We’re going to talk about what to do when a fuel pump doesn’t work. Of course, replacing a defective fuel pump is inevitable, but we will teach you some temporary fuel pump fix tricks that will keep your car running until you can get it to the shop.
It’s the thing that most car owners fear the most – when you turn the key in the ignition, and the car won’t start. Aside from the inconvenience of not being able to use your car to get to work, there’s also that sinking feeling in your stomach that your wallet is about to take a big hit.
Many common issues may result in your car not starting. These include a dead battery, a failed starter, a defective alternator, and a faulty ignition switch. If you’ve eliminated all of these, then the problem is probably the fuel pump.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Does a Fuel Pump Do?
- 2 How to Diagnose Fuel Pump Problems
- 3 Tricks to Get a Fuel Pump Working
- 4 Replacing a Fuel Pump Yourself
What Does a Fuel Pump Do?
Your engine does not use pure gasoline to run but a mixture of gas and air. To achieve this, the fuel pump draws gas from the tank to the carburetor, where it is mixed with air before it goes to the engine.
There are two types of fuel pumps. Mechanical pumps use the action of the camshaft to draw fuel along a pipe into the carburetor. Electrical pumps use an electromagnetic switch known as a solenoid to draw the fuel under high pressure.
Read Next: Symptoms of Camshaft Position (CMP) sensor
How to Diagnose Fuel Pump Problems
Your car not starting is the most serious sign that your car’s fuel pump is defective. It can also adversely affect the performance of your car in the following ways:
The fuel pump may not deliver a consistent flow of fuel to the engine, resulting in it skipping several power strokes. This causes the engine to jerk and sputter. This may only last a few minutes during the early stages of fuel pump failure.
2. When you accelerate, your car loses power
This happens because the engine needs more fuel during acceleration. If your fuel pump is defective, it cannot provide the additional fuel needed.
3. While under strain, your car experiences loss of power
If your car is performing certain high-performance activities such as towing or driving uphill, it requires more fuel. If your fuel pump is defective, it cannot cope with the increased demand, causing the engine to lose power.
4. Your car surges
While you’re driving at a consistent speed, your car suddenly increases in speed. The reason for this is the uneven wear of your fuel pump’s various components, resulting in inconsistent pressure and uneven delivery of fuel to the engine.
Besides, you can try listening to see if the fuel pump is running. Ask someone to turn the engine on for a few seconds and listen for the buzz of the pump working.
But if you are in any doubt, the best way to confirm if the fuel pump is defective is to bring your car in for a checkup.
Tricks to Get a Fuel Pump Working
If your car does not start, and you believe it is because of a faulty fuel pump, here are some ways you can get it to run. This will let you use it for a while until you can take it to the shop to be repaired.
1. Prepare your car
Before you try these fuel pump quick-fix tricks, check if your car has enough fuel left by looking at the fuel level. You should also look at the fuel filter and fuel pressure regulator to see if they are still working properly. Read Bad Fuel Pressure Regulator Symptoms.
2. Use a fuel gauge
All you have to do is attach the gauge to your car’s engine. This will allow your car to start even if it has a bad fuel pump.
3. Apply external pressure
By applying external pressure, you can maintain the required pressure that the fuel pump no longer delivers. This will enable your car to start by ensuring that the engine will perform.
4. Maintain heat
For this trick to work you have to ensure that you maintain a moderate amount of heat in the engine. Hence, the engine should not be very hot or very cold. This will stabilize its performance and reduce the engine’s malfunctioning.
Replacing a Fuel Pump Yourself
An important thing to remember about these tricks to get a fuel pump working is that they are only a temporary fix. Changing the broken pump is the only permanent way to get your car running again.
If you want to do the replacement yourself, here are the steps to take:
1. Ensure that you’re working in a safe area and that you’re prepared
Work in a well-ventilated space. Drain the fuel from the tank if you know that you have to drop it to change the fuel pump. If the tank has no drain valve, use a hand siphon hose and approved container.
2. Relieve the fuel pressure
Check your owner manual for how to do this. Or you can use this method starting with removing the fuel pump’s fuse after turning the engine off. After the fuse is out, restart the engine and the pressure should be relieved.
Besides, you should also remove the negative terminal of the battery. This is a safety precaution to avoid sparks that might accidentally cause a fire.
3. Change the fuel pump
There are two ways to change the pump. The most common one is to lower the tank. But if you’re lucky, your car will have a fuel access pump door since this will make replacing the pump easier.
If you have to lower the tank, make sure to use two jacks to support the car to avoid accidents. Make sure that you carefully remove all the fuel lines, vent hoses and wiring connections.
After removing the tank, clean it thoroughly first using pressurized water. Also, use carburetor cleaner to clean the opening of the fuel tank before replacing the fuel pump.
If you have to remove the tank, you can also check it for leaks. If there is any damage, you should also replace the tank along with the fuel pump.
If your tank has an access door, all you have to do is remove it to access the pump after first disconnecting the fuel lines. Loosen the retaining ring and then pull out the pump. Have a container handy to catch fuel dripping from the pump.
Once you’ve installed the new pump, make sure that you’ve properly plugged in all the required electrical connectors and hoses. Start the vehicle to make sure that everything is working properly.
James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.