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!

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

  1. Cheryl Damm says:

    I have a 2006 Mercury Monterey van. I recently noticed when accelerating a clicking in the gas pedal. I remove my foot and press a little easier and it doesn’t happen. Could it be a sign the fuel pump may need to be changed?

  2. ChiltonDIY says:

    Cheryl, it sounds like your the accelerator linkage is sticking, Not the fuel pump.
    Check the throttle cable operation, make sure it is not binding. Then check the throttle body for sticking or binding, inspect, and clean.

  3. emkay says:

    Hello guys, went on a short trip yesterday and I noticed that when trying to accelerate faster while overtaking another vehicle, the car seems to stall a bit then it picks up speed later on. What could possibly be the problem? Thanks for your anticipated help..

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hello Emkay.

      It could be quite a few things. I will need the year, make and model of your vehicle to be more helpful. You could have a fuel or ignition problem.

      Have the fuel pressure tested and have the vehicle scanned for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), this could help pin down your problem. And last but not least, when was the last time the vehicle was serviced?

  4. hady says:

    hi,
    im hady from malaysia..recently i take off my cefiro a31 rb20det internal fuelpump coz it pressure very slow.i use 2 pump n install fuel catch tank..the problem is engine wont start at all,fuelrail is full but when it reach adjustable fuel regulator theres no pressure(0 psi) at fuel return line to tank..please help me..

    • ChiltonDIY says:

      Hello Hady.
      Have you checked the fuel pressure regulator and fuel filter?
      Did you check for leaking fuel injectors?
      What does your fuel pressure read when trying to start the engine?
      Have you scanned your car for diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs)?

  5. Alex says:

    Hello I have a problem when my car accelerates if I barely step on the gas it like rocks back and forth but if I heavy accelerate it doesnt. And also when I shift then left of the clutch and begin to accelerate my car stops for a second like im putting on breaks and then goes it’s a 1988 mazda b2200 thank you

  6. David Patrick says:

    Hey there, I was driving my Mazda Familia GTX 1990 earlier tonight, when it appeared to have the symptoms of no fuel, which I was getting frustrated at because the fuel light wasn’t working…. So, I got someone to bring my some gas, and we only had 91 at the time.

    I know that 91 octane in a turbo car isn’t the best for it because of pre-ignition and so on, but eventually we got it to start, with little left of my battery. Drove it to the gas station, then put more of 95 in it. Then it wouldn’t start again, and this time there was about half a tank in there…

    Same thing again, got it going, then as I was driving it back home, I noticed that when I was driving along, it started to judder around, then stalled, but when I put my foot on the clutch, it backfired into life…

    Do you guys think that this is a cause of bad fuel pump?

    I appreciate your replies in advance!

    Regards,

    David.

  7. Shirley says:

    I have a 1998 mazda 626. I was backing out of a parking spot and my car cut off on me. The alarm/key symbol came on and the car would not start back up. What does that mean? Alarm would be alarm. Now I’m being told my fuel pump needs to be replaced.

  8. jeffrey says:

    I have a 94 ford ranger 4cylinder. Truck just stalled in driveway. Not firing. I first pulled E.E.C. relay then turned key to on a couple times to activate pump. Then pulled pump relay and placed it in E.E.C.socket. Parts tech said these relays were the same. It did fire then but of course stalled with no fuel. I then purchased E.E.C. relay. Still no start. I smell fuel but now do not hear fuel pump as I did before. Are these relays truelly the same? Can I smell fuel if pump is bad?

  9. ed says:

    i have 2002 chev s10 2200 i drove over 100 miles after
    vechile has set for several months then truck would just stop then 5 or 6 seconds it would start right up these stalls have become more frequent i have put fresh fuel plus new cap and fuel filter

  10. jenn says:

    Hi, my 1996 dodge ram conversion van just stopped
    And I checked the oil and there’s gas in it but it won’t start someone told me it was my fuel pump… When I turn my key to the ON it make a click noise…. Got any advice…. Thank a ton….

  11. Eric says:

    Howdy. I have a 03 ford explorer xlt 4.0. I was driving and all of a sudden the car stalled. It started right back up, but I could not go more then 10mph. When I made it home I parked for a few an when back out to it. Started right back up. Gave it gas and the rpms would not go over 2500. I replaced the fuel filter,hopping that was it and it was not. So I put in a new mafs and that did not help. I kneed help what dose it sound like I need to replace the fuel pump?

  12. Stephanie says:

    Hi I have a 2003 dodge mini van it was driving
    Fine I stopped at a stop light went to drive and the car putted for about 2 blocks an died. The car will start idles for about 20 seconds kind of hard then die. Do you think it could be the fuel pump?

  13. Clint says:

    I have a 2003 Buick century..I replaced the starter,water pump,spark plugs and the battery..I try to start the car but it just won’t start up..it cranks but don’t start..any help?

  14. Angela says:

    Today I was driving my 2005 grand am to work and my car wouldn’t pick up speed to merge on highway it stayed at 55 and I needed to get to 65. It finally got to 65 and was driving fine until I got off at my exit and then suddenly my steering wheel locked up. I was still on off ramp of highway! We had it towed to our mechanic who said its the fuel pump. I do trust our mechanic but I have had no symptoms that any of these websites describe of a fuel pump going bad. My only sign happened literally 5 minutes before my car shut down and wouldn’t start up again. Can this happen? People have said there would be signs and if ignored could lead to damage to the engine if my only sign came today is it possible I caused damage to my engine without even knowing since there were no signs?

  15. Jillian says:

    My 2004 Chevy Tahoe keeps stalling out while driving. Everything stays on but when I push the gas, nothing happens and then the car just shuts off. After letting it sit 2-5 minutes, it starts up like nothing is wrong! It has over 260,000 miles on it and from what I’m told, the fuel pump has never been replaced.

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