What Is A Fuel Pump? Learn About Cost, Location, Replacing etc.

The fuel pump takes care of pumping the fuel from the fuel tank into the engine. It’s a vital part of the car that needs to work properly for the car to function.

Let me explain how it works, where it is, what it costs, etc.

What is the Fuel Pump in a Car?

A fuel pump transfers fuel from your car’s fuel tank to the engine, where it mixes with air to create combustion and power your vehicle.

In today’s cars, fuel pumps are usually electrically powered and can be found directly in or on the fuel tank itself. The fuel pump’s main job is to send fuel from the gas tank to the engine.

Fuel pumps can be found in different designs based on whether your car runs on gasoline or diesel. Nonetheless, both types of fuel pumps work together with the rest of the fuel system to ensure your engine gets the fuel it needs. When you step on the gas pedal, the fuel pump sends the required fuel to the engine. And when you ease off the gas, the fuel pump slows down, reducing the amount of fuel sent to the engine.

What Does a Fuel Pump Look Like?

Generally, fuel pumps can be categorized into two types: mechanical and electric. For an easier understanding, we’ll describe their appearances separately.

fuel pump

Mechanical Fuel Pumps:
These pumps are typically found in older cars with carbureted engines. They have a diaphragm that moves up and down, creating a vacuum to suck fuel from the gas tank into the engine. A mechanical fuel pump usually looks like a small, round, metal device with an inlet and outlet port, plus an arm extending from the bottom.

This arm connects to the engine’s camshaft, enabling the pump to move with the engine’s rotation.

Electric Fuel Pumps:
In modern cars, you’re more likely to find electric fuel pumps.

These are located directly in or on the fuel tank and are powered by an electric motor. They often resemble a compact cylindrical device with various ports and connectors for wiring and fuel lines. Some electric pumps are even enclosed in a protective shell or housing, making them less recognizable at a glance.

Keep in mind that the appearance of a fuel pump might slightly vary depending on the car make and model.

Do All Cars Have a Fuel Pump?

Yes, all combustion-based cars that run on gasoline or diesel have a fuel pump. A fuel pump is an essential component in your car, as it’s responsible for sending fuel from the tank to the engine.

Electric cars, however, don’t have fuel pumps as they don’t require fuel.

Regardless of the type, fuel pumps play a crucial role in providing the engine with the necessary fuel to function and we need the pump to suck the gas from the tank to the engine.

Where is the Fuel Pump Located?

In most vehicles, the fuel pump is located in the fuel tank. Which makes it invisible as you need to take it apart to see it.

When you’re trying to access the fuel pump, it can be easier on some vehicles than others. You need to consult your car’s repair manual or a repair database to determine the exact location of your car’s fuel pump.

Keep in mind that although the fuel pump is generally located inside the fuel tank, its accessibility can vary from car to car.

In some cases, you might need to remove other parts of the vehicle to get to the fuel pump. For instance, you might have to take the seats out or remove other interior parts in order to access the fuel pump.

How Long Does a Fuel Pump Last?

Fuel pumps will typically last well past 100,000 miles, often up to 200,000 miles. In other words, you rarely have to replace a fuel pump.

There are certain habits you can develop to extend the life of your fuel pump. One of the most helpful things you can do is avoid letting your fuel level drop below 1/4 of a tank. This habit helps reduce any unnecessary strain on your pump, as low fuel levels can cause the pump to work harder and wear out faster .

While it’s possible for a well-maintained fuel pump to last over ten years or up to 200,000 miles, they might fail prematurely due to overheating, bad fuel, or, in rare cases, manufacturer defects.

How Much Do Fuel Pumps Cost?

On average, a fuel pump replacement costs about $500 to $900. However, it’s possible to find more affordable options by purchasing a fuel pump from a scrap yard.

Item Price Range
New Fuel Pump $600 – $1,000
Scrap Yard Fuel Pump $50 – $300

Keep in mind that prices from a scrap yard can greatly vary depending on factors such as availability, demand, and the condition of the fuel pump.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Fuel Pumps?

Let’s break down the expenses associated with a fuel pump replacement:

Labor charges may vary from $100 to $300, depending on your location and how accessible the fuel pump is.

In addition to the fuel pump itself, you might need some extra parts like a fuel filter or fuel pump driver module, which can further increase your expenses. Make sure to ask your mechanic about these additional components, so you’re not surprised by any unexpected costs.

What Happens When a Fuel Pump Breaks?

The most common problems you might experience with a faulty fuel pump are:

  • difficulty starting your car,
  • poor engine performance,
  • and stalling.

A fuel pump’s primary function is to provide a consistent flow of fuel from the gas tank to the engine. If it’s unable to do that, your engine won’t get the fuel it needs to run properly.

Driving with a faulty fuel pump can be risky. If it’s not working correctly, you might find your car stalling or having trouble maintaining speed. It’s important to pay attention to any warning signs that your car’s fuel pump might be going bad, such as lower fuel efficiency or a noisy fuel pump.

It’s much better to address these issues before they escalate into significant problems.

Can You Continue Driving With a Malfunctioning Fuel Pump?

Unfortunately, you can’t drive without a fuel pump at all. Your car’s engine relies on a steady supply of fuel to function, and without the pump, there’s no way for the gas to get from the tank to the engine.

So, if your fuel pump fails completely, your car won’t be drivable until it’s been repaired or replaced.

Can You Replace a Fuel Pump Yourself?

Yes, you can replace a fuel pump yourself, but it requires some patience and attention to detail. It’s crucial to follow safety precautions since you’ll be working with flammable materials. Ideally, you should work in a well-ventilated area to minimize any health or safety risks.

Before starting the process, you should familiarize yourself with the different types of fuel pumps. For instance, most modern vehicles use electric fuel pumps, while older cars with carburetors might have mechanical ones.

First, you’ll want to relieve fuel pressure, so there’s no risk of gas spraying out when disconnecting the lines. You can do this by removing the fuel pump relay or fuse and running the engine until it stalls. If it doesn’t stall, consult your vehicle’s manual for the correct procedure.

Next, you’ll need to access the fuel pump, which might involve lowering the fuel tank or removing it entirely.

With the fuel pump exposed, carefully disconnect the wiring and fuel lines. Be conscious of any residual fuel that may exist in the lines. Next, remove the old fuel pump, replace it with the new one, and reconnect everything. Once all the connections are secure, double-check your work and make sure there are no loose connections or leaks.

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