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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,

Been a while since I've posted. so I picked up a 2004 Hyundai Santa Fe 3.5L Awd. After parking the vehicle in my garage, I noticed a pretty strong gas smell that's lingered for days even after I parked it out for a few days. Also when I drive it, after parking around town I've noticed that it sometimes smells like fuel. Then comes the weird part, when I parked it most recently. As I'm now doing a timing belt, there has been no smell at all for the week I've been working on it late evenings. It's currently at a quarter tank of gas.
When I had parked it in the garage before and there was a strong smell, the tank was at about 3/4th.
I put unleaded octane 87 in there. There is no engine light coming up.

The weird part is that I can't see any fuel drips. I'm having trouble tracking down where the issue could come from.

Does anyone know what are all the possibilities for a fuel smell without the car giving a check engine light? I realize the system should be sealed and pressurized so most issues would give a CEL.

I will be checking my vin and calling a dealership to check if my fuel tank has a recall like some of the other 2004's, and if it was done or not.

Thank you,
Quix
 

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Need to mirror up over top of tank at right rear corner,, fill it with fuel first and let it slosh around,,


Look around the fill vent valve for fuel stain / leak / discolor where liquid fuel eat at tank coating,, may even smell fuel there..

Had rash of Santa Fe some 10-12yr ago where the vendor who made tank got protective coating on the flange for the fill vent, and over time the coating pit the rubber gasket to point it will allow fumes and liquid fuel out,, usually when full..

ALSO,, being that old, fuel tanks been rotting and leak liquid fuel into the plastic tray the tank sits in,, so scam around for fuel smell at bottom of tank and tray -- Hyundai offer free tank replace for those that leak fuel at bottom
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Is the scent of gasoline strong when you're inside the vehicle?
No, I generally can't smell it inside at all, it only really hits me when I get out of the vehicle or if its been sitting for some time, with plenty of fuel in it. I've ran heating and ac, and both without air circulation so the air system is open to the outside.

can be leaky fuel injector
I currently have my engine apart down to the valve cover gaskets + just putting my timing belt covers back on. The Fuel Injectors looked dry but I'll check them again.

you may need to take the back seat out and check the fuel pump seal or fittings.
This is one of the steps I've been looking into, I didn't know before that this vehicle has a floor panel under one of the rear seats to access the fuel pump area.

Need to mirror up over top of tank at right rear corner,, fill it with fuel first and let it slosh around,,


Look around the fill vent valve for fuel stain / leak / discolor where liquid fuel eat at tank coating,, may even smell fuel there..

Had rash of Santa Fe some 10-12yr ago where the vendor who made tank got protective coating on the flange for the fill vent, and over time the coating pit the rubber gasket to point it will allow fumes and liquid fuel out,, usually when full..

ALSO,, being that old, fuel tanks been rotting and leak liquid fuel into the plastic tray the tank sits in,, so scam around for fuel smell at bottom of tank and tray -- Hyundai offer free tank replace for those that leak fuel at bottom
Alright, I'll start these steps from the top down. I will try to keep the fuel tank full/near full for all these checks/tests so hopefully I'll be able to find what's wrong.

It'll take me a couple nights but I'll post an update on my progress as it goes along.

Thanks everyone.
 

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No, I generally can't smell it inside at all, it only really hits me when I get out of the vehicle or if its been sitting for some time, with plenty of fuel in it.
If that's the case then you can likely rule out the fuel pump access panel (under driver-side rear seat) as the culprit.

If you see no signs of actual fuel leaking, then I'd suggest the EVAP system as the focus for your investigation (especially if you've ruled out fuel injectors). The two-way valve, vapor canister, vent hose, and most the whole shebang is located under the vehicle behind a plastic protective covering like the one in the picture below.
A clogged up vapor canister filter is a likely cause of fuel odors.

The purge control solenoid is located in the engine compartment by the intake manifold. (If you still have your engine stripped, get a new intake manifold gasket. Since fuel vapors are being vacuumed into the manifold a faulty gasket could be problem.)

Normally the PCM will pitch a diagnostic code for any EVAP problems, though.

It could also be a faulty fuel pressure regulator running your engine too rich. Burning excess fuel = more fuel vapors in your exhaust.

