How to fix a faulty gas gauge.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

My grandson just got a 1991 Chevy Beretta. When the gas tank is empty, the gauge still reads a quarter full. Otherwise, it seems to work accurately. What's the problem, and how can it be solved? -- Jane

RAY: The problem sounds like the sending unit -- the device that measures the amount of gas in the tank and sends that signal electronically to the gauge on the dashboard.

TOM: So one solution would be to remove the gas tank and replace the sending unit. That's a fairly involved job and would cost several hundred dollars.

RAY: But that's not the solution we're going to recommend, Jane. Given that this is a 10-year-old car and the gauge seems to work except for that one little oddity, we're going to suggest a solution that your grandson can do himself for less than a buck.

TOM: We call it the "Duct Tape Solution." Take a piece of silver duct tape and cover up everything under the 1/4-full mark on the gas gauge. Then take a black magic marker, and where it reads "1/4," change that to "E."

RAY: Then, if you want to get fancy, change the "1/2" mark to read "1/3," and change the "3/4" mark to read "2/3." Now you've got an accurate gauge that reads thirds instead of quarters. Elegant, huh?

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