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Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

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Old 10-19-2008, 03:33 AM   #1
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Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Well to most Chevy Guys/Gals... the 82-93 Chevy S10 & S15's have 1 common problem that develops over time... (in some cases instantaneously) I tried to find the bulletin online to post it but couldnt find it (sorry i suck at searches for things like that)... Basically it deals with the Gas Gauge reading inaccurately.. In some cases the gauge reads empty all the time.. in other cases at full itll read half a tank and drop to empty well before the tanks close to it...

The cause of this problem is a shorted ground somewhere along the system.. In some cases the Fuel Level sending units gone bad itself, The ground from the sending unit corrodes and breaks.. (which in that case should read full all the time), wire harness between the sending unit and the gauge goes bad, gauge itself goes bad, or the ground from the gauge corrodes and snaps too....

Each takes some time to diagnose but there are some tests you can do to try and find the problem.. but at the same time they can be miss-leading.. To check the Gauge and wire harness from the sending unit up to the gauge, You need to locate the connector back by the fuel tank and disconnect it.. (usually it right up against the inside of the frame) Once its unplugged get in and and turn to key to the "ON" position so all the electronics light up (dont try to start it cuz it wont... ) with the connector unplugged your gauge should shoot to FULL... then take a piece of wire and ground the pink or purple wire (they used both colors for the s10-s15's) at the connector to something.. The gauge should drop to empty... If it doesnt budge either way you gauge is bad and needs replaced....

Now just because it may have passed that test doesnt necessarily mean the gauge isnt bad.. i found that out myself...

Im sorry to say the road to tracking this particular problem down doesnt always come cheap... In my case this was how i diagnosed the problem.. Since my gauge and harness tested out fine i figured it had to be the sending unit in the tank.. 20 yrs old.. still original i figured it had to be it.. So i replaced the sending unit.. got it all wired up, filled the tank up.. and nothing happened.. same problem still existed... so i went about rewiring the truck from the sending unit all the way up to the dash... still nothing...

so finnally i bought a new AutoMeter Sport Comp II Gas Gauge ( 0-90 ohms GM models 65-present..) and wired it in.. and what do you know.. it works again...


Ive got some pics from today.. sorry i didnt get any of the process pics actually being wired in.. i forgot to take those ones... if any of you have to do this later on id be more than happy to pull the dash back apart and get some pics for ya... but for right now the dash is gonna stay buttoned up lol..

heres the pics from today...







to do the demonstration of it working i connected the old sending unit i saved to force it manually... (that and i wanted to test it to make sure it worked...




This is the sending unit upside down so the frame will hold the float fully empty...

new gauge reading empty like it should...



now the sending unit should be telling the gauges the tanks full....


it doesnt actually read that high now when the tanks full.. i had another problem to fix cuz of the way i wired it.. now it stops right on the F... dummy me tried to wire the 2 gas gauges parallel and cause issues.. so now the original gas gauge is completely cut out and the new ones on it own..

heres a few of the common tools youll need to do the gauge install...



i had the paint bottle there to mark one of the wires so i knew it was for the lighting and not the sending unit... youll also need a 1/4" ratchet/socket driver, both shallow and deep sockets (some models you might need a torix bits depending on the dash setup you have).. and Phillips screw driver (+).... basically simple hand tools will do the job...

If you have any questions while attempting this yourself feel free to ask me any questions.. ill surly try to help you out..
Old 10-19-2008, 03:40 AM   #2
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

sorry for the long post... but figured id give yall the most information i could from my experience and some others ive talked to with that have experienced it as well...


Id also like to give a shout out to Summit Racing Equipment for having the parts i needed to fix my problem... http://www.summitracing.com And a big thanks to AutoMeter for making the parts in the first place...
Old 10-19-2008, 09:00 PM   #3
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

good job. i'll try that... thanks.
Old 10-20-2008, 02:44 AM   #4
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by RATRIDER33
good job. i'll try that... thanks.

yw mate... i hate having to guestimate how much gas is left im my tank... its a good way to end up stuck along side the road...
Old 10-20-2008, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

oh the gas gauge.


maybe i'll try some of these with my 2000. my gas gauge is all over the place:http://s110.photobucket.com/albums/n...0592797701.flv

damned thing sucks. any idea if the wires are the same on the 98+?

Last edited by hamagc; 10-20-2008 at 05:21 PM.
Old 10-20-2008, 06:58 PM   #6
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

wow your gauge acts weird... but according to one of my repair manuals the cluster wiring stayed the same pretty much for 88 and later models... least color code wise..

Last edited by Batty; 10-20-2008 at 06:59 PM.
Old 10-20-2008, 07:03 PM   #7
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by Batty
wow your gauge acts weird... but according to one of my repair manuals the cluster wiring stayed the same pretty much for 88 and later models... least color code wise..
lol no thats mine. i shot that one morning in the parklot at my office. it was going for a good minute. usually it stays at full or empty. usually empty when i'm sitting for a minute. but sometimes it bounces around all crazy like that. i don't even pay attention to the thing anymore, i just keep track of miles. i miss my gas gauge though

i'm dying to fix it. don't want to replace the sending unit if thats not the problem. been trying to find a real way of diagnosing it without replacing it to find out. i'll try what you wrote, maybe it'll give me a direction to start in.
Old 10-21-2008, 05:26 AM   #8
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by hamagc
lol no thats mine. i shot that one morning in the parklot at my office. it was going for a good minute. usually it stays at full or empty. usually empty when i'm sitting for a minute. but sometimes it bounces around all crazy like that. i don't even pay attention to the thing anymore, i just keep track of miles. i miss my gas gauge though

i'm dying to fix it. don't want to replace the sending unit if thats not the problem. been trying to find a real way of diagnosing it without replacing it to find out. i'll try what you wrote, maybe it'll give me a direction to start in.
well there is a way to test the sending unit itself... Drop the tank and pull the sending unit out.. take a volt meter and set it to read resistance... then attach red lead to the plug side.. should be either a purple or pink wire..

