Why You Should Replace Your Metal Fuel Tank With a Polyethylene Tank
If you own a Ford diesel truck or E-Series van from the model years 1999-2010, you could possibly encounter an issue down the road with your fuel tank. Ford was made aware of this problem with their OEM fuel tanks, but they have yet to create a surefire solution. If left unaddressed, this small issue could create havoc in your truck’s fuel delivery systems.
This means you have two options: plug your fingers in your ears and hope it doesn’t happen to you, or replace your fuel tank with a polyethylene fuel tank from Raybuck — taking matters into your own hands and ridding yourself of the problem once and for all.
We researched the issue and explored some FAQs to help you understand the situation and why you should consider a non-metal solution.
Quick link: How to replace your fuel tank
Fuel Tank Delamination in Ford Trucks and E-Series Vans
Owners of 1999-2010 Ford F-series diesel pickups (F-250, F-350, F-450, F-550) and E-series diesel vans have experienced fuel system issues. It has been determined that the issue is caused by the fuel tank’s inner laminate coating, which will flake off over time and then be introduced to the fuel system. This causes engine troubles in Ford trucks.
For fuel tanks dating back to 1999, Ford applied a laminate coating on the inside. This is a common industry practice, but in this case, Ford has run into some major problems. In the trucks listed above, the lamination has been stripped off the tank and sucked through the fuel system. Initially, the internal fuel pump becomes clogged, and then eventually the laminate particles could be sent through the external fuel filter onto the fuel sender, and eventually the injectors. Without remedy, this issue could cause every piece of the fuel system in your truck to fail.
The cause of the delamination has been debated to an extent. Ford believes the problem is caused by two specific variants of diesel fuel. Other experts have blamed the problem on the additives in diesel fuel, which stripped the lamination off the inside of the tank. Whatever the true reason, this isn’t a problem that can be ignored.
How Can I Tell if my Truck Has Been Affected?
Have you noticed a weird vibration at speed, almost as if a tire is out of balance? Maybe your engine has lost power and it feels like you’re running on 6 cylinders? Have you replaced the fuel filter to try to fix the issue, only to find that it didn’t help?
Some owners have reported bucking and stalling at idle. These are all symptoms of this fuel tank delamination issue. Given the prevalence of the problem and its supposed causes, it’s likely that you will run into this issue eventually if you haven’t already.
Am I Responsible for Fixing the Problem?
Ford’s warranties expressly exclude fuel lines and fuel tanks from their coverage, and they refused to admit that this constituted a Ford truck fuel tank defect. No recall was ever issued for these vehicles.
Once Ford learned about the issue, they released a “secret” service bulletin to dealer and service locations regarding the potential for the issue. However, this was not an official recall and no action was ever taken by Ford to replace tanks.
If you experienced the delamination issue and took your truck to a Ford dealership, Ford would replace the tank for you (at your cost). However, the replacement provided by Ford is another steel tank — although they claim that a new tank was designed to better handle these issues after 2006, it never happened. Since it was still a steel tank with an interior lamination, truck owners continued reporting the same issues.
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to fix this problem. Ford has not issued a recall. They have merely been involved in a class action lawsuit (Coba v. Ford), which has yet to be resolved. Even if you are a part of that lawsuit, a victory won’t replace your fuel tank.
Fortunately, replacement Ford fuel tanks don’t have to be made out of steel. Installing a polyethylene Ford truck replacement fuel tank from Raybuck is one way to fix the situation once and for all.
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How Do I Fix It?
The potential for damage to your fuel system definitely qualifies this situation for the “ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure” maxim. While a fuel tank replacement isn’t the cheapest, it’s easy enough to do yourself — with the right tools and knowledge, of course. It is also less expensive than replacing senders, fuel filters, fuel tanks and injectors.
To start fixing your fuel tank, it’s important to understand that the Ford fuel tank issue revolves around the corrosive properties of two variants of diesel fuel: Biodiesel and Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel. Corrosion only affects metals, such as the metal fuel tank that was originally installed in these Ford trucks. The sensible solution would be to replace your fuel tank with a polyethylene version. Polyethylene is impervious to the corrosive properties of these diesel fuels.
At Raybuck, we have tanks that fit the OEM specifications, and they are all as easy to install as the original fuel tank. Make the smart choice and replace your fuel tank before delamination causes problems with your fuel filter, fuel pump, or even your fuel injectors. A simple fuel tank replacement now will be a whole lot cheaper than having to fix your entire fuel system down the road.
The process of replacing your truck’s fuel tank is fairly simple and straightforward, given the right set of tools. Raybuck’s polyethylene fuel tanks match OEM specifications, and we also offer any additional tank straps and fitments you might need to get the job done.
You could also remove the tank and have it professionally stripped and refinished. However, the time and labor involved in getting the job done right makes this a costly option, even if you’re lucky enough to find a shop with the right tools and know-how in your area. Replacing your tank with a brand new, polyethylene tank is the cheapest, longest-lasting solution to this issue.
How Do I Replace My Fuel Tank?
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For replacing a fuel tank on a truck of this size, you should ideally have access to a lift, and not merely a jack stand. Beyond this, the tools required for the job can be found in any home mechanic’s garage.
STEPS TO REPLACE YOUR FUEL TANK:
Drain all of the fuel out of the current tank. You should drain it into a clean, approved vessel so you can then transfer the fuel to the new tank once your installation is complete.
