Fuel Tank Selector Valve and Other Problems

Tiny
TURNER2001
  • MEMBER
  • 1989 FORD E-SERIES VAN
  • 5.0L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 350 MILES
I have a 1989 Ford E-150, 5.0 L V-8, dual fuel tanks with 350,000 miles. Around Memorial Day 2022, I was running my van from my rear fuel tank because I had used up my fuel in the front tank. However, surprisingly my rear fuel tank indicator was dropping very fast, and I couldn’t understand why. When I went to gas up, my front fuel tank began to overflow with fuel! I then knew that the gas was coming retrograde from the rear fuel tank into my front tank. I then filled my rear tank. When pulling out of the gas station, my van stalled using the front tank but ran on the rear tank. Meanwhile, fuel was constantly leaking from my front tank gas cap. I knew I had an emergency. I later learned that a faulty fuel tank selector valve causes these same exact problems. I found only one mechanic who could fix this, and he was at a Ford dealership. After 2 ½ weeks, my van got a new OEM fuel tank selector valve, an Aftermarket EVAP Canister, and a new fuel filter. However, about one week later I started to experience some serious problems. First, my van stalled at a stop light. I couldn't start it right away on my front gas tank but when I switched to the rear tank it started. On a few other occasions, it nearly stalled on me. My van starts great, but if I don't keep my foot on the gas pedal the engine would probably stall out. Then on Sunday July 3, 2022, I experienced the most serious situation. In the morning, I was on the freeway and noticed that my van accelerates very poorly over 65 MPH even when the gas pedal is all the way to the floor. I never had this problem before. And once past 75 MPH, there is practically no acceleration at all. When I went to start my van later that same day, it started well but as I drove off, the engine died. When I restarted it, I heard small backfires coming out of the exhaust while the engine was running very sluggishly. (These small backfires also happened several years ago when I ran out of gas.) It seems like the engine is being starved of fuel. On the freeway going home, my van nearly broke down. I eventually made it home but a couple of times the engine nearly stalled. I don’t know what is going on, but here are some of my thoughts. Could I have a dirty gas tank since the van is 33 years old? Could my fuel lines be clogged? What are your thoughts? Any and all suggestions are welcomed. Thank you for your help.
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Sunday, July 3rd, 2022 AT 7:11 PM

5 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

It has been a while, but if I recall correctly, this vehicle has three fuel pumps. Each tank has a pickup pump (low pressure) and then a high-pressure pump (booster pump) located on the left side frame rail.

It sounds like the booster pump works. However, I'm questioning of both of the low-pressure pumps in the tanks are working.

If possible, check fuel pressure. See if there is a variation between the two tanks. Here is a link that explains in general how it's done:

https://www.2carpros.com/articles/how-to-check-fuel-system-pressure-and-regulator

Let me know what you find or if you have other questions. Also, take a look at the pic below. This is how it's set up with the pumps.

Take care,

Joe

See pic below.
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Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 AT 12:03 AM
Tiny
TURNER2001
  • MEMBER
Thanks for getting back to me. Here's what I found out: The Fuel Tank Selector Valve poses many frustrating problems. It's really a problem waiting to happen. It was a terrible mistake for Ford to make dual tank vehicles. In my case, the new OEM selector valve that the Ford dealership put in my van turned out to be faulty. These valves have O-rings and some of these "new" OEM valves in vendor's inventory were probably manufactured 25 years ago. So, these O-Rings have probably oxidized and dried out. My van runs like crap on the front tank and runs much better on the rear tank. Also, the selector valve really constricts the gas flow. So, to use an analogy, if an artery to your heart is constricted, then you just might need bypass surgery. Therefore, the best solution to my problem is to bypass the selector valve. And many people have done just that. So, I told the dealer to take two metal fuel connector tubes and connect them to the main and return fuel lines from my rear tank and connect the other ends leading to the main fuel pump bypassing the selector valve. I'll just have one working fuel tank - my rear tank. But the good news is I won't have to deal with this stupid selector valve anymore!
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Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 AT 9:20 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

Thanks for the update. And yes, I agree with your theory about the valve being an issue and I feel you made the best decision. Over the years, I have seen so many problems with these.

