How To Tell If Your Fuel Pump Needs Replacing

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Fuel Pump Assembly 1986 Bronco II CC Image courtesy of Marion Doss on Flickr

Fuel Pump Assembly 1986 Bronco II CC Image courtesy of Marion Doss on Flickr

Your fuel pump is obviously important for your car, and it would seem as if your vehicle couldn’t move without one. That’s not always true, though. Some vehicles can limp along with a malfunctioning fuel pump for a few blocks or even miles.

But driving with a poorly performing fuel pump is not good for your vehicle, so it’s important to look out for some signs of trouble before you end up stranded or stalled out in traffic.

The fuel pump pumps fuel from your vehicle’s tank to the engine. If the fuel pump malfunctions, your engine will receive less fuel than it needs. There are some common symptoms for such a situation.

The first and most obvious symptom is that your car may not start at all, or it might start poorly. This poor start will take the form of a sputtering, stuttering, stammering sort of start, as if your car’s engine is only getting a trickle of fuel instead of the amount it needs. Your car may also stall during operation because the fuel pump is bad.

Vehicles can sputter and stall for a variety of reasons, so here’s a follow-up test. Pull your vehicle in the garage or other silent environment. When it’s not running, put the key in the ignition and turn it to the “ON” or “accessory” position. (Don’t try to start the engine.) If you have fuel injection and an electric fuel pump, the pump should start up, making a clicking or buzzing sound.

After performing the above test, if you can’t hear the fuel pump turn on, try this test. Using a fuel pressure gauge, test to make sure there’s enough fuel reaching the engine. You can take your vehicle to a technician for this test, or purchase a fuel pressure gauge at an auto parts store and do it yourself. Near the engine there should be a fuel pressure valve where you can attach the gauge. Find the recommended fuel pressure in ChiltonDIY. Compare your measurement of the fuel pressure with what it should be. If there is less pressure than there should be, that’s a sign that your fuel pump may be faltering.

Of course, there could be a few other problems causing incorrect fuel pressure, such as an obstruction in the fuel line or a bad fuel pressure regulator. If your fuel pressure is too high, suspect the fuel pressure regulator. For more information on diagnosing a fuel pump problem, check out Chilton’s online database for detailed instructions, images, and tips from our certified expert technicians to help you determine whether you need to replace your fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator, clean out the fuel lines, or something else.  Learn more about how to keep your car in tip top shape!

844 responses to “How To Tell If Your Fuel Pump Needs Replacing”

  1. Julie Barnfield says:

    I have a 01 chevy malibu and i had the ignition switch replaced and the bcm replaced. Well i recently had a cd player installed and the radio works but my instrument panel and the gear shaft and climate control panel would not come on. Got to checking fuses and found the interior dpor light fuse needed changing so changed it and it came on so i thought maybe there are some more fuses needed changing but i made a mistake and pulled the bcm fuse. Well now my car will crank but after a few seconds die even when pressing gas pedal. Lights on dash and other listed above still not on and radio does work. Help please i need my car.

  2. Amy Gilbert says:

    Fuel pump is the main source from engine get energy and horsepower for moving. And if there’s a problem in fuel pump then it will affect the engine as well the speed.

  3. tanya says:

    LI can’t afford the pump until Monday can I drive till then .can I blow the engine if I drive till Monday

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Join us on our Technician Talk forum on the Chilton Community website where we posted your question. It’s free to join the site and when you do you can opt to receive email notifications when someone posts about your question.

  4. Heather says:

    My car doesn’t want to start right after I fill it up with gas. It stutters and struggles starting; I have to push on the gas pedal and rev it to get it to staty started so I can be on my way. It is ONLY when I fill it completely up. I have not noticed this when I only put in a few dollars say if I just need to get somewhere fast…. Is this a fuel pump issue? thx
    Heather

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      We posted your question on our Technician Talk Chilton Community forum where others can contribute.

      It’s free to join the site and when you do you can opt to receive email notifications when someone posts about your question.

    • Lindsey Dupree says:

      I am having the same issues as Heather. Only when i fill my tank up it acts like it does not want to start but i press on the gas and it does and never have an issue since until yesterday driving on the high way it just stopped on me But i had about 80 miles until empty, my boyfriend brought some gas to me and it started right up! I want to Know is this a fuel pump issue!

      • ChiltonDIY says:

        Sorry to hear that! You can look up your car’s make/model at http://www.ChiltonDIY.com.

        There you can browse the table of contents before purchasing the online manual to see what is covered. Just click on the plus signs to reveal the subheadings. Subscribe to view, print, and save from the repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins, diagnostics, maintenance intervals and more.

