When it comes to the fuel in their cars, the only thing that most people worry about is whether or not they have enough of it to get around. But your car actually has an entire fuel system inside of it that contains a bunch of different parts that help to monitor fuel and get it to where it needs to be in your vehicle. One of the many parts in this system is called a fuel rail pressure sensor, and it’s designed to keep tabs on the pressure of the fuel located in your car’s fuel rail. This is a very important job for a variety of reasons, which is why you need to make sure your fuel rail pressure sensor is working properly at all times. Let’s learn more about fuel rail pressure sensors and find out how much it costs to replace them when they go bad below.
What Is a Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor?
While most people have at least heard of some of the parts in their car’s fuel system—like their fuel lines and fuel injectors—they’re not always familiar with fuel rail pressure sensors. So before we get too deep into talking about fuel rail pressure sensors and how they work, it’s important for you to know what they are.
Fuel rail pressure sensors, which are also sometimes just referred to as fuel pressure sensors, are sensors that are connected to your car’s fuel rails. The fuel rails in cars are essentially pipes that are designed to carry fuel to fuel injectors, where the fuel can then make its way into the engines in vehicles. Fuel rail pressure sensors monitor fuel while it works its way through fuel rails to make sure that it’s able to maintain the right pressure based on the needs of your engine and the temperatures in your car. With fully-functioning fuel rail pressure sensors, cars aren’t always able to determine how much fuel needs to be injected through its fuel injectors.
How Does a Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor Work?
Although fuel rail pressure sensors have a fairly complicated job, it’s not all that difficult to understand how they work. They stay in the same place in cars at all times and stand watch over fuel rails as fuel flows through them. They keep a close eye on the pressure of the fuel in fuel rails and stay in constant communication with engine control units while providing them with the information that they need to determine how much fuel to send through fuel injectors.
As an engine control unit receives information about the fuel in a fuel rail from a fuel rail pressure sensor, it’s then able to adjust how often fuel injections take place in addition to how much fuel is injected. As long as everything goes according to plan, a car should be able to maintain good fuel economy and not waste too much fuel when it’s being driven around. Problems can, however, start to occur if and when a fuel rail pressure sensor ever goes bad. It’ll make it difficult for an engine control unit to know how much fuel should be injected from a fuel rail.
How Often Should a Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor Be Replaced?
In theory, the fuel rail pressure sensor in a car shouldn’t ever have to be replaced. More often than not, they’re made to last for the lifetime of a car. But just like almost all of the other parts in a vehicle, there could very well come a time when a fuel rail pressure sensor will go bad. They will sometimes fail with little warning and force you to seek fuel rail pressure sensor replacement.
The good news is that, while many fuel rail pressure sensors go bad out of the blue, there are typically some signs that you’ll notice when yours stop working on you. You should make sure that you know what these signs are so that you don’t miss them when they start showing up. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a big problem on your hands as your car won’t deliver the right amount of fuel to your engine at all times.
What Are Some Signs of a Bad Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor?
One of the first things that you’re going to notice when you have a bad fuel rail pressure sensor is that your car’s check engine light will usually come on. This light could indicate any number of other problems with your car. But it’ll produce a code indicating an issue with your fuel rail pressure sensor when it’s not doing its job properly.
There are also most other things that you might notice about your car when it has a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it. Check out several of the other signs that’ll show that you have a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in your car:
- Your car doesn’t always start right away when you put your car into the ignition and turn it since it’s unable to send the right amount of fuel to your engine
- Your car doesn’t accelerate in the way that you want it to when you step on the gas pedal
- Your car stalls out on you early and often, both when you’re driving it and when you’re idling in it
- Your car burns through fuel way quicker than it seems like it should and costs you a small fortune to fill up at the gas station every week
At first, a bad fuel rail pressure sensor might be a minor inconvenience. You might have to pay a little extra at the gas pump to keep fuel in it. But over time, it can spiral out of control and turn into a much bigger problem. You might even end up putting yourself, your passengers, and even other drivers into a dangerous position by driving around in a car with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it.
Can You Drive Around With a Bad Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor?
