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Old 09-03-2019, 11:39 AM   #1
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Raw Gasoline Smell

Hello all,
This past weekend I bought my first Sportsmobile, a 1995 E-250 EB11 from VanMillie. I drove the van back from Portland to Denver and had a lovely trip without any incidents.

Upon arriving in Denver where temperatures were 95F+, I was overwhelmed by the stench of raw gasoline in the van. I thought it may be due to pressure in the tank causing vapors to bleed into the cabin, so I unscrewed the gas cap to let out the pressure. A minute after doing so, I was coasting up to a red light and the van stalled at ~20mph and I lost power steering, power brakes (IIRC), and had to shift to neutral and lightly pump the gas to get it running again. This also happened about 20 minutes later while parking in my garage.

The vapors in the van were bad enough that I had an acute headache and the feeling of chemical-laden lungs afterward. Not at any other point during the trip did this happen, and VanMillie states this has not occurred before. Is this just an expected result of bringing the van into a hotter environment? Unfortunately I am led to believe that the smell is coming from a compromise somewhere in my fuel system. Anyone had this issue before?

As for the stalling (doesn't seem extreme enough to be actual vapor lock), I am unsure of what could be causing this to happen. Perhaps some sensory component of the EFI system needs replacing?

Any and all help much appreciated!
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Old 09-03-2019, 11:47 AM   #2
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Forgot to mention, van has a 351w, E4OD, and engine temp was in lower end of normal range
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Old 09-03-2019, 11:50 AM   #3
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I had a '94 5.8L van previously, and had both symptoms. Both are caused by the fuel pump, but actually unrelated except for age...

1) The fuel smell is likely the o-ring that seals the fuel pump to the tank. When this fails, fuel sloshes out at a surprising rate, making that overwhelming gas smell. That said... the next time you park the van, cycle the keys a couple time before starting up, and inspect the frame rail and under the hood, to rule out any leaks in the pressurized side of the system or fuel return line.

2) The vapor lock is pretty much just that, except it's cause by the fuel pump motor running hot, and boiling the fuel internally. This is why hot weather contributes.

Fix for both is simply a new fuel pump. The hyrdolock issue can be reduced by keeping the fuel tank more full, but since you have the o-ring leak, you'll just slosh fuel out faster.

Some parts catalogue will say your fuel pump assembly isn't available. That's partially true. It should refer you to the '97-'08 fuel pump, and then also tell you to buy the adapter for the wiring plug, to allow the newer fuel pump to connect to your wiring harness.

You'll have to drop the tank for the fuel pump swap, and because of the age, might need new hoses (filler and vent). If they looked cracked at all now, go ahead and replace them, because the extra movement from dropping the tank will just worsen the cracking.
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Old 09-03-2019, 11:56 AM   #4
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Thanks for the quick input @carringb. I had noticed at a fill station in ID that the fuel pump was making a rather loud droning sound and figured as long as it continued to work without issue, I would have it done when I have it converted to 4x4 since they have to drop the tank anyway. Sigh
I will try to track these down and install before I drive it any more.
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