How Does a Car's Gas Tank Work?

by Hannah Scott

Our lives are filled with little moments and thoughts that quickly pass by. In an instant we forget about them. How the gas tank on your car works was likely one of those thoughts that came to mind briefly while you refilled it at your favorite gas station.

Each gas tank is made to form for your vehicle. Most standard gas tanks are located at the rear, strapped up tightly to the undercarriage of your vehicle (sometimes nicely positioned between the trunk and the axle). They are sometimes made of stainless steel or durable plastic but are designed to be safe against flying rock and other road debris the tires may throw up at it. It's polished, pressurized and tested before it is able to provide the vehicle gas to get out of the factory.

When you fill your tank up with gasoline at the gas station and then start your vehicle, the electric fuel pump (a standard on today's vehicles) begins to send a computer controlled amount of gas through the gas lines, that run the length of the undercarriage of your vehicle, to the gas regulator near the fuel injectors. The computer controls the amount of gas when you accelerate or decelerate, as well. The fuel pump sending unit sends information to the fuel gauge on the instrument panel on your dashboard, which gives you a heads-up if you are desperately in need of gas to get home.

Older cars and trucks used a mechanical fuel pump that could be found under the hood on the engine block. With the onset of tight emission control laws, fuel injection and a strive toward fuel economy, auto makers designed the electronic fuel pumps that could be set near or inside the fuel tank. Most fuel pumps are in the fuel tank and are sometimes hard to get to for repair.

The gas tank is an integral part to a good running vehicle. Be sure to keep your gas tank in top order and limit additives into the system. When topping off your tank, make sure to try and stop after the gas station pump automatically clicks off to protect any kind of charcoal vapor canisters that help take care of emissions. Wet gasoline can destroy the charcoal and make fuel economy poor.

About the Author

Hannah Scott has been a freelance writer for more than 12 years. Scott's first published article appeared in "The Mountain Press" in 1999. She has also written for the "Tennessee Star Journal" and several websites, including RAE Magazine.