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Author Topic: Fuel Gauge Malfunction  (Read 13491 times)
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wonder91178
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« on: 05/02/03 03:28 AM »

Just wanted to post this, since my AV is already at the shop, and as soon as I hear what is wrong with it I'll post that.

My gas gauge quit registering how much gas was in the tank and just reads "Full" all the time now (and I KNOW it's not full).

It went into the shop yesterday, a friend of mine said it could be either a fuse or maybe a floater in the tank is stuck or something.

Glad it's all under warranty and I'm hoping they don't have to pull the tank out, but I will let everyone know what was wrong when I find out!

Grin

Kim
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« Reply #1 on: 05/02/03 03:31 AM »

Can we place bets on the cure?

I bet sending unit is bad and they replace it
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« Reply #2 on: 05/02/03 03:38 AM »

I bet the service Manager will start up the truck, and the guage will start working all on it's own.  Does'nt that always happen  veryveryangry
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« Reply #3 on: 05/02/03 06:32 AM »

I bet the service Manager will start up the truck, and the guage will start working all on it's own.  Does'nt that always happen  veryveryangry


That happened to a friend of mine who's electric window on the driver's side quit working on her Miata, the minute they got it to the dealership, it started working.

Oh well, will keep ya'll updated, STILL haven't heard from them yet...

Kim
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« Reply #4 on: 05/02/03 02:17 PM »

Turns out the whole fuel gauge was bad, it's being replaced and they "hope" to have it out tomorrow, but more likely next week.

Phew, nothing major!

Kim
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« Reply #5 on: 12/04/02 11:58 AM »

I am in my second Avalanche (drive a lot) and my new one had a fuel gauge that did not drop off of full until I had 150 miles or more on a full tank.  Took it to my Chevy service manager and he said that there was a problem with the sensor and replaced it under warranty.  Too soon to tell if problem is corrected.  Didn't have this problem with first Av.  Could go 400+ miles before gassing up.  Love this vehicle!
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« Reply #6 on: 08/17/02 01:39 PM »

Wondering if anyone else has experienced a problem with the fuel gauge jumping from full to empty when starting your Avalanche. Just had the local dealership replace the fuel tank "level sensor". They claim this is the second time they've seen this problem but I have not seen any mention of this problem on any of these forums. Thanks for a terrific site and lots of great information.

kroache
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« Reply #7 on: 08/18/02 02:53 AM »

Now that's what I call bad gas mileage..........
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« Reply #8 on: 08/18/02 03:56 AM »

my gas gauge keeps going down   I had a full tank on friday night when I picked the av up from the dealer  and last night when i got home it was about a 1/4 full   and I had 300 miles onit in about 36 hours. geez I cant get out of it  its too much fun to drive.
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« Reply #9 on: 08/18/02 02:09 PM »

Mine has had the gauge jump to dead empty and flash the low fuel warning when I know I have plenty of fuel. It does it at different times. Once when at high altitude and it would do it several times when cruising on the freeway. It would then go back to normal.

What's up with this?

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« Reply #10 on: 08/18/02 03:39 PM »

Hey YELLOWAV,
Seems you may have the same problem as I experienced. The gauge would sometimes show "FULL" for much longer than it ever could (at one point I was thinking this machine has pretty good gas mileage) to showing "EMPTY" with the low fuel indicator flashing. FYI the part # on the work order for the repair is listed as FP NUMBER 25340157 with description SEN KIT
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« Reply #11 on: 08/18/02 04:22 PM »

Mine, when highway driving, will sit at full and way over where it really is. Then it will take a drop, sudden. Even if city driving the top half of the tank is about twice as big as the bottom half  Grin
I've learned to always reset trip odmeter so can keep track that way.
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« Reply #12 on: 08/18/02 06:32 PM »

