Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby blendergasket [OP] » November 12th 2020, 3:18am

Hi!

My van stalled today when I was at an intersection stopped at a light. I had the radio on but noticed in the background the van sounded weird so I turned it off and noticed it sounded like it was surging, like the it would be normal and then cycle to almost stalling and then back to normal and then it stalled. It ran OK when I was driving, but I went into a neighborhood and pulled over and let it idle. It was very rough and there was a distinct gas smell. I never put the doghouse back on fully, so there is a little gap under it. This makes me think the smell is coming from the engine as opposed to the fuel pump/filter, which I recently replaced, but I could be mistaken there.

I did a tuneup last winter, but have noticed the van's been running a little rough in general and was gonna do another one. Do you think this will fix the issue? Or should I start somewhere else? Thank you!
1994 Astro Ext AWD
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby 95AstroLT » November 12th 2020, 6:22am

You really should not smell gas when the engine is running.
Had a similar set of symptoms once - idling rough, difficult to start, and smelled of gas at idle but ran down the road OK. Did a fuel pressure test and it wasn't holding. Suspected the fuel hoses under the plenum to and from the spider might be leaking. Our mechanic likes me to purchase my own parts so I brought him a new spider, gaskets, and the hoses. He asked "What are the hoses for?" Told him and said if the old ones look OK I'll take these back. He used them - he said one of the hoses WAS in fact leaking.
First thing to do is test the fuel pressure - if it leaks down you could have the same problem we had.
Regardless, don't drive any more than absolutely necessary until you find out where the gas smell is coming from. If its from under the plenum there's probably less risk if fire than elsewhere but there's no guarantee its safe.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby blendergasket [OP] » November 12th 2020, 6:47am

Thank you for the info. The gas smell only was there for the 5 min or so that I was having the issue. I drove home after I stalled out in town and had no issues while having to hit multiple stop lights but yeah, I'll try to not drive it much til I get this figured out.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby Mmusicman » November 12th 2020, 2:28pm

My initial guess might be the fuel-regulator leaking inside the plenum.. flooding the engine with extra fuel.
Similar to a stuck needle inside a carb, or a stuck choke, causing excessive fuel to the engine.
Sometimes with excessive fuel they will still run, but won't idle well.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby blendergasket [OP] » November 12th 2020, 7:47pm

Mmusicman wrote:My initial guess might be the fuel-regulator leaking inside the plenum.. flooding the engine with extra fuel.
Similar to a stuck needle inside a carb, or a stuck choke, causing excessive fuel to the engine.
Sometimes with excessive fuel they will still run, but won't idle well.


OK. Thank you for the info. I will look into that.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby 95AstroLT » November 12th 2020, 9:18pm

blendergasket wrote:
Mmusicman wrote:My initial guess might be the fuel-regulator leaking inside the plenum.. flooding the engine with extra fuel.
Similar to a stuck needle inside a carb, or a stuck choke, causing excessive fuel to the engine.
Sometimes with excessive fuel they will still run, but won't idle well.


OK. Thank you for the info. I will look into that.


Extremely possible it could be the regulator. In relaying my thoughts on the fuel hoses inside the plenum (above) I had forgotten when we first bought our '94 back in 2001 it had the regulator leaking (was able to get it at a good price due to that). Very good chance something - regulator, supply hose, hose to cylinder - is leaking. First 2 will show up in a fuel pressure test, 3rd a bit more elusive but when that was the problem on ours it idled OK but ran terrible going down the road so yours is more likely the regulator or a supply hose.

If any of the fuel components in the plenum of a 26 year old van are still original its a good chance that's were the problem lies. We've had leaks in there 3 times - I suspect the first 2 repairs the mechanics (different ones each time) only replaced the problem area because we had trouble a 3rd time (spaced over several years and many miles).

If the fuel pressure test is inconclusive, try taking the diverter thingy (sorry, don't recall its actual name) off the top of the top cover and with a mirror or something take a look down inside to see if its wet in there or if you smell gas. Use care taking that off, it will fight you a little but don't force it - saw a post recently where someone broke theirs.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby blendergasket [OP] » November 21st 2020, 11:07pm

OK. Thank you for all the info. My last week of hoping it would go away sort of worked. I didn't have the same problem while idling that I did before, but my van is now starting to drive really rough and went from high 15/16 mpg down to the low 14 mpgs. I'm gonna do a tune up and try to figure out how to get the cap off the plenum to see what's going on in there. If I have to open that I will want to replace all the things so I don't have to do it again. It sounds a bit complicated.

I also noticed a ticking today, just like last winter when I had to do a tuneup. I've only driven about 10k miles and I put ngk iridium plugs in, so it sees strange that it'd be acting up. I'll do a tune up and then see how it runs before tackling the plenum.
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Re: Van stalled when stopped at a light and smelled like gas

Postby Big_kid » November 22nd 2020, 1:41am

95AstroLT wrote:... If the fuel pressure test is inconclusive, try taking the diverter thingy (sorry, don't recall its actual name) off the top of the top cover and with a mirror or something take a look down inside to see if its wet in there or if you smell gas...


Tuning valve. I may or may not still have the one that was on my 4.3 if anyone needs it.
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