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Are You Overlooking a Damaged Fuel Pump on Your Vehicle?

There are a few common signs that your fuel pump is nearing the end of its life. Catching a failing fuel pump before it completely dies can help you avoid calling a tow truck.

However, using some of your five senses can help you to tell if your fuel pump is bad. Let’s get started!

What Is The Function Of A Fuel Pump?

The primary function of a fuel pump is to feed fuel from your fuel tank to your engine. Fuel is food for your engine, and it can’t run without it.

Fuel pumps will typically pump a specific amount of fuel to the engine to help maintain optimal running conditions. 

What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Fuel Pump? 

Just as there are a few common symptoms when you’re sick, a bad fuel pump will have some too. If you start experiencing any of these issues, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle checked out by a mechanic.

Engine Sputtering

Your engine will require a steady stream of fuel in order to run smoothly and efficiently. However, a failing fuel pump will not provide this steady stream.

If you’re experiencing engine sputtering or drops in performance, it’s a good indication there’s an issue with the fuel pump. This is often very obvious when driving in stop-and-go city traffic.

Trouble Starting Vehicle

While there’s a long list of possible reasons a car might not start, one of them is a bad fuel pump. Your engine requires a certain amount of fuel each time it starts. If your fuel pump cannot deliver the necessary fuel, your car isn’t going to start.

It may be tempting to keep trying to start your vehicle, but you’ll only damage the starting system and drain your battery. This could just create a larger repair bill.

Loss Of Power When Towing

Your vehicle uses substantially more fuel when you’re towing. If your fuel pump is failing, it won’t deliver the necessary amount of fuel to your engine.

The loss of power typically occurs as the fuel system’s pressure is constantly changing. This will result in a massive loss of power and make it harder to tow a load that your vehicle would usually handle with ease.

Reduced Gas Mileage

One of the most apparent signs that many people notice is a loss in gas mileage, especially if you drive the same route regularly. We’re not talking one or two miles per gallon, but a substantial decrease. You’ll likely notice you’re stopping to fuel up more often than normal.

This is largely because faulty valves can cause excess gasoline to enter the engine. The only thing your engine can do with the excess fuel is to burn it.

Engine Stalling at High Temperatures

All of those fancy gauges on your vehicle’s dashboard aren’t just for looks. An engine that isn’t getting enough fuel will stall and work harder. Just like when you work hard, you get hot. Your engine’s temperature gauge will increase if your fuel pump isn’t functioning correctly.

Typically a stalling engine will eventually heat up, which can cause a tremendous amount of damage if not addressed.

When Should I Replace My Fuel Pump?

A typical fuel pump should easily last 100,000 miles, but some can go as long as 200,000 miles. You can extend the life of your fuel pump by keeping fuel in your tank, avoiding letting your tank get below a quarter of a tank.

You should maintain your fuel system too. Having your system inspected regularly and only filling up at service stations that appear to be maintained properly is also a good idea. You don’t want to fill up at a sketchy fuel stop and put impurities or other debris into your fuel system.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Fuel Pump?

You can typically expect to pay around $350 to have your fuel pump replaced. However, you have to factor in the age of your vehicle and the make/model. The labor itself will typically cost between $120 and $250.

The cost for the parts is very dependent on the specific vehicle and can range from $100 to $850. If you’re looking at replacing your fuel pump, it’s best to reach out to any trusted mechanics to get an estimate on your specific vehicle.

Can You Fix A Fuel Pump Without Replacing It?

In some cases, you may be able to fix a fuel pump as a temporary solution to get you back on the road. We can’t emphasize enough that this is a temporary fix and is not a substitution for completely replacing a faulty fuel pump completely.

Before you start trying to fix your fuel pump, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have a different problem. Confirm there’s sufficient fuel in the tank, not an electrical issue, and that there’s the proper amount of oil in the vehicle. It’s also wise to check the fuel filter and fuel pressure regulator before getting too far along in the process.

Step By Step

First, you’ll want to remove the vacuum line in the fuel pressure regulator. You want to look for any fuel that could be inside this line. If there is, this is an indication that the fuel regulator has failed to do its job and needs replacing. As long as everything checks out, you can then reattach the vacuum line.

Next, look for a protective cap on the fuel pump. After removing the cap, you’ll need to attach a fuel pressure gauge to the fuel pump. Make sure you have any adapters needed to connect them and then turn the key in your ignition to “on.”

This will cause the gauge to read 45 to 58 PSI. However, you’ll need to examine the fuse and relay in the power distribution center if you don’t see any change in pressure.

When starting the engine, you should notice a drop in pressure and then an increase by 5 PSI when releasing the throttle. If you don’t see this change, the pressure regulator could be bad.

Your fuel pump pressure should hover right around 52 PSI when working correctly. If you’re not getting this level of pressure, there could be a blockage in the system or the pump is experiencing a complete failure.

How Do You Clear A Clogged Fuel Pump?

Most modern vehicles have electric fuel pumps. There are a variety of fuel system cleaners available that can help rid your system of sediment that has built up or created blockages in your fuel pump. Before adding a fuel system cleaner to your tank, run the tank as low as you safely can. 

Dump the contents of the fuel system cleaner into your tank. There’s typically enough for one entire treatment in the container.

Once complete, fill up your vehicle with fuel like normal. When finished, turn your vehicle on and let the engine run for a minute as the treatment works its way through your system.

What Happens When Fuel Pump Goes Out While Driving?

There’s very little chance that your fuel pump will just die without warning. In a vast majority of cases, several of the warning signs we’ve discussed will occur.

You’re also likely to get a dashboard alert that something isn’t right. Pay attention to your vehicle, and don’t ignore warning lights. Putting off a repair will only make the situation worse.

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