Question about 2003 Pontiac Montana

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Gas gauge on 2004 pontiac montana sticks

It started with the heat gauge and now it's the gas gauge. The heat gauge works perfectly now but the gauge needle doesn't move, and yes it's full of gas, lol. any suggestions , can it be possible that it's frozen because we did have some rain then a pile of snow. can you figure out this problem for me thanks...

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  • Pontiac Master
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Before you start your van, and the key's are on accesory. Does your needle move? If it does, your gage is good and you have a bad ground or wire harness. Worst you could have a bad  sending unit and that is in the gas tank it self. Start with checking all the wire connection. Good luck.

Posted on Apr 06, 2009

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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How does the gas gauge work on a 1985 Cadillac el dorado


On them older cars (and maybe still to some extent) they had a tiny voltage regulator on the instrument cluster board, just before the gas gauge and the temperature gauge. It cut the voltage going through those two gauges to about 5-7volts, before sending the signal out to the sending units.
For the in-tank sending unit, it had about 5 volts current running from the dash to the sending unit. The float on the sending unit attaches to a "variable resistor", and then goes to ground. What the dash gauge measures is the "resistance to ground", and is thus translated to the needle on the gauge showing anywhere from empty to full. Pretty neat, huh?
So if you are working on the gas gauge, you would check for that small voltage at the fuel tank electrical connector. Folks used to test whether the gauge or the sending unit was the problem by taking the wire at the tank and just temporarily grounding the wire to a ground, a clean metal piece of the frame down there. If it caused the needle to move AT ALL, then you would know that the problem is not the dash gauge, but the sending unit in the tank. Get a helper to watch the needle while you ground it. Careful not to let it ground too long-you can damage the gauge or voltage regulator. You just want to touch it to a clean piece of the frame while someone watches for needle movement-even just a little movement. Often this test would cause the needle to jump to full, or maybe just halfway, but any movement of the gauge needle means the gauge is okay. For this test, the ignition key must be on (not start, not engine running, just key in on).
The variable resistor on the sending unit is a little flimsy, and easily disrupted-that is why so many failed. A new one should not be very expensive-it is all one piece. You don't buy a separate resistor, you just buy the whole apparatus with the float and arm attached.
Probably 80-90% of the time, when the gas gauge stopped working, it was the sending unit, not the gauge itself.

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1 Answer

Do I need to take out and and then reinsert the fuel pump fuse to reset the fuel gauge


That won't affect the fuel gauge. Different circuits, entirely. Any issue with the fuel gauge is between the gauge on the dash, a little wiring to the gas tank, and the sender unit inside the tank. In most cases, the problem turns out to be the sending unit inside the tank.

To check the gauge itself for working, you can ground the fuel gauge wire at the gas tank connector, and watch for movement on the gauge, with the key in ON. You take the connector off at the gas tank, find the wire for the fuel level sender (or gauge), and touch it to a good ground- a metal piece on the car frame. If gauge is good, the needle will move either to full or to empty, but you can see the needle move to a new point, when you (temporarily, only temporarily) ground the fuel gauge wire. The key in the switch must be in on. If this causes the needle to move, then the dash gauge is good, and the problem is the sender unit in the tank. This unit has a variable resistor, not too expensive. The fun is getting to it.

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Anti slosh module? I've never heard of that. If there is such a thing, it must be on the fuel level sending unit in the tank. It is usually the sending unit at fault when the gas gauge stops working.

Here's how to check if the problem is the sending unit or the gauge in the cluster: you will need a helper to watch the gas gauge needle. Pull the electrical connector apart at the tank, find the gas gauge wire. The power wire for the fuel pump is pink and black, and the ground for it is a black wire, so the fuel sender wire should be a different color. When you figure out which wire is for the gas gauge, turn the key to on, and take a jumper wire and ground the gas gauge wire to the frame. Have a helper watch the gas gauge needle when you ground the wire: the needle should move perceptibly. If it does, the gauge in the cluster is good, and the problem is with the sending unit in the tank. If grounding the wire does not make the needle jump, the problem may be the gauge in the cluster. Be sure that you have made a good contact with ground with the jumper wire.
There is a small match box size voltage regulator on the back of the cluster. This sends low voltage (about 5 volts) through the gas gauge and on to the wire going to the tank. When you ground this wire, it should cause the gauge needle to go either to full or to empty, but you should see the needle move. Remember, key on, then ground the wire. Any movement of the needle means the gas gauge is probably good, and the problem is the sending unit in the tank.

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It may be the sending unit in the tank that needs replacing. Here's how you can check: Turn the key on and disconnect the sender unit at the gas tank. Ground the sender unit's wire with a jumper wire from the truck's harness to ground. Watch the gauge. If the gauge on the dash is good, grounding the sender wire will cause the gauge needle to react and should move to full. This would indicate a new sending unit is required. If the gauge doesn't move when the sender unit is grounded, the gauge is bad and needs replacing. Pull the instrument cluster out to replace the gas gauge. Likely any old ford gas gauge might work-back then, there were not so many production changes.

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There's a float inside the tank that the fuel gauge works off of. If you step on the brakes or accelerate hard it causes the gas inside the tank to slosh around and you can see the fuel gauge move when you do this. If you know the vehicle has gas in it, the best way to check if the gauge is bad is to drive around enough to where you should have burnt a noticeable amount of gas. If the gauge doesn't move, then there's something wrong with it.


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1 Answer

1992


If you remove the sending unit in the gas tank, move it manually by hand as u saw done earlier, the gauge on the dash should also move. As long as the sending unit in the tank isn't 'stuck' at the half full level, the gauge should register empty to full as it moves. To be honest, I'm not sure if I would bother taking the sending unit out. 1st, u must be very careful not to blow yourself up when working on the gas tank (no sparks, etc), all u really need to do is fill up your car, see how many miles a tank of gas will go (carry a can of gas with u to see how many miles before u run out). If it's 350 miles, just set the trip gauge to zero every time u fill up, and get gas every 300 miles so u don't run out. If the sending unit moves freely, everything (wiring ) is connected properly, then it probably is the fuel gauge. good luck!

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