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When I got home from work yesterday and parked my '98 Ford Windstar next to the house, my wife pointed out that a 8"x5"x3" black plastic box was sitting at the end of the driveway, and a slightly smaller black plastic box was dangling from the bottom of the driver's side of the van (just at the back edge of the door), its bracket rusted out and only being held to the van by its connecting wire harnesses (it looks like this box is still connected as it should be).

I have no clue what these do. I haven't tried to start the minivan either. The one that fell completely off smells faintly of gas. The one still hanging on looks like it might be part of the electrical system, given the wires coming into and out of it. It is of course Saturday today and I can't call my local garage to ask them. Any suggestions?

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I believe that you're talking about the Fuel Vent Canister / EVAP Canister. It is located underneath the vehicle and mounts to the drivers-side frame rail slightly behind the drivers side door area (about the center of the vehicle). Here is a photo for you to compare the part to.

enter image description here

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You got it - that is exactly the part. Thanks much! –  Conrad Aug 4 '13 at 1:25

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