Gen 2 Viper Fuel Tank Replacement
I’ve posted this up on a few of the Viper Club forums but I had not put it up in the Alley. Since this is a general site, I thought I’d put it here as well for all to see without the need of paying membership fees.
I did this write up because, Try as I might, I could not seem to find a write up on the procedure for a Gen 2 GTS. It is a different thing for the GTS cars as there is a cutout that needs to be made. This will, hopefully, get a few folks a great deal more info than I was able to find. First, some background in case you have not read some of the threads on why this sometimes has to be done.
In the later years of the Gen 2 production, there seems to be an issue/problem that pops up with the fuel tank. Specifically the filler neck seems to lose it's seal against the fuel tank. The filler neck is "pressed in" and glued in place. What happens is that you get a seepage from the tank when it is 3/4 full or higher that then drips down the side of the tank on the passenger side. Some fuel ends up in a heat sheild/tray below the tank and some drips onto the passenger side frame rail right behind the differential. As the fuel evaporates, the result is a distinct smell of fuel when around the car.
Some folks (as I did) try to fix the problem with tank repair kits for plastic tanks. Basically a two part epoxy puty that you place over the neck of the tank. It does not work. In most cases, as it did with me, it seems to fail. The fix will resolve the problem for about 3 to 6 motnhs. Bottom line, the epoxy fix comes down to a fix to use while the parts come in for the right fix. The inevitable resolution seems to be the replacement of the fuel tank. This writeup covers it.
This procedure, as far as I could find, will cover the replacement of the tank on all Gen 2 GTS cars. The car in this case is a 2002 GTS. There are differences in some of the tanks, depending on the year, but most everything here applies.
PARTS NEEDED FOR THE FIX:
Fuel Tank for the Gen 2 GTS (04848985AA - 2000 to 2002)
Closeout Panel for the GTS. Part number (04848582AB)
Tube of RTV Sealant or equivalent adhesive sealer
4 to 5 gallons of fresh fuel in portable tank(s)
TOOLS USED FOR THE FIX (Besides the basic screwdrivers and such)
Air Cutoff Tool (Cut the opening)
Angle Grinder with some poly pads
Drill with a few bits (for pop rivets)
Pop Rivet Tool (I used a air riveter)
Painter's Tool (used in my case for removing the sound deadner butyl mat)
Heat Gun (used in my case for removing the sound deadner butyl mat)
Angled & Barrel Needle Nose Pliers (photo below)
LAST... Get the tank as empty as you can. Go have fun, drive the car around, do some donuts, drive it like you stole it and drive it to get 3 miles to the gallon.... bottom line get as low on the guage as you are comfortable with. I took it to the needle width above empty. (That will still leave about 3 gallons in the tank)
YOU CANNOT SIMPHON THE GAS OUT OF THE VIPER. There is a roll over valve on the filler neck at the tank. If you try to put a hose down there it won't make. Burn the fuel off.
Total Time for the swap is about 7 hours. I've seen thread state that this was billed at 11 or 12 hours. I don't know what they were doing... but the time it took me was a bit over 6 hours. That is from the moment I removed the carpet/interior in the back to the finish of re-installing the carpet. This also includes the time it took me to deal with the Sound Deadner I had to remove and clean up. Normally, you will not have to deal with that. Bottom line... should take less than 7 hours.
Relieve the pressure in the fuel system. You can do this in one of two ways. One is to pull the fuel pump relay in the trunk. Second is to release it at the schrader valve on the passenger side of the air intake. If you use the latter, plenty of rags to catch the fuel. Maybe a small cup.
Disconnect the battery positive terminal. I am paranoid about this and the way the battery sits to avoid any potential freak thing, I wrap the terminal cable with some electrical tape (loosely) just in case the tension makes it hit the battey pole. Yes. I am paranoid... but I've never had an issue with a disconnected battery.
Remove the interior panels in the rear of the car. I'm not going to load photos on this as it's pretty simple and it'll save some space. All you need to get it apart is a phillips head screwdriver. The procedure is simple. Remove the rear palstic cover that runs corner to corner in the back, over the rear hatch latch. This has four phillips head screws. Then the next step is to remove the two side covers. These run up the driver's and passenger's side. Each of these has four screws to remove. Three are accessable from the rear, one is done up front at the door. Once the screws are removed you will have to remove the pistons. A second set of hands helps here. Basically, you remove the piston from the mounting point on the rear pillar/deck. This will let you get the panel out of the way. Be EXTREMELY careful removing this panel. It's, at least, 12 year old plastic and it is fragile. Just gently move it around and out from it's place. On the driver's side you will need to remove the alarm/light sensor on the piston. Then when the plastic panel is moved, you disconnect the cable on the side. With the panel out, replace the piston. Repeat for the passenger side.
