Home » Why People Cut Holes Into Their Cars’ Trunk Floors Even Though It Could Kill Them

Why People Cut Holes Into Their Cars’ Trunk Floors Even Though It Could Kill Them

Aint Dropping That Tank Ts

You might think that cutting a big hole in the floor of your car just inches away from your fuel tank is a bad idea. First off, what if you lose a golf club through your now perforated trunk floor? Second off, what if you set the whole thing ablaze with the sparks from your cutting wheel? Still, despite the danger, thousands of Americans “modify” their floor pans, and it’s because fixing their cars the right way just isn’t worth the time.

“Wait a minute, are you trying to tell me that your ex-girlfriend dumped you for Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit and then went on to land a role in Fast & Furious 3?! This is so great!” an empathetic Matt Hardigree, The Autopian’s publisher, told me last week. Was I at all upset about this being brought up numerous times while we were in LA at the Auto Show last month? Nope! That story was from 23 years ago and I’ve had a long time to get over it. Plus it is actually pretty funny in hindsight!

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

We should use this ex-girlfriend story as an Autopian trivia question at the LA Auto Show, are you cool with that? Actually do you have any other weird ex-girlfriend stories that would make a good car trivia question as well?

I agreed to the first question because, I mean, what’re the odds right? I didn’t have time to tell Matt about the other time I was (almost) dumped over something car-adjacent (since things were moving pretty fast last week), so I’ll instead use the opening of this piece to do so.

Virginia Is For Lovers…Of Pontiacs…With Holes In Them

During the Summer of ’21 I had been looking for a replacement 4th Gen Pontiac Trans Am (in green, only) to take the place of the silver Firebird Formula that I had sold that prior spring. I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with both those Trans Ams for 20+ years now and this was to be my sixth one…if only I could find it.


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Well, during the hottest peak of that summer, I finally found the car I had been searching for, sunken into a backyard behind a double-wide in southern Virginia. It was a green ’94 Trans Am GT with T-Tops, and it was for sale for $1800. The car was about four hours away from The Evil Shitbox Wrenching Lair (under that volcano) in Wilmington, NC, but that was no concern. 

Trans Am
If this doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, then “you got issue”. -My mom

Why? Well, my trusty $400 2004 4.7 V8 Dodge Durango is my ride-or-die tow rig and would easily be able to tow the Trans Am (with its lightweight fiberglass/composite hood, fenders and hatch) back to The Cape Fear. The only problem was that the radiator had walked off the job that summer, and the Durango was running warm. Not hot, but a worrisome level of warm. 

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Truckin’ with Rei-Rei. Here we’re stopped at “Don Juan Mexican Restaurante” on I-95 at the NC-VA border. Great spot.

The AC had also stopped working. This meant that if I was going to tow a 2,000lb car transport trailer and a 4200lb car seven hours round trip on I-95 at 70MPH, then the heat would have to be on full blast in order to give the Radiator a bit of help from the under-dash heat exchanger.

All in 100 degree temps.


Luckily my traveling companion (big shout out to Rei-Rei) was an absolute trooper (not the Isuzu kind) and was able to listen to my music (she’s not a big fan) and get furnace-blasted with heat for seven hours without completely going ballistic on me. We actually made the most of it and had a pretty fun adventure! That’s what destination car-purchases are all about.

Speaking of having fun, we encountered some local Southern VA fauna along the way:

This dude’s place was in such a middle-of-nowhere rural area that we encountered such rural-tastic celebratory decorations as the below “engine-in-a-tree“.


Rei Rei did tell me that she was very close to calling it quits with me over that radiator failure and subsequent tow-torture though. But she didn’t! What a gal! Once we were back in The Port City of Wilmington, a few Trans Am GT-celebratory rounds of Stanley Tucci Negronis and a nice dinner out at Golden Corral and all was well.

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Ok, so there’s the other car-adjacent, (near) dumping story, but why was the Trans Am sinking into the ground in the sellers’ backyard, you may be thinking? And why was there a hole purposely cut into it?

