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Hey everyone,

I took my RAV out to the Nevada desert, loaded up with people and gear, attempted to cross a washed-out streambed, and proceeded to high-center it on dirt. I ended up getting out of the predicament, but discovered I had done damage when my car ran out of fuel at an indicated 1/8 tank... I looked under it, and found that my tank is pretty dented in. Like 1.5"-2" in the front and back ends of the tank, including the area that I think overlaps with the sending unit. I don't want to replace both, and now that I filled the tank up, it runs fine. Here are my questions:

1) I think I should probably gain access to the sender, remove it, and see if it's broken. It appears to be able to move up and down a bit, so maybe it's alright, but if it's just dangling around in there, I should know. Does anyone know of a how-to video out there for doing this? Is it safe to do in-vehicle with gas in the tank? What's safer... full or empty? I'm guessing full so the amount of vapor present is minimized... but I could be wrong.

2) I'd like to pound the bottom of the tank out to a nearly-flat shape, at least in the area directly below the sender. I imagine dropping the tank is a good idea, rather than (for example) leaving it mounted to the vehicle and putting a rounded wooden broomhandle through the sender hole and whacking on it with a sledge... unless that's actually a good idea? Not sure how strong the mounting is.

Sharing of any experiences in this area would be appreciated... I'm willing to "redneck" a solution that actually works (e.g. see above), but I want it to be reliable. If I remove the sender and realize that it's okay and is just being pushed upward a bit within its ability to slide up and down, I'll live with the 25% reduce fuel capacity until I feel like dropping and replacing the tank.

I also noticed I have a healthy dent in my exhaust pipe as well!

Pics attached... Yuck! No more RAV4 off-roading for me...

Thanks,

-Rodney
 

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I'd have no problem with your sledge&broom handle method since we don't really care what the dents look like. I would use the largest piece of wood that'll fit thru the sender hole and make sure there's no metal on metal contacts for safety's sake.
I also agree with checking to see if the sender float movement is restricted.
BTW, apparently you dodged a bullet by not ripping off the $1300 worth of vapor recovery components under the driver's seat.
 

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You could always see if the prices at the junk yard is worth going for. I doubt that part is usually damaged.
 

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LOL, you did better than me. Mine registered just under half tank and couldn't pick up fuel. The tank is quit strong, held the weight of my vehicle. Anyways, picked up a tank from junkyard and put it in. Old one, banged the dent out and keeping it in storage just in case.
 

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Yeah. Welcome to the fact that the RAV4 is not an off-road vehicle. Your owners manual makes that clear right up front.

Tough sh*t.
 

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Yeah. Welcome to the fact that the RAV4 is not an off-road vehicle. Your owners manual makes that clear right up front.

Tough sh*t.

Yep - I've often wondered why people don't buy a vehicle designed for more serious off-roading rather than trying to make a vehicle work which isn't designed for that purpose. But if the worst damage form off-roading is ;a smashed gas tank perhaps that isn't too bad and also would be a good learning experience.
 

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Yeah. Welcome to the fact that the RAV4 is not an off-road vehicle. Your owners manual makes that clear right up front.

Tough sh*t.
Amen, brother.

.
 

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You pick parts lot is probably your best best. Agreed with the vapor capture apparatus, you got lucky on that one for sure.
 

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When I was a kid a lot of people would go places in their passenger cars that they shouldn't have. That being said, most of those cars were tougher underneath than many trucks are now. However, gas tanks got caved in and they were restored using air pressure. Don't try that though unless you can isolate the tank from sensors upstream, in other words, just the tank itself can be pressurized.
 

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You should have bought a Jeep. The car you purchased is not up to offroad abuse, simple as that.
 
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BTW if you're thinking you'll smash the gas tank again, there's now a plate for it. With simple welding, you can attach a piece to cover the evap canister.
 
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