vacuum leak too.
  5. Look to see if the fuel filter looks dirty and try to clean it out with a vacuum cleaner. Once the filter is clean, you will have the proper fuel to fire up your car. 
  6. Finally, check the connections between the fuel pump and the electronic control unit (ECU) to ensure they are not loose.

Do you know why your car is losing power? What grade of engine oil are you using? Is it the right grade? Read my guide on why different oil grades are recommended for different vehicles.

Compression Issues Causing Car Wont Start After Getting Gas

A gasoline engine works under three principles; Ignition, Fuel, and Compression. Another reason a car might not start after getting gas might be low or no compression in the engine cylinders.

Suppose there is no interruption of fuel supply into the engine and there are no ignition issues. In that case, it’s time to investigate the cylinders for proper compression. My compression tester kit always comes in handy in such troublesome times.

A compression problem is a vacuum leak in any of the cylinders, resulting from normal engine wear and tear. Half of all cars on the road experience a compression problem with the car’s pump; getting gasoline and running a compression test for accurate diagnostics would help solve this issue.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a report based on data gathered from 2018-2020. The report shows that 5% of the cause of accidents is compression problems. 

Why do dealerships ask to fill out form 8300? Are they scamming or is it mandatory? Read my guide here.

How To Detect Compression Issues

A compression gauge is needed to perform this test. Once the compression gauge is available, take the following steps;

  1. Make sure the engine is switched off.
  2. Take out all spark plugs and disable the ignition coils to keep them from firing.
  3. Set the compression gauge in the spark plug socket.
  4. Open the throttle and have a second person crank the engine for several seconds.
  5. Record the readings for the maximum compression.
  6. Repeat the test for other cylinders.

How to troubleshoot camshaft phasers? Read my guide here.

Step By Step Guide On How To Compression Issues (DIY)

  1. Perform a leak-down test using a pressure gauge (leak-down tester) to help depict the exact amount of leaks in the tested cylinder. Follow the steps below to perform a leak-down test;
  2. First, remove the spark plugs,
  3. Then, set the piston of the cylinder being tested at the top dead center of the compression stroke by rotating the engine.
  4. Next, insert the leak-down tester gauge adapter into the socket of the spark plug, and connect to a shop air supply of about 100psi (pounds per square inch). This will put air pressure into the cylinder to test it. 
  5. Repeat steps for other cylinders. 

Examine the piston rings, gaskets, camshafts (cam phaser lockout kit pros and cons here), intake manifold and exhaust valves, purge valve solenoid, evap system, evap canister, fuel injector, seals, timing belt, fuel pressure regulator, fuel pump relay line, alternator, o2 sensor, evap purge valve, etc. Look out for holes, cracks, worn areas, leaks, or damages. Once discovered, repair or replace the parts.

I recommend having a thermal leak detector with alarm before going for any leak test. That’s super convenient.

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Are you using illegal headlights? Read my guide on H7 headlights here. Here’s H1. And never use high beam lights at inappropriate times. Here’s why.

Wrap Up

Every year, about 70% of car owners who implement these steps have proven successful. It has helped to save money. I remember my car wont start after getting gas a few years ago. It turns out that my fuel pump failed. All I did was follow the steps and the trick helped.

Next time, don’t panic when your car wont start after getting gas. Of course, if you are faced with any of these problems, you can stay on top of it by reading carefully and implementing these easy-to-follow steps. Check here if your car starts but won’t stay running or maybe you are hearing humming noise while driving.

Which one is better oil brand? Castrol or Pennzoil? Read my head to head Castrol edge vs Pennzoil Platinum comparison to find out. Taking your car in for repair? Don’t forget to claim your free loaner car.

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