NOTE: The car is 2006 Mercury Milan 2.3L 4cyl.
About ten months ago I have hit a pothole and my exhaust fell and the check engine light immediately came up.
I've put back the exhaust and drove home.
Later, I plugged the code reader and I got a note saying:
"Very small EVAP leak"
I erased the code and started driving the car. A week later the code came up again (same code). I started noticing my fuel consumption getting way higher. I had 27 MPG which dropped to 16 MPG over time. I had no time to fix the car then and the leak was very small to affect the power of the car. So I let it be.
Anyway, recently, I performed Smoke Test on the EVAP system. It took them a while pumping smoke into the EVAP system and eventually they sprayed the Vent Solenoid Valve with some liquid and noticed very small leak there. They changed the clip and sprayed again and there was no leak anymore.
We are still not sure if that was the exact problem or not. I have been driving it for a week and the light still has not come up (hopefully it doesn't).
What is the real reason behind the drop in fuel consumption? Could the Vent Valve cause the problem? I have asked a friend of mine and he told me that in some cars, the check engine light might fool the car to run in Rich Mode all the time. It makes some sense because when I erased the engine codes, the fuel consumption got better (until the code came back and I was screwed again).
Could someone help me understand the situation?