Ta On Trailer
As much as I dislike the guy I bought it from, he did have one redeeming quality: good taste in cars.

Fuel Pump Cutout Example A: The Holiest Trans Am; Praise Be! Amen.

93-97 Firebird Trans Am parts
Image: OfferUp

“You’re in luck, I just put a new fuel pump in her, from the top, maaayne!” (said with the most (lying), heavy Southern VA accent you can imagine) was the first thing the seller said as we arrived and started walking to the car in the backyard, which looked similar to the one shown above (the photo is not of my car, but from an OfferUp ad; it’s representative, though). 


Gm F Body

As you can see from the photos in the section above, obviously I bought the car (I mean, I’ve been talking about it here in various articles since I started at the site), but lets go back to the point-of-sale.

You see, the fuel pump going bad in a 4th Gen GM F-Body (Camaro & Firebird) can almost scrap the car. Here in almost ‘24, these cars are either high-dollar warp-speed missiles, expensive survivors with low miles that have been cared-for, or <$3500 beat-to-death clapped out Joe Dirt machines. The latter, of course, is what I gravitate towards and what we were dealing with here.

In a 4th Gen GM F-Body, to get access to the fuel pump you have to:

-Drop the exhaust


-Drop the driveshaft

-Drop the rear axle (!)

-Disconnect the brake lines (which need to be bled when reattached)

-Disconnect the e-brake lines

-Remove a decent amount of the rear suspension


-Drop the fuel tank

-Remove and replace the fuel pump

-Reverse all the above

…and all of the above requires a lift, or a shit-ton of patience, time, skill and a lenient HOA in order to do the job on one’s back. Paying someone else (most likely a shop) to do the job costs about half the value of the car. Check out the video above by Devon Lewis to see what a wicked pain in the ass it is.

Here’s the fuel system schematic. Does it reeeeaally need to be this complex GM?

The seller figured that he could use the fact that he had risked his life by cutting a fuel pump access panel ⅛” from the fuel tank and lines as a sales strength.

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Look at how small the margin of error is before you hit the tank!

Honestly, it worked. There was no way in hell that I (or any other wrench I know) would want to drop that rear axle, ever. Especially after the car sat on grass for an extended amount of time and had moisture wicking upwards, rusting every fastener. So this fantastic fuel pump access panel got me pretty pumped since I was looking at this car as a long-termer. 

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Check out that under-body corrosion due to sitting on grass for years. See the tank? You don’t? Exactly.

Yeah, there was probably some added road noise from a hole in the floor of the hatchback body, but it was worth it in my eyes. Plus that’s what mastic tape is for.

Better this guy take the risk than me; I promised my late grandfather long ago that if I was to do any job, I would always do it the right way, the first time. And that means I would’ve had to drop the axle to honor my good word. 

The seller quickly showed me the cuts he made for the fuel pump opening, but he did it quickly and I didn’t get a chance to verify that the pump looked new. He then quickly segued to other aspects of the car. This was before he put on a huge dog and pony show of exasperation when the car that he told me ran great would not start.


If it ran great just yesterday, as you say, then why is it sinking into the ground in your backyard?” I asked. He then said he ran the engine, but didn’t move it because of some cat that lived underneath it or something. The guy was a bit of a country, wanna-be David Tracy Cat Rescuer.

Dumbass 1
“My poor cats!” -this dude^

He saw me coming from three hours away with a trailer, so the odds of me leaving without the car after burning all that gas, money and time (and nearly burning my relationship via cabin heat!) were slim. He knew that he had me — the sale was in the bag. The cat story, the “new” fuel pump story (it turned out to be the OEM fuel pump (from ‘95)), and the fuel pump access panel showcase were all just parts a smokeshow to distract from the engine and starter both being being blown.

Hey, you win some and you lose some though, right? Out of the 131 cars I’ve owned over the years, this one was one of my biggest financial losses ever (over $6K spent on engine replacements and other assorted repairs). I chalk it up to a learning experience and believe that it made me a better, smarter Autopian in the end.