Glad someone mentioned this, thought i was crazy,,,ugh i mean the dealership thought i was crazy.
I had the same problem on my 2000 Z71. I drive about 3-4000 miles a month and watch fuel comsumption very closely. When i am on straight highway i know that at 3/4's of a tank i have 200 miles on odometer. Sometimes it will just sit there on 3/4s till about 250 and then drop down to half way between half and 3/4 or if i pull off and jump back in seems like i just lost about 3-4 gallons while sitting there. Dealership has always been super, just not able to copy the problem while driving around town. Just while running for long periods of time seems like it gets hung up for a while, but i never have experienced the empty/full/empty low light on............guess i am lucky for now.........
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« Reply #13 on: 08/18/02 08:01 PM »

Funky fuel gages seem to be a tradition at GM. I have had one GMC and a bunch of different Chevs and still haven't had an accurate one. I thought they had their act together when I got my Av but then I started getting the low fuel idiot light and the needle resting comfortably on E when parked nose down on my sloped driveway. The      inconsistent/inaccurate fuel gauge thread has more stories.  
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« Reply #14 on: 09/29/02 01:21 PM »

yea  I Had the same problem on mine brought it back to one dealer and they said it was a venting problem and that they fixed it. Went to pick it up and it was even worse, just stayed at empty the whole time with the low fuel light on. When i went in to tell the guy it was still messed up he just shrugged and said thats no good. So i ended up bringing it to another dealer and they replaced the fuel sender unit and it works fine now. Hope it keeps working
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« Reply #15 on: 09/29/02 05:25 PM »

Chevy is notorious for the gas gage staying on full forever and then plumiting to empty all at once. That is one reason that I got used to the trip computer showing fuel consumption. Thats one of the few new options I really wish was on the 02.
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« Reply #16 on: 11/01/02 11:37 AM »

Ack, this issue just started happing to me today. I guess I'll need to have the dealer check it out.  dissappointed

Another thing I noticed when this started happening -- a 'thump' every 10-15 seconds coming from within the dash on the left side of the steering wheel.
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« Reply #17 on: 11/03/02 10:01 AM »

In my case, the change oil reminder light came on the same time the problem with the fuel gauge was happening. Since the previous post I changed the engine oil (and oil filter), and reset the "Change Oil" meter. I've put on about 800 miles and the fuel gauge has worked properly since then. No other changes were made to the Av. Does this make sense to anyone?
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« Reply #18 on: 11/12/02 10:38 AM »

Had To Bring It Back to The Dealer Today After Two Months of working fine. The first time around they just replaced the fuel sender unit which is located inside the tank. The Gauge worked fine for about two months and then monday morning when i started it the gauge went right back up to full and there was less then half a tank it there. So I brought it in today (Tuesday) and they checked it all out and said it was the whole in tank full unit (Part# 25345024) I Believe it was called the fuel module. Service guy said the new one is a whole new redesign due to defects in the old one. So they ordered the part and will install it next week. Just wanted to let everyone know incase this was happening to them.
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« Reply #19 on: 08/26/02 05:06 PM »

Angry z71, 3 weeks old, 3500 miles on it (two trips to the Joshua tree badlands, two trips to the mountains!)  All of a sudden, with 270 miles I am on empty.  Fill'er up and the gauge only goes to 1/4 tank.  Now with 63 miles on the trip od. I am back on empty.  I read the threads on the fuel gauge fluctuations but this seems to be at the extreme end!
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« Reply #20 on: 08/27/02 01:44 AM »

::)Hhmmmm... interesting.

Did your low fuel warning light come on in the warning center? If not, you could continue to drive short term until it shows, then you know you definitely need to fill up. At least you would know where you stand until you get to the dealer. If it did come on, then the sensor in the tank may be bad.

You could also try disconnecting the negative battery terminal for a few minutes, then reconnecting to see if the computer system resets itself. If this works, it'll save a trip to the dealer.
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« Reply #21 on: 08/27/02 01:56 AM »

I would try to wait till the light came on as well, because it could be a sending unit malfunction and they will have to remove your tank, and we all know how much it costs to fill up an AV!!! Cry  chevy
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« Reply #22 on: 08/27/02 02:07 AM »

Have you read the other thread on here about the fuel gage?
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« Reply #23 on: 08/27/02 02:36 AM »

I'm guessing that there's one sending unit that controls both the guage and the low fuel light (does anyone know for sure).  Given that assumption and the likelyhood of a defective sending unit, I'd stay somewhat close to home while experimenting with the message center as a valid indicator of low fuel. . . . running out of gas in the middle of Death Valley is no fun! . . . .

