How to Remove a VW Gas Tank

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The gas tank on a Volkswagen is a steel or plastic tank usually located at the rear of the vehicle below the trunk. Over time water or sediment can collect inside the tank and potentially clog the fuel system. Older steel tanks can also rust, meaning that small pieces of metal can break off and clog the fuel system. The fuel tank in a Volkswagen vehicle can be removed by the home mechanic. You must always take special precautions when servicing the fuel system, because gasoline and diesel fuel are both highly flammable.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench set
  • Socket set
  • Flat blade screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Automotive jack
  • Wood block
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Markers

Depressurizing the Fuel System

  • Drain as much fuel as possible either using a hand or battery-operated siphon, or by driving the vehicle until most of the fuel is consumed. Never siphon gas or diesel fuel out of a fuel tank using your mouth.

  • Locate the fuse panel cover. It will be located on the lower portion of the driver's side dash just above the gas pedal. Depress the to buttons on the face of the cover and remove it.

  • Remove the two screws that secure the lower trim panel (its the panel that surrounds the fuse panel cover). Lower the trim panel.

  • Remove the fuel pump relay. Consult the owner's manual to learn exactly which relay powers the fuel pump.

  • Crank the engine for five to ten seconds. If the engine begins to run, allow it to run until the engine stalls out. Then crank the engine for an additional five to ten seconds.

  • Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal by loosening the retaining bolt and pulling the clamp off the terminal. Secure the ground cable away from the battery so it cannot accidentally contact the negative terminal.

  • Replace the fuel pump relay.

  • Lift the lower trim panel into position and reinstall the two screws that retain it.

Disconnect the Fuel Pump Sender Unit

  • Remove all items from the trunk.

  • Remove the carpet panel from the center of the trunk floor. Pull out the tab on the rear of the panel.

  • Unscrew the three screws that secure the access hole cover to the trunk floor. The access hole cover will be located to the right of the spare tire.

  • Disconnect the wiring harness form the pump sending unit by squeezing the tabs on each side of the electrical connector.

  • Label and disconnect the fuel supply and return lines by loosening the hose clamps and pulling the rubber lines off the fittings. There will be arrows on the fittings to tell you which is the return and which is the supply.

Removing a VW Gas Tank

  • Position a hydraulic jack underneath the center of the fuel tank. Place a wood block between the jack and the tank to avoid damaging the tank. Raise the jack just enough to take the weight of the tank off the retaining straps.

  • Move to the right rear wheel arch. Remove the screws that secure the fuel tank filler neck to the vehicle's body.

  • Open the fuel filler door. Peel the rubber seal away from the vehicle's body.

  • Remove the bolts that connect the tank retaining straps to the underside of the vehicle's body. You may need an assistant to steady the tank while you remove the retaining straps.

  • Begin to slowly lower the tank.

  • Disconnect the vent pipe from the fitting on the filler neck as it becomes exposed.

  • Remove the screw that connects the ground strap to the filler neck as it becomes exposed.

  • Lower the tank and slide it out from underneath the vehicle.

Tips & Warnings

  • In most cases the plastic tanks on newer model Volkswagens cannot be repaired and must be replace in the event of damage or a leak. Consult a fuel tank specialist if you have questions about the condition of your tank.
  • If the tank will be removed from the vehicle for more than an hour or two. Plug the fuel supply and return lines to prevent dirt or moisture from contaminating the system.
  • Gasoline is highly flammable. Never smoke or allow others around you to smoke while servicing the fuel system. Be aware of any sources of heat or spark while servicing the fuel system, such as drop lights or space heaters.

References

  • "Haynes VW Golf & Jetta 1993 thru 1998"; George Parise, Mark Coombs, Spencer Drayton and John H Haynes; 1997
  • "Volkswagen Passat Service Manual 1998-2005"; Bentley Publishers and Robert Bentley; 2007
  • "Volkswagen Jetta, Golf, GTI Service Manual: 1999-2005"; Bently Publishers; 2005
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