2011 Land Rover LR4 Fuel Leak Repair
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the Pawlik Automotive videos and podcasts. We're here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19-time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: So, two old farts talking about cars again. We're talking about a 2011 Land Rover LR4 that you had a fuel leak repair issue with. What was going on with this vehicle?
Bernie: We done a service on this vehicle a few days prior to this job: a basic inspection on the vehicle and removed some running boards from the side that had been cut, been a bit rusted. The owner wanted them removed. So, we did that. And a couple of days later, he noted a fuel smell in the vehicle, like raw gasoline smell when he sometimes, when he'd drive the vehicle. So, the vehicle came back for us to investigate that issue.
Mark: All right. What did you find?
Bernie: Well, it took a while to find any fuel smell. You know, obviously we drive the vehicle and kind of sniff around the vehicle, and nothing was noted right away. So, we put the vehicle up on the hoist and sniffed around a little more, and then finally found some fuel leakage at the top of the fuel tank, which is not ... There's not much to see up there because the tank of course is stuck right up under the floor pan of the vehicle. But, there was definitely an odour of fuel coming from that area.
Mark: So, is there any kind of diagnostic equipment you need for this kind of concern other than your nose?
Bernie: Well, we don't need it, no. But yeah, that's ... You got to. A good nose and eyeballs are good for fuel leak diagnosing. I mean, again, we're looking for things and we're smelling around. So, if you haven't got a sense of smell, you definitely need to find someone in the shop who's got a sense of smell to find it. But, yeah, that's kind of the main thing now. In the past, we used to have a four gas exhaust analyzer. Some shops have five gas ... you know, four or five gas analyzer, and that was a very useful tool for finding fuel leaks. We don't use it anymore because there's no emission testing in Vancouver. Hasn't needed it ... We haven't needed it for a long time. And in all the cars we work on, they're really ... Having a gas analyzer is just a useless piece of equipment nowadays. So, at one time very important; not anymore. But it is actually very useful because you can sort of move around with the probe, and when you get near a fuel leaking, see the hydrocarbon levels just go crazy because that's what gasoline is. It's hydrocarbons. So, anyways, most of the specialty equipment we have are our nose and our eyes.
Mark: So, the leak was coming from the top of the gas tank. What's required to do that kind of repair?
Bernie: What we had to do was actually remove the gas tank from the vehicle, pull it down, and then inspect it further to see what was causing it. Was it a cracked tank? Was it a fitting on the fuel line? I did mention, too, this vehicle is fairly rusty. Even though a 2011 is not that old, but it obviously had been driven through some extremely salty climates. Fuel lines are all plastic, so we kind of figured it was probably something else. But you never know with ... There's always metal involved.
So, we'll just get to some pictures here. This is the top of the fuel tank. This is the ... This is actually a fuel filter, although it's basically where the fuel lines connect to the vehicle. One's a line here, and a line there, a line there. These are ... So, basically, the leak was coming right around this flange here where the fuel filter fit in. Going a little further into the taking things apart, we actually found the leak was coming from this part here. This is actually cracked. Fuel filter housing was cracked. And that's what was causing the leak. And I'm just going to go back again, now that you see what I did mention about rust. I mean, there's a fair bit of rust here. The vehicle has been in some pretty bad road conditions, so it's possible the plastic just cracked because plastic cracks. But it's also possible that it got a little strained from ... As things rust, they tend to expand and cause certain pressures on things. So, it's possible that that rust could have also caused that to leak. We'll just look at one last picture before we go. And that is, this is the actual new unit here. So, you can see some electrical connections here. This is actually a little surprising on this vehicle. This is actually a fuel filter, and it's like a sort of power unit. The fuel lines connect up here, but they actually ... Everything connects to the fuel tank module, which has the fuel pump and sending unit in, and that's actually a separate unit beyond this. So, not sure why they made it so complicated, because a lot of times they just make it all one unit. But this one, they make it two. Fortunately for the customer, is a lot cheaper to replace this than replacing the whole pump assembly.
Mark: So, the pump is where the fuel pickup is that goes inside the tank?
Bernie: Yeah, and that's further down. That's below. I don't have a view of the side of the gas tank, but that's further down beyond this piece. So, this piece is just sort of an intermediate piece. But on most vehicles, this part would actually be ... This part here would actually connect to ... would actually be the fuel pump, and it's all one unitized piece. For some reason on this vehicle, they did it in two parts. As I said, it actually makes ... It actually made this repair cheaper for the client, because often a fuel pump for a vehicle like this could be a thousand dollars. So, you know, this is a substantially cheaper piece.
Mark: With that being the fuel filter, is this not a regularly scheduled service item?
Bernie: Well, no. Normally, in the past, fuel filters used to be a regular service item. But since the mid-1990s, most vehicle manufacturers either stuck the fuel filter inside the gas tank or put very minimal filtration on the fuel. And the fuel filter itself is actually a non-serviceable item. If this was a serviceable item, they certainly wouldn't have put it at the top of the gas tank where you have to actually drop the gas tank to take it out, because that's a fair bit of work. There are very few cars. There's the odd European car that I can think of that has a fuel filter you can still replace, but the interval is so long. You're talking like in the 1 to 200,000 kilometre range that it's almost something you don't normally never need to do. And that actually makes an interesting question. Why did they used to have fuel filters and why do they not anymore? I've often wondered that, and I think that it's probably because the gasoline manufacturing process and storage of fuel has got so clean and tight that, you know, filtering fuel is just become a non-issue. So, I mean, that's kind of neat. I mean, there is still a filter, but it's extremely rare. I can't remember the last time we fixed one because the filter got plugged.
Mark: Are there any other major issues with this vintage of Land Rover LR4?
Bernie: No, they're all a pretty good vehicle. We don't see a whole lot of issues with them. I mean, as I said, you know, it's a Land Rover. It's a more complicated vehicle with the air suspension and all of the nice features of these vehicles. So, there's more to go wrong. But essentially, they're pretty well-built and pretty decent.
Mark: So, there you go. If you're looking for service for your Land Rover in Vancouver, the guys to call are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment. You have to call to book ahead. They're busy. Or, check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com; Youtube channel, Pawlik Auto Repair; hundreds of videos on there. Or, thank you very much for listening to the podcast. Thanks, Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks, Mark, and thanks for watching.