Hmmm. . . . how do I put Jerry cans on an Av?
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« Reply #24 on: 10/08/02 10:30 AM »

just got off a road trip, and gotta report about fuel gauge!!!!!  i fill up to the cap, can always put in 1-2 bucks more after auto shutoff. and fill to the max!!......   coming back from north carolina, i got 290 miles before the gauge got to 3/4, and then 95 miles to get down to 1/2 and about 50 more to be just over 1/4... went to put in gas and to fill back up to the cap, spilling out it took.... 21.67 gallons and the speedo registered 433.5 miles... holy smokes avrs... i got 20 mpg in a z-71 at 73-78mph with the ac on!!!!!!!!!!!! witnessed!!  my father in law was ahead of me in his 5300, suburban and used right at 23 gallons .... thank chevy for good road mileage and this is no b.s. a true mileage check with two chevys on the road at the same time!!
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« Reply #25 on: 07/28/03 06:24 AM »

Same problem at 3100 miles.  My gauge always reads full.  Has yours been okay since having the unit replaced?
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« Reply #26 on: 07/28/03 06:27 AM »

Same problem at 3100 miles.  My gauge always reads full.  Has yours been okay since having the unit replaced?

Yep, been fine ever since!

Kim
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« Reply #27 on: 07/28/03 10:42 AM »

Pulling the tank out of an AV to change the pump or sender is not a big job, really.  In fact, I'd rather have the techs pull my tank out than my dash cluster, since the tank is so much less likely to make noise afterwards.  My Sierra 2500 HD had to have the tank down twice to change both the pump AND the sender between 10,000 and 15,000 miles.  Both times it was quick with no problems afterwards *except* the flack they gave me about going to the GMC dealer instead of the local Chevy dealer (who had a problem with theft / making extra keys / missing radios /etc. at the time).  Like most things with Chevy, I Female Doged a little and they handled it.      
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« Reply #28 on: 07/28/03 10:44 AM »

Can we place bets on the cure?

I bet sending unit is bad and they replace it


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« Reply #29 on: 07/28/03 11:15 AM »

Just the other day when getting into my AV, the Low Fuel Light came on, I looked at my gas needle and it wasn't even registering!  veryveryangry As soon as I put it in Reverse to back out of my driveway, it jumped up to where it was supposed to be and the Low Fuel light went off. No problems since then with it, but I am just counting down the days until it stops working and I have to make that dreadful stop at the dealership. I know it doesn't help you too much Kim, but thought I would share!                 SHAY   chevy
                           
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« Reply #30 on: 07/28/03 12:33 PM »

My Av has a problem with dealing with parking on slopes.  It'll read way below what I actually have, and it won't recover for several minutes.  I'm keeping an eye on this now, just in case.
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« Reply #31 on: 07/28/03 02:03 PM »

My Av has a problem with dealing with parking on slopes.  It'll read way below what I actually have, and it won't recover for several minutes.  I'm keeping an eye on this now, just in case.

My Av has been the same way. My driveway where I park is on a steep grade. After a year and a half of this I still think someone has siphoned my gas when I start the rig and see the gage reading empty and the low fuel light on.
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« Reply #32 on: 07/31/03 03:19 PM »

One note:  The gage does not constantly monitor and register the float level like the old days.  In fact the gage is driven by computer and the computer monitors the float level.  It tries to ignore the sudden changes in fuel level and report out a steady "better" reading.  You can force the gage to update instantly by shifting into neural.  I park nose up hill, so on start up with a low tank, I have almost 1/4 tank but as soon as I back down the driveway and pop into neutral I go to E.  The computer program driving the gage has some frustrating quirks.

Staying on F all the time on the other hand is not normal
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« Reply #33 on: 07/31/03 06:53 PM »

Mine did the same thing and i just took it to a GM service place and they have to replace the fuel pump because the gas sensor or whatever is all included on one part so thats what they replace. Took them 2 days and was free under warranty. Now my gas guage reads right.
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« Reply #34 on: 09/19/03 08:45 AM »

I mentioned my fuel gauge issue over in the 4WD issues thread b/c I thought it *may* be related to GM's decision to replace my instrument cluster to address the 4WD issue.  

