DEAR CAR TALK: Weatherperson says storm’s coming. I was fully prepared. Generator was ready to go, with two cans of fuel. Power goes out for longer than expected. I get my hose to siphon fuel from my Dodge pickup. But try as I might, I can’t get the hose all the way into the tank. Is there another way to get fuel out of the tank for such emergencies? – Ben
RAY: You have been thwarted, Ben, by modern fuel system design. Most cars have a valve in the filler neck to prevent gasoline from spilling out – like if you rolled over in an accident. In your Dodge, I think it’s a plastic ball that is easily pushed down and out of the way by the flowing gasoline when you’re refueling, but blocks any fuel coming the other way. So siphoning from your truck won’t work.
Your next best option is to see if your truck has a drain plug on the fuel tank. Just be prepared to remove all of the fuel. It’s like opening a gallon jug of milk, upside down, over your head. It’s hard to get the cap back on once the stuff is flowing. And make sure you’re prepared to capture all of it. If you have a 5-gallon bucket and a 22-gallon tank, after about 30 seconds, you’ll have gasoline running down your arm and pooling in your boxer shorts. No bueno.
If your truck doesn’t have a fuel tank drain plug, you’ll have to resort to the ice pick. Actually, if you’re really desperate – and handy – you could use a wiring diagram and figure out how to power the fuel pump with jumper cables, remove the fuel hose and then collect the gas that gets pumped out of the tank at the fuel rail.
Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.