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Replacing the fuel pump took me about 30 minutes due to my sweet-ass access panel – huzzah!

Two replacement engines and two years later, the OEM pump finally went out this Fall. Boy was I thankful for that jerk cutting that fuel pump access panel! What would’ve been a massive affair was just a 30 min plug-and-play replacement.

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Oh, the indignity!


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A little “Karate Kid” reference for us old-timers.


This car has had 3 engines in this bay in the past year. Pro Tip: remove and replace from the bottom; trust me.


Everything just drops right out from the bottom. Removing the engine from the top is far more difficult.

You live and you learn. Besides, it’s not like GM would do this with fuel pumps on other cars as well, right? Think again..

Fuel Pump Cut Out Example B: The World’s Most Famous ’94 Park Avenue

I’ve said in previous pieces that I have a “James Taylor approach” to car colors, and it’s true: “…deep greens and blues are the colors I choose…”. I have two 90s GM cars, both are green (which rules), and both have holes cut in their floorboards. You may have read about this particular car previously, as it’s probably the most famous $400 car on this site: The ‘94 Buick Parkamino Avenuero.


Park Ave

This beauty will soon be converted into a ute, inspired by the wrenching heroics of The Legendary Laurence Rogers and envisioned by the pure, righteous artistry of The Bishop (even though The Bishop only moves diagonally, he is still one of the strongest that there is on the board). This ute-ification (dissimilar from Califorinication; not a Chili-Peppers fan) is going to happen as soon as we can figure out how to get it started.

You see, the moon roof drain lines have walked off the job (cheap plastic disintegration) and have diverted their watery payload directly into the fuse boxes on either side of the dash. Hopefully it’s not fatal and this 60K mile supercharged beauty started its next life on the roads of The Cape Fear here in Wilmington.

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Guess how much fun this is. Just guess.

This car was parked under a Live Oak tree when David Tracy was a Junior in high school and stayed there until I rescued it last summer. The gas had been bad since the 2nd Dick Cheney Administration (about 2007) and it seems like someone took the easier (and far more dangerous) approach of cutting the floor for pump access/tank clean-out sometime between ‘07 and ‘22.

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The old pump, once removed.

I don’t blame them, either. With the minimal value this car has (especially with soaked electronics), spending a lot of time, effort and energy into doing this tank removal the right way is a fools’ errand. Note: I’m spending a ton of time, effort and energy on this car.


Well friends, the 90s GM “H-Body & C-Body” (nearly identical; LeSabre, Olds 88/LSS, Bonneville) was also cursed with a fuel pump that was hard to get to and a fuel tank that was annoying to drop. So much so, that there aren’t any YouTube hits on the procedure that I could find with a cursory search! Yes, these cars predate the internet, but I was surprised not to find any repair videos on a popular 1990s GM passenger car. Here’s one showing the fuel tank/pump replacement on a Buick Regal, which looks very similar in its pain-in-the-assery to the setup on the Parkamino Avenuero.

Here’s a forum thread that references other GM cars of this ilk and engineering — similar to what the Parkamino Avenuero brings to the table. There’s little middle ground and nobody in the center of the Venn Diagram with these conversations about cutting access holes; folks are usually on their respective sides, and staying close to the poles.

I’ll reinforce the safety messaging here: This is a very dangerous task! Just look at how the previous wrencher nearly had The Faucheuse drive him or her away in this Buick, permanently. That is a sliced fuel line below.

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Sliced, not diced.

Anyhow, the Parkamino had fuel that had turned to varnish/turpentine years ago and the pump assembly had rusted while sitting in that watery hydrocarbon stew for decades. Having the floor cut was actually a godsend, as I was able to remove the rusted old pump and clean the tank with ease. The new pump slotted right in, and fresh gas applied.

Crazy Note: The old, rusted fuel pump still worked!


After patching a leaking fuel line by the right rocker, popping in a new fuel filter and a leaking injector o-ring, I had fuel pressure on the rail! First time in 15 years, son.