        Sounds like the fuel sending unit is off, for one thing. Some models are known for fuel level sending unit problems. To resolve the fuel gauge issue you need to remove the fuel pump module. Some fuel pump modules incorporate the fuel level sending unit.

  5. mark says:

    Fuel cap not venting and creating negative pressure in tank

  6. jasmine wilson says:

    ok i have an chevy colbalt 08 and i have an gas leak i took it to an shop and they dropped the tank and said that it was the fuel pump the car starts sometimes when i try and start it it wont but i try again and it cranks on the second try i had another mechanic come to replace th fuel pump today and he said that it wasnt the fuel pump because the car wouldnt start is this true?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Sorry to hear that! You can look up your car’s make/model at http://www.chiltondiy.com. There you can browse a table of contents before purchasing the online manual, where you can view, print, and save from online repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins, Recalls, maintenance intervals, and more.
      To check the vehicle, follow this PATH in your ChiltonDIY subscription: Diagnostics > Diagnostic Information And Procedures > Diagnostic System Check – Vehicle

  7. tonyjohn says:

    My wife has a 1992 Nissan sentra and its leaking a lot of gas. It only leakes when car is on after a few secounds we seAled the tank around it but its still leaking is it the fuel pump.

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Please don’t drive the car with fuel leaking! Sounds like a hole in the fuel lines or fuel tank. I would inspect them closely. Use extreme caution when working on the fuel system!
      You can look up your car’s make/model at http://www.ChiltonDIY.com. There you can browse the table of contents, click on the plus sign to see subheadings.
      When you subscribe you can view, print, and save from online repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins, maintenance intervals, and more.

  8. Aida Delacruz says:

    Hi I have a 2005 chevrolet equinox and couple of weeks ago the engine yellow light turned on and after that every now and then when I start my car it won’t crank until I keep pushing gas but now since yesterday my car won’t start .Can it just be the fuel filter ,I hope not the fuel pump because I do not have $500 to buy a new one.

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      PATH: Engine Performance & Emission Controls > Engine Controls – 3.4L > Diagnostic Information And Procedures > Symptom Diagnostics > Engine Cranks But Does Not Run
      You can look up your car’s make/model at http://www.ChiltonDIY.com. There you can browse the table of contents; click on the plus sign to see subheadings.
      When you subscribe you can view, print, and save from online repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins, maintenance intervals, and more.

  9. Chase says:

    My car starts but when I’m driving and I stop it dies on me. I don’t know what it could be. I thinks it’s fuel pump. When it stalls when it stops it starts back up. Could this be fuel pump?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      No, I don’t think it’s the pump, have the vehicle scanned for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). It may be something with the base idle control.
      Check your ChiltonDIY subscription for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) and troubleshooting.
      With a subscription at http://www.ChiltonDIY.com you can access repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins and recalls, maintenance intervals, and more. You can view, print, and save from the online information and there’s also an option to have the information read out loud.

  10. Avi says:

    My car suddenly lost power but was still on. Looked online and suspect either fuel pump or perhaps filter. Is it an expensive job? I only have 1 more payment on my 06 Legacy and already dumped a newer engine after the first one blew 2 years ago and just put new brakes 2 months ago. Just looking for advice. Thanks

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Follow these navigation paths in ChiltonDIY for the 2006 Legacy:
      PATH: Engine Mechanical > Specifications > Gasoline Engine Tune-Up Specifications
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Precautions
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Relieving Fuel System Pressure
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Fuel Pump > Removal & Installation

      Subscribe at http://www.ChiltonDIY.com for repair procedures, specifications, technical service bulletins and recalls, maintenance intervals, and more. You can view, print, and save from the online information and there’s also an option to have the information read out loud.

  11. bryant long says:

    i have a 2005 chevy impala ls and my car stop on me and i try to start it would not start let it stand for 20 minute and it start but then it will die it pumping gas so what can it be fuel filter

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Chilton has information that will help! Start with the Strategy Based Diagnosis, you’ll check the basics and scan for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs).
      Subscribe to ChiltonDIY for your 2005 Chevy Impala LS, and then use the left navigation tree to follow the paths below. Choose the fuel system for the car’s engine.
      PATH: Diagnostics > Strategy Based Diagnosis
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Fuel Controls – 3.8L > Repair Instructions > Fuel System > Fuel Filter Replacement
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Fuel Controls – 3.4L > Diagnostic Information And Procedures > Fuel System > Fuel System Diagnosis
      PATH: Fuel Systems > Fuel Controls – 3.8L (L36 And L67) > Diagnostic Information And Procedures > Fuel System >

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