Bad fuel? Seriously? (Post #272) 11/18/2011

This is a real shirt!

Radiator project completed.
So I’m putting the radiator back in last Saturday. I get her all fitted and buttoned back up and the battery is dead. So it was late and I stuck the trickle charger on it and decided I would test drive her the next day.

The next day rolled around and I was taking a break from my studies and thought I’d give the old girl a spin around the block. Around the block lead to me visiting our first house on Quanah Parker. I was keen to know if the deck I built was still in the back yard. You can see it if you wander into the Chisholm Trail Park in Northeast Norman.

I turned her around and headed for home. I pulled in the ‘hood and was pretty proud of myself. I rounded the traffic calming circle and she died. Dead. No sputter, no cough, dead.

I started on my diagnosis…

  • Checked spark. CHECK.
  • Checked air. CHECK.
  • Checked fuel. CHECK.
  • Injectors firing. Stethoscope confirmed clicking sound. CHECK.

What the hell? I was stumped. So I called the wife and she pulled me down to the house. I posted a few messages on the and sites. A few days went by with no responses. I figured I’d probably really done it now.

I called JagGuy and after talking to him he told me a story of two weekends ago when a similar thing happened to him. He tore his Jag apart and never found the problem. It wasn’t until he checked the fuel. It didn’t have that overwhelming gasoline smell when he opened the fuel rail. I mentioned to him neither did mine.

Well, there you have it. Bad Gas. Lets look at the evidence now that we have the culprit. Range Rover sitting for weeks at a time without being driven.

  • Using Ethanol fuel.
  • Would not run.
  • Fuel didn’t smell like fuel.

JagGuy said he couldn’t even get his gas to ignite unless he put the torch directly on the fuel. JagGuy does some funny experiments some times. He was being safe, trust me.

So with this as a suggestion, I went down and got 4 gallons of fresh fuel and with RovErica holding the funnel, I poured the fuel all over the side of the Range Rover and on to the ground into the tank. After it was all in, I attempted to start her up. The battery was not charged enough for a proper attempt so we hooked the jumper cables up. A few attempts, she finally coughed and sputtered. And then she started and ran.

I called JagGuy and told him he was a Supra-Genius*. He declined the title because he had torn his Jaguar all the way down to find bad fuel, I hadn’t. I got the Range Rover ready for a trip down to the Conoco/Phillips petrol vendor. I went in to tell my wife I was heading out and would be right back. She said, “Take your phone. If you are stranded this time, call me before you sit there for 2 hours.”
I think she still loves me…I know her confidence in the Range Rover is waning.

I went out to the Range Rover and touched the door to get in and she died.
I won’t bore you any further with a long story laced with lots of expletives. I was unable to get her started again. The bad news was I thought I had less than a quarter of a tank of bad fuel…I have nearly three quarters of a tank of bad fuel. My hypothesis is that as I was pouring in the petrol it stirred the tank. As it sat the fuel and water separated out again.

SO I either have to drain the tank or try to add more fuel to try and get her started again to burn out the bad fuel. Either way I’m probably going to replace my fuel filter and will have a mess to sort out.

So we can say this without doubt, “Don’t use ethanol in a vehicle you don’t drive frequently.” I think I will start driving the Range Rover on Fridays. Most people drive their classic cars on Fridays in Oklahoma. You can see all the guys that have car hobbies because they drive them on Fridays.

I still have a CODE 14, Throttle Position Sensor problem. I will sort that out as soon as I can get the Range Rover running again. I’m proud I haven’t had to replace it yet. 190,000 miles. I am also contemplating replacing the fuel temp sensor (running rich), and possibly the O2 sensors again.

I have serious questions now about how to get the Range Rover in a condition that I am confident she would make a multi-day trip to Moab or Colorado or even to work three days in a row.