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Old 24th March 2013, 06:05   #1
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Unhappy Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

I've now faced this issue twice with my Fiat Punto MJD. When the fuel is low (just shy of the red half of the last quarter on the fuel meter), the car stops while running. Once, it stopped right outside the fuel station where I planned to buy fuel. The car still had enough fuel to run many more miles. Later, a simple "jump start" was enough to restart the car.

Is this normal?

I know that with diesel engines, it boils down to compression in the end. Still, I want to be sure that nothing is wrong with the fuel line. The car is still under primary warranty for a few more months.

I know a piece of common-sense advice would be to never let fuel run that low; yet I wanted to hear what experts on this forum have to say. Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 24th March 2013, 07:34   #2
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I dont think it is normal for the car to stall with low fuel. Did you jump start the car after filling diesel?
And do any of the warning lights glow when you face the issue.
I have never faced such problem on my punto.
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Old 24th March 2013, 08:11   #3
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

This is not normal.

Either there is an issue with the fuel pump OR the calibration of the fuel gauge is incorrect resulting in incorrect reading.

When you say that there is some more fuel left when car stalls, how do you know that there is fuel? What happens when you try to crank up?
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Old 24th March 2013, 08:20   #4
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Can you try one simple experiment?

Inspect the under body and see if there is a dent in the diesel tank. If yes, it just means that the dent is not allowing proper movement of the float which measures the diesel level. Which means correct levels are not reported on the instrument cluster.
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Old 24th March 2013, 08:36   #5
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

It's not normal for a car to stall when the needle hits the low fuel mark. The red area (and sometimes a light that glows on the instrument cluster) depicts that the vehicle is running on reserve fuel which is an ample 7 to 10 litres depending on the car.

Does the car run normally when there is enough fuel or is there a slight jerking? If the car does run normally then it's definitely not a problem with your fuel lines or fuel pump but mostly the fuel sensor and float that gauges the level of fuel in the tank.

There's a chance it may be giving you a wrong fuel reading and the tank is actually empty even though the gauge suggests otherwise. An empty tank could have serious consequences on a diesel engine, make sure that till the time you have it checked or till inputs come in from members on the forum with more specialised knowledge that there's always atleast a half tank of fuel in your Punto.
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Old 24th March 2013, 08:44   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infotech58 View Post
This is not normal.

Either there is an issue with the fuel pump OR the calibration of the fuel gauge is incorrect resulting in incorrect reading.
+1 to that. Most probably the gauge is incorrect.
I was advised by ASS not to let the fuel gauge hover below red line,low fuel may damage the fuel pump near the tank (not the primary fuel pump). Dont know how far it is true. Please shed light on this regard.
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Old 24th March 2013, 09:25   #7
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Fiat's Punto and Linea,i believe have this feature where the car stops even if there is some fuel in the tank,this is to prevent,the tank and fuel pump from running dry,what version is your punto?,Fiat's have two warning's for low fuel,first the light on the guage comes on,then the MID display's you are running on low fuel,if you tried your luck after these 2 warnings,then you cannot blame the vehicle

If its the other way round,take it up with after sales.it may be a faulty fuel gauge.

Last edited by akshay4587 : 24th March 2013 at 09:26.
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Old 24th March 2013, 09:50   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
Fiat's have two warning's for low fuel,first the light on the guage comes on,then the MID display's you are running on low fuel,if you tried your luck after these 2 warnings,then you cannot blame the vehicle.
I had to try my luck once after two warnings of low fuel on MID. After the MID warned me second time about low fuel the fuel meter gauge suddenly went down to empty level. I was scared and filled up immediately. After that i make sure i fill up as soon as amber light glows for low fuel.
By the way the pump warning light should glow in case the pump is at fault.
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Old 24th March 2013, 09:55   #9
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arkesh View Post
I had to try my luck once after two warnings of low fuel on MID. After the MID warned me second time about low fuel the fuel meter gauge suddenly went down to empty level. I was scared and filled up immediately. After that i make sure i fill up as soon as amber light glows for low fuel.
By the way the pump warning light should glow in case the pump is at fault.
Afaik,there is no warning for fuel pump failure,what you have is water in fuel indicator,on extreme bottom right of the console.
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Old 24th March 2013, 10:04   #10
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

I have heard of the vapour lock problem with diesels, not sure if that was in any way the cause. However, not having owned any diesels yet I cannot comment on whether it's specific to diesels.

My own experience: While buying the Nano the sales adviser advised me not to let the fuel tank run dry as it might lead to problems in starting the car after filling up. He didn't make any specific references to the fuel pump or vapours or anything of that sort. But again, as most general advices go, there's hardly any point ignoring the core of the advice: Don't let the tank run dry.

However, while returning from the Ankola trip I decided to push the car to its limits of running on a tankful and stopped only after the engine switched off for lack of fuel. I was carrying spare fuel in 1-litre bottles. After emptying two bottles into the fuel inlet, the car started fine and covered another 40-odd kilometres without any hiccups.

