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Series Land Rover: Diagnosing Fuel Smells

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As for any vehicle, fuel smells from a Series Land Rover need be investigated and fixed as soon as possible, particularly with petrol engines. There are a number of possible places that a Series Land Rover can leak fuel from and they are dealt with here according to their location.

From the engine.
A warm engine can cause petrol to evaporate so quickly that it may not be visible. It is even more difficult to locate a small leak if the engine is running and the cooling fan is operating. So CAREFULLY doing a 'finger-test' on all the fuel unions, joints and surfaces of flexible fuel pipes should locate a leak, if present. Original fuel lines on Series Land Rovers are metal but they have frequently been substituted for plastic versions by previous owners.

In the case of diesel engines, the fuel unions will be the likely cause as fuel lines are metallic, whereas for petrol engines the flexible hoses should be inspected first. Petrol-engined Series Land Rovers exported from the UK were frequently fitted with a fuel evaporation control unit to comply with emission regulations - an airtight fuel filler cap was fitted and a charcoal canister located inside the engine compartment and connected to both the fuel tank and air intake. The filter located in the bottom of the canister should be renewed every 12,000miles(20,000km).

In an emergency situation, some damage on plastic fuel pipes can be repaired by a hot electric soldering iron. If the leak is close to a joint and there is sufficient pipe, try cutting out the bad section and sealing the remaining pipe onto the joint again. Dipping the end of the plastic pipe into hot water drained from the radiator may soften the ends of the pipe.

From the carburettor
Series Land Rovers have been fitted with a variety of carburettors. For Solex, or Zenith varieties, the float level setting could be wrong, causing the float chamber to flood due to a poorly seating needle valve. It's also possible that the float itself could be damaged if the carburettor is old. Correcting these faults requires the carburettor to be opened, so replacement gaskets or instant gasket compound is required.

Around the vehicle
The most likely cause is a damaged or missing fuel filler cap gasket. For the 109in Series Land Rover models the rear fuel tank has two compartments that are connected via a pressure equalisation hose. This hose is out of sight and can perish and crack with age. You really need to remove the tube to inspect it properly.

If the fuel tank is leaking, the most likely cause is from a damaged seam and it is usually difficult to fix this. Temporary repair is best attempted once the tank has been removed and emptied. Epoxy resin may produce a temporary seal if the tank edges are cleaned-up sufficiently but the source of the leak is frequently not where the petrol appears visible. Solid soap is known to be insoluble in petrol and forcing it into a leaking seam may just get you back home.
Whenever the fuel tank is removed it is important to re-mount it with rubber washers, to prevent stresses caused by flexing when off-road.


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