Can a leaky gas tank cause hard starting?

I’m asking because I’ve gotten conflicting information on this. Normally when I fill up the Rover, I stop the pump before the auto shutoff. Last weekend on my epic roadtrip to Michigan, I was washing the windshield and didn’t realize the pump hit the auto shutoff.

I looked under the car and saw a good amount of fuel spilling from the top of the tank. Mildly concerning obviously, but made me wonder if the non-sealed fuel tank could be causing my hard starting issues.

Basically, when I go to turn the key (on hot or cold starts, but it’s worse when cold) it takes 5-10 seconds of cranking before the engine catches. It then seems to come to life one cylinder at a time and idles horribly until I give a few throttle blips, then its all good. Settles in and idles pretty well.

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I’ve been chasing this issue as long as I’ve owned the car, with plenty of work done on the relevant components of the engine. Once the car is started, it runs like a peach. I’ve never considered that the fuel tank wasn’t sealed completely. It would be akin to starting the car with the fuel cap off, but that shouldn’t affect things either.

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