Remove the amp on the drivers side area of the trunk. It's two 10mm bolts on top that hold the plate. Remove them, take out the amp. When it is out disconnect the three cables back there and put the amp aside. I put the bracket and two bolts back in place so as to not lose them. Next the tray that held the amp needs to come off and hang there. That's three 10mm nuts. Once that's out you can leave the tray lose in there and simply move it about when you take the carpets out.
Remove the rear carpets. There are two pieces. First to come out is the lower carpet. Remove the spare tire (if it's there) and the tire tool bag. Once that's out simply remove the carpet on the lower section. The only thing to be real careful with here is the rear speakers, as they are now unprotected, and the two side vents. The carpet is held up by two pegs at the top of the vents. You need to lift the top edge up on the carpet to come off the pegs. If you just yank on it, you'll break the pegs or rip the mesh. Once that is out, the upper section is next. To take that out just pull it out, gently, from under the top edge of the rear compartment. The front of the "deck" behind the seats. The carpet is tucked under the plastic trim. You can gently lift that trim up a touch and the rear carpet slides out from under it. This piece is a molded carpet. It will bend sufficiently to get it out. Just move it about until it comes out.
When all of that is out... this is what you will see... the bare trunk. (you may not have the sound deadner / Dynamat)
OK. So the next we cut the hole. Yes... you are going to cut a hole in your perfectly good body. No fear though... you have something to cover it up. The closeout panel.
This is Dodge Part Number 04848582AB.
It is NO LONGER IN PRODUCTION. Your only option to to make it yourself (using the panel you cut out) or get a used one. There are salvage yards that sell the parts. So as to not offend I will not post where I got mine. However, I will be happy to tell you if you drop me a line/PM. I will, however, let you in on something I found out. The panel is in every Gen 2 RT/10 made. In other words, the panel in an RT/10 is the closeout panel used for the GTS cars. Same part number. Same EXACT unit. So if you call for a "Closeout Panel for a Gen 2 GTS" you will likely get the answer that "We don't have one". If you ask for the fuel tank closeout panel on an RT/10 they will say "which year, we have them". That little tidbit will save you time and money. If nothing else, this info made it worth reading my rambles. I will be happy to take donations towards the Big Brake Kit I am going to buy... Just PM me and I will give you my paypal ;-)
So getting back to the process....
You lay the closeout panel in place. Once you do that, you mark the outside perimeter of the panel. You want to keep the top edge of the panel up against the "overhang" of the rear deck. In the center (where you see the blue tape in the photo below) there is a tab on the panel. That can be placed on the lip of the deck on top. Very important. Keep the lower "notches" pressed in against the matching boxes on the lower corners of the half moon. Bottom line. Makes sure its in there right and then mark the outside edge. I used a paint pen (black sharpie won't work on the black sound deadner) to mark the edges.
The panel in place to trace...
Once the trace is made, I went in about two inches to cut the sound deadner. If you dont have this installed... you won't have to do this. You can see my score marks in the photos below.
Once that is scored with the razor blade to cut the aluminum panel on the mat, I proceed to take of the sound deadner strip with my painter's tool and the heat gun.
If you do not have sound deadner (Dynamat, Hushmat, etc) then no worries, you will have a clean grey piece of composite panel that you can mark.
Once I had the area/strip clear of sound deadner, I place the closeout panel back in place. I marked the outside edge again. This time making very certain I have the permiter right and that the panel is pushed in well into where it will end up. Once that is done I measured 1" (one inch) IN FROM THE TRACED LINE towards the center. You will find that on the top edge you can mark one inch down from the lip formed by the rear deck (one that has the fuel pump / sender access panel) on the half moon panel. If it makes you feel better, you can come up 1 and 1/4" inches (1.25 inches) up from the lower traced line. You will still have space to pull the tank. Any more than that and it's going to be tight.