Lately (since I still have one of the three bottles with me) I have been pushing the car to its limits again, till the tripmeter pushes past 320kms. Though the car hasn't run dry I haven't had problems with low fuel quantities in the tank.
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Old 24th March 2013, 10:09   #11
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Quote:
Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
I have heard of the vapour lock problem with diesels, not sure if that was in any way the cause. However, not having owned any diesels yet I cannot comment on whether it's specific to diesels.

My own experience: While buying the Nano the sales adviser advised me not to let the fuel tank run dry as it might lead to problems in starting the car after filling up. He didn't make any specific references to the fuel pump or vapours or anything of that sort. But again, as most general advices go, there's hardly any point ignoring the core of the advice: Don't let the tank run dry.

However, while returning from the Ankola trip I decided to push the car to its limits of running on a tankful and stopped only after the engine switched off for lack of fuel. I was carrying spare fuel in 1-litre bottles. After emptying two bottles into the fuel inlet, the car started fine and covered another 40-odd kilometres without any hiccups.

Lately (since I still have one of the three bottles with me) I have been pushing the car to its limits again, till the tripmeter pushes past 320kms. Though the car hasn't run dry I haven't had problems with low fuel quantities in the tank.
You are pushing your luck with the fuel pump.
I will never ever let a vehicle run dry.
And talking of Fiats,they stop,even when there is like around 5L fuel in tank,this to prevent damage to fuel system,and prevent air locks,which is an issue in diesel vehicles.
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Old 24th March 2013, 10:27   #12
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
You are pushing your luck with the fuel pump.
I will never ever let a vehicle run dry.
Well, I actually only once let her run 'dry'. The fuel tank capacity stated by the company is 15 litres, and of late every time I refuel (to the brim), it's only been taking 14-odd litres. Assuming the fuel line holds another two litres at least, I hope there's nothing much to worry about.

However I shall keep your warning in mind.
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Old 25th March 2013, 09:53   #13
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Logging in after a couple of days. Let me try to answer the different questions:

Did you jump start the car after filling diesel?

Yes. I called up Fiat Roadside Assistance. They came and jump started the car. The car has been running fine ever since; it's been over a week now.

When you say that there is some more fuel left when car stalls, how do you know that there is fuel? What happens when you try to crank up?

The fuel gauge says so. I have no other data point in this regard.

Inspect the under body and see if there is a dent in the diesel tank. If yes, it just means that the dent is not allowing proper movement of the float which measures the diesel level. Which means correct levels are not reported on the instrument cluster.

Sure; will do that. Does it matter that my Punto has been in an accident earlier? See http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/techni...ar-damage.html (Fiat Punto Accident: B-pillar damage).

Does the car run normally when there is enough fuel or is there a slight jerking? If the car does run normally then it's definitely not a problem with your fuel lines or fuel pump but mostly the fuel sensor and float that gauges the level of fuel in the tank.

The car seems to run fine otherwise. However, right when the car stops in this fashion, I notice a loss of power before it dies down. When the car had stalled earlier, I'd had it towed to the Fiat workshop and they said "gaadi hawa kheench gayi hai; nothing serious."

Well, I actually only once let her run 'dry'. The fuel tank capacity stated by the company is 15 litres, and of late every time I refuel (to the brim), it's only been taking 14-odd litres. Assuming the fuel line holds another two litres at least, I hope there's nothing much to worry about.

15 litres; really? Did you mean 45?

I will never ever let a vehicle run dry.
And talking of Fiats,they stop,even when there is like around 5L fuel in tank,this to prevent damage to fuel system,and prevent air locks,which is an issue in diesel vehicles.


Now, that's a contrarion point of view wrt this thread. I'm trying my best to not let fuel hover too low in the future; but that shouldn't stop the car randomly, should it?

Lately (since I still have one of the three bottles with me) I have been pushing the car to its limits again, till the tripmeter pushes past 320kms. Though the car hasn't run dry I haven't had problems with low fuel quantities in the tank.

Petrol and diesel engines are different ball games, as far as I'm aware.

What happens when you try to crank up?

It cranks up (indicating the battery is not out), but doesn't start up.

what version is your punto

Fiat Punto Active MJD, 2011 model

Last edited by Samartha : 25th March 2013 at 09:58.
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Old 25th March 2013, 10:03   #14
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samartha View Post
The car seems to run fine otherwise. However, right when the car stops in this fashion, I notice a loss of power before it dies down. When the car had stalled earlier, I'd had it towed to the Fiat workshop and they said "gaadi hawa kheench gayi hai; nothing serious."
Same symptoms when my car ran out of fuel. Loss of power and engine dies soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samartha View Post
15 litres; really? Did you mean 45?
It's a Nano, mind you!
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Old 25th March 2013, 11:07   #15
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Default re: Diesel engine stalls when the fuel level is low

This is a strange issue i am hearing, i have been using Diesel (Crdi) from 5 years and never faced such an issue. The car runs until the last drop in the fuel tank without any kind of jerk.
I am no expert but the problem i feel is the fuel gauge and the fuel tank, there must be something seriously wrong with the calibration of fuel gauge or the fuel is not being supplied to the engine below certain fuel level. Otherwise with fuel in the tank there is no reason for it to stall.
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