Gas tank leak in Aprilia RSV Mille…

I’m posting this for my friend Oleg who unfortunately has to deal with a nasty issue of a leak in his gas tank. Worse still, Aprilia USA refuses to acknowledge his complaint and take responsibility for it, even though it is a known issue. Personally I wouldn’t be too crazy about shelling out something to the tune of $1000 for a new tank just because the manufacturer decided to go with a shoddily constructed part.

“From the very first time I rode an Aprilia V2 I was in love. Soon after I purchased a 2002 RSV Mille that was sitting at the local dealer, bike came with 2 year warranty and 96 miles on odometer. Since 2005 RSV had two mechanical issues; faulty starter relay, and leaking gas tank. Relay was replaced under warranty by the local Aprilia dealer, gas tank is another story.

Apartment manager called me at 8pm to tell me there was a strong smell of petrol in the underground garage and my bike was leaking fuel. Upon further investigation I found that it was leaking pretty badly, and had to park it on the street overnight since it was already pretty late to troubleshoot. I time off work and pulled the bike apart the next day, turned out that plastic tank had warped around the fuel pump mounting area and wasn’t holding fuel. Fuel pump mounts to a flat surface using metal nuts embedded in polymer gas tank. When I pulled the fuel pump off I discovered that flat surface wasn’t flat any more, it had arched between bolt holes so rubber gasket could not make good contact.

A quick call to the local Aprilia dealer revealed this as a known issue. They said it was due to US fuel containing ethanol which tank isn’t designer for. Ethanol makes plastic soft and it deforms. Dealer suggested shaving off material to make the surface flat again, however it could only be done one time. Tank would leak again and I would need to get a new one, which in case of Italian bike will not be cheap or speedy.

I left a number of messages and emails with Aprilia USA; they requested VIN number and in an email informed me that someone will get back to me “in the near future” which is rather vague. I also filled a case with NHTSA since I consider fuel leak a safety problem. Fuel pump sits right over the rear cylinder and could potentially cause Colin Edwards / Aprilia CUBE incident. Last thing I want is to jump off at freeway speed.

A few quick facts. Bike in question is a US market Aprilia RSV Mille #255 made in 2002. Gas tank is made by Acerbis for Aprilia in Italy. Searching AF1 Racing sponsored online forum I found that my case isn’t isolated and that this is a pretty common failure for plastic tank Aprilias.

NHTSA case number is 10329969. http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/complaints/results.cfm?odi_ids=10329969&SearchType=QuickSearch&summary=true.

It also looks like Aprilia USA isn’t doing a whole lot to ether post a recall or come up with a fix for this problem. I know that for most of these cases warranty is out but should a gas tank fail this way after 5 years of normal use?

16 comments to Gas tank leak in Aprilia RSV Mille…

  • I had same problem with 2001 = less than 2000 miles on RSV Mille. Spoke with Aprilia dealer – denied they knew of a problem – I pressed – they admitted they know – claimed it is not occurring that much – and then offered to sell me a new tank for over $2100.00 – just for the part. I had Aprilia dealer try their fix on my old tank. It lasted only until the second time the bike ridden – about 1 week. I’m a Los Angeles based lawyer who does product liability litigation for a living. How many people are having this problem? Maybe it’s worth suing Aprilia. Seems like a very clear case of either a design defect, or manufacturing defect. I also filed a NHTSA case. Aprilia the company is doing nothing to fix this problem, although some dealers will try to help.

  • Oleg

    There are a number of comments on AF1racing.com forums. The fix is to use blue racing gasket maker (link on forum) and it should hold. Aprilia USA offered to sell me a tank at 50% off MSRP which came out to about $750. I declined.
    Aprilia USA claims that since bike is out of production and the problem is due to US increasing amount of ethanol in gasoline it’s not their problem.

  • Darren Anguige

    Hi all….I’m Darren from the UK. I have just purchased a 2002 rsv mille and got the bike home after a 239 mile ride…no leaks…a few days later petrol all over the floor…I spripped the bike back to find the cause….Exactly the same cause as you guys (a warped tank) that had unfortunately been badly fixed with car filler and some window sealer or something…This is also a big problem over here with 50+ posts on the English rsv website. I think it is definately Aprilia’s fault for badly engineering the the mating process…I’m no engineer and looking at it, I would have had a steel plate set in the bottom of the resin tank….I love the bike, the grunt, the torque, the looks, especially with a one of “Alice” race paint/sticker kit someone has nicely done in every colour of the rainbow….anyway to stop rambling I have heard of some people repairing with aviation sealant, which can apparently repair upto 2 centimetre gaps and remain its elasticity……Has anybody done this , or can anybody advise????

  • RALi

    I’ve actually got the deforming tank problem with a ’98 Triumph. Guess which italian firm made the tank? My RSV Mille is MY2000, so has a metal tank.

    However, the drainage and overflow hoses from the filler to the fuel pump mounting plate were not impervious to ethanol. They became brittle and cracked apart, which allowed about half a tank of gasoline to leak out onto my garage floor on night. A single spark in there would have sent my house into orbit to become a new module on the International Space Station (I only exaggerate a bit).

    I replaced the hoses with new lengths sourced from a local auto parts store. You want hose that is marked SAE 30R10 which is rated for immersion in alcohol-enhanced gasoline.

    Thank you Archer-Daniels Midland and the congress-critters you bought …

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  • Robert

    I have a 2002 Mille R and I am having the same problem with my gas tank. My tank doesn’t want to bolt down properly and the fuel pump assembly isn’t lining up well. I here that there is a class action suit against Ducati for the same reason. Maybe we should do the same because it seems like Aprilia USA and the NHTSB aren’t going to do anything until a descent number of people die from the problem.

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  • dabarman

    Have the same issue with my 08 tuono. Noticed a gas smell a couple weeks ago, then last week noticed the leak. Pulled up the tank to find the source and fuel pissed out the breather hose. Blew out and refit the hose thinking I had solved the problem and went on my merry way. Come to find yesterday that not only is the leak not fixed, but the drip has turned into a stream. Pulled up,the tank and felt around. Found the steady leak from the two rear bolts that mount the pump and lines to the tank. After researching online I come to find out this is a common problem and the local dealer suggested putting star tron in the tank everytime I fill up or buy ethanol free fuel. there are only 3 ethanol free gas stations in seattle and star tron is $22 a bottle. Had I known about this before I bought the bike I would have rethought my purchase and gone with the street triple I had my eye on. I have always loved the design of aprilias but the now that i am staring down the barrel of a very expensive fix for very common problem really makes me question the integrity of the company. If aprilia won’t replace my tank I would be happy to join in a lawsuit. As it stands now, instead of risking becoming a speeding fireball on my work commute I have to take my cage wiich is costing me another $20 a day in parking and gas. In short… This f****** SUCKS!

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