The driver of a 2007-10 Saturn Outlook may come into your store with a complaint that he ran out of fuel, even though the fuel gauge never actually went to empty. He may also comment that he hears a loud sloshing noise while braking or under heavy acceleration.
One likely cause for both problems, says GM, is a detached fuel tank baffle. The baffle usually gets dislodged after a rear end collision, goes unnoticed by the body shop, then typically settles underneath the fuel float, which is what prevents the fuel gauge from showing an empty tank.
To make the diagnosis, drain the fuel tank, get the truck on a lift, then remove the tank and fuel pump module. Now tip the tank high and low. If you can hear the baffle rattling, your only option is to replace the fuel tank.
"Factory Fixes" is written by Jim DePalma, a 30-year veteran of the auto repair business who has served stints as a service manager, parts manager and ASE-certified technician. His column provides vehicle manufacturers' authentic factory technical service bulletins (TSBs) that have been condensed for easier reading. Mr. DePalma advises that techs always check with a dealer or repair information system for the latest revisions before starting to work on a vehicle. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].