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The leaking fuel line was near the fuel pump, so knocking both out at once was easy. Check the color of the stale fuel running down my hand!


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A shot of compressed air from my Harbor Freight air tank (with a rubber nozzle) cleared the fuel lines out “quick-snap” as my friend Adrian Clarke would say. Notice the “Econo Transmission” wrist band (yes, my buddy’s transmission shop has swag).

Sadly, the pump didn’t get voltage when the key was turned to the “On” position and I had to jump the pump with 12V from the battery, but this is just a minor detail that will be worked out. The starter also isn’t getting voltage, so it’s not just a fuel pump issue.

But hey, it’s all good in this hood! Taking a massive project like this supercharged (future) superhero ute step-by-step is key. This is a project for fun; I enjoy wrenching as a way to disconnect from the stresses of this fast-paced world. Taking each task slowly and in a focused manner keeps one from getting overwhelmed with the larger list of tasks associated with the overall project.


The General does not deserve a salute for making these tanks and pumps so difficult to access in these highlighted examples. Look, I’m the last guy to celebrate Mercedes engineering choices after dealing with their dumbassery and cheapassery firsthand, but they seem to do fuel pump access right. Just look at the access here on The Bishops’ old W126! My Mercedes Crossfire has a pump that is just as well-positioned; well done meine kollegen.

Mercedes Example
The Bishop’s Mercedes W126.

We’re targeting a Spring ’24 reincarnation for The Parkamino Avenuero; stay tuned to The Autopian for updates on next steps.

Back to Floor-Cutting: “What’s The Deal?!” -solid Sienfeldism 

It’s not just these two fantastic green 90s GM examples, there are tons of other vehicles where cutting makes sense; here’s the approach that many a 90s GM pickup owner has taken for their fuel pump replacement. It’s not just those that march in service under the General, here’s a thread on a Jeep forum with those dudes, dudettes and non-dude/dudettes going back and forth on the pros and cons of the cut.

As I said above, there has been two distinct camps going at each other, regarding the chopping up of a car for fuel pump (or other component access) for much longer than I’ve been alive, which is discussed all over the internet in conversations such as this. “Just drop the damn tank. It’s not that hard.” is usually the theme on one side and “Go for it. It is so much easier than dropping the tank.” is the take on the opposing side.


The various forums, Reddit content, and general internet commenters always suggest using metal-cutting snips or any tool that does not create a spark around a big tank of gas (for obvious reasons). This was not what the idiot that sold me the Trans Am used, as you can see perfectly straight angle grinder/cutting wheel tracks in the metal. Smart guy.

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Image: eBay

In fact, there are those who subscribe so intently to the Floor Cut Lifestyle, that they create/purchase products like this one shown above to support their dangerous lifestyle choices. Living on the edge of a potential fireball, having the local Fire Dept on speed dial and making sure the neighbors best not be privy to what they’re up to is their jam.

So Where Do We Stand On This?

We here at The Autopian do not in any way condone anything that may be in any way harmful to you, your neighborhood, your emotional well being, your financial well being, your spiritual well being or your feelings. Alway, focus your Center and balance your Chi. Be a hollow reed and let stress blow through you. Take from that what you will. 

Is cutting the floor out of your car to save your bank account a good call? Perhaps if:


-the car is worthless (under $2.5K?)

-access to the pump and tank are a royal bitch

-you’re using a non-spark-creating toolset

-the car is not wicked desirable in stock/OEM condition (pour one out for all the 90s DSMs, as there are nearly none left, my dawg!)

…then I say yes. The Parkamino Avenuero is the perfect poster car for this decision pathway.


If the tank and pump can come out with moderate effort then do the job the right way! Expand your wrenching skills, spend some time in the garage with a good friend, grab some tasty beers and pizza and remember why you fell in love with working on your own cars in the first place. 

If you’re thinking of being unintelligent enough to use a spark-creating tool/device, just don’t. Charles Darwin has already attained enough accreditation. 

