Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas: Here’s Why

One of the most annoying aspects of a car is when it either refuses to start after filling up with petrol or takes several attempts. The automobile sputters when it is started after filling up with gas, which is another bothersome symptom that car owners deal with.

This article discusses fixing a car that won’t start after a gas fill-up. It addresses typical issues and offers fixes to get your vehicle back on the road.

Why Doesn’t The Car Start After Filling Up Gas?

The purge control solenoid valve of the evaporative emission control system (EVAP) is frequently partially jammed open, sucking all fuel vapors from the vapor storage canister to the engine, which causes a car to not start or sputter after getting petrol.

After refueling an automobile, additional fuel vapors are driven from the canister to burn in the engine cylinder, which causes the air-to-fuel combination to become too rich with fuel to allow combustion. Consequently, after getting petrol, the car won’t start.

How EVAP System Works?

To stop fuel from leaking into the environment, an engine’s EVAP system uses the purge valve to draw additional fuel vapors from the canister.

Close-up of a car engine.

The EVAP system is made up of the following primary elements:

The canister is a small container that contains activated charcoal, which is used to capture gasoline fumes.

A gasoline tank pressure sensor that detects significant leaks from the fuel tank is included. The engine control unit module receives the information from the gasoline tank pressure sensor.

The purge valve, a one-way solenoid valve, joins the engine’s intake system to the charcoal canister. The purge valve is shut when the car engine is off. As soon as the machine goes, the ECU gradually and continuously opens the purge valve.

The engine control unit opens the purge valve to produce a vacuum that draws new air into the vapor canister. The fuel vapors are propelled by fresh air and delivered to the engine, where they can engage in the normal combustion process.

A one-way solenoid valve called the vent valve is attached to the canister. Usually, the vent solenoid valve is left open, allowing air to be pulled into the engine and burned after passing through the canister and mixing with the vapor.

The car’s engine control unit will close the vent valve to seal the system during the self-diagnostics of a significant leak if a large leak in the EVAP system is detected.

Causes of Car Won’t Start After Getting Gas

Here are the causes of the car won’t start after getting gas.

1.     Fuel pump problems

The engine’s fuel pump supplies the fuel injector with an adequate amount of fuel. Typically, the fuel pump is found on the gasoline tank. The gasoline pump can be located inside the fuel line in some engines.

Your automobile will only start if your fuel pump is fixed. It might even stop or perhaps die. Numerous things, including aging, mechanical flaws, electrical issues, and negligent maintenance, can lead to a defective fuel pump.

Fuel pumps have a limited lifespan. Because of this, fuel pump replacement is advised by automakers every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

Car fuel pump module.

The following are signs of a damaged fuel pump in an engine:

  • Car’s sputtering noise at high speeds
  • The fuel tank is making whining noises
  • When accelerating, the engine runs out of fuel
  • Reduced fuel efficiency

2.     Charcoal canister that is broken or clogged

The charcoal container is in charge of collecting the fuel vapors. Gasoline vapors from the fuel tank will not enter the canister if the bed of activated charcoal is covered in dirt. As a result, it will be challenging to refuel the gasoline tank because all of the fuel vapors would flow back to it.

Therefore, if the charcoal canister is unable to contain the fuel vapors, the excess fuel vapors will pass through the purge valve, which will make it difficult for the automobile to start after filling up with gas.

3.     Fuel filter clog

After refueling, if your car doesn’t start, you should check the gasoline filter. Before the fuel is injected into the engine, fuel filters clean it of debris, water, and other pollutants. The power cannot pass through the fuel filter when it is clogged. Poor engine performance, as a result, may make it difficult for the automobile to start.

Low engine power and poor fuel flow can result from a clogged fuel filter. Additionally, a clogged filter can raise the possibility of the engine operating roughly.

A car mechanic checks the fuel filter of a car engine.

4.     The EVAP Purge Valve is open

Vehicle fuel distribution systems frequently experience this issue, especially after a gas fill-up. The vapors are extracted from the canister and purged into the engine by the EVAP purge valve. It aids in reducing fuel gas buildup in the fuel tank. When excessive fumes are allowed to enter the engine, the valve occasionally gets stuck open.

There is a significant buildup of fumes in the gasoline tank during refueling. Some of the fuel vapors, which are supposed to be confined in the charcoal canister of the car, are forced past the open valve and into the intake manifold. The mixture is too rich to support combustion when the engine is restarted.

When there is too much fuel in the air-fuel combination, the power will not burn entirely, which makes it difficult for the automobile to start after it has been refilled with fuel. In such circumstances, applying more significant gas pressure will cause the air intake manifold’s throttling valve to open, allowing more air to enter the engine for burning.

Expert Tip: The strongest indication that you need to replace the purge valve is if the method of holding down the pedal halfway works to start the automobile.

How Can I Get My Car To Start After Getting Gas?

Here is some advice:

  • Retry is trying to start the car. It will likely succeed this time.
  • Look at the battery connection by opening the hood. Try reconnecting the links if they are insecure.
  • Push the vehicle away from the gasoline pump and jump-start if the battery is dead.
  • In either case, you now need to reposition the car. Make sure you are out of the way if additional diagnostics can be performed on you.
  • You must have the car towed if you can’t figure out what’s wrong.


You can check if your car won’t start after filling up with petrol before bringing it to a repair for a more thorough examination. The EVAP purge control valve’s functionality is the first thing you want to determine.

You must also ensure the EVAP system is free of obstructions and leaks. You’ll need to call for assistance if you’ve tried all the suggested fixes above but still can’t determine the root of the problem. But don’t be alarmed! You should quickly be able to fix the issue with the help of an experienced mechanic.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!

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