Man pumping gas into a recently cleaned Toyota gas tank in Westbury, NY.

The Quick and Simple Guide to Cleaning Your Toyota’s Gas Tank

Posted at Fri, Apr 27, 2018 10:15 AM

When you think about all the parts on your Toyota that need regular cleaning, the gas tank is probably not anywhere close to being on the list. However, the truth of the matter is that a dirty gas tank can lead to fuel pump failure and unfortunately, fuel pumps are not cheap to fix or replace. If you’d like to get the most out of your fuel pump, it’s not a bad idea to clean your Toyota’s gas tank every now and then – especially if your car, truck, or sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a little on the older side.

Of course, this isn’t the kind of maintenance that just anybody can do, primarily because it does require some mechanical knowledge and familiarity. Despite this fact, if you’re handy with a wrench and willing to learn, Westbury Toyota’s guide can definitely help you get your gas tank clean and keep your fuel pump functioning just like the day it rolled off of the lot.

Getting Started

The first step in the process is draining your Toyota’s fuel into a fuel caddy or other similar approved fuel container. Don’t make do with just any other kind of container; doing so is dangerous and can also lead to fuel contamination. Once you’ve drained the fuel, it’s time to drop the tank.

If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, your Toyota service manual will give you the information you need based on your specific vehicle model. Once you’ve dropped the tank, start cleaning away all the debris, rust, and dirt at the top. Focus on the hanger assembly to prevent any residual debris from falling back into the tank. After you've knocked off these steps, it's time to take off the lock ring and remove the fuel pump.

Pre-Cleaning Rinse

As the staff over at Know Your Parts explains, it’s a good idea to rinse out the tank before you actually wash it. This ensures that you’re getting rid of any leftover debris, all while making the tank as clean as possible for the next part of the process. To do the pre-cleaning, follow these simple steps:

  • Insert a hose into the tank and fill it partially full of hot water.
  • Swish the water around the tank to collect any leftover dirt, rust, or debris.
  • Slowly pour out the water into another approved container or fuel caddy.
  • Turn the tank upside down and repeatedly tap the bottom to dislodge any remaining debris stuck there.

Cleaning

Once the tank’s been thoroughly rinsed, it’s time for the actual cleaning. You don’t need to run out and buy a cleaning product (although you can if you want to). A mixture of dish soap and water will work just fine. Modern fuel tanks can be tough to clean thoroughly so if you want to do it properly, it’s best to use a high-pressure stream. This lets you reach the tough spots and also cleans away any stubborn leftover dirt. If the opening to your specific tank is big enough, you can even use a brush to scrub at spots that you weren’t able to get during the rinse phase. Once you’re done cleaning, swirl the water around to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Drain the dirty water into a pan or bucket and make sure to empty it all.

Drying

It’s very important that the tank is completely dry before you reassemble everything. If you’ve got the time, you can leave the tank out to dry in the sunlight. As the good folks over at the Car Care Council point out, a quicker method of drying is to circulate compressed air throughout the tank.

Once you’ve done that, wipe it out with a lint-free cloth or towel. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes or more to make certain it’s completely dry. After doing this, you will want to carefully look the tank over for any indications of physical damage or rust. If you find any, it means the tank either needs to be repaired or replaced. If there’s no sign of rust or damage, it’s time to reassemble everything.

On the Road Again

Once you’ve gotten everything put back together again, you’re good to go! Before you do, though, it’s not a bad idea to add some fuel line water remover or antifreeze to take care of any residual moisture that's left over from the cleaning process. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to keep your Toyota’s gas tank pristine forever. However, taking time to clean it every few months can make a huge difference in the performance and lifespan of your fuel pump.

Regularly changing out your fuel filter is also a relatively cheap preventative measure as well, so add it to your maintenance checklist. By enacting this strategy, and putting to good use what you have learned here about cleaning out your fuel tank, there is no reason why you can't keep your favorite Toyota running strong and humming along the streets of Long Island for years to come.

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