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!

608 Responses to “How To Tell If Your Fuel Pump Needs Replacing”

  1. Brandy says:

    (this comment continues a conversation from the previous page)

    He said that he could tell by the wiring under the hood that that also could be the reason why the car wasn’t turning over but this is after the fact that he told me it was the pump.could I get the Dtc. From advance auto parts I no long trust this repair shop.

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Brandy, you might ask Advance Auto Parts if they can obtain your DTCs for you. If they can’t you could ask them for recommendations of where you could go to have the DTCs pulled.

      Is your Pontiac still running with the intermittent starting problem?

  2. Fahn says:

    My Renault Clio suddenly stalled and refused to start while I was in a heavy traffic jam. Got crank and batt was alright but still refused to start. The car ended up towed to one workshop nearby. The mechanic told me that it might be the crankshaft sensor or fuel pump faulty.

    When I called him up, he told me that the fuel pump is faulty and he could not get the new for me so soon.

    My car was then left unattended at a parking lot nearby his workshop for couple of days. And so I decided to come back to give it a try to see if the car could start and true enough it started. I did it without the mechanic’s knowledge as the car was parked away from his workshop.

    I am starting to sense that the mechanic is trying to cheat me telling me that it is a faulty fuel pump and he will mark up the price. I would like to know if a faulty fuel pump, will there be any chance that the car can start after some time or it will not start at all. I am just afraid that it might happen again on the road and need to spend on towing. Or could it be just a bad crankshaft sensor?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi there.
      A faulty fuel pump or crankshaft sensor could cause intermittent problems like the one you are describing.
      Sometimes fuel pumps will start pumping again after the vehicle is towed. The bouncing and removal of the vehicle from the tow truck can jar the fuel pump and it will start temporarily. But from my research, the crank sensors do have problems! Did your technician report what codes he or she found in your vehicle?

  3. jean henry says:

    My car has been giving me problems and I did the code and they said the egr valve or I have an exhaust leak but i think it my fuel pump as I was driving my car shut off on me in the middle of the road way wat could be the problem

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Jean Henry.
      The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and/or an exhaust leak will not cause an engine to shut off and not restart. An exhaust leak or a faulty EGR valve can cause drivability issues but they would not leave you stranded unable to continue. An EGR valve that is stuck open can cause the engine to stall mainly when the throttle is released and the vehicle is coasting down or when you are pulling up to a stop; generally speaking an EGR valve that is stuck open will allow the vehicle to restart with a rough idle due to the unregulated vacuum leak created from the EGR valve being stuck open.
      Without testing I would not want to rule out the fuel pump for as you know the systems all work together.

  4. Okaya Shaw says:

    I have a problem with my 1995 Nissan bluebird it is diying whenever I come to a stop or just diying randomly while driving it stalls whenever I put the shifter in revere an depress the brake it wouldn’t start recently so I got a new distributor placed in the muffler is now distributing black thick some an the mechanics are insisting that I need a new ecu please help the car is running idle an burning excessive gas I also smell gas around the cst

  5. Okaya Shaw says:

    The fuel pump is working fine I checked it it is delivering gas to the fuel injectors. I’ve changed the spark plugs. An tested the starter an its working find but if I should start it cold ti would but if I should drive across the street switch off the ignition an try restarting again it wouldn’t an the sparks plugs would be flooded an this happens even if the car start with one crank an I shut off the ignition to start again it won’t I have to be purchasing sparks plug daily an the radiator fan keeps running is it soposed to be running straight?,or it should after the engine is warm?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Okaya.
      At Chilton vehicles sold in the U.S. are within our wheelhouse. However, the Bluebird looks like it is similar to the Nissan Altima.
      You mentioned the fan is coming on as soon as you start the vehicle, that is concerning. Have you scanned the vehicle for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)? Check the coolant temperature sensor, make sure the connector is attached to the sensor. This could cause a rich running condition and the coolant fans to run. A faulty ECM (engine control module) can cause the cooling fans to operate strangely too. Have you checked all your connections at the battery and fuse panel? Make sure you have a good battery and that the power and grounds are tight and clean. Check the vacuum lines, the intake system and the EGR valve (exhaust gas recirculation) operation. Have you checked the base engine timing?
      If you continue to smell fuel, use caution and common sense.
      Chilton has good testing and other related information that would help with this issue at ChiltonDIY.com.