Double check your trace and make sure you measured IN FROM THE OUTSIDE TRACED LINE. (Don't say I did not tell you to measure twice and cut once).
The inner line (the one 1" in from the edge) is your CUT LINE. Take the cutting tool of choice and cut the panel out. I used an air cutoff tool. Make sure you go just deep enough to cut through the panel. If your cutter goes too deep you will nick the tank in there or a frame rail. Work you way around the perimeter.
TRICK: Start the cut on the top of the panel. as you go leave two one inch sections without a cut. Then continue around the perimeter. Down the sides. Across the bottom leaving one uncut tab in the center. Continue around until you are done. Once that is done, you cut the three tabs you left to remove the panel. The reason for the tabs is so that the panel stays in place as you cut. It avoids the panel dropping onto the cutter and binding it.
Once you cut it out... you will see this...
Sorry I did not photograph the cutting. Kind of difficult to photograph yourself while cutting...
OK so now we see the culprit clearly. This is the passenger side of the tank. You can see the filler neck and, if you look closely, a bit of the fix I made.
Next, we move up the the top of the tank. We are going to take off the fuel pump access cover on the deck.
Take a 1/4 inch or 3/8 inch bit and drill off the caps of the cover. There are four. Becareful not to go through the panel. Just drill to knock off the head of the rivet. Once those are gone, remove the panel.
Holy carp it's dirty in there!. It's mostly dust that get shot up there as you drive. Wip it down a bit now to get the heavy stuff off. We will be removing the pump and sender and we dont want all the crap dropping in the tank.
Here is a place I vary from the shop manual. I remove the pump and sender. Two reasons. One, in the shop manual, they have you "notch" the top edge of the hole to let the pump fittings clear. If you simply remove it, the top of the tank is fairly flat and will come out easier and no extra cutting. Second, the big gaping hole lets me lift it there. Trust me, it will help and it's easier.
So taking out the pump and sender. The assembly is held in place with the big white perimeter nut. You will likely not get this out by simply twisting it by hand. Get a rubber mallet and a large screw driver or a large blunt punch. Then pick a notch and start tapping. It does not take a huge force. It will move 1/2" at a time. Be patient, be calm, it'll come off. Keep working the edge opposite the fuel line and electrical connetor so you don't hit them by mistake.
Once the nut is loose, remove the fuel line. It's a quick connect fitting. Simply press the side perpendicular to the locking pins and pull it off. That's a snap. You'll get a few drops of fuel. I wrap a couple of gloves over it with a piece of tape. It'll cat the drips. Remove the electrical connector. Then the nut will come off. Pull the sending unit out. As you are coming out with the unit, the sender float is still in there. You will need to tip the unit to let the bar clear. VERY IMPORTANT... the bottom acts as a built in sump (Very nice by the way!) but as you remove it and tip it, let the fuel drop into the tank. It's going to take a minute or so. Once the fuel is mostly out.... pull it out keep an eye on the sender float and bar. Place it someplace safe and on a rag so as to not damage it.
At this point I grabbed the Mytivac. It is an air operated fluid vacuum, basically. I pulled out the fuel left at the bottom. It was about three gallons. I put it into a gas tank to be used in the pressure cleaner.
Next.... you need to remove the filler neck hose at the tank. That's a clamp. Simple. As I mentioned above, there is a roll over valve in the filler neck on the tank. as you move the tank out, no need to worry too much about fuel coming out there. I shove a rag in there for small things, but it's not going to drop anything back out through the neck.
Once that's out we have three lines/fittings left to remove. I chose to remove one of those first. Truth is you can get them off as the tank comes out. Since I did not know, I chose to pull it off as it holds the strap down and I had the tool to do it. It is the vent line on the return fitting. It's on the passenger side. You can see it in the photo below. This is shot through the opening on the top deck.
To get that off I used this:
I reached in there with the pliers, squeezed the quick connect latch and off it comes.
OK... we're getting there. Now the service manual tells you to reach in and disconnect the ORVR Control Valve line. Fancy name for the big vent line. Below is a photo of the tank. The "ORVR Valve" is the large grey circular fitting on the right side (looking at the photo). The larger fitting is the line they want to have you remove. The smaller fitting on that same valve (pointing to the left in the photo) is the line we removed with the funky pliers. The larger fitting is kind of tough with the tank in place with my bear claws. What I did was remove the line as the tank was coming out. Made it far easier. The lines "give" enough to allow this to be done.
