If your fuel pump starts giving you issues it can definitely be frustrating to head to a mechanic and hear that you need to have your fuel pump replaced. The average fuel pump is designed to last for somewhere between 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles. Some have managed to make it well beyond 200,000 miles. But don’t expect yours to last that long by any means. If your car has hit the 100,000-mile mark and you haven’t replaced your fuel pump yet, then you can expect it might go out on you sometime soon. Find out fuel pump replacement cost (s) here.
Let's take a look at what a fuel pump is, fuel pump replacement cost, and some signs and symptoms that yours is going bad on you.
What Is the Fuel Pump and What Does It Do? – Fuel Pump Replacement Cost
A fuel pump does exactly what you’d think it might do based on the name. Although it may be located in a few different places along the fuel line depending on the make and model of your vehicle, the purpose is to pump fuel from your tank into the combustion chamber of your engine so that it can be mixed with air and ignited by your spark plug.
If you have an electric fuel pump installed in your vehicle then a small motor in the fuel pump will draw fuel up from the tank through a line. If you have what is known as a mechanical fuel pump, then it will be connected to your camshaft and use the motion of that to pump the fuel. Both perform essentially the same task; they just do it in slightly different ways and are located in different places along the fuel line to perform the tasks that they do.
Regardless of the type of fuel pump you have, once it's working the fuel that it pumps travels down the line until it reaches your engine. If the pump isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, it will be hard to get fuel to your engine and your car will be potentially unable to work at all.
How Can You Tell if Your Fuel Pump is Going Bad?
If your fuel pump is starting to go bad there will be a few signs and symptoms you can be on the lookout for to let you know you have a problem. Any one of these on its own may not indicate a fuel pump issue but definitely if you start experiencing several, have your mechanic check the pump first before looking elsewhere.
No Engine Start: The most dramatic and frustrating symptom of a faulty fuel pump is when your engine simply won't start at all. This is one of the most extreme symptoms of a faulty fuel pump and it's because the pump is functioning so poorly or not at all such that no fuel can reach your engine and your car is completely unable to start.
Engine Sputtering: When you're driving you may notice your engine starts sputtering intermittently and then going back to performing as normal. This is caused by your fuel pump being unable to maintain a steady flow of fuel from your gas tank to the engine. It could happen at any time, but it will be more noticeable when you're driving at high speeds.
Surging: This is one of the more dangerous side effects of a problem with your fuel pump. There will be occasions when you notice your vehicle surging forward for no reason even though you hadn't put your foot on the gas. This can happen at any time and if you notice it you need to get to a mechanic as soon as possible. The surging is completely unpredictable and could happen while you're stopped at a red light which means the risk for running into another driver or a pedestrian is something you need to be aware of.
Inconsistent Pressure Readings: Your fuel pressure gauge will give you unpredictable readings if you're having a problem with your fuel pump. Your owner's manual has the information to let you know what the proper pressure of the fuel system is. When the pump is not working the way it's supposed to then your pressure readings could be lower or higher than normal and may change randomly.
Engine Overheating: Sometimes when your fuel pump isn't working the way it's supposed to be, you'll notice the temperature gauge for your engine starting to read hot. This could also end up causing your engine to stall out on you. Because your fuel pump is not sending the right amount of fuel to the engine, the engine is going to be overtaxed and running hot as a result.
Loss of Power: Your fuel pump has the most demand put on it when you are trying to go up a hill or if you're pulling a heavy load behind your vehicle. And neither one of these circumstances if your fuel pump isn't working correctly, you're going to notice your car struggling to perform the task. If you find that you're losing power as you're going up a hill or if you try to haul a trailer behind you this is a sign that your fuel pump is unable to meet the excess fuel demands that your engine is putting on it.
Poor Fuel Efficiency: When your fuel pump isn't working the way it's supposed to you'll notice that you're heading to the gas pumps more often than you expected. This can be the result of a fuel pump sending the incorrect amount of fuel to your engine when it's not needed which will cause you to waste gas.
Can You Drive a Car with a Bad Fuel Pump?