Regardless, take care of yourself, and please feel free to come back anytime in the future. You are always welcome here.

Joe
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Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 AT 8:36 PM
Tiny
TURNER2001
  • MEMBER
Please share this information with the community - It could save someone's life!

Beginning around the 1980s Ford made vehicles with dual fuel tanks that came with mechanical Fuel Tank Selector Valves ( FTSV ) and it soon became apparent that the mechanical FTSV was inherently flawed. Unfortunately, [o]n March 20, 1993, a 1985 Ford F-150 XLT caught fire the result of which proved horrific: four children were burned to death. [Emphasis added.] Smith v. Ford Motor Co, 908 F. Supp. 590, 591 (1995) (Dist. Ct, ND Indiana). Evidence showed the fire very likely started in the mechanical FTSV, which routes gasoline from either the front fuel tank or the rear fuel tank. On information and belief, Ford had two recalls for their mechanical FTSV, the first recall around 1992. However, beginning around 1991, Ford decided to phase out the mechanical FTSV and began to use the much more dependable electric FTSV, which seldom fails. Ford also stopped directly manufacturing the mechanical FTSV part.
But what would happen to all of the vehicles still operating with mechanical FTSVs? Unfortunately, many owners of dual fuel tank vehicles with mechanical FTSVs still experienced serious problems. In cases where the mechanical FTSV malfunctioned, there were instances of fuel backing up into the other fuel tank and overflowing and spilling gasoline out through the gas cap and onto the ground. That was obviously a fire hazard as well as a chemical hazard. There were instances of vehicles experiencing complete engine failure which stranded motorists. As the years went by, more and more of these mechanical FTSVs began to fail. Also, it became much more difficult to find a Ford OEM (original equipment manufacturer) mechanical FTSV. When a Ford OEM mechanical FTSV was found, it was sometimes so old that the seals and/or the rubber O-ring in the valve had already dried out and deteriorated. So replacing the original faulty mechanical FTSV with ostensibly a new mechanical FTSV often resulted in a repeat failure. So many owners got fed up with this mechanical FTSV problem that they began to bypass the mechanical FTSV with fuel line connectors. But Ford and its dealers refuse to perform this bypass procedure. One viable and safe solution for Ford and its dealers would be to replace the faulty mechanical FTSV with a new electric FTSV. Another option would be to connect new complete fuel lines (a main fuel line and a return fuel line) from one of the fuel tanks to the main fuel pump, effectively converting the vehicle to a one fuel tank system. But the solution Ford and its dealers insist on is to replace a faulty mechanical FTSV with another new mechanical FTSV that might have been manufactured so long ago that its seals and/or O-ring may have deteriorated. Replacing one bad part with another bad part is the epitome of irresponsibility and stupidity! It is also extremely reckless! Four children died because of a dangerous mechanical FTSV and Ford has failed to remediate this problem. Shockingly, Ford’s solution is to replace a faulty mechanical FTSV with a potentially dangerous new mechanical FTSV.
So why is Ford and its nationwide dealerships refusing to address the mechanical FTSV problem? There may be a number of reasons. To begin with, it’s not good P.R. To discuss this dangerous mechanical FTSV problem since four children were burned to death. The new OEM mechanical FTSVs sell for around $500 and the labor cost to install it runs around $500 or more, so the dealer can charge around $1,000 or more for replacing the mechanical FTSV. However, a simple bypass around the mechanical FTSV costs approximately $250, including parts and labor. So here we have it - the dealer has no financial incentive to permanently fix the mechanical FTSV problem.
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Thursday, August 4th, 2022 AT 10:01 AM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
Hi,

Thank you for that very important information. I feel certain that others will see it and it will help.

Take care and again, thanks.

Joe
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Thursday, August 4th, 2022 AT 4:56 PM

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