Fuel Gauge Malfunction on 1994 Mazda Protege

When the gas gauge reading is above 3/4 of a tank, it reflects an accurate reading of the amount of gas present. But once the gauge reaches aroung 3/4 of a tank, the gauge needle drops straight to "E". It sometimes teaders between 1/2 tank and "E" but after a time will eventually remain on "E". I've experimented a couple of times by filling up the tank when this happens. It would only take 3-5 gallons to fill it back up. What could cause this to happen. Could it be the fuel pump. Mainly in the morning when I start the car, quite often I smell a strong gas odor. A mechanic told me that starting it up fist thing in the morning and smelling gas would not be unusual. But in my mind, the smell is too strong!! What could be the problem?

by in Brookhaven, PA on February 22, 2011
1 answer 1 comment
ANSWER by on February 22, 2011
I think you have a defective fuel gauge sender unit. It's part of the fuel pump module inside the tank. You get to it through an access port in the floorpan under the rear seat. The gasoline smell may be normal if the engine runs well when you first start it up. If it doesn't, then you are smelling unburned fuel in the exhaust and you should look into that.
COMMENT by on February 23, 2011
So, is the module attached too or separate from the fuel pump. If attached, does this mean that I may need to replace the fuel pump?