Fuel pump replacement isn’t something that most drivers handle on a regular basis, but as your car starts to get up there in years or mileage, there’s a greater chance that you’ll have to replace this part. Understanding how your fuel pump works and why it needs to be replaced, will help you make an informed decision when it comes time to authorize the work.
Feeding the Beast
Your fuel pump does one thing and one thing only: feed gasoline to your car’s engine. In practice, your car could have more than one fuel pump, as some cars feature a pump in the gas tank and another closer to the engine bay to maintain the necessary pressure in the fuel line.
The location of the pump can have a big impact on the cost of fuel pump replacement. If it’s wedged between the top of your fuel tank and the floor, it can be difficult to access, requiring more disassembly and labor to complete the job.
What are the signs that fuel pump replacement is in your future? You could be looking at a fuel delivery problem related to the pump if your car has trouble starting but shows plenty of juice at each spark plug, or if it hesitates when you hit the accelerator. Of course, there could be another fueling issue such as a clogged fuel filter or a bad electrical connection that’s preventing the pump from getting power. So don’t automatically assume the major component is to blame before investigating the alternatives.
Fuel pump problems are also typically mileage-dependent. You typically need to have at least 60,000 miles on the average vehicle before the fuel pump starts to give out. However, most fuel pumps are lubricated and cooled by the gasoline that flows through them, so if you frequently drive with a quarter tank or less, your pump could age prematurely.
Don’t Just Replace the Pump
If your vehicle’s fuel system is at the point where fuel pump replacement is necessary, it may make sense to swap out other important components at the same time. A bad fuel pump means that your fuel filters are most likely clogged, and you might want to think about having your fuel injectors cleaned. However, don’t let the cost of the maintenance spiral out of control.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.