How to Clean a Charcoal Canister

by Kevin Mclain

A charcoal filter resides inside of the charcoal filter canister in an automobile. The main purpose of the charcoal filter and the charcoal canister is to absorb excess gas fumes from the fuel system and the gas tank while the engine is off. The filter inside of the canister acts like a sponge and absorbs all of the excess gas fumes. Once the engine is restarted, the excess gas vapors return to the fuel system and into the combustion chamber. Over time, excess buildup can clog up the charcoal canister and prevent the gas fumes from entering or exiting the canister.

Step 1

Remove the charcoal canister by removing the top and bottom lines from the canister with a flat-head screwdriver. The canister has three lines on top and one line on the bottom. Use a ratchet and a socket if needed to remove the canister from the bracket.

Step 2

Place the charcoal canister on a flat surface. Start the air compressor up and let the air pressure build up to at least 50 psi. Shut the compressor off once the air pressure reaches the 50 mark.

Step 3

Insert the rubber tip of the air line nozzle fitting into the outer vent control valve pipe that is on top of the canister. This pipe is separate from the other two top pipes. The outer control pipe is the on the very end of the canister. The outer control pipe is also a little bit bigger than the other two pipes.

Step 4

Place the ends of your fingers over the openings of the other two pipes on top of the canister with one hand. Pull the air release trigger on the air line nozzle and allow the 50 psi of air to blow into the canister with the other hand. Continue blowing the air into the charcoal canister for about one to two minutes. Remove your fingers from the top pipes and place one of your fingers near the front opening of the pipe on the bottom of the canister.

Step 5

Apply the air to the opening of the control valve pipe again and use your finger to determine if the air is coming out of the bottom of the pipe. This will ensure that the canister is clean and allowing air flow from the top of the canister to the bottom pipe of the canister. Reinstall the charcoal canister.

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