When you’re first driving around in a car with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it, you might not even realize that you have a problem on your hands. As a result, you’re not going to put yourself or your car into any real danger by continuing to drive it. The worst thing that’s going to happen is that you’re going to find yourself spending more and more money to put fuel into your car.
As the problem with your fuel rail pressure sensor gets worse, you’re going to begin to find that it will become more difficult to drive your car around due to the issue. It’s going to be difficult to do things like start up your car and keep your car running while you’re out on the road. And as your fuel rail pressure sensor gets closer to completely conking out on you, that’s when the biggest problems of all are going to present themselves. It’s going to be impossible to get your car to continue running for more than a few seconds at a time.
Once you reach this point, you should not continue to drive your car around with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it. Outside of the fact that it’s going to cost you a lot of money to drive in a car like this, it’s also going to put you at risk whenever you’re behind the wheel. You’re going to have to worry about your car stalling out on you all the time, which is why you should take your car off the road immediately and have it worked on by your mechanic.
How Are Fuel Rail Pressure Sensors Replaced?
If you have reason to believe that you have a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in your car, it’s going to be important for you to have it replaced sooner rather than later. Almost any ASE-certified mechanic will be able to get the job done for you in no time at all. Prior to working on your fuel rail pressure sensor, they’ll pull codes from your car’s computer to make sure that that’s the issue with your car. They’ll then follow a series of specific steps to remove your old fuel rail pressure sensor so that they can replace it with a new one.
Here is how a fuel rail pressure sensor is replaced from start to finish:
- A mechanic will begin by disabling a car’s fuel pump and relieve any residual pressure that is left behind in its fuel system
- They’ll then disconnect the battery from a car
- They’ll remove the back seat from a car to get to an access cover located in the floor underneath of it to get to the fuel pump assembly (they may also have to remove the fuel tank from underneath a car to do this)
- They’ll unplug the wiring harness connectors from a fuel pump assembly and detach the fuel lines from it
- They’ll remove the entire fuel pump assembly from a car and take the fuel rail pressure sensor out of it
- They’ll insert a new fuel rail pressure sensor into the fuel pump assembly and then put the fuel pump assembly back into place
- They’ll put everything else back into place before reattaching the battery again and testing out the new fuel rail pressure sensor
This might appear as though it would be very complicated. But most mechanics should be able to work their way through this process in under an hour or two. It’s not as difficult of a job as it might seem at the outset.
Is It Possible to Replace a Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor Yourself?
As we just alluded, replacing a fuel rail pressure sensor isn’t that difficult to do when you know what you’re doing. But we should point out that that doesn’t mean it’s a job that just anyone should take on. If you’ve never replaced a fuel rail pressure sensor before and don’t know the first thing about tinkering with a car’s fuel pump assembly, it’s going to be a job best left up to the pros. You could do some serious damage to your car if you make a mistake while replacing a bad fuel rail pressure sensor.
How Much Does Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor Replacement Cost?
One of the other reasons why you should leave a fuel rail pressure sensor replacement job up to a professional is because it’s not something that should cost you too much money. Despite the fact that your fuel rail pressure sensor plays a crucial role in your car’s ability to move fuel through your fuel system, replacing a faulty fuel rail pressure sensor is on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to repair costs.
On average, you can expect to pay somewhere between $190 and $220 for fuel rail pressure sensor replacement in most cases. That will include a new fuel rail pressure sensor, which will run you about $100, and about $100 or so in labor costs. There is, of course, a chance that your mechanic could find other issues with your fuel system while taking your car apart, but generally speaking, replacing a bad fuel rail pressure sensor isn’t something that should break the bank.
Can You Sell a Car With a Bad Fuel Rail Pressure Sensor?
If you have an old car with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it and you don’t want to pay to have it fixed, you might not know what to do with it next. Is there anyone out there who will buy a car with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it? Under normal circumstances, probably not. But there are junk car buyers who would be more than happy to take a car with a faulty fuel rail pressure sensor off your hands.
Cash Cars Buyer is one such junk car buyer. If you have a car with a bad fuel rail pressure sensor in it, you can sell it to us for top dollar. We also buy cars with all kinds of other fuel system problems in them. Contact us today to find out how easy it can be to unload a car with fuel system issues.