How to Tell If Your Fuel Pump Is Bad
If your fuel pump quits, your car stops running and you may be left stranded on the side of the road. To prevent this from occurring, it’s important to know the signs of a fuel pump going bad. Prepare to learn how your fuel pump functions and what red flags to look for to head off a potential problem.
What’s a fuel pump?
An automobile’s fuel pump is responsible for moving gasoline from the tank to the engine at a constant pressure to ensure a smooth running engine.
Why does it go bad?
Fuel pumps can work for thousands of miles, but eventually, all of them will start to deteriorate.
Key signs that your fuel pump is bad:
- You are running your vehicle at an accelerated speed (50+ miles per hour) and it starts sputtering or jerking and then resumes regular performance. This may be a spark plug issue or can be attributed to a fuel pump problem. In the case of the fuel pump, it occurs when the pump can’t deliver a smooth flow of fuel to the engine. As a result, your engine periodically receives only air causing it to skip several power strokes.
- Your vehicle loses power when you are attempting to accelerate from a stop, driving uphill or towing a load. During all of these scenarios, your fuel pump must work harder and failing fuel pumps may not be able to keep up with the increased demand.
- Your car starts requiring more gas than usual. If your fuel pump’s release valve isn’t opening, then more fuel than necessary will go into the engine system and flood it.
- Your vehicle suddenly accelerates for a few moments even when you haven’t pressed the gas pedal, a phenomenon known as surging. This can happen when the pressure on your fuel lines become inconsistent.
How can I know for sure?
One way to test if your fuel pump is going bad is the fuel pressure gauge. Check the gauge while you have someone rev the car to a given speed. Your owner’s manual will show the amount of pressure that should be exerted if the pump is operating properly. Any level less than that is the sign of a problem.
You can also examine the fuel pump fuse. Use your owner’s manual to locate your vehicle’s fuse box and the fuse for the fuel pump. Remove the fuse and examine its condition. If it looks burned or broken, it is blown and needs to be replaced.
The best course of action if you believe your fuel pump is failing or would like a professional opinion is to take your vehicle to your trusted repair shop. They will be able to diagnose your car’s problem through a number of tests and determine the best course of treatment.