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FAQs Concerning Fuel Pumps
How long should my fuel pump last?
Most fuel pumps last at least 100,000 miles with proper maintenance, fuel pumps can last more than 250,000 miles up to the lifetime of your car.
What can I do to keep my fuel pump in good condition?
Keeping your gas tank at least one-quarter full at all times will help extend the life of your fuel pump. Letting your gas run too low on a frequent basis will shorten the life of your pump. Fuel acts as a coolant for your fuel pump, and when your gas tank runs too low, your pump is subject to overheating. The weight of fuel also helps add pressure to push liquid through your pump, and without this pressure, your pump has to work harder, shortening its lifespan.
Changing your fuel filter regularly every 10,000 to 15,000 miles can also extend the life of your pump. Impurities and debris from gas, dust, and dirt can accumulate on the bottom of your gas tank, and if they get sucked into your pump they can damage it. Your filter protects your pump, so it’s important to change it regularly. So you'll want to read up on how to change your fuel filter.
Make sure your gas cap maintains a good seal. A poor seal can allow fuel vapor to escape as well as allow impurities and debris to get in your tank. You should also avoid refueling at gas stations that are not well-maintained. Water in gas or corrosion on pump nozzles can get into your fuel system and damage your fuel pump.
How often should I replace my fuel pump?
Normally, you should not need to replace your fuel pump before it starts showing symptoms of wear. However, if you’ve been using your pump for more than 100,000 miles and if you’re taking your car in anyway for another type of maintenance that involves removing your gas tank, it may be efficient to replace your pump during the same service trip.
Buy a replacement fuel pump online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
Signs You Need a New Fuel PumpHow can you tell when you need a new fuel pump? Here are some signs to look for:
- Loud whining noises coming from your fuel tank:
This can be a sign your fuel pump is working too hard to build pressure. This may indicate a damaged pump. It can also be caused by a low gas tank, impurities in your fuel system and engine, or other damaged parts such as a damaged hose, so be sure to rule out these possibilities before replacing your pump.
- Trouble starting:
If your vehicle takes more cranks than normal to start, or if you have to turn your key several times to get it to start, this may be a sign that your fuel pump is weak and not providing enough pressure. However, this can also be caused by other conditions that affect your fuel or ignition systems, including a bad coolant sensor, a bad throttle position sensor, a plugged filter, coil problems, a bad crank sensor or a bad rotor; so be sure to have a full diagnostic run before replacing your fuel pump.
- Failing to start:
If your fuel pump has failed completely, you will experience a no-start condition where your engine still cranks (turns over) but fails to actually start due to lack of fuel. However, a no-start condition can also indicate a problem with your battery, alternator, or starter, so check these possibilities before replacing your pump.
- Performance problems after starting:
If your pump isn’t supplying enough pressure, it can cause your engine to misfire, resulting in stuttering and jerking when you accelerate. This can also cause lack of power and acceleration, or your engine may stall. You may also notice a lack of fuel efficiency. However, these symptoms can also be caused by other problems, so get a proper diagnostic done before replacing your fuel pump.
Auto Fuel Pump Types
Fuel pumps come in two types: mechanical and electric.
Mechanical fuel pumps
Mechanical pumps are more common on older vehicles. These are driven by the camshaft or by a shaft attached to the crankshaft, which opens a diaphragm to create suction and draw fuel in through a one-way valve. Mechanical fuel pumps are usually located near the carburetor and engine. Leading mechanical fuel pump providers include Bell & Gossett, Airtex, and Carter Fuel Systems.
Electric fuel pumps
Most newer cars have electric fuel pumps. Electric fuel pumps became popular after cars began using electronic fuel injection, which works more efficiently at higher pressures than standard mechanical pumps can generate. Electric pumps work similar in principle to mechanical ones, but instead of using a shaft to open and close the diaphragm, electric pumps use an electromagnetic switch called a solenoid. Electric fuel pumps are usually located inside fuel tanks, although they may be mounted outside them. The leading electric fuel pump supplier is Carquest.
Fuel Pump Installation
For most vehicles today with an electric fuel pump, the process of replacing your fuel pump involves removing your fuel tank, removing your old fuel pump from the tank, attaching your new pump and then reinstalling the tank. To avoid injury and to avoid voiding your manufacturer’s warranty due to improper installation, the best practice is to have a professionally licensed mechanic install your fuel pump. If you have enough experience and want to install your own fuel pump, follow these step-by-step instructions for replacing in-engine electric fuel pumps.
Common Fuel Pump Problems
Here are some of the most common fuel pump problems and their remedies:
- Whining noises
In addition to a problem with your fuel pump, whining noises can be caused by a low gas tank, impurities in your fuel system and engine, or damage to fuel hoses or other parts of your car. To rule out a low gas tank, which is the easiest problem to fix, check if the whining is audible when your tank is less than one-quarter full and then fill the tank and check it again. If the problem persists, you can then rule out impurities by using a fuel additive to clean your engine or having a mechanic check for blockages in your fuel system. If you suspect other damages, having a mechanic check for these is your best recourse. If none of these steps solve the problem, your fuel pump should be replaced.
- Starting problems
Besides your fuel pump, other factors can contribute to starting problems, including issues with your battery, alternator, or starter. To isolate whether your fuel pump is the problem, have someone else listen near your fuel tank for the vibrating sound your pump should make when you’re running the engine. This will be easiest to hear when you turn the ignition key just enough to start the engine. If you can’t hear the fuel pump, it may be weak and in need of replacement and you should take your car in for a diagnostic.
- Poor engine performance
If your engine is jerky when you accelerate, it’s usually a fuel pump problem. You can check whether your pump is the problem by listening for your pump's vibrating noise as described above for dealing with starting problems. If you can’t hear the pump, take your car in for a diagnostic to see if your pump needs replacement.
Buy a fuel pump online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgable Team Members help you.
Can I replace my fuel pump myself?
While it’s possible to replace your fuel pump yourself, it’s not recommended unless you’re a licensed auto mechanic. For one thing, pressurized fuel is highly flammable; you risk serious injury or death. Also, improperly installing your pump can void your vehicle’s warranty.
How much does it cost to replace a fuel pump?
Replacing a fuel pump can cost from $100 to $1,000 depending on the make, model, and year of your car.
Can I install a different brand of fuel pump than the one my car came with?
Yes, usually, but check your manufacturer’s website for specs on sizes and compatibility.
Can ethanol damage my fuel pump?
Most newer cars are designed to tolerate ethanol levels up to 10 percent (E10), but research by U.S. oil refiners and auto manufacturers has found that E15 can damage fuel pumps. Check with your manufacturer to find out what ethanol level is safe for your pump.