Wrong...so I'm posting here that I had the same fuel gauge issue as described by others in this thread.  Fix for mine was the same...drop the tank and fixed/replaced whatever they had to at the fuel pump.  Only took them 1/2 day to fix, but they've got my truck still for other issues.

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« Reply #35 on: 09/22/03 05:43 AM »

I'm trying to figure out what the caustic nasty smell is in my truck since I got it back from service this weekend.  Did anyone who had the fuel tank dropped to have this issue fixed have a terrible smell inside for a while afterwords?  I'm thinking maybe some kind of welding or sealant or something?

Other thing I had done was changing out the traction control ECM (that's what they called it anyway...for my 4WD issue).

Hmmmmm....it sure does stink!  barf
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« Reply #36 on: 09/22/03 06:08 AM »

Question, has everyone's guage quit all together, or just become extremely inaccurate?  I started noticing bad readings, basically it always reads full or nearly full.  I always use my trip odometer so I can tell by that about when I need to refill.  I went on a road trip this weekend and put about 200 miles on a quarter of a tank, I would have expected it to read a half or less.  The guage still read more than 3/4 of a tank but when I filled up again I put in almost 15 gallons.  I am thinking another tirp to the dealer is in order...

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« Reply #37 on: 09/22/03 06:15 AM »

Question, has everyone's guage quit all together, or just become extremely inaccurate?

I believe when your sending unit goes out your gauge reads "Full" all the time, that's what happened to me.

As far as being inaccurate, I haven't noticed that happen in my AV.

Kim
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« Reply #38 on: 09/22/03 06:23 AM »

take it in...that's exactly what it does when it's broken.  They will likely drop the tank and replace the fuel pump/sending unit.

FYI for when/if this happens out of warranty...$350 worth of parts and $200 of labor  Shocked

Rich

(maybe there is something to the arguement about not letting your tank get too empty... Huh)
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« Reply #39 on: 09/22/03 07:48 AM »

I was told that keeping a 1/4 tank full and no less is important to keeping the fuel pump good as the gas keeps the pump cool.  

I guess it is old age, or being around the street rod hobby to long, but I just hate the thought of anything electrical being in contact with gasoline!!!!
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« Reply #40 on: 09/30/03 03:35 PM »

Mine just started yesterday going to full real slow and now it goes to full right away. I know it should be reading a half tank. I Guess I`m off to the dealer.
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« Reply #41 on: 09/30/03 06:11 PM »

The only problem with mine is the low fuel light keeps coming on.  I just do what it says in the manual and it goes off........lol
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« Reply #42 on: 10/02/03 11:14 PM »

At about 3000 miles my guage would not go past full, use 12 gallons, and still on full!  Took it in they replaced the Fuel Level Sensor, did an oil change and it worked fine for another 3000 miles.  I am scheduled in tomorrow at 7am with the same problem!  I have 6125 miles!  
I guess I will just get a new fuel level sensor every oil change at this point!
Very frustrating and I wonder what the cause is?  I can't be that unlucky as to get two faulty sensors in 4 months time?
Can I?
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« Reply #43 on: 10/03/03 05:00 AM »

As mentioned earlier in this thread, my gauge stopped working properly at 3100 miles(showed full until I had about 2-3 gallons left).  I basically ignored the problem for now since I did not want to bring it to the shop for a day to do 2 hrs work.  I figured I would wait until I have other things that need to be fixed too.

