I have a 1997 Altima with about 120k on it. I bought it used in 2000 with about 17k on it. According to the manual, it is supposed to have a 16.5 gal. Fuel tank. When I ran out of gas early on, I noticed that it took only 13.5 gal. Ever since then, the amount it takes to fill it when I intentionally let it run out of gas has gradually decreased. Not it takes about 8.5 gal.
The fuel gauge never registers more than about 3/4 tank, but then it seems to go down correctly.
My mechanic checked the sender unit and the tank (to make sure it wasn't collapsing) and couldn't find any problem.
I even brought it to him after filling it up, and he visually checked and said it was full. When I brought it to him empty, he confirmed that it was empty.
I'm getting normal gas mileage, with no leakage.
My guess is that something is causing a sensor to detect that the tank is empty when it's not, but my mechanic's visual inspection of the empty tank seems to contradict that.
The fuel gauge is operated by a rheostat. It is nothing more than a resister that sends different amounts of power to the gauge based on where the float gauge says the float is located. Since it never shows full, I think that is the problem.
January, 25, 2011 AT 3:26 PM
Would a malfunctioning rheostat explain why not only does the gas gauge read Empty but I actually run out of gas after using only 8 1/2 gallons of gas?