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2002 Dodge Grand Caravan (3.8L) fuel rail leak (gas smell)

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I have a 2002 dodge grand caravan that I bought used in '06 at 65k miles. It's been a pretty good vehicle but steadily declining now at 160k miles.  Starting to have to replace lots of stuff...  On a side note I also have a 94 Honda civic with 330k miles, and I think about the only things that have been replaced on this automobile have been the brakes and the radiator.

Anyway, a little while back I started to get an intermittent gas smell in the cabin and around the car but it would go away.  I thought maybe the gas cap was not tightened properly after a fill up or perhaps an emissions line was loose.  The smell would come and go randomly.  Then, not too long ago after I replaced the radiator for the 2nd time, I was working on a heater core hose and noticed the gas smell.  I traced it down to the fuel rail which runs down the center of the valley.  I could actually see it dripping onto the manifold, but could not see the source.  I took the air intake off and the leak vanished, so I went for the obvious and replaced the top and bottom fuel injector o-rings.  These had never been replaced and the ones in the engine were in bad shape, but the ones in the fuel rail seemed ok (and the fuel rail is where the leak seemed to originate from). Anyway, the next day I could smell gas again and this time I was able to see exactly where it was coming from.

It turns out, the fuel rail has an over-pressure relief valve on the top side of it. This is a non-serviceable part and can leak intermittently.  Dealer obtained the part for me for about $80; a little labor, and the gas smell is gone.  

I hope this post helps someone since I scoured the web for this issue and found people complaining of a gas smell but no one ever narrowed it down to the pressure relief valve on the fuel rail.  I had even seen some posts on the web about recalls relating to smell of gas for these models.  I checked with the dealer and did not find anything that applied...

SO, if you have an early 2000 Chrysler or Dodge van and smell gas intermittently then I would have the fuel rail checked out.

Good luck!

Expert Comment

"It turns out, the fuel rail has an over-pressure relief valve on the top side of it. This is a non-serviceable part and can leak intermittently.  Dealer obtained the part for me for about $80; a little labor, and the gas smell is gone. "

YES! Thanks so much for this. 2001  Chrysler Town and country owner! So far water pump, brakes, tune up, radiator and fan relay ( located under driver side headlight of all places )

Expert Comment

by:Kar Fixer
Great post, except for one thing. That device that leaks is not a "over pressure relief valve". If you think about it, it would be insane to vent excess fuel into the engine compartment to regulate pressure. It is actually a fuel pressure pulse dampener. This particular fuel pump has no return line to the tank to regulate pressure. It works off of a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). Instead of a continuous flow of fuel from the pump, the computer pulses the pump to maintain pressure. This creates pulse pressure waves in the system. To cancel these out they install the pulse dampener. I see a lot of guys prying it off, replacing the O ring and taking their lives into their own hands. This was not meant to be removed once it is installed. Don't try this because the possibility of it coming apart is way to much to to trust. Replace the fuel rail. It lists for $107.00. With all the complaints of this there is the possibility of a future recall so save all your receipts!

Expert Comment

by:theeasybeats .
Smell your oil to see if there is gas in it, these regulators can send gas into the oil when they go bad, but I'm sure by now you've had an oil change

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