There is no worse feeling than splitting a fuel tank when you are in the bush, it could literally leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

When you are out tackling big gnarly hills or even blasting across unforgiving gravel tracks, you are always weary that you don’t cop a sharp rock up under floor pan of your truck. Your fuel tank is the one thing you don’t want damaged however it is in prime position when it comes to getting damaged. If you have a long range tank it will be even more vulnerable as it will generally hang lower than a standard tank.

We have recently damaged two of our own 4WD’s fuel tanks in the last couple of months and it has been a major headache, as both times it happened when the boys were in awkward positions. On one of those times we found that the old trick of sealing it up with soap doesn’t always work when the tank looks like a banana split.

So in this issue we are going to show you some tricks on how to temporarily reseal damaged fuel tanks. What we’ll cover ranges from gravel rash to massive gashes, using everything from soap to knead able metal putty. Because you never know when or where you will need to fix a hole to get home.


So what do you do if you spring a big leak? And we mean BIG. We’re talking a huge tennis ball sized hole after landing on a rock or log. Well firstly, make sure everyone is out of harm’s way and reduce the risk of a fire. Catch whatever fuel you can and try to roll your 4WD (don’t attempt to start the engine) away from the huge puddle you will have left on the ground.

Next, you’ll need to reduce the size of the hole by smoothing out whatever material is still there using a pair of pliers. You can then either seal up the hole using small amounts of metal putty slowly working your way around the hole from the outside in towards the center (like the way a wasp builds its nest).

Or, make up a plate to seal the hole using a piece of metal, some rubber and tek-screws. Cut the metal plate so it’s larger than the hole; cut a smooth piece of rubber the same size as your metal plate and tek-screw both into place covering the leak ensuring that the screws are evenly positioned around the outside of your repair plate. Providing your plate matches the shape of the tank – it should do the trick until you can get back into town.


As much as this sounds like something you got when you were a kid, gravel rush is a common cause of tank leaks. To put it into real terms, you could class it as chafing and it usually occurs when you have dirt or rocks caught between the tank and bash plate. Gravel rash usually takes a while to cause a hole, but when it does, it can leak in multiple spots. Rubbing soap into the leaks usually does the trick here as most of the time you are only dealing with pin holes that can be temporarily sealed.

BUSH FIXES – Graham Cahill
“The boys noticed a drip coming from the rear of Shorty, so we stopped and had a look and found it was leaking fuel from under the bash plate. After pulling off the bash plate we found it had rubbed a couple of small holes and a larger hole in the tank. Using a bar of soap I rubbed it into the holes and then rubbed some dirt over it and just kept an eye on it. Worked enough to get us to the next town.”


We put a hole in the Zero Dollar Zook’s tank a couple of months back and had to scramble to fix it. We split the front of the tank right on the bend in a really awkward position. It was about an inch and a half long and about five millimetres wide and needed more than a soap and dirt rubbed in. With this split we had to drain some of the tank and lean the zook over so all of the fuel ran away from the repair area. To prep the crack we had to rub around it with some emery cloth and then squeeze the crack together and fold the edges in using a pair of multi grips.

We repaired the tank using two different metal epoxies; first we used a malleable metal to fill the crack and form a base, then used a liquid metal epoxy over the top to fill and pin holes which ensured we had a good seal. Once that was done let it dry till it is hard (most of these products are touch dry in about an hour) and then refill it with fuel and check for leaks. This isn’t a permanent fix, but will get you out of the middle of nowhere and back home no worries.


1 As basic as it sounds you should always remember that fuel is flammable, whether it is petrol or diesel. So don’t use anything that can spark and keep open flame away from the area at all times.

2 Keep a fire extinguisher on hand at all times whilst doing your repair, because even the sun magnified through your mate’s window can ignite fuel that has leaked under your 4WD.

3 Always clean the area thoroughly, especially when you are using any type of epoxy.

4 A good tip is to get your air compressor out and blow air across the damaged area after you have cleaned it. This will dry around the damaged area and allow the epoxy to stick to the tank.

5 After you carry out any repair, only pour a small amount of fuel into the tank and let it sit for about half hour. This will let you see if the repair has been effective and if it hasn’t you wouldn’t have wasted a lot of fuel.

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