How do you open a stuck gas filler cover? For some cars there is no fuel lever inside the car for opening the fuel flap and the only way to open it is by pressing the fuel door in when the doors are unlocked.
But sometimes, this doesn’t work because something has malfunctioned. What do you do when the electronic fuel door is stuck on these types of vehicles? In this video find out how we opened the stuck gas flap of our Mercedes, how not to bruise your arm doing it, how to keep the fuel flap closed while waiting for the part to come in and how to fix it.
Watch the video here!
One day at the gas station I ended up looking like I didn’t know how to use our Mercedes because I was standing out there for 5 minutes trying to open the gas cover. I’ve done it many times before, but that day it just decided to stop working. Luckily, we weren’t too low on gas and were able to drive home to diagnose the issue.
All electronic fuel flaps have to have a manual override so you just need to do a little research to see where it can be accessed. In our search online, we saw that some cars have a cable, string or plastic line inside an access panel, that could be pulled to open the flap manually, but this car did not have one. We also tried to look for an access panel but couldn’t find one. So, in our case I had to pull open the lining after removing several plastic tabs. From there, we used this opening to access the manual release of the actuator.
As you can see in the video, you can snake your arm into this opening to be able to press the manual release. There is an easier way, which I will show later on so watch out for that. Normally, the manual release works like this and you can easily release the gas flap by pressing it. I originally thought that the car was confused on whether the doors were locked or not and had locked the actuator in place. But this turned out not to be the case, as a working one is still releasable even if the doors are locked. The mechanism inside ours has actually jammed in place. See what happens when I use a spanner to turn the actuator. If this can’t turn it, there’s no way the red plastic lever would be able to do it without breaking.
So how did we get the flap open? It took a combination of pressing on the manual release lever and at the same time using a wooden popsicle stick to carefully and lightly pry upwards on the gas door to finally open it. Make sure to pry the same time as you are pressing the lever. Even when jammed in place, the manual release still moves a little and with the upward prying motion it was enough to open the flap after wrestling with it for some time. It will be a lot easier if you have someone else help with this. One person presses the release while the other works on the flap. You have to be careful not to use too much force on the lever or it could break it, cause it to loosen or come off. You also have to be careful with the flap or you might bend it out of shape or cause chips in the paint. So, keep those points in mind.
If you try to access the actuator like this you might end up with a bruised arm because it’s such a small opening. The better way may be to look for a small hole in the frame of the car near the back side of the actuator. This will allow you to put a screwdriver or stick in to press the lever. Here are example locations on the Mercedes-Benz SLK350 and Mercedes-Benz C450.
Once the fuel door is opened, the actuator can be easily removed by using screwdrivers to carefully lift the 2 tabs holding it in place. Lift the tabs and rotate the actuator out, release the white securing clip on the connector then pull the connector out.
When you manage to get it open, don’t close it unless you have the issue resolved or have taken out the malfunctioning actuator first. This is so that you can easily refuel until you fix it. Using magnets or duct tape to temporarily keep the flap closed, may be good to do if you get it open and don’t have the replacement part handy. Don’t close the flap before it’s fixed as it can be a pain to open again.
I took a few weeks to research and try to understand what was going on before I ordered a new part to replace it, in case it was something else. So I ended up using rare earth magnets like this to temporarily hold the flap shut, while still being able to refuel the car easily. If you do this too, make sure to cover up the hole where the actuator sits so that if it rains, water won’t get inside. I used duct tape for that and also secured the connector with it so it doesn’t drop into the frame.
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Plug in the new actuator to test it out first, then reinstall and clip it back in place.
In some cases, the actuator may stop working if a fuse for it has blown, so you might want to check that first. When the doors are unlocked, a properly working actuator will snap open like this when you press the switch or the flap in. When the doors are locked, this does not happen, but the manual override should still work.
When you order a new part from the dealership note that there is a core charge. Much like a car battery, the internal components of this actuator can be reused to make a new actuator. So, if you return the malfunctioning part in the original box of the new part, you can get the core charge back.
Here’s another tip for those of you that have read our whole post. If you are renting a car or are borrowing someone else’s and pull up to a gas station not knowing which side the gas filler door is, look no further than your dash. The fuel icon has an arrow that points to the side the filler door is on.
We hope this was helpful in resolving your stuck fuel filler door.
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