1994 Dodge Spirit Front Wheel Drive Automatic 153k miles
I took my '94 Dodge Spirit to the shop because it would smell really bad of gas fumes especially when it was idling. I never saw any gas on the ground or anything around my car. The guy at the shop said my gas line had to be replaced b/c it was so rusty and gas was evaporating through, and it could be a $900 job. Is this true, and how much would it cost for us to buy the line and fix it ourselves?
Something is wrong here. $900.00 will get you a new gas tank, fuel pump, fuel lines, filter, hoses, injector, and you'll still have a few hundred bucks left over.
The most expensive thing I can think of would be a metal line rusted on the pump assembly. The best repair involves a new pump which could run over $500.00 at the dealer, less if an independent repair shops installs an aftermarket pump.
If you're not seeing fuel on the ground, there could be numerous pinholes rusted in the top of the tank where snow and salt gets packed in. New tanks should run less than a couple hundred bucks, plus about an hour of labor.
Another common problem is a rusted fuel filter or one of the plug-in connectors. Chrysler has a filter repair kit with new connectors. Total repair with labor should be less than a hundred dollars.
If the fuel line itself is the problem, replacement line can be purchased in bulk from the parts stores. I would expect it to cost a dollar or two per foot. The steel line can also be replaced with rubber hose, but it must be fuel injection hose which is designed to handle higher pressures. 4 cylinder fuel injection systems such as yours only run around 15 psi of fuel pressure, but the V-6s are around 45 psi. Old-style rubber fuel hose for carbureted cars only had to handle up to 5 psi in a small part of the system. Also, it is my understanding that replacing steel fuel line with rubber hose is illegal in some states, even though all cars have some rubber hose somewhere in the system. If they didn't, the steel lines would break when the engine rocks on its rubber engine mounts.
Most of the time, things get screwed up or lost in translation between the mechanic, service advisor, and customer. As one example, what you're calling the " fuel line" might have been called the " fuel pump with a rusty line" by the mechanic. Many times what I told my service advisor was totally different than what the customer said back to me later in a conversation about the repairs. For that reason, I tend to defend the mechanic when I only get to hear the customer's side of the story. On the other hand, I won't defend a rotten apple who appears to be ripping off a customer. It's that one percent that gives the entire industry a bad name, just like in any other field. Without hearing the mechanic's version, it sounds like the cost of repairs is way out of line. I'd suggest getting a second opinion.
These cars, along with the Shadow / Sundance, are tough little cars; certainly a lot tougher and more reliable than the newer models that replaced them. I hate to see any of them go to the junkyard because of an impending high repair bill.