Cutting an access panel to replace fuel pump.

Discussion in 'How-to Guides' started by Scott77, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. Scott77

    Scott77 Member

    Hey everyone, I did some searching and wasn't able to find any good info on cutting this panel. I decided to do a little write up, hope it can help someone. First I will give a little explaination as to why I went this route. I have a 1997 Tahoe 4x4 with 5.7 Vortec.

    I had just filled my tank up the morning that the pump went out, so the thought of siphoning nearly 30 gallons of fuel was not very enticing. Further complicating my situation is the fact that I don't really have anyone to count on for help in dropping the tank. So I arrived at the conclusion that a hole in the floor was the way to go.

    I picked up an air nibbler from harbor freight for about $25 on sale. I chose the nibbler because I wasn't really sure about how much clearance I had between the tank and floor of the truck. The nibbler requires very little depth, produces no sparks, cuts clean and quick, and it does not distort the metal.

    I started by flipping the rear driver's side seat forward and cutting the carpet right along the seat supports on both sides. Then folded the carpet forward, the front and rear carpets meet here, so I also cut the rear section and folded it back. Now with the floor pan exposed it was pretty easy to determine where the pump was. There is a raised square area in the floor.

    Next I carefully drilled a 1/2 inch hole in the floor pan at the front left corner of the raised area to insert the nibbler. There was only an inch and a half at best between tank and body so be cautious with the drill. I made the first cut from front to rear all the way back. Here I could pry it up a bit and see where I was. I decided to drill a second hole in the forward passenger side of the raised area because the nibbler isn't so good at 90 deg turns. I made the second cut from driver to passenger side, the ribs that are stamped into the floor were a bit of a pin to get over but not too bad. Third cut front to rear on pass side. Now just pull the panel back exposing the pump with plenty of space to work.

    At this point remove and reinstall pump according to mfr instructions (Thanks guys for the tips on getting the pump gasket to stay in place). After replacing the pump and wire harness as recomended, I bent the panel back down and sealed the seams with metal duct tape. I probably could have done something better but it works. Put the carpet back in place and there is no real trace that anything was done.

    All in all it should take about an hour for the whole job which is much more efficient than the alternative. Plus if it ever goes bad again it could be done on the roadside. Don't forget to change your filter as well.

    Pics left to right 1. Cutting the panel 2. Open and ready to remove old pump 3. In with the new 4. Closed and sealed.

    Attached Files:

    kennythewelder, stephan and Big_Ben like this.
  2. kennyb79

    kennyb79 Rockstar 100 Posts

    Good write up Scott....I know you are going to get a lot of crap for doing that, but my dads been cutting holes in the bed of his truck to access the fuel pump since they started putting them there. The first time he came at my truck with the air chisel I about crapped myself. But his reasoning, being an old die hard fix it where it died chevy man was that if the thing quit on the road there was no way he was gonna pay somebody else to put in a fuel pump. There was no way, he was gonna sit around and wait for somebody else to work on his truck. also, when you put one in, you can be sure you'll have to put in another one down the road. Another good reason was that we live in the rust belt, and once you drop that tank, you disturb every line, gas and brake, and then you've got even more problems. I must admit, we did do one in my suburban once as well...ended up cutting a small portion of the cross member with a grinder....that was exciting for a few minutes...

    thanks for sharing the write up
  3. moosetags

    moosetags Rockstar 100 Posts

    Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

    Great post, Scott. I have printed a copy for future reference. I would hope that i could do a similar access on my Suburbans.

    Thanx, Brian
  4. pmartin816

    pmartin816 Rockstar 4 Years 1000 Posts

    Thanks for the write up. I've been wondering how to do this on my truck I'm sure its pretty close to the same. Thanks for the info
  5. Scott77

    Scott77 Member

    Thanks everyone, glad I could help out.
  6. murdog94

    murdog94 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    Nice job. Ive seen it done a bit up here in MN since hte rust that was previously mentioned is really really bad here.. usually you have to replace the tank on your older chevy about the same time you have to do a fuel pump and on the new ones im not really to sure.... hmph.
    great write up and i think i may have to print this as well and put it into my repairs folder....
  7. Cableguy

    Cableguy Epic Member 5+ Years ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    I've done it the long way too and it was painful to say the least. I've also seen this method used before.
    Usually the straps are rotten, bolts seized, lines break and of course like you mentioned. Where the hell does the average guy gonna put that much gas...:neutral:

    Either way nice job going it alone :great:
  8. murdog94

    murdog94 Epic Member 5+ Years 5000 Posts

    Hey Scott77. Just letting you know i will be adding a few pics for the truck guys since i need to change my pump on my 2500 soon.. And thanks to the truck not being as rusty as most of them my tank is still tight and doesnt need to be replaced.. I dont want to risk breaking everything like cableguy mentioned.. So ill take pics as i go...
    But the process is actually the same only adding something firmer ie diamond decking to ensure you can still load your bed... I have a bed mat allowing me to hid everything very easily...
  9. slimyguts

    slimyguts New Member

    SWEET! Should have cut it out hte first time I had the tank out (for furture access). Now 6 months later, this is what I will be doing tomorrow!!
  10. Outstanding tip and article buddy!!!!:sign0011:

    I wish I thought of that a month ago when my pump took a s%#t on me. Love those rusty tanks straps........


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