The charcoal canister is part of the Evaporative Emission Control System. This system is designed to prevent the gasoline vapors of the fuel tank and intake manifold from being discharged into the atmosphere. Vapor absorption is accomplished with a charcoal canister, which stores the vapors until they can be purged and burned in the combustion process. The charcoal canister is designed to absorb fuel vapors under certain conditions, and is a coffee can-sized cylinder located in the engine compartment.
Because the evaporative canister temporarily stores and prevents unburned fuel vapors from entering the atmosphere, if when refueling, the vehicle's fuel tank is severely over-filled, it is possible to create a temporary condition of a raw fuel odor and possible sluggish performance until the vehicle is driven a distance of about 20 miles to purge the charcoal canister.
For more information on the Evaporative Emission system, please refer to Section 4 of this guide.
The charcoal canister does not require periodic replacement. However, periodically inspect the canister and attached hoses for wear, cracks and/or other damage and replace components as necessary.