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The Yankee Express

Lexus tank not easy to fill – what’s the deal?

John Paul

Q. I have a Lexus ES 350 which I bought new in 2019. The car has a 16-gallon fuel tank but will stop at approximately 13.5 gallons and will only fill fully if the pump is on the slowest setting. If the pump is full pressure it never completely fills with gas. I complained to the dealership several times, but the say nothing can be done about this situation. I also had a 2012 Lexus ES 350, but I never had this problem. After I fill up, I can check the computer monitor on the dashboard and because the tank isn’t full, I basically get 75 less miles per tankful. Now I realize that you are not to top the fuel tank off, but 2.5 gallons, that’s crazy. Have you ever heard of this problem before and what can be done about it? I travel a lot and on long distances it makes for more frequent stops.

A. I suspect the dealer is correct, there is nothing you can do. The only real way to tell is to start with a completely empty tank(dry) and see what is going on. The tank empty has a capacity of 15.9 gallons. Even when you run out of gas there is always at least a gallon of gas in the tank. This car, like many, uses available gasoline to cool the fuel pump. Perhaps Lexus to maintain the life of the fuel pump and keeps the fuel level higher by signaling gallons/miles to empty early. Normally when the low fuel light comes on with most cars there is usually two gallons of gas left in the tank, about a 50-mile range and then it still never completely empties out the tank.  The issue could be that the indicator is wrong, or the tank could be damaged preventing a complete fill. Although I suspect if you drove this car until it ran out of gas and stalled there would still be ½ to maybe as much as 1 gallon of fuel still in the tank. You are also correct that overfilling the tank trying to fill it completely is detrimental to the evaporative emission system. 

Q. I own a 2007 Ford Shelby GT 500 with a Shaker 500 audio system. When my battery went dead I changed it with the identical battery from Ford. Since then, I cannot retrieve or insert CDs into the unit. The radio says it is off, but it constantly makes a ratcheting noise and drains the battery down after a few days. Have you heard of this or know of a fix that can be done?

A. Unfortunately, this is a common problem with the Shaker 500 audio system with the six-CD changer. It appears the only fix is to replace or send the unit out for repair. Some people have taken the radio apart and disconnected the CD tray power supply and live without the CD changer. On the Mustang forums this also pops up as a common issue. Still before I gave up and purchased a new radio, I would try disconnecting the radio power supply and re-connecting and see if the CD changer cycles off. 

Q. Several years ago, my Honda dealer recommended changing the timing belt even though my Accord had only 65,000 miles on it.  I now have 127,000 miles on the car.  Should I replace the timing belt again or can I wait a little longer?  What is ideal for timing belts?  

A. Depending on the engine and year, but as a general rule Honda recommends, under normal conditions, replacing the timing belt at intervals of 105,000 miles or every 84 months whichever comes first. So, depending on how long ago it was replaced you likely have quite some time left before you need to do it again. The general rule of five years or 60,000 miles that was considered normal years back has been extended quite a bit. The dealer may have been a bit aggressive in the first timing belt replacement. When in doubt, check the owner’s manual. 

Q. Can you recommend a shop where I can get my transmission repairs done for a 2008 Subaru Tribeca? I tried the dealer, and they didn’t seem very interested in helping me out. 

A. I would start with a check of AAA Approved Auto repair network. Go to, enter your zip code to find a AAA Approved shop near you. The local shop may not do transmission repairs since it is a specialty, but they may have a transmission shop they work with on a regular basis that provides quality service that they could recommend. 

Q. I am looking for a small affordable SUV. I want all-wheel-drive and it still needs to be fun to drive. Does anything come to mind? 

A. I recently spent some time in the Mazda CX-30, it is a compact SUV, that can seat four adults and with the rear seats folded has decent cargo space. If you want fun to drive, you will need to step up to the turbo-charged engine. With up to 250 horsepower (premium fuel is not required but does boost horsepower) and the better than average handling, this little SUV is fun to drive. Like many of Mazda’s models there seems to be a little Miata DNA in this SUV. On the downside, fuel economy is just okay, and the infotainment system can be a bit frustrating. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over forty years’ experience and is an ASE-certified master technician. He will answer readers’ questions each week. Email your questions to [email protected]. Follow John on Twitter @johnfpaul and friend him on Facebook at mrjohnfpaul.