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Charcoal canister repeatedly filled with gas
I have read the posts on this forum about the leaking gas cap and the Vacuum Switching Valve.
I have read many complaints from Camry owners ('98-2001 mostly) on another forum about these problems and also sulfur odor from the exhaust, which I have had almost constantly. There is much denial and obfuscation from Toyota, according to what I have read.
My problem is a charcoal canister contaminated with gas. I am now on my third canister at about 50K miles ('98 Camry LE 4 cyl.). I have never had a check engine light or other warning light come on. The dealership has never shared any information about stored computer codes for this problem.
Bought the car in spring of 2001, 28K miles. Did not drive it much for the first 1 1/2 years due to health problems. I always smelled sulfur upon acceleration. The dealership said that odor is caused by regular gas and to use mid-grade. Mid-grade did not solve the problem.
Started driving it regularly, mostly on a regular tip of 180 miles twice a month and some around town, in fall of 2002. Sulfur odor persisted. Mileage on trips varied wildly from 28 to 42 mpg. Average of 10 trips came out to 32 mpg.
August, 2004, it suddenly started to hesitate and buck. Sometimes it would recover for awhile, sometimes it would die. Was towed to dealership. Diagnosis was "47865 charcoal canister contaminated with fuel, causing rough idle when purge V.S.V. is on. replaced charcoal canister". Total cost $485.11. I had a long conversation with the Toyota Master Technician. He said that over-filling the gas tank is the main cause of a flooded canister. I described my long standing fillup technique, and he said that I was doing it right. He said to never keep on adding gas after the nozzle clicks off the first time. He also said that a BALL VALVE in the TANK could cause a flooded canister, but it is unlikely. The sulfur odor went away with the new canister until November. I continued to set the nozzle on the low flow position and did not add any gas after the nozzle switched off. I did not go to the station that I ususlly went to, and varied the pumps that I used at the stations I used, to reduce the chance of having a malfunctioning nozzle over-fill the tank. The gas mileage on trips became less variable.
December 2004, the hesitation and bucking returned. Another tow to the dealership. Diagnosis was "50059 ck out/charcoal canister is full of fuel/ replaced the canister. is the customer over fuel the tank". The service advisor insinuated that I must be over-filling the tank. He said he contacted Toyota and was told that the ONLY cause of a flooded canister is over-filling. I had already explained that I had been very careful to not over-fill the tank. I was told that the part and labor are covered under the Toyota 1 year warranty for new parts. Great, but I am the one who is going to be injured or killed if this things dies again in traffic.
I have been so lucky the first two times, since it happened very near my house.
And, the next flooded canister will not be fixed for free, I am sure. The service advisor told me to NEVER fill the tank again, and this would prevent another flooded canister. I am very skeptical about this "solution" to the problem.
In addition, I have contacted pump manufacturers and nozzle manufacturers. A Gilbarco representative (who drives a '97 Camry) said he never heard of such a thing happening to a canister. He said he fills his tank "as much as possible" and never had a flooded canister. A Husky nozzle representative told me that I am not doing anything wrong which would over-fill the gas tank. His '98 Camry has 125K miles and he just fills it up like normal people do.
Does anyone on the forum know about this valve in the gas tank, and if it should be replaced? Is a flooded canister something that would be caused by a bad VSV or another bad component in the emissions system? Would a leaking gas cap and under-pressurized fuel system cause a flooded canister? Conversely, would an over-pressurized fuel system cause this? What would cause over-pressurization?
There are millions of these cars on the road. A search of this forum of "canister flooded" and "canister contaminated" brought up nothing. Any of your experience or well-educated opinions would be appreciated.