Funny thing is now my gauge is working again.  I now have about 4800 miles on the AV.  I am sure it is just a matter of time before it goes out again for good....or maybe something else is causing the problem.   I don't see how the sending unit could start working again after 1500 miles,  it would seem it is either bad or not.  Electronic parts don't usually behave like this unless there is a loose wire or something.
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« Reply #44 on: 10/03/03 06:42 PM »

I don't see how the sending unit could start working again after 1500 miles,  it would seem it is either bad or not.  Electronic parts don't usually behave like this unless there is a loose wire or something.
Could be a loose wire or intermittant connection... but maybe it is something mechanical? How does the sender work? In the past there was a float, a linkage, and a sensor to measure the angle of the float arm. Does the Av use something similar and maybe there is some binding in the mechanism? Huh

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« Reply #45 on: 02/18/04 07:24 PM »

Wow, no posts in this topic since October?  Is there a new topic related to this issue that I missed?

Anyway, this happened to me this week with 13,500 on the ODO.  The weird thing is that it appears to have all started to "get stuck" at the 1/4 tank mark.  Not a good place to get stuck if you know what I mean.  I didn't really think about it at the time - drove around for that day doing errands not noticing that the gauge wasn't moving.  Then decided to stop on the way home at my regular station.  I was expecting about a $38 fill from 1/4 tank.  But when the pump finally stopped, I was sitting at $50  Shocked   Then I looked at the gallons filled on the receipt, and it said 30.5 gallons  Shocked  We have a 31 gallon tank in the 1500's right?   Jeezuz!  That was close.

So, since that fill, its now stuck on full tank all the time.

I need an oil change soon, so I'm wondering if I should just get that done and see if what some of you guys have been talking about is true and that it starts working again after an oil change.   Huh
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« Reply #46 on: 02/18/04 09:21 PM »

I basically ignored the problem for now since I did not want to bring it to the shop for a day to do 2 hrs work.  I figured I would wait until I have other things that need to be fixed too.

This is my attitude also.  I already took mine in once because it would get stuck on full, or take half an hour for the needle to finally reach full after a fill-up.  They had my AV overnight and when i picked it up, they just told me they had to "re-program" the entire truck and it should work fine now.  WRONG!!!  Still having problems, but I'm not taking it in just for this.  Not a major problem in my book (at least not until I'm angrily  veryveryangry sitting on the freeway with an empty tank)  Wink
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« Reply #47 on: 02/18/04 10:48 PM »

Hmmmm, this is a VERY interesting topic for me... I think I can shed a bit of light on the gauge inaccuracy people seem to be having.  I've been dealing with this issue from the engineering side for a few years.  Thankfully it isn't my companies gauges!  Grin  

There are likely a few different problems at work here.  They all are related to a single component - the level sensor ceramic resistor card.  The card is a printed circuit that changes resistance as a float moves up and down in the tank.  There is a wiper attached to the float arm that rides on the card, making an electrical circuit.  If you're curious about the mechanism, check out http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-gauge.htm.  It's mostly correct, with only a few minor inaccuracies.  In any case, the interface of the wiper to the card is where all the problems come from.  There are 3 things that can go wrong there: Dirt, Bad Gas, and Smearing.

Dirt is the easiest to explain.  Get enough dirt on the card, and you can't get an electrical signal through it.  Trick is that it takes a LOT of dirt to cause this type of failure, and the gas usually wipes the dirt off the card, especially when you fill up the tank.  Usually, this means that Dirt isn't very likely to be the cause, especially for 3000 mile issues.

Bad Gas is the second thing, and specifically Sulfur in the gas.  The ink used to print the resistor card is Silver Palladium.  It holds up really well in most fuels, but there have been issues with high sulfur contents in fuel.  Basically the sulfur chemically bonds with the silver palladium, creating little mountains (microscopic mountains, that is) on the surface of the card.  Unfortunately, those mountains are not conductive.  When the card loses signal because the wiper is sitting on one of those mountains, it drives the gauge to empty - basically to make sure you are warned that you could run out of fuel.  There are ways to protect against this, but most of them are patented by competitors to the current level sender supplier (the sender is supplied as part of the fuel module assembly).

The third thing that can go wrong is called Smearing, and it's seen usually in vehicles with 10,000 miles and up.  Since the cards are printed with silver palladium ink, this ink can do the same thing that you see happen with your newspaper when you rub your fingers across it - it smears the ink across the page.  What happens on the gauge is that the ink traces become one large trace, which changes the resistance on the card, and again as a fail-safe it drives the gauge to empty.  This is usually seen in gauges that may read correctly down to below 1/2 tank, then fail.  The sender is submerged in fuel until about the 1/2 point, and the condition happens more often when the sender is "dry".  Again, the best way to solve this is to change inks, which again are all patented by the surrent supplier's competitors.

