Your fuel pump has one seemingly simple job: to pump fuel from your gas tank to the engine.
Needless to say, if this auto part fails, you have a big problem.
Here are the most common signs your fuel pump isn’t working correctly. If you notice issues while driving, pull over to the side of the road in a safe spot, stop the car, and call your mechanic – plus a tow truck.
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Is Your Fuel Pump on the Fritz? 6 Signs to Heed Immediately
Watch for these signs and get your vehicle serviced if you notice something wrong.
1. Your Temperature Gauge Is Reading Hot and the Car Stalls
A combination of two things can mean your fuel pump is failing: When the temperature gauge reads hotter than normal, and the car stalls.
If you continue having problems with stalling, the issue at hand may be your fuel pump. A replacement might be the solution.
2. The Vehicle Surges Forward Unexpectedly
You may have experienced this before: You’re driving along, maintaining a constant speed, when all of a sudden, your vehicle surges forward, picking up speed without any urging from you. It’s like you pushed down on the gas pedal (but you didn’t).
This phenomenon is related to irregularities with your fuel pump motor. If you experience surges like this, you need to have it checked out.
3. The Vehicle Loses Power When Under Stress
Some driving situations are more stressful than others for your car or vehicle. For example, climbing a steep hill or hauling a heavy load both make your car work harder and thus require more gasoline to get the job done.
When your fuel pump can’t keep up with the situational demands on your car, it may respond by losing power.
4. Your Gas Mileage Decreases
The amount of time you spend refueling at the gas station is a good indicator of the health of your fuel pump.
For example, a faulty relief valve can cause more fuel than what is needed to fill the engine. If you notice your vehicle is guzzling gas all of a sudden, this is a sign your pump isn’t working as it should.
5. The Engine Sputters When You’re Driving Fast
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An excellent indicator that your fuel pump is on the way out can happen when you’re driving at high speeds.
For example, if you’re cruising above 70 on the interstate and notice your engine suddenly sputters, then recovers, it could be a sign the pump is struggling to supply the engine with enough gas at the right pressure level.
6. The Engine Won’t Start at All
Fortunately, all the above warning signs will occur before a faulty fuel pump kills your engine.
Unfortunately, if you ignored the signs, you’re likely headed for engine failure. This is because the pump will eventually fail to deliver fuel to the engine when your car tries to start.
If your car won’t start and you suspect the fuel pump, double-check the fuel line pressure.
3 Tips to Prevent Fuel Pump Disasters
You can prevent fuel issues if you take some careful preventative measures.
1. Don’t Let the Fuel Run Out
Do you regularly let your fuel tank fall below one-quarter full? Have you gotten down to the dregs and waited to fill up with gas until after your fuel light came on? Or worse, have you run out of fuel completely while on the road?
All of these actions will put unnecessary stress on your pump. To help maintain the life of this vital car part, try to keep your fuel level above one-quarter of a tank.
2. Don’t Fill Up with Low-Quality Fuel
Low-quality gasoline can harm your pump. This is because cheap fuel may contain particles of debris too small to get strained or filtered out and this can do damage.
Avoid this and don’t buy cheap gasoline. Spending a few extra dollars at the gas station can go a long way toward keeping the pump healthy.
3. Avoid Filling Up While Gas Station Fuel Tanks Are Being Filled
When those big trucks are at the gas station, filling up the fuel tanks, avoid getting gas at the same time.
Why? Because as the big tanks are being filled, it can stir up debris, which can get into the fuel you pump into your gas tank. Dirty fuel will damage your pump.
Pay Attention to Warning Signs, and Prevent Fuel Pump Failure
Taking care of your vehicle is a prevention game.
The key to avoiding big, expensive problems with your engine is to pay attention to the little signs that something is wrong.
For the health and longevity of your fuel pump, use the above preventative measures, and carefully note any changes in performance, no matter how small.