Fuel system
Why the ‘Top Tank’ Notice? PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

Why do all the self-serve gasoline pumps have a notice "DO NOT TOP TANK"? When I am driving on a long trip, I want to get as much as possible as I can in my tank to avoid stopping along the way without hoping there will be a gas station at the next town/city.




Dear Elmore,

You cannot top off your fuel tank anymore unless you want to engage your check engine light and possibly wreak havoc on your evap system. Why do I say this? Well… it puts fuel in places where fuel is not supposed to be when you overfill your tank and this is bad for major components. So next time you are filling up your car's gas tank, and as soon as it pops off the first time, leave it be.

Thanks for writing in again!

The Right Octane for Acura TSX PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I am currently driving a 2007 Honda Accord V6, which uses regular grade gas. I am interested in buying a 2009 Acura TSX, which requires premium grade gas. What would be the consequence of using regular grade gas – 87 octane or mid grade 89 octane – in the TSX vs. 91 octane? Could it cause internal damage, lower gas mileage, less power/performance, or void the warranty? What are the tradeoffs for the dollar savings?



Dear Dale,

I would use the octane that your owner’s manual tells you to use. I will, however, say that you possibly could not go wrong with running the 91 for in-town driving and 87-89 for highway driving in order to keep a little extra dough in your back pocket. You will not void the warranty by using a different octane than recommended by the manufacturer and I really do not think that you will notice a difference in the performance.

Thanks for writing in!

Overfilled 1998 Maxima GLE PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

My 1998 Maxima GLE was inadvertently overfilled with oil by a little more than a quart during my last oil change. The car was driven for about 15 miles before it was discovered & corrected. Could this have damaged the engine? Roughly at what point will it damage the engine in terms of amount of over-filling & distance driven once over-filled?

Thanks. I enjoy reading your column.

W. Laflin

Dear W. Laflin,

This will not cause any engine damage at all, especially being as you only drove approximately 15 miles. You might however notice some oil leaks that are caused from this and possibly some oil burning off of the engine but this will go away.

For damage, you would have had to drive miles upon miles and it would have had to be way overfilled in order for the oil to pump to the rings to get pushed into the cylinders, causing damage. You then would start seeing smoke before any damage would have been caused.

I will also suggest switching over, if you have not done so yet, to an oil that is specially designed for cars with over 75k on the ODO assuming that your 1998 has some miles on it.

Thanks for reading my column! Let’s keep our cars healthy!

1996 Chevrolet Regulator PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

I have a 1996 Chevrolet pickup with a 4.3 liter engine and the problem is that the code came up as multi-misfire and low-pressure regulator; so I changed the plugs, wires, cap, and roter; and it still runs rough. The engine light goes on and off. So is there a website that I can go to in order to find out the location of the regulator?



Dear Robert,

The regulators going out on the 4.3 liters is definitely a common problem. I would recommend not just replacing the regulator but replacing the whole spider injector... the whole set-up… the whole kit and caboodle! This repair will set your bank account back a little, being as it is a high dollar fix; but afterwards, it will save you from getting gas into your oil, and of course ruining your motor. I would recommend trying to find an aftermarket one to save you a little dough, take a gander at “Parts.com”.

Thanks for reading!

Water Entering the Gas Tank in 2007 Expedition PDF Print E-mail

Dear Barbara,

While filling up my truck with gas yesterday, I got a phone call and was distracted. When the tank was full, I got my receipt, got into the truck, and drove away. About a half mile down the road, I looked out the side mirror and noticed the gas cap hanging on the plastic cord and the door cap to the gas entry wide open. I am concerned as it was raining, only mildly. It was more of a moderate shower. I drive a 2007Expedition with only 7,200 miles and I am concerned that there may ultimately be some damage because of the water that may (or may not) have gotten into the gas tank. I pulled over and put the cap back on and closed the door. By the time I closed everything up, it has already stopped raining.

Should I be concerned? Is there anything I should do now to see if there may be a problem later? I feel awfully stupid, but that’s probably not the dumbest thing I’ve ever done.

Thanks for your assistance. I really enjoy your column and am certainly impressed with your knowledge!


Dear Mike,

It was obviously only a small amount of water that got into your gas tank. If by chance you are experiencing your Expedition spitting and sputtering, I would suggest getting your mechanic to flush your tank or you could put a can of “dry gas” into your tank to let this product remove whatever water did get into your tank.

I would be more concerned if it were your Jack and Coke that got watered down by the rain getting into it. Do not let it worry you. I sort of figure that we have all done something very similar if not worse!

Thanks for writing in and enjoying my column!

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