EDIT:
Sorry, I guess I'm not allowed to post links yet. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If that's the case then you can likely rule out the fuel pump access panel (under driver-side rear seat) as the culprit.

If you see no signs of actual fuel leaking, then I'd suggest the EVAP system as the focus for your investigation (especially if you've ruled out fuel injectors). The two-way valve, vapor canister, vent hose, and most the whole shebang is located under the vehicle behind a plastic protective covering like the one in the picture below.
A clogged up vapor canister filter is a likely cause of fuel odors.

The purge control solenoid is located in the engine compartment by the intake manifold. (If you still have your engine stripped, get a new intake manifold gasket. Since fuel vapors are being vacuumed into the manifold a faulty gasket could be problem.)

Normally the PCM will pitch a diagnostic code for any EVAP problems, though.

It could also be a faulty fuel pressure regulator running your engine too rich. Burning excess fuel = more fuel vapors in your exhaust.

EDIT:
Sorry, I guess I'm not allowed to post links yet. :rolleyes:
Don't worry about the links, I think I know the part you're talking about :)

The car's no longer apart as I'm done the timing belt, Valve cover gaskets, Intake Manifold gasket and so forth as of today. All new gaskets, I never reuse gaskets. No oil drips anymore, so far. So now it's just tracking down this codeless, CEL-less fuel smell that can only be smelt with a greater than 1/2 full tank of gas. I'll be filling it up tomorrow to start looking at it.

I'm personally leaning towards it either being a seal at the top of the fuel tank that isn't 100% as the fuel level being a factor is strange and a bit suggestive. Or it being related to the vapor canister filter or some such. But I plan to check all the things that were suggested until I find out. I'm going to double check that there's no visible drip anywhere when I fill up.

Shame gas prices just sky rocketed this last month, just when I need to always be at a full tank to track this thing down. :|
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So final update to this thread.


The problem turned out to be a rusty fuel tank, especially on the passenger side. The drip was between the plastic fuel tank cover on the bottom and as a result it would only drip at specific angles when that fuel could make it out one of the two holes on the plastic cover. Also only when there was enough fuel on the passenger side of the tank. The wonky shape of the tank and its two side design made it difficult to track down the problem initially until a drip was confirmed.



I have since changed the fuel tank to one from Rock Auto and the vehicle no longer has a fuel smell at all.


Notes about changing the fuel tank on any AWD version of the Santa Fe's. Try to have as little fuel in the tank as possible when you work on it, it's incredibly heavy. You will need a very strong impact driver to remove the bolts off the driveshaft. Also you will need a long extension that can slightly angle, as there's not enough space to get at the bolts straight on. Double check the bolt length before retightening them. There's a chance the tips will rub against the metal as they rotate when you put them back in. Mine had to be ground down just a bit.

The Exhaust was the single most difficult and annoying thing to work with. I got a gasket for mine but the two flanges were so rusted that the bolts holding it together were practically non-existent. The exhaust had to be cut in half at the flanges, and naturally it didn't go back together smoothly or even straight. New holes had to be drilled to accomodate new bolts. And almost an entire tube of Muffler Cement. An absolute nightmare job!!
Exhaust Advise: If you know a welder or know how to weld, consider grafting an entirely new Flange segment into your exhaust if its super rusted. Once you remove that exhaust at the flanges to remove the tank, it won't go back together very well. It's really the ideal time to do anything welding, most of the exhaust is off so you can weld on a new piece to the end side, and there's enough space on the 3.5L to cut off the other flange and weld on a new piece as well. Just don't do it while a leaky fuel tank is still under there.


Make sure the fuel tank you purchase comes with new rubber seals and screws, possibly a new fuel pump if yours is broken. Mine just had to be cleaned a bit at the orange mesh filter. Be very careful removing the fuel pump and the little thingy on the passenger side. It comes out at rotated angles, and breaking it means buying a new one for about $120. You may need new Fuel Tank Straps, I was able to reuse mine. Important note, you can probably get straps for cheaper locally then Rock Auto purely because the shipping on the straps was utterly ridiculous. For me the straps would have been like 30 bucks but the shipping would have been closer to 120, more than the huge and heavy fuel tank.. for straps!!!


Goodluck to anyone else having a similar issue.
 

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Glad you found the leak.
 
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