  6. Antony says:

    Hi there, i would like to know my car having problem of fuel pump or else?when i start the engine from morning engine sound is ok and everything is fine but after 50 km drive n stop the engine and start again i got crank sound frommy engine and not really start engine and showing me that engine light. Plsssss can help some1 ?

  7. Nancy says:

    Hello,

    I have have a 2003 Saturn L200. Recently, I have encountered a very strange problem with the car. When the car is parked outside under a hot day, then engine would start over but immediately shut off. The gas gauge then no longer works (even when there is still a lot of fuel left), the door’s lock/unlock and the trunk buttons don’t work while the windows can be pulled up and down just fine. When the temperature cools down, everything works just fine as if nothing has ever happened. My mechanic told me that it is the fuel pump, but even after the fuel pump is replaced, the same problem remains. I am suspecting it is the Body Control Module, the mechanic insists that the fuel pump needed to be replaced anyway, and he is still trying to figure out the problem with my car.

    What should I do?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Nancy.
      I would check all the electrical connections, starting at the battery and fuse block. Check the ignition switch too! Then take a look at the module connectors for the PCM (powertrain control module) and the BCM (body control module). The fact that the problem happens after the vehicle has a hot soak leads me to think it could be faulty wiring connectors or a possible module malfunction. Did your vehicle have any B or U diagnostic trouble codes stored?
      General Motors issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) that may be related for “no start” and false fuel gauge readings conditions. For example, the vehicle may not start after being shut down with a low fuel gauge reading. You can find this TSB in your ChiltonDIY subscription for your 2003 Saturn L200.
      By, the way, with so many GM recalls recently, check with your dealer and in your ChiltonDIY Recall list for your Saturn to make sure that all Recall repairs have been performed on your vehicle. Many Recalls are repaired by the dealer at no charge.

  8. Amber says:

    Hi I have a 200l acura cl. Lately it has shut off once daily out of no where and takes me 5 or more cranks to start it. I do not get a warning sign or any lights on the light board showing anything. Could it be my fuel pump? When I crank it there is no noise. Just sounds like a dead battery but my battery is good just got it in may, alternator in may, motor mounts April, tune up March. Done had the works on my car. If it is the fuel pump it will be the last thing im fixing on her( my car that is).

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Amber.
      Honda/Acura vehicles sometimes have problems with PGM-FI Main relays. this can cause intermittent starting problems.
      The relay is located under the dash by the steering column. To remove it you’ll have to remove the bracket itself. with a 10 mm socket. They relay cost is about $40 dollars.
      The main relay graphic is from: http://www.clubintegra.com

      There is a technical service bulletin (TSB) “Hard Start after Hot Soak” TSB that might apply. It mainly occurs in cold weather, but some cheap gas could be old winter gas mixtures! You can check the TSBs in your ChiltonDIY subscription.

  9. Kathleen says:

    I have a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am that I have recently placed the spark plugs and filters after being told by a mechanic that I needed the tune up. However, after that it was still making a loud puttering noise and even became worse than before. Then finally driving home from work the car locked on me while trying to turn and died on me. It did start right up and continues to start fine but still with the loud puttering noise.I am not sure if I need to replace the fuel pump or another problem?

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Kathleen.
      Which engine does your Grand Am have? Is it a 2.2L 4 cyl, or 3.4L V6?
      The 2.2L engine has a ignition coil housing that can short out and cause a puttering noise. This is caused by a short in the boots and or coil housing. Scan the Grand Am for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) to help pinpoint the problem.

  10. Jamie says:

    Hello,
    I have a 2000 2/door chevy blazer. My blazer had been running fine till the other day.Did some running around stopped at one store came out truck wouldn’t start would crank but just wouldnt start. Sat for about 45 minutes waiting for a friend tried starting again wouldnt start he told me to hold gas pedal all the way to floor did so and truck started ran fine all the way home no missing or sputtering nothing. Went inside came back out and wouldn’t start. Tried couple different things with help from friend still would not start. Next morning went out started right up so friend advised me to let it warm up then shut off and see if it does again. Well lets just say didn’t get that far went about a mile down road and truck died. And haven’t been able to get it to start again. Changed the coil no luck checked at fuel filter to see if gas pumping to filter and it is. But still will not turn over. Please help any suggestions.

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Jamie.
      There could be a number of causes from the throttle position sensor to the powertrain control module and others. Have your Blazer scanned for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). The problem most likely has set a code and will help you pinpoint the issue.