That’s it for Stevie G. for this one; hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed living and writing it. Until next time, my Autopian friends!

photos by Stephen Walter Gossin unless otherwise noted



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4 months ago

As a Ford Tech, this is one of the most maddening things I’ve seen over the years. In 2004 when the Five Hundred/Freestyle/Mercury Montego debuted on a modified Volvo S80 platform, it had access panels under the rear seat (2nd row in the case of the Freestyle) for both the pump and the secondary fuel sender. We had a couple of fuel senders go bad, but not many.

Fast forward to 2011 when the platform was adopted for Explorer. Ford deleted the access panels from the floor pan. Sure enough, Ford switched suppliers for the 2013 MY and every single one was recalled because the tube would break off the top of the pump, and every single one had to have the tank pulled to replace.

The most maddening part about this, the floor pan still had the raised section in the stamping where the access hole used to be. One final cut in the stamping would have been all it took. Instead, every one now had to have the exhaust and driveshaft removed to sneak the tank past the rear axle.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
4 months ago

You paid $1800 for that heap-of-shit Trans Am?

Even after it would not start????

Well after he gave the “huge dog and pony show of exasperation when the car that he told me ran great would not start.”, I would have offered him $500 as-is or $1800 if he could get it to start.

And chances are that with me, there would have been no sale and I would have left. I’d rather waste all that gas rather than give $1800 to a scamming bullshitter.

I had a similar experience with a guy selling a VW Golf TDI. He wanted CAD$3000 for it… saying it ran great.

Well when I got there, it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. The guy swore up and down that it ‘just needed a battery’ and it ‘ran great’.

But when I offered to whip out the booster cables I had in my trunk to see if we could get it started, he refused… saying some shit about how it could damage the electrical system… which is true if you hook up the cables wrong.

So I offered him $500 as is… unless he could demonstrate that it did, in fact, “run great”.

He told me he’s gonna take it to his mechanic to get a new battery installed and he’d call me back.

I never got the call back.

And in hindsight, I’m 90% sure the car needed more than ‘just a battery’.

When it comes to old cars, unless you can actually see first-hand that it runs and drives well, assume it doesn’t and assume the seller is full of shit.

And don’t let the look or gender of the seller sway you one way or the other. I’ve seen plenty of professional looking well dressed “honest looking” people being absolute lying sacks of shit.

And I’ve seen sketchy-looking people being good honest no-bullshit people.

Mike B
Mike B
4 months ago

Oof, you paid 1,800 for that pile? I love 4th gens, I’ve owned two, still have my ’00 Formula actually, but that’s crazy. It IS a rad color though.

I first tried to rationalize it for you, thinking, ok, maybe it was rust free since he’s in the south. Sadly, that clearly was not the case.

I’ve actually been wanting to sell mine, unfortunately it no longer sparks joy, but I’ve been lazy about it, and it’s been languishing in a relative’s garage going on 2 years now. I was thinking of asking 2K as a “get it out of here before I change my mind” price, but maybe I should up that a bit.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
4 months ago

If only the engineers had designed in an access panel. Maybe something that bolts in.

4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

“Why did someone cut a hole?”

Because the budget and/or engineers made replacing the pump a pain in the ass.

4 months ago

this is like a A Sleeve of Bees article from SniffPetrol

Frank Wrench
Frank Wrench
4 months ago

Just finished replacing the gas tank on a 94 Accord. There was an access port in the trunk for the sending unit wiring (I think it’s too small to actually remove the sending unit through it) but no access for the fuel pump. Had to lower the tank to disconnect that. The job was a nightmare start to finish due to rusted everything and parts in the way of other parts.

Made the rookie mistake of cutting the rusted fuel line from the pump, figuring I’ll just buy a new one. Turned out to be a discontinued part! Cobbled something together with my double flare tool and some high pressure fuel hose.

4 months ago

Very easy to drop the tank on a CJ/YJ Wrangler, just a few bolts and an ATV jack. Still, I contemplate the hatch to this day.

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