then attach the black lead the ground... then all you have to do is move the arm and read resistance.. gm models for 98 and newer will read 40-250 ohms and gm models 65-97 will read between 0-90 ohms.. close to 0 ohms empty and close to 90 ohms full... on mine it read 4.8ohms empty and 110.7 ohms full..

main reason i say to drop the tank and pull the unit is so you can manually move the float lever.. with it in tank you cant... If it is the sending unit on yours i found it cheapest at napa.. dunno if it still is or not now..
Old 10-21-2008, 11:58 AM   #9
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by Batty
well there is a way to test the sending unit itself... Drop the tank and pull the sending unit out.. take a volt meter and set it to read resistance... then attach red lead to the plug side.. should be either a purple or pink wire..

then attach the black lead the ground... then all you have to do is move the arm and read resistance.. gm models for 98 and newer will read 40-250 ohms and gm models 65-97 will read between 0-90 ohms.. close to 0 ohms empty and close to 90 ohms full... on mine it read 4.8ohms empty and 110.7 ohms full..

main reason i say to drop the tank and pull the unit is so you can manually move the float lever.. with it in tank you cant... If it is the sending unit on yours i found it cheapest at napa.. dunno if it still is or not now..
ya i figured i would test the sending unit whenever i pull the bed off to put my notch in. until then i can live wondering how much gas i have lol.
Old 10-21-2008, 01:51 PM   #10
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by hamagc
ya i figured i would test the sending unit whenever i pull the bed off to put my notch in. until then i can live wondering how much gas i have lol.
that works too... lol
Old 10-24-2008, 01:53 PM   #11
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

What kinda wierd-ass OEM cluster is that?
Old 10-24-2008, 01:57 PM   #12
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by ChrisInVT
What kinda wierd-ass OEM cluster is that?

mines stock... less your talking bout hamagc's.. which his is the newer styling...
Old 10-24-2008, 01:59 PM   #13
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by Batty
mines stock... less your talking bout hamagc's.. which his is the newer styling...
I know, that's why I asked. It's very strange, never seen one like that before.
Old 10-24-2008, 02:02 PM   #14
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

mine is the stock on 98+?

lol never heard my cluster called weird before
Old 10-24-2008, 02:09 PM   #15
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by ChrisInVT
I know, that's why I asked. It's very strange, never seen one like that before.
well on mine its one of them gaugeless or as i call it "dummy light" ones... all you have is a speedo and gas gauge... everything else is dummy lighted.. speedo tops out at 85... least thats the last mark on it.. ive seen them in other cars as well.. they tended to use that cluster with the 4 cyls.. less ya wanted a gauged panel which consisted of a bunch of round gauges... prolly like whats in your 87 there...

Last edited by Batty; 10-24-2008 at 02:10 PM.
Old 10-24-2008, 02:09 PM   #16
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by hamagc
mine is the stock on 98+?

lol never heard my cluster called weird before

lol mine either....

btw foamy rules
Old 10-24-2008, 02:13 PM   #17
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

or you can replace the level sender on the module in the tank, its like 40 bux, and u can keep ur factory guage?
Old 10-24-2008, 02:18 PM   #18
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

foamys the squirll!


you can replace the sending unit, problem is alot of people have replaced the sending unit and still had the same problem. there is a thread somewhere on here about putting a resistor on the line to the gauge to help take out fluxes in voltage, supposed to help stop the gas gauge problem too.
Old 10-24-2008, 02:33 PM   #19
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by 91sonomast
or you can replace the level sender on the module in the tank, its like 40 bux, and u can keep ur factory guage?
that only works IF it is the the sending unit itself... where mine had the problem was in the cluster itself... ive got few friends with the same model truck i do, close to the same year as well.. all of which have had the same problem in the same spot... and from what ive read across other truck forums its a known problem with the early s10's..

Last edited by Batty; 10-24-2008 at 02:34 PM.
Old 10-26-2008, 10:22 PM   #20
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

hmmm cool. i guess i got lucky with my 91, never had a problem with the gauge
Old 12-04-2010, 05:54 PM   #21
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

I know this is an old post, but my gas gauge quit working and just so happens within the same week I developed a short that will drain my brand new battery (alternator is also new) within 20 minutes! Any chance this could have anything to do with it?
Old 12-04-2010, 06:00 PM   #22
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

I know this is an old post, but my gas gauge quit working and just so happens within the same week I developed a short that will drain my brand new battery (alternator is also new) within 20 minutes! Any chance this could have anything to do with it?
Old 07-28-2011, 01:08 AM   #23
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

My 1982 S15 developed a problem that caused the gauge to read 3/8 full when the tank was filled. It would drop rather fast to 1/4 tank when driven, then stay there for many miles. Then it would slowly go to 1/16 when there was 3 to 3.5 gallons left.

Other clues were lower than normal oil pressure reading and pegged out temp gauge. The fix was a new ignition switch ~$10 from NAPA auto parts. However, it was not fun to install.
Old 08-20-2014, 11:30 PM   #24
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

I have a 977 x10 2.2 my gas gauge only reads when the key is in the off position soon as its turned to the on position or truck is running it goes to empty its weird
Old 08-21-2014, 06:42 PM   #25
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Re: Chevy S10 Gas Gauge Fix

Quote: Originally Posted by Macleod
I have a 977 x10 2.2 my gas gauge only reads when the key is in the off position soon as its turned to the on position or truck is running it goes to empty its weird
Wiring problem or sending unit. Or...that year (97) has a fuel level buffer module underneath the passenger side dash.
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