  11. akeem says:

    My car seems to always struggle to start during warm conditions…i try to crank it and it just shutters and shutters then a couple of minutes later it will start. i received a new fuel fliter and my car usually starts when i get a jump. do you think its the fuel pump that needs replacing? i have an 1993 honda civic 1.6 engine

  12. ChiltonDIY says:

    Hi Akeem.
    Check the PGM-FI main relay. The main relay controls the fuel pump operation. Look for the main relay behind the driver’s knee bolster on the left.
    1. Remove the PGM-FI main relay.
    2. Attach the battery positive terminal to the No. 6 terminal and the battery negative terminal to the No. 8 terminal of the main relay.
    3. Check for continuity between the No. 5 terminal and No. 7 terminal on the relay. If there is no continuity, replace the relay and re-test beginning with step 1.
    4. If there is continuity, attach the battery positive terminal to the No. 5 terminal and the battery negative terminal to the No. 2 terminal of the main relay.
    5. Check for continuity between the No. 1 and No. 3 terminal of the relay. If there is no continuity, replace the relay and re-test beginning with step 1.
    6. If there is continuity, attach the battery positive terminal to the No. 3 terminal, and the battery negative terminal to the No. 8 terminal of the relay.
    7. Then check that there is continuity between the No. 5 terminal and the No. 7 terminal. If there is no continuity, replace the relay and re-test beginning with step 1. If there is continuity, the relay is ok.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I have a 2012 Chevy Malibu LS 4cl. The problem I’ve been running into is my car will be running fine for a week or two, then it won’t turn over! The lights, air, everything will come on inside, it’s almost like it doesn’t have fuel. I’ve looked into it, after taking it to two dealers and neither of them finding a problem and determined it’s something with the fuel intake. My question is, is there a cheaper way to fix it, without replacing the entire fuel pump?!

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Jennifer.
      General Motors issued a technical service bulletin, sometimes called “TSB,” for an issue that sounds like what you are experiencing. You can find the TSBs for your Malibu in your ChiltonDIY subscription once the 2012 Malibu online manual is released. In the meantime, you could ask the dealers you talked with if they looked at the TSB titled: Intermittent No Crank/No Start, No Module Communication, MIL, Warning.
      The TSB describes the symptoms, the issue and how to diagnose and repair it. The problems described in the TSB are caused by corrosion at an electrical connection.

  14. Brittany Huff says:

    Hi, I have a 2008 suzuki xl7 limited just today it started acting every time I stop at a light or something when its time to go I literally have to push the pedal to the medal to get it to get up and go it goes but very slowly till I hit about 50 then its normal does this sound like the fuel pump any advice would help please thank you

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Brittany, if all your Suzuki’s tune-up parts have been serviced, and your battery and charging system are okay, I would scan the XL7 for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). It will help pin down your problem. Besides that check the fuel pressure. Verify the fuel pressure is within specifications with the ignition on and the engine off. Exhaust restrictions could also cause the problem, if the three-way catalytic converter is clogged.

  15. Jeremy says:

    I’m also experiencing starting issues with my 2005 dodge neon. It runs fine, but after it sits for awhile is won’t start up. It turns over but won’t fire up. I noticed if I gave it a little gas as I tried to start it, it’ll start up but rough like and will die if I let off, so I have to hold the gas for a bit (I keep it about 2000 rpm for maybe 15-20 secs). So I’m trying to figure out what the possibilities are. I’ve heard fuel pump, filter, or ignition switch (not allowing pump to kick on). Just trying to pick your brain if you have the time to reply. Thanks in advance.

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hi Jeremy.
      Connect a fuel pressure gauge to the vehicle, and observe the fuel pressure. The system pressure at the fuel rail should be within the range specified by Dodge. You’ll find the correct specification in your ChiltonDIY subscription by following this PATH: Fuel Systems > Gasoline Fuel Injection System > Fuel Pressure Regulator > Testing.
      If the fuel pressure is not as specified, inspect the fuel filter, fuel lines, and the fuel pump operation. Leave the fuel gauge installed on the vehicle for about an hour — with the ignition key off. If the fuel pressure drops more than 5 psi with the gauge installed and the engine and ignition off, you might have a faulty fuel pump regulator. The fuel pump assembly must be replaced as a whole unit.

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