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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All- Mercury Sable Duratec Wagon 2001 105K miles. The car has never been able to fill up since I owned it at 40K, always stopping 2-3 gallons ahead of time. (I know this because at the right gas station you can dribble the gas in, it takes that extra 2-3 gallons; it must be a “dribble” however, any faster pumping and pump shuts off). I’ve had a P0453 error code (Evaporative Emission System Pressure Sensor/Switch High) the last 50K miles also, went off a few times but mostly stays lit. Had to get special inspection stickers and pay extra.

(all done by mechanic): I replaced a hose sucked closed for the evap purge solenoid. The pressure sensor switch had been replaced under the hood. Replaced the feul vapor solenoid. Everything inspected and blown clean. NEXT: It was suggested that replacing the “Fuel Gas Charcoal Vapor Canister” could be a fix? If so, any thoughts on that and on Junk Yard ($40) versus new ($200ish)? Also, I had previously obtained the hardware that goes into the fuel tank including an in-line fuel tank pressure sensor (at a junk yard), but the mechanic said that he tested what was already in my car and it was fine.

I’ve seen this or similar “can’t fill my tank” questions in a lot of different places, with answers all over the place; sometimes the P0453 code is discussed. Any thoughts I can bring to the mechanic when I see him shortly? Thanks very much in advance.
 

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Hello Tom. My girlfriend had a vehicle with the same problem and I ended up reading into it and found out that there is a easy way to test if it's your evap canister. On her vehicle 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe it was easy to crawl under the vehicle and take off a couple hoses on the evap canister. If they have little tiny pellets of charcoal fall out of the hose than you can be sure your canister is shot. You can see some on the ground in pic 2.

From what I have read when you fill up your gas tank you are pushing fuel into the tank creating a higher pressure, on a working car with a working charcoal canister this high pressure is vented through the canister which adsorbs some of the gas vapor and fumes into the charcoal for use later (helps prevent pollution and adds MPG). When you start your car and begin driving, a solenoid called the purge valve opens and sucks the gas vapors out of the charcoal canister and is burned for added MPG and reduced emissions.

HOWEVER, if you over fill your cars gas tank by continuing to pump fuel into it after the pump shuts off due to gas backing up the line, some of the liquid fuel can run down into the charcoal canister. If this happens enough there is a plastic membrane inside the canister that can dissolve away, this allows the charcoal pellets to come lose. When the pellets are lose, they can be pushed or sucked into the vent hose or purge hose. This can BLOCK the movement of fuel vapor into and out of the canister causing pressure to build up inside the gas tank. When this happens as you are pumping gas the fuel backs up the filler neck and up to the pump which kicks it off when you try to fill it to quick because the air inside the tank can not escape through the charcoal canister vent.
If you add fuel very slowly it allows the pressure to escape past the gas pump and up and out the filler neck. This is why the pump kicks off when you are trying to fill the tank and why filling it slowly can get you to a full tank.

TLDR: Pull a couple hoses of your charcoal canister and see if charcoal pellets fall out. If so, your evap system canister is most likely shot and has pellets blocking the hose lines. When replacing the canister, make sure to pull the hoses off and blow any pellets out.

Hope this helps, good luck and if you need any more information let me know!


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello Lisfin- Thanks for the detailed reply. That sounds about the same as my mechanic suggested- "charcoal pellets". I guess I'll have it done. Follow-up- Do you think a canister would hold up 20 years used from a junk yard ($40), versus new ($150) on-line (cheapest I could find)? Thanks- Tom
 

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Canister is damaged by over fill.Tanks are designed with a vapor area at the top which is not intended to be filled. Slow fill after initial shutoff will force gas into this vapor area.
Gas is usually colder than the tank and will expand after filling. This vapor space gives the expansion a place to go. Owner's guide explains this.
-chart-
 

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You are gambling using junk yard stuff. It's possible it might work, but the charcoal in the canister does lose effectiveness overtime. I am not sure by how much effectiveness, but I have heard it is reduced overtime. Your probably better off biting the bullet and just getting a new one for peace of mind and possibly to actually save you money. How much does it cost to have a mechanic just look at your car let alone work on it? ($100+???). Would suck to replace with junkyard stuff and to have issues with it.

Might try looking online at a few sites, can probably find it cheaper. Here is one that is cheaper, I didn't confirm if it fits yours exact model or not, but its for a 2001 sable.

2001 Mercury Sable Vapor Canister. LITER, EMISSION, Evaporative - F5OZ9D653AA | Friendly Ford, Las Vegas NV
 

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One more than off my soap box.
"Topping off your gas tank can cause pressure to build in the tank and flood the carbon filter vapor collection system, only meant for vapor. Subsequently, this overflow can affect your car's performance and could possibly damage the engine"
copy and paste from internet search.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
LISFIN- Point taken. That part you reference is extraordinarily cheap! I'll call them by phone first. Thanks for your help, very very much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
One more than off my soap box.
"Topping off your gas tank can cause pressure to build in the tank and flood the carbon filter vapor collection system, only meant for vapor. Subsequently, this overflow can affect your car's performance and could possibly damage the engine"
copy and paste from internet search.
-chart-
Yea, but is "topping off" usually a two minute 3 gallon endeavor? Without so, tank reads 3/4 full after hose shuts off. If so, gauge reads full.
 

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Yea, but is "topping off" usually a two minute 3 gallon endeavor? Without so, tank reads 3/4 full after hose shuts off. If so, gauge reads full.
Gas gage means some general idea, not accurate by a HUGE shot. I have had them never reach "F" and had ones I could drive 120 miles before leaving "F".
Only had one issue with Lincolns. '02 bought new, when at "E", and zero miles to empty, I could put in 12G in a 20G tank. Dealer replaced the sending unit under warranty. Fixed.
My '03 Sable wagon never reaches "F". Much bigger things to worry about.
-chart-
 

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I have a 2004 with 133K on it...mine has always been tricky to fill the gas at SOME but not all stations. At certain stations, it will click off every gallon, for me and my wife. It takes a while to fill up at those stations and I have to guess when it's full. Some stations it fills normally.

I had never made a habit of topping off more than one click. I've owned the car since 58K miles and it's always had this quirk. Never had a CEL for anything fuel related and it still runs great, just tough to fill sometimes.

My wife once ran out of gas with "35 MILES TO E"...so I never let it get under 60 since then.
 

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What's the replacement process for the canister? Can't find a Youtube video for a Taurus. Do you have to drop the tank?
 

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On my son's 2001 sedan (with the flex fuel Vulcan) the charcoal cannister is under the trunk. You can see it in a little "box" by just looking. The cannister looks like the one referenced in the attachment for post #5. We just replaced his fill tube with a tube sold by Spectre and now for the first time it fills like we always expected. All we needed to drop the cannister was a #10 socket. You will need to unplug the charcoal vent solenoid to drop it completely. If you look at one of those online you can see to unplug it from the solenoid. The wiring is confusing as it looks like it comes apart before the plug that goes on the solenoid. The wagon may be different.
 

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I was just reading up on the EVAP system in the Haynes manual (Chapter 6.19) and I came across two curious statements:

Additionally, the evaporative system on California OHV V6 engines traps fuel vapors during refueling.

and

The vapor control valve limits fuel tank volume during refueling on models with the OHV V6 engine.

My initial reaction was: Really? But from the description in this thread the conclusion might be: yes, really!
 
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