The fuel pump in a car creates pressure in the fuel lines, pushing gas into the engine. Without adequate fuel pressure, the engine idles roughly and stalls regularly. If the fuel pump fails completely, there will be no fuel pressure and the car’s engine will not start.
Sometimes this is an issue with it and/or a problem with the computer that regulates it. However, poor fuel pressure can sometimes indicate a problem with the pressure regulator. Have the car checked by a trained mechanic immediately to diagnose the problem and treat it effectively.
1. The engine sputters or jerks when running at highway speeds.
The car may sputter for a few miles and then return to normal. Sometimes people attribute this to inferior fuel. However, just as often a worn or failing fuel pump is the culprit. It cannot provide a constant level of fuel to the engine or with constant pressure. The loss of pressure leads to sputtering and stumbling when trying to accelerate.
Repair or replace any worn or damaged parts to ensure the engine gets a steady stream of fuel at the right pressure.
2. Loss of power during acceleration.
Some cars lose power or sputter when accelerating from a stop. The car moves forward a little before starting this behavior. Acceleration creates an increased demand for fuel to the engine. A fuel pump that is not working properly does not maintain fuel pressure, leading to an improper fuel/aid mix in the engine. The result is sputtering and power loss during acceleration. Once the right pressure level is attained, the car runs smoothly again.
3. The car experiences a sudden power loss during heavy use, such as towing a load or climbing a hill.
Any time a car is under stress from working harder to tow a load or climb a hill; it must work harder to maintain its forward movement. If the car loses power or will not accelerate during these activities, suspect a faulty fuel pump. A weakened or aging fuel pump cannot maintain steady fuel pressure under stress. The failure to deliver enough fuel to keep up with the demands on the system leads to loss of power and failure to accelerate.
4. The car surges forward or accelerates suddenly during normal driving even without driver intervention.
Sometimes, a car will pick up and surge forward as if the driver depressed the gas pedal. People might blame this on the fuel filter, but the fuel pump is more often the culprit. Normal wear and tear on the fuel pump as it ages can cause irregular resistance inside the fuel pump motor. As a result, the pump cannot pull enough electricity to keep fuel pressure steady, causing fuel pressure to suddenly increase and engine surges are the result.
5. The engine may rev but refuse to start.
This sign of a bad fuel pump is the most severe. If a car owner has not addressed that problem based on one of the signs above, eventually it will completely fail. When the fuel pump can no longer provide any fuel to the engine, the engine has nothing to ignite. There is no fuel to burn in the engine. It has failed and it must be replaced in order for the car to operate.
The key to keeping a car in good working order is regular inspection and maintenance. Address problems quickly, while they are small and easier to fix. Putting off repairs often leads to major problems down the road. These require extensive parts replacements, loss of use of the car during lengthy repairs, and much higher mechanic costs.
Pay attention to how a car runs and how it sounds to catch potential issues early. Fuel pumps are one of the more costly repairs car owners face, so fixing problems rather than replacing parts is a more cost effective choice.