Next trick... the Service Manual tells you to "reach in" and remove the two bolts. However, when I was looking I noticed that I could see the tops of the rear shocks. Well, if I can see them from the inside, I could look in from the outside. My friend that came to help me (after the cutting and panel removal was done) found this and noticed you could get to the bolt and nut (driver's side) from the wheel well. YATZEE! It is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to get the strap bolts off this way. Photos below show the locations of the stud (driver side) and bolt (passenger side) and then how I got them off (and back on) later.
This is the passenger side bolt location. On this side the nut is welded in. The blue arrow is the bolt. Notice how it is on the same bracket that the shock bolts into.
The driver side is a stud welded in place. Also on the same bracket that holds the shock.
I showed you these with the tank out of the way (obviously) to show your the locations.
To continue the removal, I got both the nut and bolt off to get the strap completely loose. This allows the tank to be moved completely. To get them easily, simply lift the car a touch. Enough to get the wheel to drop a bit in the well. This will let you get the wrench in there.
At this point the tank is loose. To get it out you simply slide and turn it as needed to get the large fitting on top off. Once that is off, pull the tank out straight towards the back. You may have to pull up on the deck a touch to get it to clear the actual fittings (two grey assemblies on top) and it will come out. Lift it up and out of the car.
With the tank out... this is what you see!
Left behind are the vent lines. The larger is the one with the yellow plastic locks.
This is the smaller line at the fitting. I removed this one with the funky pliers.
This last one is connected to the tank on the smallest assembly on the tank. Smaller grey cap on the driver side of the tank. On the left side of the tank photo I showed above.
So at this point I did some cleaning getting ready for the new tank. I started with the tray. The silver tray in the photo is just lying there. The tray is a heat shield and catch all for the tank. It’s just an aluminum insulated tray. Easy way to clean it is to take it out, clean the heavy grease off with some Kerosene. Once the heavy stuff is off, I hit it with a degreaser and then water.
I continue cleaning everything I can see. The exposed frame, the top of the differential and the top side of the wheel wells all got well cleaned. No residual dirt or grime in there now. I even cleaned off the lines to get them nice and clean. I left it looking as clean as it was when it left Conner Ave. Well, as close as a 12 year old car can get.
Next, I had to clean the edge of the opening. Where the closeout panel will eventually get adhered to. The cleaning of the edge is done with the angle grinder with a cookie on it to clean off the residue on the edge. With the edge clean, I can easily mark the edge for the holes.
At this stage, get the closeout panel again. Place it back over the hole, without the tank there, and then mark all the holes. Again, make sure you have in there where it goes. An extra set of hands helps. Then mark the holes. Remove the panel and set it aside again.
Drill the holes for the pop rivets. I used aluminum pop rivets. I drilled 3/16 holes for the pop rivets. I used 3/16” diameter pop rivets with large dome heads.
Now time to get the new tank back in.
Here is the new tank with the strap in place.
Below I have the tank positioned in place and I start attaching the lines again. With the strap there I can connect the vent lines. Note the lines go over the strap. You will not be able to get the strap in place after the lines are connected.
Each vent fitting in the next two shots. In this shot you can get a view of the cleaned edge and the drilled holes for the pop rivets.
Ok so closing everything off. Now that the tank vent lines are in we slide the tank back into place. If you noticed the old tank when it came out, the front of the tank is scuffed a bit from rubbing against the panel we cut out. Logic is that the new one will do the same. To avoid this I put in a panel of sound deadener. It will take the rub on the aluminum sheet and will protect the tank more.
Once in place, I re attach the filler hose to the tank. Below is the tank in position. Again, you can see the edge with the drilled rivet holes.
The filler neck attached.
Now it’s time to put the pump and sender back in. I’ve cleaned the top of the unit off and did the ring as well. To get the sender in you need to put the sealing rubber ring (removed from the old tank) into the new tank. Once that is in, you can put the pump and sender unit back in. Go slow, be mindful of the sender and float. As you get the unit down in the opening make sure the rubber ring goes around the unit and is seated well in the rim.
Get the retainer ring and spray a little silicone grease or white lithium grease on the threads. Trust me… a great deal easier to replace. Then thread it down. NOTE HERE. There is an arrow on the ring. This tells you where the first thread is. Orient that so it points straight to the left (driver side) and then thread it one. Go slow, make sure it goes in evenly. I was able to hand tighten all the way down and then I used the rubber mallet and blunt punch to tighten it down. In my case, all I needed to do is go down about ¼ turn with the mallet.