Remove the fuel lines that connect to the fuel tank. There will be one line that connects to the fuel sender, which will be located at the lowest point of your tank. There will also be a larger tube leading toward your fuel fill entry point. You should also see a vent line. Disconnect all three of them.
Use something to support the weight of the fuel tank before undoing the tank straps. Disconnect one side of the straps and allow them to hang by the other end, moving them out of the way. Lower the tank to the ground. You can also use a jack with a board to distribute the weight to support and lower the tank. In this case the straps can be unbolted and then lowered with the tank.
Raybuck’s tanks are compatible with the factory sending units in the Ford tanks (as well as with most other factory sending units in other truck models), so you should be able to remove the sending unit from the old tank and install it in your polyethylene tank. However, given the nature of the issue, it would be wise to inspect the sending unit for any signs of debris or clogging. Raybuck does offer OEM-spec sending units that you can use to replace the factory unit and give your fuel system a clean start.
Use your support device to lift your new fuel tank into place, and reposition the tank straps. Fasten the straps to secure the tank in place.
Reconnect the three fuel lines to the new tank. This may be easier before tank straps are reconnected, so use your judgment to determine the order these last two steps should occur.
Fill the tank with your reserved fuel.
If you have any questions about the process, numerous guides and resources exist both on the Internet and at your local garage. The Raybuck team is also happy to help answer your questions and explain the process.
Why Is the Delamination Occurring in the First Place?
In the hearings for the case of Coba vs. Ford, Ford claims that this issue occurs as the result of using fuel with a concentration of Bio-Diesel that exceeds Ford’s recommended level of 5% (Known as a B5 blend). It’s also caused by the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, which has become increasingly prevalent after some congressional actions in 2007.
Other experts have suggested that the additives in modern diesel fuel are responsible for the detachment of the tank liner, but they have no specific culprits to point to. If we accept Ford’s explanation of the issue, what are the specific properties of biodiesel and ULSD that contribute to this delamination issue?
Biodiesel Side Effects
Biodiesel is generally more corrosive than traditional diesel fuel unless the proper balance and amounts of additives are added. In that case, you’re relying on the manufacturer of your fuel to help protect the health of your system. Of course, this could be said about every single internal combustion configuration on the planet, so take it for what it is. Biodiesel is more susceptible to water separation than straight diesel fuel, and we all know that water and metals do not mix. Biodiesel’s corrosion potential is high, due to a higher electrical conductivity than the standard diesel fuel.
And it’s not only fuel tanks that are feeling the effects of corrosive biodiesel. Biodiesel corrosion could put the entire fuel infrastructure at risk.
Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Side Effects
Additives are not the cause of corrosion in this case, as some sources suggest. The fuel itself can’t even take the blame here. The real issue is that water in the environment (inside your fuel tank) facilitates the growth of microbes such as aerobic bacteria, which then corrode the metal.
These effects occurred with low sulfur diesel, but corrosion would normally take around ten years. In certain larger systems, such as underground storage tanks at fuel stations, we are seeing the same corrosive activity in a matter of months when their tanks were switched to carrying ultra-low sulfur diesel. Keeping your fuel tank free of water is the first step in combating corrosion, but that’s common sense. However, it is more important in this ULSD world than it had been previously.
Behind Ford’s Lawsuit
In an attempt to get the warranty allegations dismissed, Ford argued that the alleged Fuel Tank Defect is a design defect, which excludes it from warranty coverage on materials and workmanship defects. The court said Ford hadn’t sufficiently proven this claim, so the complaint was allowed to move forward.
The plaintiffs claimed Ford was not acting in good faith when performing warranty replacements on delaminated fuel tanks, because they knew they were replacing them with equally faulty fuel tanks. This constituted a break of the terms of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty, because they knew full well they weren’t actually solving the issue. Replacing one failed part with a new part that is also destined to fail is not the same as solving the issue. The court concurred with the plaintiffs here, as well.
On the subject of whether or not Ford committed fraud by omitting their knowledge of the defect in advertising and in direct customer dealings, Ford argued that the very character of their warranty was sufficient acknowledgment that a defect like this would occur. The court saw right through this, saying that offering a warranty to protect against potential issues is not the same as acknowledging an issue that is likely to occur.
The Bottom Line
If the Ford fuel tank delamination issue was caused by the corrosive properties of biodiesel and ULSD, then it’s a wonder we haven’t seen other similar issues reported in the media. It would stand to reason that the corrosion that caused this delamination issue would strike eventually, no matter what type of vehicle you had purchased.
On the other hand, if the Ford fuel tank delamination issue was not caused by this corrosion, there’s some other currently unknown cause — which could mean your fuel tank is destined to fail thanks to an inherent design flaw. Either way, your best bet is to take the matter into your own hands. Replacing your truck’s metal fuel tank with a polyethylene fuel tank from Raybuck is one way to ensure you won’t have to bear the hassle and expense of Ford’s problem.
Polyethylene fuel tanks are immune to the corrosive effects of biodiesel and ULSD, as well as rust in general. Raybuck offers excellent prices, unparalleled customer service, and only the best products for your Ford truck. Browse our website today and place an order. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us. We promise that a real live person will answer your call and can help you make the right decision to keep your truck out of the shop and on the road.