An oil leak is the most common type of fuel tank leak in a vehicle, according to a study published Monday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
“It can be a life-threatening problem for motorists, and if it occurs in the fuel tank, it’s a pretty serious problem,” said Daniel Krumm, MD, a professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and a lead author of the study.
The researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Fuel Tank Inventory System, or NFTIS, to determine the number of leaks reported by the average vehicle owner in the United States in 2017.
The report found that the average leak rate in 2017 was 0.02 liters per gallon of fuel, which is roughly the same rate that researchers found in 2014.
In 2017, there were 6,711 reported leaks and 5.4 percent of vehicles in the U.S. had an average leak of 0.05 liters of fuel per gallon.
Krumm said the study suggests that there’s a good chance that the leak is caused by a malfunctioning fuel pump.
He said this may happen more often than we realize because people often put pressure on the fuel pump to increase the pressure that drives it.
“The fuel pump pumps have a tendency to overheat, and this overheat can cause a problem,” Krumn said.
“If the fuel pressure is too low, the pump could actually leak.”
Krumn and colleagues compared the average number of fuel leaks in different states with data from NFTIs for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
They found that states with higher fuel leak rates in 2017 had lower rates in the number and types of leaks they reported.
Kumm said this is because fuel tank manufacturers are now working to address fuel leaks, and more aggressive testing of fuel pumps is also required to ensure they are properly designed.
The number of reported fuel leaks and fuel tank types were similar in states with low and high fuel tank leaks.
For example, the researchers found that while the number leaks per 1,000 vehicles in Texas and Alabama were similar, there was a significant difference between those states in the types of fuel tanks they reported having reported.