Once I had the pump assembly in this is how it looks.
Once that is in, I tighten the strap down through the wheel wells again.
At this stage, I double check all the fittings and filler neck. Once it’s all confirmed tight, go ahead and put in the fresh fuel. Once the fuel is in there, reconnect the positive terminal to the battery. With power, you can cycle the key to the “run” position and back a few times WITHOUT STARTING the engine. This will prime the pump and lines to the front. Once you’ve done it a few times, you will hear the pump sound different. A deeper tone. That will tell you it’s primed well enough to start the car. At this point, start the car and run it for a few minutes. Don’t gas it, just let it run a bit. This will pressurize the lines and purge any little bits of air you may have in there. As the car runs, check the fuel line attached to the pump for leaks. If you have nothing after a few minutes, you should be good.
Time to close everything up. Get that closeout panel and run a bead of RTV along the edge. I put in about a ½ inch bead all around. Then in the lower corners of the panel I added a good amount of RTV. I then bring it in carefully and put in place. I then set the pop rivets in place. I line all the holes up with the rivets. Once I am there, I start setting the rivets. I used a pneumatic rivet gun. You can do it with a manual riveter, but it’ll be tougher. As you pull the rivets, make sure you push the panel in tight against the opening so the rivet catches well. Once you have all the rivets tight you will be here
Now replace the interior and go to the gas station to fill the tank!
That's it.... the procedure as best as I can put it together.
Again, if there is any question........ please let me know.
Awesome write up man...
Holy cow that's a GREAT write up! Great work man!
awesome writeup. never saw so much info on this before
Great information. My recently acquired 2002 GTS was fine with just under one half tank. Almost on empty I put in 10 gallons. Come out a bit later to find much of it on my garage floor. So, looks like I'll be looking for or maybe attempting to fix this myself as it would appear I have the same problem as quite a few other 2001-2002 GTS owners. Currently have a pan underneath the car to collect the fuel until it stops, hopefully right below the filler neck/tank connection point. Fuel gauge showed maybe 3/4 of a tank with the 10 gallons I added.
Any new information regarding availability of fuel cells for Gen 2 Vipers or am I stuck finding a used tank?
Is it possible to correctly fix the filler neck issue without removing the tank?
I feel your pain Dave, I went through this with my 01 last fall. I could not find a new tank, ended up with a used one from Jon B, did the entire swap in an afternoon in my garage. I also saved my old tank, and one day I am going to see if someone can properly repair it so I have a back up tank. Job is pretty simple overall.
Best of luck!
Sorry to hear Dave. I hope the dealer you bought from is stepping up for you. I would be pissed if my just purchased TT car had an issue like that. ;)
I am currently in the process of doing a tank swap on my boat. We are going with coal epoxy painted aluminum. If it can take 20+ years on a boat.... A car is a cake walk for 30+ years.
And did you try hot air welding the tank? Which is the only true correct repair.
Having said that, no I did not try to weld the tank. But here's why.
The problem is where the leak is. The leak is in the seam formed by the filler neck and the tank. The problem is that neck is glued in and the neck is pushed/pressed in from inside the tank. The leak is a seepage leak coming out from the neck.
Where it sits, the neck is impossible to weld on. There is no way you are getting to the top side of the neck. Bottom line, you are pulling the tank. If I'm pulling the tank, I'm replacing it. Too much work involved to save the tank price. On a GTS. On an RT10... easier, but still work.
As for the years involved, as far as I have been able to find, you are talking late 2001 and 2002 cars. It seems there was a vendor change or the vendor used a different adhesive, nobody seems to know for sure. Not all the tanks fail, but the trend seems to be with those model years.
What would have been the best bet would have been to mold the neck into the tank when originally and this would never arise. It's a poly tank. If you can mold a threaded neck onto the top to accept the pump and sender, you can mold in a 2" neck.
Summary: Option 3) buy it from the dealer ;)
Anyone else having this issue? About to purchase a low mileage '02 GTS. Had a PPI completed and all they found was a shrader valve leak causing low refrigerant. Guess when they bring it back in to repair that I'll have them check this out. Crazy.....
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