intermittent fuel pump pumpin?

2002 3.0L Ranger, with 36k mi, occasionally refusing to start, but more than happy to turn. Problem solves itself when tank is filled (problem occurs only at or under 1/4 tank so far) or when left alone for a few
hours. Reading other posts, I'm thinking it's a fuel pump problem, but what I can't figure out is why it's intermittent and not a problem when the tank is full. Could I have a sludge issue? If so, then what? I had the fuel filter replaced at 33k...so I don't suspect that.
One final paranoid question: I recently found the truck looking like it'd been siphoned (gas-like residue on the side, the little metal flap in the filling neck bent back...). Can that damage the fuel pump?
Thanks, BG
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i would pull the tank off and clen the inside sounds like something in the tank
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jimmyh wrote:

Thanks for the reply. I took it to a shop this morning and they found the fuel pressure was fine, but the fuel filter had markings on it that "looked like salvage shop paint marks". So that will be replaced by tonight and we'll see.
As for the tank clean out--I'm guessing the only entry point is on the top. How long should that take and does it make sense to drop the tank or lift the bed off?
Thanks,
BG
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It is easier to take the bed off since then you can lift the straps and just take the fuel tank out. I would suggest rinsing it out with kerosene since for some reason that will take out any water inside the tank. For the price you are going to pay to do that You might as well replace the tank thereby getting the pump and tank replaced at the same time thereby saving some money. Find out first if that is the case. either way you will find out since one has to remove the fuel pump in order to clean the tank
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