Logic would dictate something has come apart in the fuel pump assembly in the tank. My best guess is the pump does not need to be replaced but it will have to be removed from the tank to be inspected.
Ford had a similar problem years ago. I don't remember the years or models affected, but a rubber hose in the tank would dry-rot and crack. That would allow it to suck up air instead of fuel. The fix was to replace that hose.
I can also visualize that pickup screen being deformed and sticking up into the air at the top of the tank. There is a large air pocket in the tank when it is "full" to form a crush zone in case of a crash. That means that when your tank is three quarters full, it's actually about half full. Those tanks aren't real tall to begin with so that screen wouldn't have to stick up very far to draw in air. The screen is a lot bigger than on Fords. Yours will be about six inches long and two inches wide.
What I would do is have the tank close to three quarters full when you take it to the mechanic. They will have a tank with a pump to remove the gas so the gas tank is light enough to remove. After the repairs are completed, they pump the gas back in. Ask them to start by only refilling it to one quarter tank, then test driving it. Once the repairs are confirmed, they can pump the rest of the gas back in.
Here's an entirely different thought. Once the problem occurs, how much gas can you put in at the gas station to fill it? From what I can remember from working at the dealership, those tanks only hold around ten gallons. If that's about how much you can put in, you're actually running out of gas and the gas gauge is reading incorrectly. The float arm for the fuel level sending unit could be hanging up causing the incorrect reading.
Thursday, January 5th, 2012 AT 12:06 AM