FWIW, the problem happens in many other GM vehicles as well.  my 2001 GMC Jimmy has the same issue, with the sender coming from the same supplier.  I'm lucky because I simply switched my sender out for a prototype part I mocked up, but for most everyone else, it means going to the dealer for service.  Right now, my company does not sell aftermarket level senders for GM vehicles, but this may be something we look at if we can make a business case for it.  I'll bring it up to my management that there may be a market for this type of product...
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« Reply #48 on: 02/19/04 04:58 AM »

Thanks for a very informative update.  I have had fuel sending unit problems with a 98 Eldorado & a 99 Bonneville.

If GM doesn't get their act together on this problem they are going to end up with a very costly law suit one of these days.  Can you imagine someones wife of daughter being killed because they ran out of gas, got stranded & run into a serial killer.  All kinds of bad things can happen when you run out of gas.

A reliable gas gauge is a must.
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« Reply #49 on: 02/19/04 05:08 AM »

Quote
If GM doesn't get their act together on this problem they are going to end up with a very costly law suit one of these days.  Can you imagine someones wife of daughter being killed because they ran out of gas, got stranded & run into a serial killer.  All kinds of bad things can happen when you run out of gas.
Actually, that's the reason that the gauges go to empty when they fail - lawsuits.  The Big 3 have lost a few over the years where a vehicle ran out of gas while still showing gas left in the vehicle, the owner gets out of the car on the side of the road, and gets hit by a passing car.  Prior to the lawsuits, there was no attention paid to what happens if a gauge malfunctions.  

Naturally, I'm even more concerned when I hear that gauges are failing but NOT going to empty when they fail.  It's definitely a worst case condition...
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« Reply #50 on: 02/19/04 10:30 AM »

On my wifes Eldorado she was relying on the DIC fuel range.  One time it dropped from 125 miles of fuel remaining to empty in less than a minute.  She coasted into a gas station.  It was empty but was showing almost 1/4 full. Shocked
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« Reply #51 on: 02/19/04 04:54 PM »

I've noticed that the "Miles to Empty" reading seems to work directly with the malfunctioning gas gauge, so its not useful here, BUT, the "Gallons Used" reading seems to work on its own and be fairly accurate.  Why would this particular reading be accurate when the gas gauge is not?  Huh
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« Reply #52 on: 02/21/04 02:12 PM »

I've noticed that the "Miles to Empty" reading seems to work directly with the malfunctioning gas gauge, so its not useful here, BUT, the "Gallons Used" reading seems to work on its own and be fairly accurate.  Why would this particular reading be accurate when the gas gauge is not?  Huh
It's quite simple, actually - the gallons used in the DIC is based on the fuel injectors.  The engine computer knows how much fuel is consumed by the injector load over time, so it is very accurate in showing the fuel consumed.  Unfortunately, the computer has no idea as to how much fuel is put in the gas tank.  It has to rely on the fuel level sensor, which is no where near as hyper-accurate as the injectors.  As a result, it computes mileage based on the injectors, but distance to empty based on the reading it gets from the gas tank.  Wish there was a bette way to do it, but you would have to start with a much more accurate fuel level in the tank.
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« Reply #53 on: 09/17/04 03:30 PM »

My Boss' Yukon had some fuel guage problems and it was starting to run a bit rough; obviously unrelated. Except that when he poured in a bottle of fuel injector cleaner... Both conditions cleared!

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« Reply #54 on: 09/28/04 07:27 AM »

Quote
this is now the THIRD fuel-sender in it---gauge begins to read irratic (full tank will read 1/4---1/2---empty w light---1/3---all w/i a few miles)---unreliable---can't trust what the gauge says. dealership keeps it all day & says its repaired & fine---we take it home & have the same problem we brought it in for.
~blizzard

Anyone have a fix for this yet?
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