Depending on the nature of the problem with your fuel pump it's possible you can still drive your car even if your fuel pump isn't working the way it's supposed to. That said, it doesn't make it a very good idea to drive with a bad fuel pump. It's very likely that the problem will continue to get worse and you could end up suffering the symptoms that we mentioned above, some of which could end up causing your car to stall out in the middle of driving or lead to serious accidents over which you have no control.
The amount of damage you could potentially do to your vehicle as a result of driving with a bad fuel pump means it's never a good idea to do so. When you realize you have a problem with your fuel pump, or you if you just suspect you do, it's in your best interests to get it to a mechanic to get it checked out as soon as you possibly can.
What Is the Fuel Pump Replacement Cost?
The cost of replacing your fuel pump depends very much on the make and model of the car that you're driving as well as the mechanic that you take it to. When you head over to Autozone.com you can find replacement fuel pumps for as low as $27 a piece. That said, some of them can get up to between $300 and $600 each. There are even diesel fuel pumps that will cost you in excess of $1,500. So, you really need to make sure you're doing your homework and finding out which fuel pump works best for your particular vehicle.
In terms of the labor that you're going to be paying for, swapping in a fuel pump is not one of the most labor-intensive jobs that a mechanic is going to do which means that it shouldn't cost you an arm and a leg. A skilled mechanic should probably be able to get this job done in a couple of hours at most. That means you can expect to pay somewhere between perhaps $100 and $300 in labour costs. All told, you're looking at anywhere from around $150 to well over $1,000 to get your fuel pump replaced.
Since the range of potential cost here is so great, it's definitely in your best interest to shop around a little bit and get a couple of quotes from mechanics in your town to find out who can offer you the best deal for your particular make and model of vehicle.
How to Make Your Fuel Pump Last Longer
Given how expensive fuel pump replacement cost can be it is probably in your best interest to ensure that you are maintaining it as well as you can. Even though a fuel pump is meant to last between 50,000 miles and 100,000 miles or more, there are some tips and tricks that you may want to keep in mind in order to get the most use out of yours to save yourself the time and aggravation and having to pay to have it replaced.
Keep Your Tank Full: It's never a good idea to run your fuel tank on empty for a very long period of time. The lower you keep your fuel levels in your tank, the warmer that your fuel pump is going to get. The fuel in your tank acts as a kind of coolant for your fuel pump and keeping the temperature down is essential to extending the lifespan of your fuel pump. if you allow your fuel tank you routinely get too low, you may be unintentionally stressing your fuel pump as a result.
Maintain Your Fuel Filter: A fuel filter is one of those parts of your fuel system that needs to be regularly changed out. The filter is there to prevent any contamination from going from your fuel tank to your engine. Over time the fuel filter is going to get clogged with that debris simply because it's doing its job properly. However, if you don't change your fuel filter in a timely manner then the fuel pump is going to have to struggle more and more to get fuel to pass through the clogged filter. If the clog in a fuel filter is bad enough it can cause your fuel pump to burn out as it struggles to get fuel.
If you're not sure how long your fuel filter is meant to last before it needs to be replaced, check with your owner's manual or Google make and model of your vehicle to find out for sure.
The Bottom Line
A fuel pump is one of those parts that most drivers never really think about until something has gone wrong with it and it needs to be replaced. As we are seeing the cost of replacing a fuel pump can get to be very Steve depending on the make and model of your vehicle and what kind of fuel pump is required. The more high-end or rare your vehicle is, the more likely you're going to have to spend quite a bit of money to get yours replaced.
The best thing you can do for your car is to maintain your fuel pump as efficiently as you can in order to prevent any problems from cropping up. The fuel pump isn't a part that is expected to be replaced on a regular basis the way a fuel filter is. If you maintain it well, you can expect it to last potentially for the life of your vehicle. So just be aware of things like your fuel filter as well as ensuring that your fuel tank is adequately topped up all the time to allow your pump to do its job without having to struggle and wear itself out earlier than it needs to.
When a fuel pump goes bad on you it's not just an inconvenience or a problematic repair bill, it could also potentially be a serious danger to yourself and other drivers on the road. For that reason alone, if you suspect you have a problem with your fuel pumps you need to have it checked out in order to see if your vehicle is running the way it's supposed to, as well as keeping yourself and other drivers safe on the road.